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Summer intern flies from South Carolina to New Jersey because it’s cheaper than renting

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jun 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-15 17:35:07-04

New York (CNN) — College interns typically find cheap places to live for the summer. One woman is going to great lengths to do that.

South Carolina resident Sophia Celentano commutes to her New Jersey summer internship by plane, weekly, revealing on her TikTok account that it’s actually cheaper than renting near her advertising gig’s New Jersey office.

The 21-year-old’s TikTok, headlined, “Why I take a plane to work,” recently went viral after she posted her routine of waking up at 3 am to catch a flight from Charleston to Newark every Wednesday. She acknowledges it’s a “really untraditional thing to do, but it works for me” because of cost savings and the “flexibility” of living with her family, who she doesn’t see often since she attends the University of Virginia.

Rather than spending “$3,400+ a month for rent, I book a $100 round-trip flight on the one day a week I work in-person” as a corporate marketing intern, she explained on her LinkedIn account. “Plus, my untraditional commute provides me with more lifestyle freedom, and I genuinely look forward to my weekly adventures.”

The median cost of renting an apartment in Manhattan was a record $4,241 in April, according to a report from Douglas Elliman, a brokerage, and Miller Samuel, an appraisal and consultant firm.

Her employer, Oglivy Health, requires interns to be in its New Jersey office usually one day a week. A job listing said a similar internship pays around $15 to $20 per hour. The firm didn’t respond for comment.

Celentano wrote that her employer knows her situation and that it “was never an issue.” (Another factor for doing all this might be the office’s suburban location in Parsippany, New Jersey, which she said she didn’t want to do – it can be a little dull for a young intern.)

The way she saves money is by flying Spirit, an airline known for its dirt-cheap flights. She said that costs her about $100 every week, plus another $100 on Uber rides to and from the airport and another $25 on food. In total, she’s spending $2,250 in commuting costs for a 10-week internship.

Celentano claims to be saving be saving at least $2,000 this summer by doing this rather than living, working and playing in New Jersey or New York. She’s staying at her family’s home in Charleston at a time rents in Manhattan have reached record highs, with Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City also nearing record highs.

In response to the reaction her videos received, Celentano told CNN that “wasn’t expecting so many people to be surprised by my commute” because her parents both have similar setups with their employers.

“I’ve grown up seeing the flexibility and benefits that provides their lifestyle, so I didn’t really think twice about super commuting this summer. I understand though why people were so shocked by my decision,” she said. “The financial peace would definitely be shocking from an outside perspective; the fact that commuting is cheaper for me, says a lot about the current cost of living and pressures young adults face as they enter the working world.”