In “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw makes living in New York City seem so glamorous. She’s often seen attending new restaurant openings with a cosmopolitan in one hand or walking the New York streets questioning why Big won’t love her back. But one thing that’s painfully obvious throughout the series is that the ladies rarely cross that bridge into Brooklyn. Even when Miranda moved to Brooklyn in season 6, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte were not feeling it too much.
Well, here we are in 2015 where Brooklyn is now considered everyone’s new favorite borough of the metro area. I’ve lived in Brooklyn all my life and have witnessed the transformation. I’ve also noticed that among the new people I meet who are writers, they’ve come from all over the world to follow their dreams of having a successful writing career.
So I’m here as your Brooklyn fairy godmother to give you some tips (besides getting yourself a roommate) on surviving in Brooklyn your first year as a writer. I believe these tips are useful for longtime Brooklynite’s and those who have just moved to the borough.
Tip 1: Invest in a MetroCard
A MetroCard is a little gold card that you load with a certain amount of money that you swipe to pay for your train and bus fare. Back in the day, commuters used tokens to pay for their train and bus rides, today it’s the MetroCard. Now, Carrie may have gotten around the city in a city cab, but that can add up. If you’re a fairly new writer living in Brooklyn you may need a higher income to afford daily rides in a cab or via Uber. And owning your own car and dealing with minimal parking (unless your building offers an underground parking garage), gas prices, or the high costs of parking lots isn’t worth it. The subways and buses run often and they’ve improved since the 80’s and old episodes of Law & Order, A LOT! There’s minimal graffiti (if at all) and they are safer. In some of them, they even offer free Wi-Fi. If you buy an unlimited MetroCard you’re good to go practically anywhere in the city. There are fare hikes but when MTA’s fares go up you can bet the same will happen with the cabs. A MetroCard is like a golden ticket…that you pay for.
Tip 2: Buy your produce from local fruit and vegetable markets or green markets
Eating out is all good and everything, but if you are trying to stay in shape and reduce the amount of times you get sick, especially during our freezing winters, you’ve got to learn how to cook for yourself. Your oven is not an extra drawer for your things. With this said, we don’t have farms in Brooklyn (that I know of) but we have fruit and vegetable markets located all over Brooklyn and they sell their produce for reasonable prices. If you don’t have these markets in your area, do research online for green markets where you can get produce for great prices. At the Grand Army Plaza entrance of Prospect Park there are several green markets offered throughout the year where you can get super fresh produce, most organic.
Tip 3: Do most of your home goods shopping at Brooklyn discount stores
Target is great, believe me I know. But you’d be surprised what you can find at discount stores. To give you an example, I purchased mason jars from my local dollar store for $1 each. And found a collection of Pyrex branded bowls and cookware for under $10. At stores like Bobby’s and Bargain Hunter, I’ve been able to decorate my bathroom, kitchen and living room for a little over $100. I promise, I’m not making this up! I still shop at Target for some home goods, but for the most part I buy my home goods from discount stores because they sell most of the same items Target does, but for less.
Tip 4: Join a writers or ladies/guys night out group
As a writer, landing gigs has a lot to do with what you know and how great you can write, but it also depends on who you know. Your connections are everything in New York and can get you a coffee date with that publisher who will change your writing life. A great way to connect with other writers is through writers groups. I find most of my groups online on MeetUp.com. This website isn’t only good for finding writing groups, you can find groups for just about any interests you have even groups for writers who just moved to New York. Another great place to find writers and to receive critiques on your work (this one is mostly for writers of novels, memoirs, poetry) is the New York Writers Coalition that hosts workshops in the Central Brooklyn Public Library. Free feedback plus an opportunity to meet fellow writers and make solid connections! Win-win if you ask me.
Tip 5: Make Groupon and LivingSocial your go-to place for everything else
Chances are you’ll be living on a budget, so Groupon and LivingSocial needs to be your go-to place for everything else like entertainment, grooming, training, headshot photos for your website, or when you don’t want to cook and need to treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant. Groupon, LivingSocial and other apps like it offer great deals on places around Brooklyn and all of New York. My advice is to do a little research on the deals you find on these sites. Sometimes you can get the offers for cheaper elsewhere. Plus, you want to make sure you’re not purchasing an acupuncture session at a place in the back alley of a Chinese takeout restaurant. Not saying those exist, I’m just saying do your homework.
*This post is Day 2 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge*