A city of diversity and disparity, hovering from extreme wealth and power to homelessness, from utmost popularity to total anonymity, from high hopes to broken dreams – the Big Apple has it all. That’s why moving to New York City and becoming a citizen of the unofficial Capital of the World is an adventure unlike anything else in your life.
Even though it is not large in area, it has around 8.6 million inhabitants and living here is not always easy, but it is always exciting. So, if you encounter impatience among New Yorkers, give them a break. Underneath that rigid attitude, there is kindness you just need to discover. An interesting fact is that almost half of the population are people born outside the US, which is just another proof of the Big Apple’s global appeal and its profoundly international character.
The competition here is extreme, and “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” as the famous song says, is true regardless of whether you’re in the field of media, finance, tech or any other industry. The fierce competition has led many businesses to work around the clock, so buying whatever you need in the wee hours is no problem.
The cultural life is vibrant, whether you would like to see a Broadway show or go to a music concert in Madison Square Garden, visit museums like the Metropolitan and MoMa or any other cultural venue. Regarding the outdoor activities, apart from its famous parks, like Central Park, this town has beaches, too, reachable by public transport, like Coney Island or Rockaway Beach.
Being considered “center of the world,” it is no wonder NYC is also among the most expensive towns, with costs of living 22% higher than the national average. There are more and less affordable areas to live in like anywhere else, but generally, the cost of living in New York is considered high compared to other cities. So, unless money is not the issue, you will probably have to give up some luxuries or comforts to be able to call the City That Never Sleeps your home.
Before relocating, whether by yourself or with the help of New York movers with professional moving services, make a moving out budget and plan your finances for the first period carefully. Consider finding a job in your new city so you won’t have to worry about finances.
After the period of economic instability caused by the recession, the city is recovering fast. GDP is higher than in other major US towns, personal income is rising and the unemployment rate is nearly 4%. However, the gap between the richest and poorest residents is huge and getting higher. Almost half of the households are rented, costing the inhabitants more than 30% of their annual income just to rent, not to mention other bills. That is why having roommates is a common way of living here.
Income taxes are paid on a federal, state and city level. Tax rates can go very high, depending on the income. The property tax is paid based on the living area and property size. If you are buying an apartment, you will be subject to real estate transfer tax. The sales tax added to goods and services is rather high, amounting to 8.875%, so prices are usually displayed without it.
For the majority of people here, homeownership is not easily achieved because of the high home values. The median price for a home is $668,500, and the median rent price is $2,899. If browsing through the boroughs, Manhattan is obviously the most expensive, with a median home value of $1,322,100, followed by Brooklyn with $718,400 and Queens $517,800.
Choosing an apartment depends on what your priority is, whether it is the location, the size, or the price. If it is the location, you will have to give up some comfort regarding the size of the place. If it is still out of your budget limits, you might opt for some neighborhoods not very far from downtown, but close to speedy trains that will get you anywhere in no time. If your priority is the space, you will have to search for an apartment outside the downtown area, unless you are quite well-off. You might be lucky to find a decent place in the Upper East or West Side for a reasonable price.
But if your moving out budget is limited, you have to forget being in Manhattan since one of the requirements the landlords may pose before you is to have an income 40 times the home rent or otherwise find a guarantor. Again, if you get lucky, you might find a less expensive place in Washington Heights (Manhattan), Astoria (Queens) or Bushwick (Brooklyn). So, try to find a place that costs no more than a third of your annual income to be able to afford it.
Before renting, visit the best places to live in New York to check whether they are as described and meet the landlord or do some background search on him. You can even ask other tenants some basics about the building, such as maintenance. Remember you will have to pay a steep broker’s fee worth 10%-15 of your annual rent unless you manage to find a place without the broker’s services.
If getting a roommate is an option, which is a very common thing in this metropolis, there are websites connecting interested persons you can check out. Apartments here are rather small, so before moving in, you will have to get rid of all surplus things you have accumulated.
Although it is not large by area, this city is huge by population. It is divided into five administrative divisions called boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Staten Island. Each borough is divided into many neighborhoods. Before you find the one that best suits your needs, think about your priorities and visit places to get a sense of the area. Making a guide with all the facts, advantages, and disadvantages of each place will help you pick your top choices. Know that Manhattan is the most expensive, Queens is the largest by space and Brooklyn by population.
Knowing the background of the neighborhood is also important if you would like to become a real New Yorker, as many historical neighborhoods here have undergone a gentrification process. This town is diverse in so many aspects, so completely different neighborhoods should not surprise you. For example, flavors, colors, and images from Staten Island Little Sri Lanka are totally different from the smart Tudor houses in Forest Hills.
So, walk around to see how the neighborhoods breathe, how far is the subway, the quality, and selection of supermarket items, what the schools look like, how it feels at night, parking options, and other characteristics you deem important and then start the search. There are also online options to check the commute times, noise complaints, planned constructions, safety and so on.
