My husband should have known what he was getting into.
In 2014, Erin and her family moved from the U.S. to Estonia, a member country of the European Union and NATO between Finland, Latvia and Russia, where English, Estonian and Russian are all widely spoken. Their decision was based on the cost and quality of living, health care system, levels of technology and other benefits not available in the U.S., like free public transportation. Erin is now in the master’s program at Tallinn University on a full scholarship and working part-time at a non-profit organization supporting civil society in Russia; her husband is self-employed and works online. The family’s residence permits are currently based on her educational status, but could be supported by her husband’s status as a business owner as well. Subject to approval and a language test, one can apply for permanent residency after five years of temporary residency in Estonia, which allows living and working in any E.U. country. Estonia does not allow dual citizenship, so they plan to stay U.S. citizens.
This summer, my friend Rachel Bailey was working as a waitress in Athens, Ga., doing social media for some restaurants, writing when she could, but not as much as she wanted—just scraping by in a town where it’s easy, sometimes even fun, to just scrape by. But she wasn’t having fun. She’d been out of college a few years and had imagined something more for her 20s. She was feeling anxious, stagnant and just generally crappy about life. And then she hit her head in a piggybacking accident and almost died. And then things got better.
It did not take the newest financial planning app to get me out of debt. It did not take a large cash windfall or death of some mysterious, wealthy relative who I’d never met. It was a lot more low-tech than that.
I’m a rising sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which has an approximate yearly price tag of around $24,800. That, along with its good reputation, was why I decided to attend Cal Poly instead of an exotic, $60K-a-year-with-no-aid-package East Coast private school I had envisioned for myself since sixth grade.
This look is selfie-optimized and inspired by Hedy Lamarr and old-school showgirls, with a nod to Karl Sagan and the Egyptian goddess Nuit.
I interviewed at Handybook in July 2013. My temp job had just ended and I was desperate for a steady job, and was relieved and excited when I got an email from Handy scheduling me for a phone interview.
Talking with my friends in similar positions to mine, it started to seem like having a job and a half at 25-ish was the norm, or at least a norm, rather than an anomaly. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in August 2014, about 6.8 million people held more than one job. A little over half of those, 3.6 million people, had a secondary part-time job in addition to a primary full-time job. Although multiple job-holders only make up just 4.7 percent of the employed population, that adds up to more than the populations of Los Angeles and Chicago put together. Even for those with non-essential side hustles, it’s a response to wage stagnation, if nothing else; more is more, so work if you can get it.
Almost two years ago, upon, once again, moving back to New York, I subleased a studio apartment on Essex Street from a friend who was leaving town. When she gave me a brief rundown of things-to-know about the apartment, she told me that every two weeks, a cleaner came to the apartment.
The cleaner has a key, my friend said. There’s no phone number for her, but there is a phone number for her nephew, Angel. She does not speak English, but Angel does. Just leave $20 on the table every other Tuesday morning.
Hindsight is 20-20. My nearsighted eyes are not, but there isn’t much I can do about that right now. I can’t afford to visit an optometrist for a new pair of glasses. My vision insurance, along with my sense of self-worth and steady biweekly paychecks, were ripped away from me last month when I was laid off. I hadn’t seen the axe coming and was devastated by the news. I might also have been financially ruined were it not for the existence of unemployment insurance and a committed partner I can rely on to pick up any financial slack.