Over the last several months, I've been contemplating some major life changes. For the last three years, I've been relegated to a couple of non-descript suburban communities, living off a very low fixed income (first as a grad student, now as an AmeriCorps volunteer). I've come to the realization that I can't do it any more.
For a long time, I've considered moving to a major city, for no specific purpose other than to just "live." I realize it might be short-sighted to give up on the career search, but for all of my twenties I've focused on making what I believed to be responsible choices (grad school, AmeriCorps, other volunteer work) and the results have been entirely fruitless: I'm broke, tired, scared, and increasingly pessimistic... which is a radical departure from the person I was when I finished college a few years ago. On the plus side, I have very light student loan debt and virtually nothing holding me back. Recently, the SO and I have discussed just dropping everything and moving to a big city-- an admittedly naive, possibly hair-brained plan. But, the more and more I think about it, the more and more plausible it seems. Why not?
Based on the following criteria-- Top-25 US Metro Area, East Coast, accessible public transit-- we've narrowed it down to NYC and Philadelphia... both places that I've spent several days visiting in the past. So, beyond all the random noise I hear about how it would be too radical of a change (I've moved around A LOT, I feel like I know what I'd be getting myself into), I've idenitifed the following obstacles:
START-UP COST: When I finish my AmeriCorps year, I'll be literally broke. However, I have the opportunity to extend my current lease month-to-month and work construction to kill time. This should allow me to save enough for moving expenses, a large security deposit, and any potential lag in employment.
COST OF LIVING: I've worked two jobs just about all of my adult life... this experience wouldn't be any different. I know that I'll be spending upwards of 60% of my income on housing if I chose NYC (even an outer borough). Having lived off tiny stipends that last two years, I've developed very inexpensive tastes... I don't need/expect much in the way of clothing, entertainment, or other non-essentials.
TRANSPORTATION: I have a crappy car, that I'd love to unload. It would be a burden to have to keep it and park in a major urban area. Ultimately, I view this as a plus. Public transit, at least in New York, is pretty awesome.
EMPLOYMENT: Where am I going to work? Well, that would be a major concern even if I wasn't relocating. If anything, moving to a major metropolitan area should make finding work easier, not harder. I'm not talking about a career-level position, I know that I won't be able to find one of those. Really, I think I'd be able to adapt to restaurant work, construction, or just about any other McJob.
So these are the things I have identified as possible challenges. Having said that, I have probably glossed over a million other things that people who live in big cities deal with on a day-to-day basis. I'd also like a little encouragement, if at all possible. Just about everyone I bounce this idea off of thinks it's crazy... "You can't move to New York, it's too expensive!" Well, I'm relatively certain that more people live in New York than any other place in North America; there must be a way. Same goes for Philly, Boston, Los Angeles, or any other city for that matter. So, how does one go about making a fresh start in one of these big cities?