Walking in this town is inevitable. Whether from your place to a subway stop, or to the store, or anywhere else you have to go – you will be walking quite a bit. You may find that walking a few miles is more convenient than changing different transportation means. However, apart from the subway system operating 24/7, there is also a bus network connecting all the 5 boroughs of New York, ferry services, commuter rail lines, and bike-sharing programs. All in all, there are plenty of transportation options for you to choose from.
If you are planning to use auto transport services to bring your four-wheeler here, you should know that driving a car can be a challenge. With the traffic jams, it may be faster to walk than to go by car or cab. Plus, getting a parking space is difficult and costly. But if you insist on, then you should know that you need to update your American driving license address or change your foreign driving license after 12 months for an American one if you are a tourist. If you are planning to work or study, you have to change it after 30 days.
The street layout is divided into avenues, running north and south, and streets, running east and west. Most of the streets are one-way. Manhattan, specifically, is organized in the form of a giant grid.
The subway system can seem complicated to a newcomer, so it is advisable to download the system map to a cell phone or get a paper map for your bag. It is rather efficient, running 24/7, connecting all parts of the town, but it is also facing some issues due to outdated technology and lack of investment, so you may encounter crowds and delays. The system consists of 25 lines and 472 stations, so knowing the map and studying it might help you get around easier.
Subway and buses are the most popular means of transportation in the Big Apple. Subway is mostly used for longer commutes and buses for shorter distances. The tickets for a single ride cost $2.75, the daily ticket costs $5.50, and the weekly pass for unlimited rides costs $32. The monthly season ticket for unlimited rides costs $116.50.
Drivers here are fast and loud, and there are always traffic jams you need to deal with it. They neglect the speed limit, stop signs or basic driving rules. The right of way is not always obeyed. And they honk a lot, so this is something to get used to.
People walk the sidewalks in this town very fast, so if you are slow, you might have some trouble. If you are strolling, do it in parks. Distances here can be deceiving, so you definitely need a solid pair of walking shoes. Wherever you go, whether to the bus stop, a park or a store, it will take longer than you thought it would, or at least that what it seemed on the map. There are about 20 streets in a mile and avenues are around 750 feet apart, so four avenues’ distance is more than half a mile.
It can rain a lot in NYC, and when it rains, it pours. So, an umbrella is a must if you want to remain dry. During the winter season, there can be some heavy snowstorms that have been known to paralyze the town.
In a highly populated town, there has to be a lot of dining options to satisfy everyone’s taste. When it comes to the best restaurants in New York, you can find everything from fine, expensive restaurants to excellent street food. Plus, there are hardly any food ingredients you will not be able to find in the shop here.
A meal in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you from $12-$25, and takeout coffees range from $3.00-$5.00. Furthermore, bars are legally allowed to work from 7 a.m. until 4 a.m. in a City That Never Sleeps, so you can even grab a late-night dinner.
Moving for a job is the most common option in the Big Apple, and if you do not have one waiting for you, try to inquire in advance whether your profession is in demand. Being a communication and advertising hub, this metropolis logically offers a lot of job opportunities in this field.
Wall Street,the nation’s financial center is also a huge job market. However, the competition is tough. As everywhere, hospitality and service industries are always employing, so you should not have trouble starting a career in this field. If you prefer to have some kind of job before you arrive, browse through the appropriate sites.
Since the living costs are high, so are the salaries. If you check the above-mentioned housing and living costs, you can have an idea of what your salary should be to enable you to live a normal life. Perhaps you prefer freelancing? Numerous opportunities there, too. Just bear in mind that life in NYC is expensive.
Although this is the city of small businesses if judging by the statistics, the fact remains that many large companies have their headquarters here. Among the companies are:
Even though this is not a quiet and peaceful town, which you can tell the minute you step out of your apartment, it is still a good place to live with your family. There are many parks and green spaces even downtown, along with excellent museums, theaters, libraries, art galleries, ice skating ranges, etc. And there are a lot of NYC public schools your kids can attend and learn everything they need. The best family-friendly areas are Forest Hills in Queens, Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn, Staten Island, or Upper East and West Sides if you can afford it.
If you want to have a pet in NYC, you better check in advance if they are allowed in the building at all or if there are some restrictions as to the size of the pet. Some landlords even charge extra for that pleasure. Nevertheless, every fourth household is said to have a pet here. The dog walking services are common for busy owners, however, do not forget to spend some time with your pet if you want it to adjust easier to your future environment.
Moving to NYC is a goal for many dreamers. Starting a life here might not be that easy, plus there’s bound to be some nostalgia for leaving the previous life and friends and having to start all over again. But this is a town of opportunities and if you invest some effort in it, you will certainly blend in and maybe even accomplish something great. You will definitely be experiencing a lot of happenings, it will probably change your perspective on life and priorities and yes – there’ll be stories to tell!