Weekly Update 007

It's been a couple weeks. Bear with me, fam.

I went to Disneyland! It was my second time there-- and also my second time in Los Angeles. I went on a business trip and had a blast learning more about the business and bonding with my team.

Speaking of which, I love my job and the people I work with. I talk pretty regularly about how much I love my job, but I think I was really overcome with how happy I am to be working with such wonderful people after getting to spend so much time with them. For some people, a job is just a job, but for me it's very important for my workplace to also be my community, and I think I have such a truly wonderful one.

I visited Austin and met one of my best friends! After a trip to Los Angeles, I took a weekend trip to Austin to visit my friends Mia and Liz! Mia's one of my best friends and I met her in person for the first time not to long ago in NY. This was my first time in her neck of the woods (and in Texas in general. I stayed with her and her cats and saw Austin sights and succulents and met Breakfast for Dinner Podcast.

I was a guest on a podcast! Liz & Mia have a podcast called Fake Goth Girls and I was a guest. We did a long rambley, fun episode and you can listen to it here! We talked about bad advice, succulents, Karaoke, and more!

I started using Instagram stories. At first I was salty about it, but Instagram has done a great job at matching Snapchat at its own game. Thus far I love the art tools, but the video function works very inconsistently. Follow me on instagram @harperyi to catch my snaps on things like drawing and running around Brooklyn!

Sending snail mail at a high volume. I sent tons of mail in the past couple of weeks and tomorrow I'll be sending out some packages. I love sending out snail mail and I was so happy to get tons of great pieces from The Paper and Craft Pantry and Take Heart in Austin to send to friends and colleagues. Be on the look out for an Austin Haul video on my Youtube in the coming weeks!

Went to Eggloo with the workfam! Waffles and Ice Cream are a beautiful combo.

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How Do You Move to New York?

It's been a little over a year since I moved to New York City permanently and with a lot of people asking me how I did it, I figured a little overview is in order. If you're considering moving to New York, it's a good idea to do a lot of research since, financially, it's not one of the more forgiving cities to live in.

*** I am not an expert ***

*** There is literally no way to fully prepare for a move to a new city ***

This is just a primer for those of you interested in Moving to New York. There are exceptions to every rule, and no one's experiences in this wild and crazy world of New York real estate will be the same... other than that they are generally terrible and stressful. But much like doing your taxes, there are ways to make it less terrible and stressful. Let's begin.

Why do you want to move to New York?
Ask yourself this seriously, because as I mentioned before, this is not one of the more forgiving cities to move to. Maybe it's for career opportunities. Maybe it's because it seems exciting. Maybe it's for the cultural opportunities. Ask yourself really seriously if this is what you want and if you're ready for the risks involved, including paying hundreds more in rent that could have gone to savings or paying off student loans, or just generally living in a more dangerous part of the country. There are so many wonderful cities in the US that are worth considering and that may have the things you like about New York available to you at less personal and financial risk. Be honest with yourself. Weigh risks to the best of your ability and don't make a decision you might not have made if you'd thought it through more seriously.

Rent is high. 
Location, space and amenities, or price. You cannot have it all, and for damn sure, nothing in New York is cheap. I have friends paying less monthly for single family homes in other parts of the country than I do with my roommate in rent for our two bedroom apartment-- and even this two bedroom in Brooklyn is a thousand dollars less monthly than my last place in Hells Kitchen which I shared with 3 other people.

Let's talk money. 
To qualify for an apartment, you and your roommate(s) (if any) need to make 40x the rent on a yearly basis. You also need to have decent credit. If you don't have those things, you can still get an apartment by using a guarantor. A guarantor signs on saying that they will pay rent if you are unable to for whatever reason, so it's a pretty serious deal. Guarantors apply just like every other applicant on your lease which includes meeting the above stated qualifications, presenting the management company with documents (I'll come back to that), and paying an application fee. Typically, you might expect someone's guarantor to be their parents.

So if rent is $3000 per month, you need to make 40 times that if you are living alone which comes out to a salary of a minimum of $80,000 per year. If you're living with a roommate, your total salaries need to be at least $80,000 per year between the two of you and it usually doesn't matter if one roommate makes the bulk of the income-- the management company just cares about getting paid on time and in full.

In addition to paying first, last, and 1 month as a deposit (fairly standard) you may also need to pay a broker's fee. Brokers are the ones you work with to help secure a deal with an apartment. Usually they save you a lot of time and effort since they know about enough listings that they can do a lot of the leg work for you. Many apartments require you go through a broker. A standard Broker's fee is 15% of annual rent, however some are less than that. You may be able to find one that charges 10% or even 8%.

If we go back to our $3,000 per month example from earlier, this means that at the time of signing, you will have to hand over first month's rent, last month's rent, deposit, and 15% broker's fee.

That's $3,000 + $3,000 + $3,000 + ($3,000 * 12 * .15)
3,000 * 12 = $36,000 in yearly rent
15% of $36,000 = $5,400
Which gives you a grand total of $14,400 due at signing.

