A recent grad living in the big city surviving on entry level pay, happy hour prices and making new friends the whole way through
Moving to a new city, especially a big one, is always scary and even more so when you don’t have your best friends with you. I’ve never had to make friends before - I never moved growing up and was always with the same group of kids from grade school to high school. Now college might have been my first experience trying to make friends, but then I just joined a sorority and everything was easy from there. Basically what I’m saying is that being in a city where I know so few people I find myself needing to learn how to make friends.
One thing I’ve found out about this whole friend making situation is that it costs a lot of money. I’ve met lots of interesting people and definitely some that I enjoy going out with with more than others, but no matter the person I always accept an invite out. Now remember when i said my parents taught me never spend more than you have? Well, I think this is the one aspect of my life that I’ll ignore that advice. When you aren’t great friends with someone yet you usually choose somehing like dinner of coffee, maybe drinks of a sports game - no matter what you decide on it usually costs money and that money usually isn’t budgeted into my intern salary. However, part of the city experience is the social scene and all the awesome things it has to offer.
So with this said, although I may be disappointed that it’s another week of rice and black beans, I never regret spending that unplanned case on dinner with new friends or nights out that I may not remember totally (I’m still trying to learn that I’m not in college anymore). Sometimes you have to spend a little in the beginning to make something that lasts.
It seems like all people living in this city are fashionable. Just taking a walk during my lunch break is like viewing Tommy Hilfiger’s newest collection. I wouldn’t say that I am a trailblazer in the fashion industry nor do I spend that much time attempting to keep up with the trend of the week, but I like to look put together and that I at least pick up the newest issue of Vouge. But something about living in my new home has made me self conscious about what season my clothes are and how many years I’ve actually been wearing that same sundress.
This self conscious feeling makes it ever so tempting to pull out my credit card, head down to Michigan Avenue and make my wordrobe into that stylish young profesh that I see ever day during my lunch. But, unfortunately my parents taught me that you can’t spend more than you have - I know I’ll thank them later for this, but now it just sucks being responsible. Instead I have had to revert to Plan B in order to reinvent my closet and help become one those lunch time models (don’t worry though, Plan B still includes Michigan Ave).
Plan B - it does include Michigan Ave, only without the credit card. There is still an awesome feeling about walking in to high end stores, browsing through their newest collections and enjoying the overall shopping process. Even though I may not be able to afford to whip out my card at these stores now, I will eventually and browsing in the present will make it all the more fun to actually walk out of them with bags of clothes later in life. For now, I merely take note of the shopping high I get and make a mental note of what I would buy had I no money conscious and then I head off to the nearest discount store or consignment shop and being my search. I know neither of these will have “this season” clothes and it is a total hunting process to find something you like, in your size that is actually flattering, but I have to admit that when I do make a great find and I check the price tag it’s all worth it. Then when I wear my discounted purchases and walk around during my lunch, I can pretend to be one of those lunch time models.
But, don’t let any of this fool you - I still have to fight myself not to whip out my plastic card at Nordstrom and buy that cashmere wrap dress :)
The first thing I think about when visiting a new city: restaurants. Well, I guess I could preface this with the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is food as well, so it’s a pretty big part of my life - a part of my life that I thoroughly enjoy participating in. Posh cities always have top of the line eateries, so needless to say this wasn’t something I put off exploring in my new city.
Restaurants, good ones however, are difficult to fit into the budget of an intern. This is where client meetings and expense accounts come into play. The best part about being an intern is that your financial instability is common knowledge so everyone wants to help you cut corners where ever possible, including taking you to lunches or dinners. Please note: this could possibly be the ONLY positive thing about interning, going to cool restaurants, eating great food and not having to pick up the tab. It’s almost like dating with out having to kiss anyone at the end of the night.
However, if you aren’t so lucky to find people who feel the need to save your bank account then you’re pretty much stuck eating rice and beans all week so you can save up enough money to check out the new French bistro on State. I thoroughly believe that I can go five days on close to nothing (well let’s say nothing that tastes good) in order to have a nice dinner out. But once you’re sitting at the table, the one with the real table cloth and real napkins, and you’re with your friends looking around at all the trendy and attractive people sitting around you - you can pretend that you aren’t a intern for a moment and instead you’re an old pro who just decided spur of the moment to check out the new place in town with a few friends.
Growing up I always imagined my life would end up the way every romantic comedy movie depicted - landing a dream job, living in a posh city and falling in love with the perfect guy when I least expect it while doing something incredibly embarrassing.
Well, I guess I’m a third of the way there because I am living in a very cool city, but I’ve yet to land my dream job nor have I found my Matthew McConaughey. The only problem with living in a posh city without your dream job or your dream guy? You’re living on a budget with no one to take you on extravagant dates or show you the ins and outs of the territory. I’m working as a post-grad intern making hourly pay that is even less than I originally planned when I forgot to include taxes in the equation. I’ve been in my dream city for two months now and have learned a thing or two about city living with limited funds.
So, I’ve decided that I have a lot to say about this topic. It’s tough to enter the real world on an intern’s salary while fitting in with all the new social pressures, attempting to making friends and explore your new home all the while on a strict budget.
This will have my take as a recent grad starting my ‘adult life’ in my posh city on an intern’s salary. Hope you enjoy.