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How to survive in New York single immigrant

Yana Kolomenskaya, a designer and employee of the event department of a hotel-restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, came to conquer New York in 2016. She left Krasnodar under the Career Professional Training program. “I want to say right away that New York is not America, it is a unique island (or peninsular) state,” Yana says in an interview with the magazine SouthPolis... If you want to see the real America, you should take a ride to the south and west. At least jump into Greyhound (Greyhound is the leader in bus transportation in the US) and get to the nearest Washington or Philadelphia. "



New York is very clearly divided into islets: financial, where wolves work from Wall Street, Chelsea, where the gay community lives, Lower East Side, where hipsters hang out, pop up and alcohol spills, Upper East Side where millionaires live, williamsburg in brooklyn with endless cafes, bars, underground clubs and flea markets; amazing embankment along the Hudson River with perfectly paved bike paths, East Village with countless craft coffee shops, Hells Kitchen (“Hell's Kitchen”), where there are just too many restaurants and new ones are constantly opening.


Depends on the state. Below are the numbers for New York, where 9 $ per hour is the minimum wage. In California, for example, 10 $, in North Carolina - 7,25 $. Salary is not measured monthly, voiced or hourly, or total annual income. The information is official, open, it can google and find in official sources.

Up to 35 thousand $ - MODEST INCOME, 1 YEAR

35-80 thousand $ - AVERAGE INCOME, 1 YEAR

From 100 thousand $ - HIGH PROFIT, 1 YEAR


Rent prohibitively expensive. Rooms (!) 700 — 1200 dollars per month (and communal 50 — 60 dollars), and to rent a nice little room in the hipster Williamsburg with its bohemian neighbors, it is not enough just to pay the first, last month and leave a deposit. Not. It is necessary to provide a bunch of documents, a certificate from work, to have a good credit history, etc. That is, even now, for example, having the financial opportunity to rent this house, I do not have the opportunity to document, alas.

As for the purchase of housing, the price of a small house starts from half a million dollars. Although it is possible for 300 thousands to find something. But, of course, it is always a mortgage. And in general there are rarely bought, more often they rent housing.

Food and Products

I don’t even know how to tell about all of New York’s gastronomic diversity, especially since words cannot convey goodies, but New York is truly a gastronomic paradise. And I love to eat.

To begin with, there is always a grocery next to your house where all the most essential things are sold: coffee, cigarettes, a minimum set of products. Chain stores such as Trader's Joe or Whole Foods (something similar to our "Tabris" or Moscow "Alphabet of Taste") with a rich assortment of healthy and ordinary food. A lot of unusual, fancy-food: fifteen types of hummus, five types of eggs, an infinite number of types of milk, cheeses, sauces, spices, vegetables, sweet potatoes, cacti, relish, quinoa, banana chips, sweet bacon in the morning. And I'm desperate to try to explore all the beers that I see on the shelves. And at the moment, Americans are obsessed with healthy food: everything here is gluten free, sugar free, etc.

Very conveniently combined grocery stores and cafes, that is, you can always run on the go snack during lunch (we have - lunch.). I really love these buffets, 7 — 9 dollars for 400. My standard lunch box is asparagus, sprouted wheat, quinoa, mozzarella, olives, chicken, sea fish, avocado, and watermelon or kiwi.

In the first months I just eat off. I did not understand how everything can be so tasty. Yes, and at the same time lost weight. After arriving, I lost five kilos, although I did not strive for this. That's what makes a truly healthy food.

There are regular street food fairs all over the city. True, the food is not always unique (pancakes, burgers, french fries) and is not even always tasty, sometimes just very strange.

Well, of course, restaurants and cafes. French pancakes, Japanese pancakes, legendary Italian pizzerias, American burger and potato diners, pompous restaurants that close when someone like DiCaprio dines there, gourmet pasta in Little Italy, maggots in China Town, goodies in Korea Town, Irish pubs , Belgian cafes, kosher restaurants, as well as chains such as Chipotle, Fresh & Co, Bread and Butter, Sunac, Eately, Shake Shack, etc. And besides, pizza for a dollar and halal vans with the most delicious chicken over rice in the world for 5 —7 dollars or morning coffee with a bagel for a couple of dollars. Mexican, Cantonese, Tibetan, Filipino cuisine.

In an inexpensive restaurant, the price of dishes varies from 7 to 15 dollars for a portion of soup / salad / main course / snack, the average restaurant costs 20 — 40 dollars, for example, for two people, 300 and more can be up to infinity. Always have happy hours or offers of the day.