This does not include moving costs, new furniture, or utilities. If you are a risky applicant (which might mean you have terrible credit, are unemployed, etc.) they may ask you to pay more money upfront, like another month's worth of rent as deposit to protect themselves if you can't pay.

All this to say, it's a good idea to have a roommate, and you're going to need to have some dough saved up ahead of time.

The biggest obstacle, I think, is the financial struggle of living in New York. This is the cold hard reality of what you're looking at just to get an apartment. It is super important to know what you are getting into. I would say, if you're early on in your career and not hoping to live anywhere terribly fancy, expect to pay between $800 and $1,500 with at least one roommate. Please work out your own budget according to your life situation.

So let's back up: Trying out the city. 
A lot of people come to New York before they actually move to New York. I'm not talking about on vacation-- I mean pounding the pavement, testing the city out, looking for work, roommates, and an apartment. Lots of people stay with friend or couch surf for a few weeks, some people book longer term AirBnBs, or grab short-term sublets off Craigslist. Moving to New York is a big task and you don't want to go in blind, so a lot of people have a transition period so they can "be in town" looking for housing and things of that nature. Bring a large luggage for now, bring the rest up later.

If you're an undergrad or even a recent grad, you may have the opportunity to intern in New York-- this is a great option because lots of summer housing is available for interns, and you have the opportunity to try out the city for 3 months and potentially give yourself some career opportunity to move here full-time. I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity.

Searching for roommates.
I cannot stress enough my recommendation that you go with someone you know, or a friend of a friend, or even an alum from your college. Going with a random person can be incredibly stressful, as any roommate situation can be, with the added layer of zero accountability to any mutual social circle. If you know anyone already living in New York, they may know of another person searching for a roommate either to join an existing lease, or to apartment hunt with. Otherwise you can search on facebook groups for New York like Secret NYC, or look for places on Craigslist that are looking for a roommate.

Apartment hunting: Neighborhoods.
It is impossible for a newcomer to learn all the neighborhoods in New York-- many of them have sub-neighborhoods inside them and trust me, it's very overwhelming. Instead, ask a local if possible Find a friend, or friend of a friend, who lives in New York and ask them their opinion of neighborhoods you are interested in.


  • The outer boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Long Island) are cheaper, but if you work on Manhattan, you will have a longer commute.
  • On Manhattan, Harlem (north of Central Park) is pretty inexpensive, but it's a long way out from more developed areas where you might be working.
  • Upper East Side is where old money lives, so it's pretty rare to see not-a-lot-of-money places in that area.
  • Upper West Side is a mix of cool moneyed people and students. Still on the more expensive side unless you want to live somewhere not that nice. 
  • Midtown is very touristy. Places are small, but you're really paying to be in the middle of everything. 
  • Lower East Side. This is a very mixed bag of really nice cool places and some not that great places, but if you are really looking to compromise on location, size, and price, this is where you can get a little of everything and not a lot of anything.
  • Lower West Side is more trendy, and you often pay a little premium for that. 
  • Financial District is the southern most part of town. You will live in a really nice building, with a slightly awkward lay out, since these buildings often weren't originally intended to be apartments. Everything is dead at night because people don't really live there... they mostly just work there.
When getting an apartment, consider the subway lines you are near. If you already have a job, you are going to want to live somewhere so that your commute is not torturous. 

Apartment hunting websites.
My recommendations are:

Applying for an apartment.
You've found an apartment. You have a roommate or two. Now you've gotta actually apply. Your broker or whatever representative of the management company will request a lot of documents from you in addition to your application fee. These must be provided by every applicant including guarantors. 
  • Signed application form
  • A copy of a photo ID
  • Tax return from the last year (the first 5 pages)
  • 2-4 of your most recent paystubs
  • 2-4 of your most recent bank statements (be sure to whiteout/blur bank account numbers!!)
They may ask you for additional documents, but that is the standard set. If for some reason you can't provide any of those things, types up a formal letter explaining why you are unable to provide those things and sign it. Your application might be weaker, but this is an acceptable substitute for just not having something.

Signing the lease.
Once you have been approved, you'll schedule a lease signing. This is when you've gotta pony up the cash or cashiers checks for the first, last, and deposit, and the broker's fee. Sign and read all the forms. Ask questions if you have any. Ask the broker about contacts for the landlord and super, as well as their recommended providers for utilities-- some buildings have only one hook up for each utility, but others might have multiple choices available for things like internet/cable. 

The logistics of physically moving all your stuff from one city to another can be complicated. My family agreed to bring all my stuff up for me, which was a huge money saver. You might have to fly out and rent a U-Haul. Moving takes money, but it is really worth it to pay for pros where you can. Also consider paring down to only those things that you actually need, since your space in NY will likely be smaller than what you are used to and to be frank... the less stuff to pack, move, and unpack, the happier you will be. Take a couple days to move, and unpack the things you need to get through the next few days. 

That's about it in terms of the actual process of hunting for an apartment and moving in. I think I'll cover more basics on moving to New York later, but for now, that covers it.

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Channing Tatum is gonna be a Mermaid!

