Moving to NYC Alone at 20: The Ultimate Guide - Gab With Me (2023)

Are you planning to move to NYC alone in your 20s and don't know where to start? I'm here to help make it a lot less stressful for you! First of all, congratulations; New York City is amazing! While moving can seem daunting, this post will break it down for you, in local NYC style.

For background information, I moved to NYC from AZ on my own in 2018 and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. So this post is packed with insider tips and knowledge that can only be obtained by living through it, and I'm here to share it with you.

You're going to have the time of your life there, so sit back and keep scrolling because this ultimate guide to moving to NYC solo in your 20s has the answers to everything you need to know!

Moving to NYC Alone at 20: The Ultimate Guide - Gab With Me (1)


Neighborhoods, neighborhoods, neighborhoods!

Finding a place that feels like home is the key to happily living in New York City. Now how on earth could you find that? If you have an upcoming trip booked, be sure to explore a number of different areas. Because every neighborhood really has its own charm, character and livelihood.

If you're in town, you can arrange a screening at an apartment or attend a free open house. This will help you get an idea of ​​the apartment, make sure the room is the same as in the photos, check the neighborhood, noise level, etc.

If you're not going to be in town, or maybe you've never been there before the big move (eek!), don't worry! Google Maps is a good place to start. You can zoom in on each area to see what types of shops, grocery stores, restaurants, and local gems surround it. I did this when I found my first apartment, and wasdelightedto see all the goodies around every corner.

Proximity to the subway (big πŸ—οΈ!)

THE. Choosing an apartment close to one or more major subway lines is everything. It literally saves you endless stress, money on cars and time walking to/from your destinations.

If you work from an office (I know a lot of us don't these days), you can see which subway lines will get you there and back with ease. New York City's subway system is massive, so as long as you're close to a few lines, you'll be fine!


This SMALL YELLOW CARD will be your BFF. Take full advantage of New York City's affordable and convenient transportation system! Here's why:

It costs about $128 (taking into account the $1 fee for a new subway card) for the unlimited monthly pass. You will be granted thisunlimitedtravels on both the city's subways and buses.

A single ride on the bus or subway costs $2.75. Let's say you go out and come back to your apartment once a day (two swipes = $5.50), six days a week. That's $33. Around four weeks every month. That brings you to $132. Well, that's if you go ONLY that infrequently. Chances are if you live in NYC you will be traveling around the citymuchmore than that!

Even better, let's say your feet hurt or it's pouring rain and you just want to travel a stop or two on the subway or bus. You can! You never have to "validate" the card 100 times a day or spend time and money loading your card.

LOCAL TIP #2: The subway will always get you there faster than a car. I promise to you.

NYC traffic is crazy. You can easily wait 45 minutes to drive about 10 blocks. Wild. During New York Fashion Week, I figured driving downtown would get me there faster than taking the subway. Boy was I wrong.

In the end I left the car andliefto the Plaza Hotel before the traffic light turned green. It was like a scene from a movie.

I almost missed the show due to the traffic (luckily my feet got me there in no time). Underground, in the subway, you won't have the same problem. Oh, and there won't be the constant sound of car horns.


Finding an apartment in New York City while not in NYC can be quite a task. But believe me, it can be done (with success!) I found my first apartment through a Facebook group when I was still living in Arizona. I know it sounds CRAZY but it was the best place I've lived in the city so far.

You can use Facebook residential groups for many different things. Like finding roommates for apartment hunting, earning short-term sublets, and even free furniture!

There are many other amazing people moving to NYC alone in their 20s, so let's dive into that route first.

Facebook residential groups

If you go this route, there are many potential scams to be wary of. The top three groups with the fewest scams that I recommend are:

  • NYC Sublets & Apartments
  • Gypsy Apartments NYC
  • New York University (NYU) Accommodation, Sublets & Roommates

The NYU site is private, but you can make a request to join. Once added to the groups, you can search by keyword or recent posts to see what's available recently.

There are often people who sublet their homes, which can be a blessing for many reasons. A handful of sublets don't require you to pay 40x rent, sign an annual lease, etc. It also gives you the flexibility to live in new neighborhoods for shorter periods of time.

I've had good luck with the above groups and have found girls who sublet my space who have become lifelong friends. Hello Serena! πŸ™‚

How do I know if it's a scammer?

If you post what you are looking for in one of these Facebook groups, you may receive some deceptive comments/messages. It's often pretty obvious by taking a quick look at the commenter's profile to see if it's legit.

