It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as you arrive in New York, everyone will try to take your money.
If you're thinking about moving out here, you will need to #werk your piggy bank. You're going to need four or five grand just to get set up. #What?!!! I know. It breaks down like this:
To get a lease on an apartment, you're going to need the first month's rent, a security deposit of a month to a month and a half's rent, plus (unless you're very lucky), a broker's fee of a ten to 15 percent of the YEAR'S total rent.
Your monthly rent, provided you live with roommates, will run between $800 and $1200 a month. If you live alone, it could be anywhere from $1400 to $2000 a month, depending on the style and the exact location of the apartment. These estimates are based off prices in the actor-budget-friendly neighborhoods of Astoria, Jersey City, Long Island City, West New York, both safe and unsafe parts of Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood and outer Brooklyn. I wouldn't recommend looking anywhere else unless you have an extreme amount of money and/or fortitude. You can move to Hell's Kitchen once you land on Broadway.
That's just to move in. You'll have to furnish the place off Ikea and Craigslist, and a Metrocard will cost you $120 a month for an unlimited. Feel free to bitch about this, it's what New Yorkers do, but keep in mind that unless you were stupid enough to keep your car, you are paying neither insurance, parking nor gas.
If you'd like to just dip a toe into the City before committing, check out the Facebook group Sublets for Gypsys (sic). There are pads available on both coasts as well as Toronto, although these are all separate Sublets for Gypsys groups. You will most likely take the apartment of an actor who is out of town for a gig, and you will most likely share it with a roommate who is also in the industry. Keep in mind that this person could become your best resource, provided you aren't too annoying. (Tip: ply roomie with alcohol.) Since these actors have most likely been in these units for a number of years, the rents may be a bit lower, and most of them come furnished, sparing you that trip to Ikea. (In New York, the closest Ikea is in Red Hook or New Jersey. That means a trip to Ikea just might involve a ferry. One time on my way home from the Red Hook Ikea, I split a yellow cab with a total stranger who also lived in my neighborhood. This was virtually unheard of at the time. That stranger could have killed me. Or we could have fallen in love, or at least screwed really hard at either of our apartments. None of these situations came to pass.)
Anyway, after all those expenses are figured out, and you have a suitable day job, a sensible sublet, or a little savings left over, what to do? Say you have a cool thousand dollars to invest in your career. Do you get better headshots? A fast-track package at One on One or Actors Connection? Hire someone to make you a reel? Put together a voice over demo? Take singing lessons? An unlimited package of dance classes?
Muse on that for a while, post your opinion in the comments or elsewhere, and look for my answer in the coming weeks!