Mission in three (expensive) towns

Hi gang,

Let’s try to imagine a not-so-young writer playing the young student. He has earned a grant from his university, and should go studying and working in an English-speaking country for three months. His links with various companies point him toward three towns and their surroundings: London, New York City, San Francisco.

Despite the grant, all of these towns are immensely expensive for his standards. The logical solution, being a student, would be to share a room with other students listening kid-rock all day long. Not sure about the quality of the prisons in these countries, he would still prefer to find a room, better yet a studio, just for himself.

What should he do, just after landing and staring at the town’s lights, standing with his cardboard bag in one hand? Buying a tent and sleeping under the most comfortable bridge? Looking around for catholic organizations offering a bed to the poor migrants? Contacting an artist’s association, and playing a jingle at the honky-tonky piano to certify he is an artist?

Another solution would be escaping from the mad crowd, and go to Malta. Their English could be questionable, but so what to say about the workers he met in California years ago? They speak mostly Italian, but so is at London.

But no. A realistic solution for the above towns would be much better for a brave not-so-young-boy. He should listen to his friends, and find a room somewhere in the immense periphery of the big towns. But where? How?



If it were me, I’d seek contacts through acquaintances or acquaintances of acquaintances before I went. And choose the city partly based on those contacts.

Sorry to sound so obvious, but to land up in London, say, and then seek one’s garret unguided would seem to me to be too stiff a challenge.


What he said.

Also, in NY there are short lease brokers that can help make arrangements for longer visits. If you are looking to NYC focus on the outer edges with immediate access to rail. You commute will be a tad longer, but you will actually have money to buy bread every 2 weeks or so.

That last one was a joke.

I’ll see if I can get you some names and numbers.

Well, you could pick a city that wasn’t among the most expensive in the English-speaking world…

But if you’ve got your heart set on those three, you might look at house exchange programs between your university and one in your target city. In a house exchange, someone studying at your university lives in your house/apartment, while you live in theirs.

Many US universities will also have a student housing office, which exists to connect landlords with rooms or apartments to rent with tenants. As an older student with quieter habits, you’d be an especially desirable tenant, too. They can be a great resource if you can plausibly claim a connection to the university.


What Katherine said. Unless the research grant is specifically about any of these cities, or in tangent, what life is like in the most expensive cities the world has to offer—there are plenty of smaller cities in all of the major English speaking countries which will in some cases offer a flavour of these larger cities, without the thousands of USD/mo for a decent place to live. If the cities are the objects being studied, then I would select one based on its connectivity to neighbouring nearby settlements. SanFran would probably be the best option here, as it has extensive, and cheap rail, and “hard edges” London and NYC have soft edges, which means you need to commute for much longer to get to the cheap stuff. SanFran has a harder edge, with much, much cheaper accommodations an hour out by rail. This is probably largely due to age. Anything on the West coast of the USA is by definition extremely young (not that NYC is very old, by world standards of course, but it has at least had a few centuries to knock around!)

Another thing to consider, especially if “tramping it” might be a possibility, is climate. I would go SanFran, London, NYC for that equation—and not just for the climate. It is not as easy being homeless in NYC as it used to be, bad winters aside. Sleeping in a tent through the winter would be entirely feasible in San Francisco; it has a climate not too dissimilar from coastal Italy, for that matter.

Paolo, il mio amico,
Takes a cat to sort a problem. :wink: youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Take care

Keeping the advice fabulous.

In London you can try squatting.
thesite.org/homelawandmoney/ … /squatting


If the grant is not City specific I would head SOUTH (In America). The cost of living is much, much cheaper.

Mr Wock
Paolo is a sophisticated, cultured, sensitive aesthete! :open_mouth: Why are you sending him down amongst a bunch of rednecksnhillbillies :confused:

Saints preserve us! [size=85](or poalo)[/size]

Wherever you are traveling, for shorter term stays (which can sometimes be extended into longer term stays) check out couchsurfing.org/. Although common sense is required here, it is a monitored community with somewhat “open” communications when it comes to contact between members, it is an invaluable resource when traveling. I have used it to both stay with complete strangers, glean information about a region directly from locals, and meet fellow travelers while en route.

One person I stayed with during my research journey turned out to be a historical archivist for a place I was studying. Not only are we professional peers now, but also very good friends.

Poking around their website and community boards might also give you ideas about less expensive places to stay near the cities you wish to visit.


Just wondering where you’ve got to on this? I live in London and may be able to help. PM me if you like and we can talk about it.

Hi Everybody,

Sorry for having disappeared for a while. It has been a very hectic time. I’m catching up, and will be back very soon. In the meantime, I would like to thank you all for the precious hints and help offers.


All you have to do is keep an ear out for Banjo’s

Miss prissy mousehound dont knowd ysall meand, duelling kind likea these here :smiling_imp: youtube.com/watch?v=Uzae_SqbmDE:

Mr wock,
This place youve moved to, Gelatine. Are you being accommodated on some Hillbilly Refugee Resettlement program, for the [i]Shine Addled[/i]? I think its wonderful the way Mr Obama is helping the needy and underprivileged.
Take care Mr wock (watch out for Falcons)

In his neck o’ the woods, the problem isn’t the falcon, but the cooper, the sharp shinned, and the red shoulder hawk. The later hours would bring the screech, the barn, the gray, and the wood owl. But then with that hat, a simple head butt might make most of his problems go away.

Yd think with that lot, that one of emd get its act t`gether. It only a pigeon, norra Terradactyl!! Jeezz!!

But he’s armed.