In case you have been living under a rock, let me break the news to you that Channing Tatum is going to star as the mermaid in the upcoming Splash remake. That's right, the sleeper romcom hit about a man who fell in love with a mermaid as she attempts to hide her mermaidness is returning to the silver screen with the genders of at least our main protagonists swapped. Here's the trailer from the original film, for the uninitiated.

I have a lot of feelings about this, which I tweeted on Tuesday over the course of two hours. I'm excited, I'm curious, and I adore Channing Tatum. Here is my stor(if)y.

Who knew I'd graduate school and then write a dissertation on Twitter about Channing Tatum and gender? (Me. I knew and I couldn't fight it any longer.)

What are your thoughts on the upcoming Splash remake?

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Weekly Update 006

My parents visited! My parents visited and brought up some of my distant relatives up to check New York out. They saw my apartment for the first time and we ate a nice lunch together. I was really excited to show them my new place because despite being much further from "everything" it really is leaps and bounds bigger than the previous space I was living in. They brought some of my books up and they also brought me an air conditioning unit which are super appreciated (especially in this heat).

My desk art set up is finally up. I love my high ceilings but I hate bare walls, and since painting isn't an option I really love finding ways to cover my walls with fun art or textured pieces. I've even expanded my art wall even further since I took the photo above and I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. It's a mix of art prints, postcards, magazine  clippings, ticket stubs, window cards, and now a calendar.

I gave myself bangs. Sometimes they don't cooperate since I don't use heat on my hair, but so far I've been digging the look even though the morning cowlick I get is ridiculous since my hair is thick/coarse. I cut them on a bit of a whim but so far they're mostly working out!

Mia is visiting. Y'all might know from twitter that me and Mia of Fake Goth Girls are real good friends, but what you may not know is that this is the first time we have been able to physically meet in person! Mia and her sigO Colby are visiting New York and we were finally able to hang out in person, and probably just as important-- play pokemon and eat food together. Stay tuned on her Youtube Channel for a video about it.

I don't trust strapless dresses. I think I own one, but I'm realizing more and more that I do not trust strapless dresses. I definitely do not have big enough boobs for this to be an undoubted fact of life, I've just grown very jaded at the age of 23.

Bojack Horseman continues to be amazing. I have a lot of feelings about Bojack Horseman's brilliant writing, phenomenal jokes, and incisive examination of the search for meaning and happiness. If you do not watch the show, you need to start.

I'm traveling to Los Angeles and Austin next month. Both will be relatively short and busy trips but I'm hoping to maximize the excitement of being in a different place. Also, I've never been to Austin before and I'm excited for everything except the heat. Hopefully I'll put another Travel vlog out! If you're in the area, hit me up on twitter and maybe we can hang out.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?
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7 Things Pokemon Go Has Changed for Me

I don't think I need to explain how big Pokemon Go is to anyone, but for anyone living under a rock, it's a game that combines the nostalgia and excitement of the biggest craze of my childhood with augmented reality, setting game play in the physical world. In about a week, it's caused some major changes in me-- for better or worse.

1 - I want to go outside. As someone who suffers from depression and an anxiety disorder, it can be really hard to want to go outside. Despite the mountains of evidence that going out improves the body's ability to cope with stress, it can be hard to actually do it when your depression makes you feel like you can't do anything and your anxiety tells you you shouldn't do anything. Pokemon Go is not only helping me overcome those feelings when they arise, but actually causing me to think about going outside more often, even before I feel the shadow of depression descend upon me.

2 - I'm probably tearing through data. There's no way I'm NOT, right?

3 - I'm noticing my environment more. This is a little counter intuitive. You may be asking how a game that literally begs me to interface with my screen while out in the world has made me more observant. But really this game is encouraging me to visit new places, take in landmarks, street art, and history.

4 - I am walking way more than ever. In a typical week, between work and wanting to make content, I don't move much. Pokemon Go actually encourages walking around through game rewards and distance-based events.

5 - I'm bonding with strangers. The other night I was battling to take down a Valor gym at Astor Place and I came across a team mate who was taking it down with me. We swapped names and tips and just bonded over the game. And here's the thing-- we didn't exchange twitter handles or phone numbers or anything. No intention to "build a friendship" or anything intense like that. We just ARE teammates (#TeamMystic) and we had a nice moment and that's it. It's so rare for me to have interactions like that where no one expects anything of anybody, or there's no pressure to make a follow-up something. It was really nice to have a moment like that when I'm constantly trying to engage with the difficult fight to make this country a better place in the face of abusive authority structures and a Trump candidacy.

6 - I'm making the most of my external charger. To be honest I thought I was a little bananas when I bought my 7x charge external battery for my phone, but now I feel very vindicated in my purchasing decision.

7 - I'm wearing my team colors more and even planning Pokemon Trainer Outfits. I'm legitimately putting together outfits just for hunting Pokemon so people can know what team I'm on (and also to make Pokemon more fun for me).  It's a lot of fun to think about for me since planning outfits is like, half the fun of going out.

What has Pokemon Go changed for you?
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