For as long as I can remember, I knew one day I would live in Manhattan. It was one of those strange feelings that kept pushing me toward the East coast and eventually into the Big Apple. I first came to New York City with my university group exploring art in museums. As my trip came to a conclusion, I knew I would be back. I moved in three years later. After the initial “wow, this city never sleeps and people are really rude” moments faded, I stood looking at my new city with so many big personalities and wondered how I would make it.
If you are thinking about moving to New York, here are a few tips to remember:
Don't pay upfront: Paying upfront for an apartment is something you should never do. You will get a lot of pressure from your broker to pay upfront to fill out an application because it shows you are serious, and because the big guy on the top floor won't even look at the application without the attached check. Don't fall for it. You'll never see your money again and most likely you won't get the apartment you wanted. There are many rules that are unique to NYC but this one is pretty standard everywhere. Treat your landlord with respect; this is the only way to get on their good side. If you are late with your rent they will make your life miserable!
Be Proactive: You have to push yourself to go out, meet people and do and see the things you love. I can't emphasize how proactive you have to be especially in this city. If you don't figure out what you want out of living in Manhattan it will take you for a ride. Everything is fun when you have a few friends to do it with. Go out and expand your network. There are plenty of organizations in the New York area that bring Tamils together at least once a month if not more. Get on their mailing list and meet new people around the Tri-State Area. Like any other city you will live in, at the end of the day it is what you make of it. While many movies will portray a newbie arriving in the big city and having a group of friends on the 2nd day of his or her job, it just isn't true for a lot of people. All of this takes time to do so don't be hard on yourself if it doesn't come in the first few months.
Small World After all: Someone first gave me this advice when I moved here “Never, never, never badmouth anyone.” While the city has millions of people everyone is connected in one way or another. I slowly learned how true this statement is.
Stay in the City: The wonderful part and the curse about the city is that you will meet a lot of people who have done many things. And whatever interactions you have with people living in Manhattan, you are bound to hear a lot of travel stories and you will be inspired to also follow others' paths. But it's in your best interest to wait until you have explored everything in the city first. That cruise or the Tanzania trip to explore the Serengeti - while amazing - can be done and may be more appreciated when you are living in the suburbs and going to sleep at 9 PM on Fridays. You are living in one of the world's greatest cities so stay put and explore. It's nice to hop on a subway or in a taxi at 3 am and only be a few minutes away from your apartment. That is the luxury of living in the city - take it in.
For the best dosa in the East coast, get yourself to Murryhill (AKA Curry Hill) and let the friendly staff at Tiffin Wallah on 28th and Lex treat you to an amazing lunch. For dinner go to Dim Sum Go Go in Chinatown. There are so many ways to have fun; save up and treat yourself to that $200 meal at Atlantic Grill on the Upper East Side (NOT the one on the UWS), take a full day walk around the NYU area, or see if you can catch Morgan Freeman sipping ice tea on 54th & Madison. Be free and available to go out with your colleagues to one of the hottest spots in the city, or go visit Times Square after a huge snowstorm and see it in a new light with only a handful of people.
Groupon is your friend: The city gets expensive... very, very expensive. That $30 drink at that exclusive hole in the wall you traveled 40 minutes for and requires a special knock to get in was a very good drink and a great experience for you. But to the credit card company it’s a $30 charge for a drink. Be smart and find deals whenever possible.
Also interesting to note - a short train ride away you’ll find the largest Tamil population in the United States who have made their homes in Central New Jersey. With events frequently planned to bring this community together, you’ll never feel out of place. Whether it’s enjoying some live Tamil music at one of the many events Tamil Sangam coordinates, catching a Tamil movie with a group of friends, or talking about a recent visit to Sri Lanka nestled in someone’s apartment.