A beer in a bar costs 5 — 7 dollars. Coffee at Starbucks - around 5, I don't like Starbucks. Coffee in your favorite groseri at home - 75 cents. Fast Food - 5 — 7 dollars per serving. Cocktail - 13 — 15. Cigarettes - 12 — 14, prices vary by location and state (in New Jersey — 7 — 8 dollars).

Ha-ha, and the local McDonald's, by the way, is disgusting, in Russia it is much tastier.

Medicine and pharmacies

There are several types of insurance for different amounts and cover different services. Insurance costs from 200 to 900 dollars per month: depends on the insurance plan that you choose at your discretion.

There is the famous Obamacare, which can be issued by anyone in the States, but it does not get the most highly qualified service, and indeed not any service. In general, it is for the working class.

I have a partly medical insurance (called Aetna): in fact, I can only use it in an emergency. In the spring, I had acute tonsillitis, and I had cold tonsils. When I went to see a doctor, I paid 50 dollars instead of 100. And it did not affect the cost of drugs.

Most drugs are available only with a prescription. That is, even elementary antibiotics are simply impossible to buy. Then, in the spring, at the doctor, I heard what I already knew: “you have tonsillitis, you need antibiotics, okay”. Yes, I know, let's quickly your prescription, doc.

At the same time, the standard pharmacy - pharmacy is the place where you can buy beer, cigarettes, tablets from the head, crackers and socks. That is, in fact, there are two types of pharmacies - like ours, where you can pick up your medicines according to the prescription of the doctor, and pharmacy - where everything is sold, except for medicines. Is it possible to buy Tylenol or Advil for a headache? This is generally the American panacea for all diseases, as I understood.


I think I understood the national American idea: work hard - party hard. Working at times on 60 — 70, or even 80 hours a week and pursuing the modern version of the American dream - putting your youth into making money, after 35 years to retire, having a couple of millions in the account: Americans have a lot of fun.

However, the first time I could not understand why they somehow unemotionally react to the upcoming concerts of the performers, from the mere mention of the names of which I just moved my hair. Having 300 dollars at the time of arrival, in the first week I spent almost a hundred on a rave with Slow Magic in the lead role. Well, how could I miss this! Not regretted a single cent spent. Huge warehouse (abandoned industrial premises, most often a former industrial warehouse) with a crazy sound and several thousand dancers. The usual weekend for them was for me at that time an event of a fantastic scale.

Then I realized what was the matter. Here, there is simply a surplus of concerts: in one weekend you can see as many favorite and desired musicians / DJs as you cannot see in a year if you live “outside the Moscow Ring Road”. Therefore, Americans do not even look too much at lineup.

From illegal technorebs in Brooklyn, where the bar sells only mineral water and do not ask for documents at the entrance, to tidy guarded festivals on nearby islands like Governor's Ball or Panorama, where Diplo, Major Lazer, Foals, FKA Twigs, Bloc Party and other popular guys perform , the sound is specially brought from Coachella and, in addition, will take away a pack of cigarettes at the entrance. Cool Brooklyn clubs with powerful sound systems and rooftops overlooking the famous skyline where I met Bonobo, Nathan Fake and Dusky, an infinite number of DJ bars in the Lower East Side format of our Locals and Zerno plus summer open areas for day parties like Moma PS1 where stand Rihanna and Coldplay.

Why leave somewhere from here, if everything is there. Therefore, one day comes the moment of satiety.

As for prices, a ticket to a concert or party costs 15 — 20 dollars. At a major festival - 300 (or 100 for the day, everything is fair). Go to the movies - 15 dollars. Subscription to the fitness room (just in case, though unlike entertainment) - 20 — 30 dollars a month.

Photo by Julia Gorodetsky


If you feel sad, you can always go for a dollar selfie with Van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum or admire Basquiat at MOMA. And if it’s completely sad and lonely, then you’re on the road to the sex museum, where you can jump on inflatable breasts for a fee or buy condoms with the image of Trump and Hillary on the packaging.

Hobby centers

Shops like Michael's or Blick amaze with their assortment and availability of everything for artists and creators of any type. I go there as a museum, even if I do not need anything. Just admire. Halloween Story or Gothic Stores, which work year-round. I’ve been assembling my Halloween costume this year for a whole week, gradually buying parts all over New York. There are multi-storey books such as Barnes and Noble, second-hand shops, shops with vinyl, designer shops and ice-cream vans.

