Experience · Graduate Visa · New York

11 Things You Should Know Before Moving To New York

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of……..and sometimes swallowed up, spat out and served up on the sidewalk with a side of roasted nuts.

I was extremely optimistic about coming here, but it’s only when you hit the ground that you realise how small of a fish (plankton) you are in this giant ocean of a city.

It’s true what they say; that New York will make or break a person. It’s imperative to keep your head high and remain optimistic, but don’t be fooled that it will be plain sailing. Here are some things I wish someone had told me before I made the move.

Competition is FIERCE

Sure NYC is regarded as the centre of the universe if you want to succeed in a creative field such as entertainment, fashion or art – but be aware that for every job opportunity you see, there will be a line of people all chasing the same position. Unlike in Ireland, you’re competing against people who have really specific degrees and resumes that are 10 pages long. This is true even for unpaid internships – some of which require a Masters degree.


Everything is EXPENSIVE

After a while you stop to balk at the prices here, but the cost of living is extortionate. Whether it’s the cost of getting your laundry washed, dried and folded, shelling out mega money for grocery shopping or getting your head around the added tax and tips when on a night out – start saving your pennies before you get here unless you want to live off the dollar menu.

Healthy lifestyle is KEY

We all know America is the fattest nation on the planet. It’s only once you get used to your surroundings do you realise how easy it is to fall into that trap. You can buy a burger for 99c or an XXL soda for $2, while a green juice will set you back between $8 and $10. Salads at Applebees can contain over 1,000 calories and the portions in general are huge. Be wise about your food and sugar consumption and make sure you are expending your energy before falling victim to the infamous ‘j1 tonne’.

Weather is INTENSE

Never did I think I would be in posession of snow boots, but alas, welcome to the East Coast. Between freak blizzards that leave the city isolated and inaccessible to sweltering heat waves, be prepared for the whole spectrum of weather.

New Yorkers can be RUDE

Especially New Yorkers when they are in a rush (which, to be honest is most of the time.) Don’t take it to heart if someone barks at you on the subway/in line/on the side walk because it inevitably will happen.


You will get LONELY

Sure you can live in a city of 8 million people and still feel completely lonely. You’re leaving behind the security blanket of family, friends, colleagues and all the familiar faces from your hometown. I even miss knowing that I could just walk down the road and bump into old friends and school mates or go to the pub on my own and be guaranteed to know that there’ll be friends there. However I have to keep reminding myself that I came here for a reason, and it’s always good to live independently for a while.


You will get LOST

If, like me, you would get lost finding your way out of a paper bag – good luck. I can barely tell my lefts from my rights at the best of time let alone try to navigate Google Maps or the Subway system. You will get the hang of it soon enough – it’s essentially a life size game of Pacman as you make your way linearly up and down the streets and avenues.

Visas are TRICKY

I’ve found this aspect the most frustrating and disheartening aspect of my experience. I’ve been in talks with several media companies but once the word ‘visa’ was brought up, they had no interest. Not to mention you will have your visa provider emailing you deadlines every other week. But persevere, and hopefully you will find an employer who is looking for someone who can bring a different perspective to the table.

Networking is KEY

The sentiment here is, ‘It’s not what you know it’s who you know’. Hmm, not very helpful when you move halfway across the world to a city where you don’t know anyone. Before you go, tell everyone about your plans and you never know who they might introduce you to. Reach out online to companies you want to work for and use social media to network with people you feel might help you get a foot on the career ladder.


How much you will shell out for you living situation often begars belief. For a one bedroom in Manhattan, get ready to part with at least $2,000 a month. Location is key, I’ve been in apartments where there is literally a bath in the kitchen but once it’s in a desirable area, land lords will still charge through the nose for it. When it comes to apartment hunting, be aware you will need two months rent up front. To avoid broker fees or credit checks, look for a sublet – the gypsy housing Facebook group is a good place to start.

Keep in TOUCH

Life seems to move a mile a minute here and you will always be running to and from destinations. But don’t let contact slip with those you care about the most. Make time for your family and friends at home despite how busy you are, as when things go wrong it will be those people you will want to call in the middle of the night to hear a familiar voice.


Since I made the move, a few people have reached out to me on social media, particularly via LinkedIn, inquiring about the graduate visa. Despite the difficult parts of this experience – I would rather be here grafting to make things work than have remained comfortable and bored in my old job. If you have any questions or need advice, don’t hesitate to reach out!