Leaving Atlanta and Landing in New York

by Amanda Tomas

Remember Amanda and Adam? The couple who was saving up as much money as they could to leave Atlanta? A few readers have been emailing me and asking, “What happened to them?” I sent a note to Amanda during the summer, but didn’t receive a response. I then sent another note this week, and Amanda wrote back! She and Adam have made it to New York. Here’s her update. — Mike

We’re doing fine. I keep meaning to write an update, but I never seem to have the time. Things have been pretty crazy and overwhelming and exhilarating and scary and fun.

We live in Brooklyn, in Bensonhurst now. Shortly after moving here I got a temp job that lasted three months at a wine and spirits company. The wine and spirits industry is the best, and my time at the company was great and a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it was temporary and ended on Sept. 25. Since then, I’ve been unemployed one week, worked one week at a temp job at a non-profit theatre company, and am now unemployed again, although I have had a few good interviews. I’m crossing my fingers and holding my breath that I’ll get good news very soon.

Adam moved here and found a job at the same fancy grocery store chain, but happily he’s recently made the jump to working at an office job. Moving away from blue collar work is good and what he wanted, and I will continue to support him in any way I can to make the switch to a professional career even if it means we struggle a little bit financially in the interim.

Speaking of finances, they are not so good. We essentially had $6,000 when we moved here on June 1; $1,000 or so went to the truck rental, food, gas, and one night at a crappy motel; $2,200 went to our first months’ rent and security deposit. Another $1,100 went to second months’ rent. The rest went to living expenses, utilities, and any necessary purchases throughout our first month and second month. All of our savings is gone.

We got jobs during our second month here, July, but in the interim, I also had to cash out my 401(k) ($1,000), and we ran up our credit card to the maximum amount — we currently have $4,500 in credit debt. Our total overarching debts would also include my student loans ($5,000) and Adam’s student loans ($25,000 and currently in deferment).

We were making ends meet and had some disposable income until my temp job ended. Now we are in the thick of it. We will be able to pay all of our bills, but I’m worried about November rent. If things work out this week for me, we will probably be able to just barely make rent. If nothing comes out of this week, and I am unemployed for yet another week, I will probably have to ask my parents for a small loan, around $500. This is deeply embarrassing to me and I feel really frustrated about it. It’s also a relief that they have offered their assistance if worse comes to worst. I hope I don’t have to take them up on it.

I hate the situation we are in now; it’s very stressful and scary. On the other hand, I am extremely happy and exhilarated. There are infinitely more opportunities here than in Atlanta. Here in New York, I feel Adam and I have the chance to gain traction and make some progress economically. In Atlanta, we said, “If we’re doing better, one day…” Here we can say “WHEN we are doing better, soon…” I have already had many interviews at interesting companies, encountered exciting and fascinating opportunities, and I’m sure I will land something decent soon. Adam has been able to finally move out of working retail and into an office job. I know it will probably take him a little longer to catch up to where he would like to be, but seeing real progress is encouraging.

Adam and I are supporting each other. We are kind and affectionate toward each other even in the middle of extremely stressful situations. Our trust in each other has multiplied and our love has survived and probably deepened. Living here has been non-stop stressful, from the first moment — making a wrong turn and having to navigate the tiny streets of Manhattan in our titanic (and uninsured) 18-foot moving truck and trailer, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles and our hearts palpitating — to the present, where I am down to $14 in my bank account. Adam has $200. We get paid at the end of this week.

Nevertheless, we believe that moving here was a good decision. I wish I grew up here; people born in the tri-state area have an enormous advantage over me from their early exposure to the fast economy and network of friends and family. Citizens of New York: You don’t know how good you have it.

This experience has hardened me and made me tougher. It has also forced me to be quick-thinking, adaptable, and relentless. I love it. I don’t want to live here forever, but there is potential here, or maybe I can find the potential within myself here. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, or where my next paycheck will come from but it’s okay. We’ll make it work.

Amanda Tomas hopes you are well and would love to meet you for drinks sometime soon.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.