New York City is a great place to visit and everyone wants to live here.
Even if they can't afford to move here.
Online fund-raising sites -- long dollar incubators for disaster relief, funerals, and medical bills -- are now seed money-generators for young creative types wanting to move to NYC.
"I have been dreaming of living in New York City since my first visit in 8th grade," reads the plea on dancer JesAnn Nail's page on GoFundMe, the most popular site for aspiring New Yorkers.
"Help Noodle move to NYC!" and "Help Amanda B. move to NYC!" plead other postings.
Some of the supplicants plan to arrive without jobs, apartments or plans. Others have been accepted into internships, schools and even jobs, but are, umm, a little short on cash.
Who wouldn't be? In June, Kiplinger.com dubbed NYC the nation's most expensive city to live in, citing housing costs in Manhattan that were 4.5 times the national average. In Brooklyn, costs are 3.5 times the national norm. A T-Bone steak from a Manhattan grocer cost about $15.52 -- twice the price of one in Harlingen, Texas, the publication determined.
It was hard to ask for help moving to the nation's most expensive city because "it's not like I was asking for a new kidney," admitted Amy Rush, 37, a puppeteer who raised $1,053 on GoFundMe so she could accept a temporary position at the Jim Henson Foundation in NYC.
Nail, 31, a professional dancer, posted her entreaty on her birthday as a present to herself, and in August moved from Austin, Texas, to Park Slope, raising $1,425 of her $3,000 goal. "I used that money for rent, the first month's rent and moving expenses," she said.
NYC has always lured young artists and performers, said Andrew de Stackelberg, 22, of Orange County, California. "There is definitely an aura that people in New York support the arts and are open to new things," and a belief the city offers opportunities to perform and grow, said the Cal State Fullerton student.
After being invited to audition for the graduate school programs at the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard, de Stackelberg couldn't afford to fly himself and his double bass (it requires its own airline ticket) to NYC.
So he solicited financial help online, raising $890 of a $3,500 goal -- $500 of which was contributed by an anonymous donor.
Young artists need help starting careers today, said de Stackelberg, because they have inherited record levels of student debt and their parents are often in no position to help. His mother is disabled, his parents lost a home to foreclosure and have other children to support.
And despite holding three jobs -- orchestra librarian, private music teacher, and employee at a music supply store -- de Stackleberg's wages have fallen far behind inflation.
But if people can't afford to move here, how the heck will they survive when they arrive?
New New Yorkers better have a lucrative job waiting for them, or enough dough to live for one year "if they don't want to wind up at a shelter or on food stamps," warned Karen Altfest, co-owner of Altfest Personal Wealth Management in Manhattan. Fundraising to move to NYC "is not a very practical response," to the challenge of affording it, she declared.
Kim Sgroi, managing director of the relocation service Intrepid New Yorker, was stunned to hear of the pluck displayed by newcomers. "They think $1,000 or $2,000 will do what -- pay for a hotel for a week?" she exclaimed. "They need to go online first and see how long they can stay at a hotel that doesn't have bugs."
But NYC has always attracted starving artists, writers and performers hoping for a big break. The writer E.B. White wrote that of the three types of New Yorkers -- natives, commuters and transplants -- it is those who move here who give the city its "high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievement."
Still, "If they they don't have a job, they won't be able to prove their income to a landlord," should they want to rent an apartment, said Daniel Baum, owner of the relocation firm Daniel Baum & Co. New York landlords want tenants with excellent credit and an annual income 40 times the monthly rent, said Baum, who added that New York taxes, too, are likely to take newcomers by surprise.
Nail concedes that the money given her to move here "is gone. It went very quickly." But she is now booking dance students from social dancing forays and from her website, jesannnail.com, and producing paintings she hopes to sell. Her boyfriend -- who landed a $1,900 a month apartment -- has helped her out and while she is not yet able to pay her share, she plans to remain. "If you're willing to live in the boroughs, you can make it work," said Nail.
"At the 11 month mark, things become a little less magical and wonderful," admitted Rush, who moved here in September 2012, leaving behind almost all her belongings and paying CarMax $2,000 to assume the note on her new Nissan because she couldn't afford it in NYC. For $900 a month, she had a beautiful loft of her own in downtown Atlanta. Here, she pays $900 a month to share a Bushwick loft with two roommates. "I'm a 37-year-old woman who no longer has a car and lives with people younger than herself and I collect quarters like I did in college," to do laundry, she said.
Living here, said Rush, is like being the child in "The Emperor's New Clothes," who sees truths others ignore. Her puppetry experiences have been amazing, but the things people do to survive -- like subletting their bedrooms -- are alarming. "They go away for a week and have someone pay to sleep in their bed. People don't do that anywhere else!" said Rush, noting she and one roommate "wound up living with a stranger for two months."
Affluent friends in Atlanta envy her life in exciting New York, but she has amassed thousands in credit card debt as she squeezes by on various part-time jobs with no benefits, suffering, as do others, for art. "I have a constant base level of financial stress that other people don't have," admitted Rush.
Of course, there are people raising money online to stay in New York City, too.
But that "would be just too desperate," said Rush. "I'd like to stay here forever. But it may not be financially feasible," she said.