Red flags would be no profile picture, incorrect grammar in the comment/message, no information on their page, etc. If so, just ignore it and move on.


StreetEasy is the best (free!) website for finding apartments in New York City. I trusted this option from the start and found two of my previous apartments this way. Whether you are moving to NYC alone in your 20s, 30s, 40s or older, with a friend, etc., it is a good and trustworthy choice.

The site allows you to filter your preferences for almost anything. Price range, neighborhoods, amenities, pet friendly, you name it.

Each listing usually includes pictures or a video showing the space, a description, open hours, when to move in, and more. You can also see other units available in the building, rental history, learn more about the building, etc.

Free or paid apartment?

You can find many great NYC apartments that don't charge a fee. I love a good apartment without a fee because who wants to pay extra if you don'thaveTo?

That being said, sometimes your perfect condo comes with a fee. The fees are usually around one month's rent. If you rent with a roommate, you can share the price.

Do I need a broker?

I would say no! While they can be very helpful, there are many ways to find the right apartment in NYC without having to pay an agent. *Um, like the options above πŸ˜‡*

If you choose to work with an agent, they can help you make appointments to view apartments that are not yet listed online, communicate with your building managers, etc. Agents have a price for working with them, so be prepared to pay around 1 to 1.5 x your monthly rent for their fee.

I found the perfect apartment, but it doesn't have an "x"

woohoo! Moving to NYC alone at 20 is a huge milestone, so cheers if you've found the perfect apartment! Chances are you've found the most incredible place, but that's not the caseeverythingyou would like Maybe it doesn't have a doorman, maybe it's a six-story apartment building, maybe it doesn't have modern appliances.

That's fine!! We all have to give and take somewhere so if the apartment you have your eye on has 9/10 things you want - go for it!

What if my building doesn't have laundry?

Many apartments, particularly in and around Lower Manhattan (Greenwich Village, Soho, Lower East Side, West + East Village, etc.) do not have laundry in the building. This is perfectly normal. I know it seems crazy coming from every other city where everyoneUnithas its own laundry. Now you're going to see that as a luxury, haha.

If this is your situation too, you can look for a wash and fold or laundry mat nearby as you will likely become a frequent visitor. πŸ˜‰

Help! NYC Apt application requirements are insane!

I KNOW! Trust and believe me when I say that we all agree on that. If you're moving to NYC alone for the first time in your 20s (or any age, tbh), you'll be overwhelmed by the "requirements" for an apartment permit. Most have a laundry list (excluding the laundry πŸ˜‰) with the following necessities to rent an apartment:

  • Make 40x the monthly rent
    • If you have a guarantor, they have to pay 80 times the monthly rent
  • A month's rent (or two) for the deposit
  • Proof of income and certificate of employment
  • Recent bank statements (usually three or more recent ones)
  • Valid IDs
  • Credit Check (which you pay for - usually around $100)
  • A recommendation from a previous landlord (this is less common, but I've seen this question before)

What really appeals to me is the 40-fold monthly rent. Apartments in New York are insanely expensive to start with, so it makes sense to ask someone moving to NYC alone in their 20s to qualify for that amountcrazy.

Many of us do not meet this income requirement. If you plan to have one or more roommates, you can combine your salaries to reach 40x the amount. That's a good reason to have a roommate in NYC - one you love, of course (hi, Lisa!) - to help you get a really great apartment.

What if you can't meet the 40x requirement? (Join the club!!) Well, here comes the next step!

I need a guarantor

Chances are you've never heard of a guarantor. I didn't either. Until I was 22 and (alone) moved to New York City full time. Ah, the things we learn.

A guarantor is someone who can sign your lease with you to show a credit/payment guarantee. As mentioned above, in NYC, a guarantor must pay 80 times the monthly rent of your desired apartment. A sponsor can be anyone from a close friend to a family member or even found online.

If your family/friends don't like to act as guarantor or don't meet the ridiculous requirements, you can hire a third party company.

While I've never used a third party, there are a handful out there that a lot of people rely on. The service will not be free, but it can help you find the apartment you have in mind.

find furniture

Ah, on that beautiful step. If you're moving to NYC alone in your 20s, you probably won't be bringing more than a suitcase or two. I'll be right with you Here are a few ways you can furnish your new NYC apartment at a bargain price.