Netflix and chill

In fact, the name of the famous resource on which the new TV shows are released immediately, has become part of the euphemism: “Netflix and chill” now means in slang “relax at home, watch a movie and have sex”. Torrents are prohibited. Indeed come home fines or warnings. There are workarounds, of course, but Americans prefer to live simpler: Amazon, Netflix, on which every time you try to find something that, in general, seems to be absent in nature; movies on youtube for three dollars. (Yes, and cellular communication costs 50 — 60 dollars per month.) So we live. I hooked up Netflix for a month, and it cost 20 dollars, and then spit and unsubscribed. I do not have time to watch TV shows, and there is always an American friend who has all the subscriptions.

- Yana, are you looking for something that doesn't exist? Again? *

- ...

* Yana, are you again looking for what is not? By new?


I do not know what can not be bought here. Here is everything. Having lived in the country of the winning culture of consumption for a couple of months, I did not want to buy up all the sneakers, clothes, cosmetics, phones that I desperately wanted to buy at home. Perhaps you just calm down, knowing that you can buy anything you want at any time, and you don’t need it. The more I earn, the less I spend on nonsense. I do not know what is switched in my head.

Clothes and shoes - discount centers, online shopping (for girls - Nasty Gal, Missguided, native Asos and Amazon). And all can afford. Almost any brand.

There are also exchange points for hipster clothes like Beacon's Closet or Buffalo Exchange. Such stores, too, by the way, are quite networked, are very popular, because there you can find really unique things at a bargain price. In fact - the same second-hand, only hipster and with labels like Jimmy Choo, MaxMara or products of local designers. And you can carry there unnecessary things and free your wardrobe. Shopping centers - Macy's, Burlington, Bloomingsdale, DSW, etc.

Photo by Julia Gorodetsky


Here the situation is very ambiguous. You can meet a millionaire financier, a student at Columbia University, or a Berkeley graduate in worn sneakers, a beggar hipster, an Australian designer, a novice screenwriter, a bartender — whoever you are — and arrange spontaneous barge-hopping with him all night, chatting and laughing laughing to you, and seem like this is your new best friend. But you will never see him again. That is, people are maximally open to acquaintances, polite, affable and sociable, but almost always it is only on the surface or for the sake of a one-day acquaintance. We, the Russians, regularly seize upon this mental difference, the consequence of which is a misunderstanding of what is happening. I have a few local acquaintances, whom I probably can still call good friends, but certainly not close friends.

On the other hand, almost everyone here is in large numbers: both the emigrants and the Americans themselves. Therefore, even at birthdays, people invite those who do not know, and get acquainted with their guests at home, which for me was a real shock. "Bring whoever" - bring someone you want.

Does not leave a sense of temporality and constant movement. There is a lot of loneliness in this city.


There were moments when I wanted to climb on the wall from anguish. I do not want anyone to think that I came and immediately ended up in a fairy tale. I was in it a little later, but the first few months were very difficult. While you are alone, without friends, here you can just go crazy. It seems around a solid holiday, joy and happiness in the air, but all by you. It takes time, as in any case. And yet - to have a solid rod inside or a broken head to survive and achieve. And the best is both. And the constant attitude to win and positive (I hate this vulgar mot, but it fits here very accurately). And plow. A lot in all directions.

Yes, and the number of urban madmen here is off scale. On the streets, in the subway, everywhere. Sometimes you look at them, inadvertently imagine yourself and think ... Oh, I'm going out next!

Yet loneliness affected not only the dregs of society, but also quite successful and rich people. There are a lot of divorces. Someone lives in a financial marriage, because it is simply more profitable to pay taxes together, pay insurance, etc., but love is long gone, everyone has their own life.

What infuriates

Underground. Constantly under reconstruction. Ten years after my first visit here, everything is the same. Regularly cancel trains or change their routes, there are delays. Something is being repaired there all the time. A lot of stations with shabby walls, debris and dirt on the tracks.

Yes, and in the subway there is no wifi. That is, it is only at the stations (and then through time), but in the cars themselves there. So you catch from station to station.

Sometimes the sorting of garbage is infuriating, for which fines also arrive, if you put something in the wrong place. The landlord can pick it up in your garbage, and if he finds a beer bottle in a stack of cardboard, expect a fine!

