The Newcomers

Why I moved to NYC from Tennessee: After bailing on a toxic job, my inner voice told me it was now or never

  • 'The rental qualification process in NYC is grueling compared to other cities I've lived in'
  • She saw 10 properties before landing a one-bedroom in an UWS walk-up for $2,500
  • Renting directly from the landlord meant not having to pay a broker's fee
By Kelly Kreth  |
February 24, 2023 - 9:30AM
tylar upper west side apartment

A brand director by day and creative freelancer by night, Tylar Paige says she has plenty of room to paint and write in her new one-bedroom rental. 

After quitting her job in Nashville, Tylar Paige felt if she didn’t head to NYC right then, she might never get to live there. So go she did. Heading to New York City with no job and no apartment might be daunting to some, but Tylar's sense of adventure guided her through. Here's her story. 


I was born in Huntington, West Virginia, and raised there and in Clover, South Carolina. After moving around a bunch, I went to Detroit when I was 20 because a guy I was dating was from there. Even though the relationship didn't work out, Detroit instantly felt like home––so, I stayed! I studied communication at Oakland and then taught dance while doing freelance designing.

Most recently I lived in Marathon Village near downtown Nashville with Bula, my bulldog-boxer dog. I rented a 700-square-foot two-bedroom for $1,700. I found it online because I was moving from Florida and didn't have time to go see in person. It was not a very nice place, but I made it my own.

I loved my next-door neighbor; she was great. I also liked being able to just open the door to let my dog go outside as my unit was on the ground floor and included a yard. It also had an old washer and dryer, which was convenient. But that was it—I didn't like anything else about the apartment or building. 

[Editor's Note: Brick Underground's series The Newcomers features first-person accounts about why a renter or buyer decided to take a chance on NYC and live here now. Have a story to share? Drop us an email. We respect all requests for anonymity.]

I didn't much like the rundown neighborhood, either, which was being gentrified. And despite being within walking distance to a lot of area attractions, I didn't often feel safe walking around after dark.

My commute to my job as brand director for an advertising agency was a quick 10-minute drive down the freeway. I had a car and never used public transportation. 

Being so close to downtown Nashville, I always had food options around, as well as tons of grocery stores. Marathon Motor Works was a few blocks away and has tons of great little shops and restaurants. My favorites were the Corsair Distillery and The Southern Engine. 

It was, as you can imagine, very "country." Everywhere you went had live music and overpriced beers. People in general tended to be a bit ageist; I felt as though if you were not under 30, you weren't "cool" and didn't really fit in. 

Why she left her job and headed to NYC

In October 2022, I resigned from my job. I felt the work environment was very toxic. I woke up and said to myself, “If you don’t go to NYC right now, you may never get there.” It has been my dream since the first time I saw pictures of NYC as a kid to live there. So I told myself to just go. I'm the crazy girl who moved to NYC without a job! 

I donated almost everything I owned and packed the rest into my car, then drove to Detroit, left my car at a friend's house. and took a one-way flight to LGA on October 29th. I sublet a room for the first month in East Williamsburg that I found through the NYC Sublets & Apartments Facebook group. (I am still friends with my 26-year-old male roommate!) Then I had to sort of couch-surf with new friends until I could land a job and get my own apartment. 

It took two months of pounding the pavement every day to find a job. I knocked on doors and handed out resumes and even branded bottle openers! I am now an advertising director for a company in Soho and a creative freelancer on the side.  

How she found her new digs

Job in hand, I started my apartment search. I knew I wanted to be in Manhattan—anywhere that was a safe neighborhood with a lot of nearby activities, close to the train for commuting, and around $2,500 a month. I was fine with a studio of at least 400 square feet. 

The rental qualification process in NYC is grueling compared to other cities I've lived in. Having good credit is all you need to get an apartment in Nashville or most places in Florida. In NYC, I had to show 40 times the rent in annual income, prove I had at least 10 times the rent in the bank, provide an employment letter, and show I had good credit. 

I had a real estate agent but was also hunting on my own. I saw about 10 properties before finding a 600-square-foot one bedroom on the Upper West Side in a small, prewar building. My rent is $2,500 and I ended up renting directly from a landlord, so I dodged the broker fee. 
My unit is on the fourth floor of a walk-up. I have plenty of room to paint (I’m an artist) and my bedroom window has a cute nook where I can write (I’m an author too). I love that I can take one flight up to the rooftop, which has stunning city views—especially at sunset. 

I take my laundry to a full-service cleaner once a week; it's actually really nice to have someone do that for me and it isn't too expensive.

What she thinks of her new nabe

The UWS is great. It is really cultural and there are lots of great restaurants, shops, and entertainment within walking distance in either direction.  

I enjoy going to 5 Napkin Burger for brunch (can't beat the two-for-one mimosas!). Dive Bar on 96th Street is a great local hangout with awesome drink specials and amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. Housing Works is a cute thrift store around the corner––I love finding great deals there since I had to buy all new furnishings.

Food shopping is a weekly chore because I only want to carry a bag or two home. There are great grocers nearby, it just depends on what I need. Zabar's is a favorite spot for specialty foods and unique finds. Ordering in is always super-fast here, and I love that drivers will walk all the way to deliver to my door. That's the best and I always tip extra.

I love how close I am to Central Park, and that I can easily get anywhere on the subway and to my office in only 10 minutes. I love taking the train everywhere—I put my phone away, grab my journal, and write as much as I can during my commute. I am always looking for free time and the subway gives me that, plus tons of inspiration for writing.

How her social life is going

Making friends here has been easy. My neighbors are all great; we take care of each other. I love how down-to-earth and straightforward people are—just like I am! I’ve only been here a short time and already have a few new gal pals and sports buddies of all ages. Although I am not currently dating, people flirted with me often enough that I feel confident I could date when I am ready. 

My family and friends from before are supportive of how I followed my heart. They haven't visited yet but say they love my apartment based on photos. One friend even commented that she used to envy Carrie Bradshaw’s NYC apartment––until she saw mine. 

I’m happy to be a New Yorker and have no intention of leaving. I love everything about my place and neighborhood. 



Kelly Kreth

Contributing writer

Contributing writer Kelly Kreth has been a freelance journalist, essayist, and columnist for more than two decades. Her real estate articles have appeared in The Real Deal, Luxury Listings, Our Town, and amNewYork. A long-time New York City renter who loves a good deal, Kreth currently lives in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment in a luxury building on the Upper East Side.

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