Benefit from checked baggage on airlines

When you fly into town for your big move, bring as much as you can fit in these suitcases. When you return home or visit family/friends, have them pack their bags full of things you want to bring but are not in a hurry. I did this every time my wonderful family came to visit and after a few times I had all my knick knacks, clothes etc.

Craigslist free + for sale listings

This can be an incredible place to review furniture in NYC! While you must take every precaution when using Craigslist, you can really get lucky. Browse the Free and For Sale sections in the area you wish to travel to and viola!

I bought a new (and so comfy) $1,500+ couch for less than $300 that I found on Craigslist. It was performed from a family home in the morning. The guy selling it was moving in with his girlfriend and it didn't fit in her place so he sold it for a great price. Score!!

If possible, try to snag furniture that's from a one-owner home, with no pets etc. This can reduce your risk of ickies (even by a tiny bit) - hey, we'll take that!

This can also be so much fun for all bargain hunters.

PS Thrift Queens & Kings

If you are moving to NYC and haveAwayToo much stuff to take away, try selling it online! I use thrift apps like Poshmark and Mercari to sell all the clothes I no longer wear. (And buy new ones, hehe. πŸ™ˆ) If you've never used the apps (or want to learn more about them), I have a 3,000+ word step-by-step blog post about ithow to be successful on poshmarkAndhow to ship on mercari. You should definitely check them out!


Here we go again, haha. In NYC it can be Facebooksucha useful tool. Not only to find your dream apartment for rent, but also to find friends and great furniture.

Try checking the Facebook Marketplace section as there will be a number of listings there. You can search by keyword to find more of what you are looking for.

You can also specifically join groups to find furniture. The ones I've had success with are:


NYC Stoop Sales + Free Finds

There are GEMS that can be found this way. You can search for these keywords on Craigslist or Facebook, but often they're everyday things. Most likely it will happen when you go home and see someimpressivelyFurniture on the sidewalk that catches your eye. Something you just have to take with you.

Every now and then there's a little note saying the items are free. However, most of the time it is implied that you can take whatever you like.

LOCAL TIP #3: Thoroughly inspect all furniture!

If you find furniture on the street that you can take home and craft yourself, be sure to check each item thoroughly. Things I pay attention to and look for are:

  • Proximity to trash (if it's near a pile of open bags I'd walk by)
  • Major defects, dents etc.
    • It's helpful to use your phone's flashlight to spot minor scratches.

Take extra precautions when looking at fabric furniture. Check for stains and check the stitching to make sure you don't see anything gross or unusual. My main concern is bb (I don't even want to say the word) - so watch what you grab. For items like mattresses, it is recommended never to take one off the street. Always.

Worry not, as truly perfect furniture lands on NYC's sidewalks every day. I'll bet you that 90% of people who live in the city have picked up a piece from the street or a flea market at some point.

People move in and out of apartments all year round. As a result, a lot of furniture is thrown away because there is no space or it simply cannot be transported there. You can definitely find treasures that are clean!

I hope you find something exciting that you love.


There you have it, future city babe! My ultimate guide to moving to NYC alone at 20! I hope this informative guide shared the answers, tips and tricks you were looking for!

It's gigantic to move to NYC - not to mention,alonein your20er!! Congratulations to you; I hope you are proud of yourself!

Your feedback!

If you found this in-depth post helpful, I'd really appreciate it if you leave a comment, pin it on Pinterest, or share it with family and friends! It means the world hears your feedback. If you have any questions, write them below and I'll get back to you. 😊

PS I want to know everything about your move and which neighborhood you ended up loving!! Let's connect! Follow/tag me in your IG pics or shoot me a DM (@gabwithmeblog) to let me know what you've decided. πŸ€—

Moving to NYC Alone at 20: The Ultimate Guide - Gab With Me (2)Moving to NYC Alone at 20: The Ultimate Guide - Gab With Me (3)

Thanks for reading baby!! I hope this becomes your new reference for all things moving to New York City. The Big Apple is a magical place and I'm so excited that you're tackling the city.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Terence Hammes MD

Last Updated: 03/17/2023

Views: 6132

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Terence Hammes MD

Birthday: 1992-04-11

Address: Suite 408 9446 Mercy Mews, West Roxie, CT 04904

Phone: +50312511349175

Job: Product Consulting Liaison

Hobby: Jogging, Motor sports, Nordic skating, Jigsaw puzzles, Bird watching, Nordic skating, Sculpting

Introduction: My name is Terence Hammes MD, I am a inexpensive, energetic, jolly, faithful, cheerful, proud, rich person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.