Infuriates the garbage itself. It is very dirty and stinks. Although I have already got used to it, but the fact remains: garbage dumps on Broadway, homeless people and rats in the subway. Once a homeless person urinated in my car while another time a certain Latino did it right at the station in public. Probably drunk was. The first rule of the metro is: never get into an empty car, because air conditioning is either not working there, or the homeless is smelly sleeping. I really miss the green. It seems that all the trees collected and unloaded in Central Park.

And, of course, the lack of authenticity. This is my personal point on authenticity. New York - a quilt, boiling cauldron. Apparently, the authenticity of the city lies in this maximum diversity. And, frankly, I'm already used to this, so perhaps this item can be deleted.

Another of the unusual: for any purchase / account plus tax (tax). For lunch at a restaurant, for the purchase of an iPhone, etc. The tax depends on the state, in New York it is 7 — 9% of the cost.

What pleases

Again the subway. Works around the clock. Of course, problems begin outside of Manhattan, but nevertheless you can always leave. Just have to wait. But - quite a bit. By the way, the travel ticket for the metro costs 31 dollar a week, 110 - a month, and a ticket for a suburban bus - from dollar to 20.

Very pleased with the opportunity to issue a European visa (UK), while in the States. It would seem that Americans do not need visas to travel to Foggy Albion, and indeed they don’t need any visas anywhere, that is, this service is created exclusively for non-residents of the country. And thank them for their care! I was issued a visa in five days. By regular mail! I collected a package of documents, shaking hands, put my passport in an envelope and sent it by UPS courier. A week later, I flew to London. In general, the mail here is trusted to send the most important documents (hello “Russian Post”!).

The tradition of giving and giving, pay forward - I love it very much. A wonderful idea that allows you to get rid of the old, renew yourself in a cosmic sense, and also teaches you not to get emotionally attached to junk and help your neighbors. To me as a clinical hoarder - this is what the doctor ordered!

People hand out unnecessary or annoying. They just take everything out to the street next to the house with the posts "free stuff". Or hand out things to friends. Often, when traveling, they give away dishes, some kind of furniture. In this case, everyone knows that all this will be rewarded in a multiple amount.

Security. You can come back from the bar to 3 — 4 hours even in Harlem, and no one will touch a finger. Of course, there are areas where it is better for White not to appear, and generally not to appear to anyone, but in general in Manhattan and the cultivated part of Brooklyn more than calmly at any time of the day.

Availability is almost only 24/7. What to talk about if the AppStore is open around the clock, and one of the most popular youth clothing stores in the H&M format - Forever 21 - until 2 am. I woke up in the middle of the night - jumped into the subway - went to shop. Yes, and there are indeed people everywhere at any time of the day. One Saturday at 6 am I was late for the bus to Washington, ran to the bus station, and people were still (or already?) Sitting in pubs.

Delivery. A lot of time is saved on shopping, almost everything is ordered online.

Photo by Julia Gorodetsky

The Americans

Very funny and cute guys. I adore when people start dancing with the whole store, if they suddenly play a popular track from the speakers. It seems to love and be able to rejoice - this is a national trait.

Therefore, they are so fond of collective gatherings, parades, rallies, and more. Here it is, the very feeling of community and unity with some idea, holiday or any spontaneous event, which they naturally turn into a national celebration.

Elections, gay parades, political rallies, Halloween and St. Patrick's Day, the annual marathon - all in order to get together and make a good sound. No matter what the occasion. And, by the way, each such march is almost always marked on Google Maps, even the rally against Trump was marked on the maps - which street to start on and which one to end on.

What was with me in New York?

I remember how much has happened in the nine months of my life here. As if I lived a separate, new life and have been here for about five years.

Then I held the handle of Sarah Jessica Parker and Pedro Almodovar, danced on the barmitzvahs, cried from affection on Bonobo live, lay in the grass, closed my eyes to the final song of the Arcade Fire "Afterlife", when sparkles scattered on the stage in the air, drank brooklyn cider East River, escaped from the cops in Central Park, admired the fantastic sunsets from the Brooklyn roofs, while the American hipsters rushed water bombs on Independence Day (such a strange tradition).

I received a penalty for improper sorting of garbage, went to mediocre tinder dates, did not understand the Irish bartender, understood the black stand-up comedian, tried the tastiest and most tasteless beer in my life, walked along the famous trails of the Hudson Promenade, told Americans about the British cinema 90 , she visited all the gay parades, travesty shows and rallies, got acquainted with an unimaginable number of disparate people from all over the world, tried not always successful dishes of world cuisines. First cooked a real Thanksgiving turkey and finally fell in love.

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