You did it! You decided to make the big move and get to NYC to start your professional acting career (or not. Still deciding? Check out last week’s piece, Making the Call, here). Great! Hard part’s done. Sort of.
Making your living as an actor in New York is definitely, totally doable—check out Backstage’s testimonials page for a little encouragement. But it will require a little elbow grease on your part.
Not to worry! Backstage is here to guide you through navigating New York as a fresh-faced actor. Here are a few tips to get your through your first week (or two):
Get a MetroCard.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, at least for anyone who’s visited New York, or any city that relies heavily on public transit. But with fare increases back in March, there’s a little math to be done to figure out which route saves you the most money. For your first week, if you’ll be making more than 13 trips total (which would be going almost anywhere in the city, then heading back home every day), you’ll save with a 7-day unlimited. Same deal, more or less, for the 30-day, if you plan on having a day job outside of walking distance, and scheduling auditions after work or on the weekends.
Don’t plan on using your card daily? Here’s how to figure out which card value will get you the most mileage. Be warned, though, those golden numbers are a little out of date, so you’ll have to do your own calculations.
Find a sublet.
MetroCard in hand, it’s time to start exploring places to live. There’s a lot to consider here, including new and available jobs, proximity to theaters and other arts communities, and rent, to say the very least. With many New York apartments requiring long leases, sometimes it can be helpful to find a temporary sublet, which require smaller deposits, shorter stays, and often, lower price points while you look for a place to call home. As in all housing matters, Craigslist is king—but the NYC Gypsy Housing Facebook page is a great place to look and, at least in theory, is only open to artists. As always, exercise caution and common sense when using resources like these—there’s always some element of potential risk, but if you’re on the alert, you’re much less likely to be scammed.
Get your arts fix.
Not only is jumping right into the community a great way to get your foot in the door, but it’s the perfect place to spend a few hours before too many auditions take up your time. There are a lot of ways to see great theater on the cheap, but a favorite is the TodayTix app. Search by price, date, actor/actress, or even Tony nomination—many Broadway shows have lotteries you can enter with the swipe of a finger. Others other discounts exclusive to the app, and you can buy your ticket straight from the platform. Here are even more ways you can save that hard-earned cash while seeing as much theater as possible.
Technology not your thing? Lots of local theaters have rush and lottery tickets available. And if you’re under 30, there are additional discounts with groups like the Playwrights Horizons or TFANA in Brooklyn.
Say no to avocado toast.
Okay, not really. Or not always. But do keep an eye out for cheap eats in the city. They can be tough to find, but artists are definitely in the know when it comes to affordable food. Prosperity Dumpling, Famous Ray’s, and Empanada Mama (to reopen soon!) are some personal favorites.
Subscribe to Backstage.
Another no-brainer, we know. But think about it. You’ll keep getting all your advice, articles, fun lists, and helpful hints, plus all the local castings, straight to your inbox (and/or front door, once you’ve got one). It’s cheaper than avocado toast every weekend.
Just something to think about.
Check out Backstage’s New York City audition listings!