A brief stay in an AirBNB on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side in 2014 was all it took for Aimee Hocking to want to live in New York City. Soon after returning home to Melbourne from that 2014 Americas trip (which also included Brazil for the soccer World Cup), Aimee knew it was time to attempt her long time goal of living overseas. As Aimee describes it, “New York stood out” and she got swept up by the energy and adventure of the city. She was hooked! So Aimee packed her bags a few months later and headed to the US.
Now, after more than seven years in NYC, Aimee shares her experiences, tips and tricks on surviving life in the big city and how to quell any bout of homesickness.
What do you do for work in NYC?
I am a Marketing Director of GoGo squeeZ, a nutritious kid’s snack (in Australia I worked in marketing on brands like Pascall lollies, Sour Patch Kids and belVita Breakfast Biscuits).
What neighborhood do you live in? Why did you choose it? Why do you like living in it?
I currently live in Jersey City, but I have spent time in Williamsburg, East Village, up in Connecticut and down in the Jersey Shore during the peak of the pandemic. I believe trying different neighborhoods is a fantastic way to get a diverse experience and I highly recommend living in at least two boroughs.
Whilst my most cherished times were in Williamsburg, I was so glad I lived in Manhattan and more specifically East Village with its gritty soul with endless options of dive bars, restaurants, and eclectic shops. I fondly remember many days shooting hoops at my local basketball court across the street before getting a slice of pizza which felt sooo NYC to me.
What were your first impressions of NYC and how has that changed since you have lived here?
I moved here with no job and savings which I burned through quickly, so the early days were pretty cash-strapped but I was swept up by the adventure of it all. I remember the culture when I first moved here, the diversity of people, the Brooklyn warehouse parties and hearing music that was way cooler than anything I’d listened to back home. I don’t think NYC has changed as much as I’ve gotten older and less wild (laughs).
What do you like/dislike about living in NYC?
I love meeting people in NYC from all walks of life and hearing their stories. New Yorkers are very openminded and it has shaped my perspective coming from a relatively insular part of Australia. On dislikes, it’s been seven years and I am still not comfortable with the cold winters here!
What’s the biggest challenge or roadblock you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how do/did you overcome it?
The visa/job hunt has been an absolute grind at times and certainly stressful. One memorable moment was getting kicked out of the US embassy in Barbados trying to get my new visa! But I’ve become very driven and resilient. With patience and hard work you can make your dreams happen here, you just have to stay positive and want it enough to persevere.
What’s your biggest achievement since living in NYC?
My biggest achievement was getting my green card. It was years in the making, such a relief and freeing moment.
What are some ‘only in New York’ moment/s you’ve had?
The peoplewatching is unmatched! From the talented subway dancers hustling for their next dollar to the interesting people you see walking in the street and brief moments that you wish you could snap on camera to share with your friends back home.
How did you land your job in NYC? I used my network to land my first job then a recruiter helped me find my current role.
As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?
The key difference for me is the New York grind. There is less sense of work/life balance from everyday hours, to taking time off, so having a sense of drive (and purpose) is important. There is less vacation time unfortunately, which limits my opportunities to travel for longer periods.
How has being in NYC changed or developed your career?
In marketing, NYC has given me a more well-rounded career – I went from often adapting global work in Australia, to the US where you are the lead market and can be more creative, building things from the ground up, such as advertising campaigns. Last year I was able to be on set filming commercials from the OC in California, to the red rocks of the National Parks in West Colorado and a sleepy small town in Florida.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC? Try to find a rent stabilized building to live in for peace of mind or connect with our amazing Aussie network to snap up one of the many apartments that open up as people leave.
What advice do you have for professionals who want to relocate to NYC? Networking really gives you a leg up in your job search as it’s very competitive here. If you don’t know anyone, leverage LinkedIn to follow people in prospective companies, comment on posts (or find people though comments), share thought leadership articles to build a network and presence.
Have you kept connections with Aussies/NZers in NYC? If so.. what does that community of Aussies mean to you (being so far from home)? I am part of the Communications team at AWNY so it’s brilliant to have that shared experience of living away from home. There is also that inherent mateship and trust, you feel like people have your back if you need advice and I like to offer the same in return.
What do you miss most about Aus/NZ? My family for sure, as my parents get older it does tug on the heartstrings and it’s difficult, particularly in recent times, to be apart for years.
What do you do to quell the homesickness while in New York? That’s easy, I love visiting one of the many Aussie brunch haunts to get the best scrambled eggs in town.
Fave place in NYC? Wandering around the streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn – my home for the first few years here.
Favorite NYC brunch spot? Banter NYC
Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice Hotel Delmano in Williamsburg is one of my favorites over the years. Grab a spot at the bar and order a Perro Y Gato – the carrot in it almost makes it feel healthy!
Connect with Aimee
Email: email@example.com or find her on Facebook.