Can you even stress a bit about relocating when moving to New York, one of the most exciting places on Earth? You’ve seen it in movies, sing songs about it, and spent numerous hours on YouTube watching and exploring every corner of the concrete jungle. So, are you finally ready to take the next step and become a New Yorker? Well, after reading our guide, you certainly will be. We prepared some essential information and tips that any newcomer should consider before coming to the Big Apple, even those that can seem bittersweet.
The most populous place in the US is home to more than 8 million people, and millions more live in its metropolitan area, which is the largest one in the country. So when speaking of numbers, the Big Apple easily holds several records that will hardly be surpassed in the near future. Some would say that the Big Apple is overcrowded, but it’s still welcoming thousands of newcomers every year, so clearly, there’s always room for more. If moving to NYC is a part of your plans, take a look at our guide, and find out what to expect.
Everything You Should Know Before Relocating to the Big Apple
We all have our expectations when it comes to relocations, and well, pretty much everything else in life. However, when relocating, it often happens we idealize our future place of residence. The Big Apple is a multinational hub, extremely diverse and competitive, a place where everyone strives to be, and it’s no wonder that one of its nicknames is the Capital of the World. Some say you should have a certain mindset to survive in this jungle, others say that living in NYC is a breeze, but as a newcomer, you’re most likely to experience both sides of the story, first hand.
Things You Should Know Before You Move to the Big Apple in 2020
If you’re relocating in the age of Coronavirus, you have to keep in mind several things. The Big Apple is one of the cities with the highest number of confirmed cases, and although the lockdown days are behind us, the situation is far from ideal. Life is slowly but surely coming back to normal, so there’s no reason to postpone your move because too many have already done it, and it will be hard to book a later date.
Knowing a bit of local slang might be handy for getting around and understanding what others are talking about. For example, “The Island” doesn’t refer to Staten Island or Manhattan, but Long Island. Gotham is often used as a nickname for NYC, while Manhattan is called just The City. There are some other words such as schmear or bodega, so make sure you’re up to date with everything.
Get out of Manhattan
Although this borough is probably the most famous part of this concrete jungle, a place where everyone wants to be and be seen, the Big Apple is so much more than that. So go and explore other boroughs and neighborhoods without prejudices.
Finding an apartment is hard
Finding an ideal flat is not easy, and it’s safe to say that the rental market is a real jungle. First come first serve is usually the only rule that exists. If you have a place where you can stay while house-hunting, rent a storage unit for your belongings, and keep searching.
Taxes are high
As if life here is not expensive enough already, residents have to pay some of the highest taxes in the country. Sales tax is high, but at the same time, there are even three different income taxes (federal, state, and city income tax).
You don't need a car
Life in many US cities can be a nightmare if you don’t own a car, so at first, you might think that auto transport is a mandatory thing to do. However, driving around the Big Apple can be very stressful since traffic jams are an everyday thing, not to mention how hard it is to find a free parking spot. On the other hand, public transportation works fine, and you can easily go everywhere you want by using the subway.
There are beaches
When thinking about the Big Apple, first associations are skyscrapers, Times Square, concrete, traffic jams, and crowds. One would rarely think about beaches. And yes, there are some pretty decent beaches on Coney Island, for example, or Rockaway Beach, Fort Tilden Beach, and others. This can be an excellent idea for a daily getaway from the crowd.
Be careful with Craigslist
While researching for your upcoming relocation, you’ll hardly manage to avoid this website. It is pretty convenient, but be careful with it. It became notorious because location descriptions are not always accurate. People tend to lie about location making it seem like it belongs to a certain neighborhood when, in reality, it is far from it.
How to Survive in the City That Never Sleeps as a Newcomer
Being a newcomer is never easy, but especially if you’re moving to New York City alone, and you don’t know anyone from millions and millions of locals. However, although locals might seem a bit cold and hard to approach, the worst thing you can do is to avoid any contact. Try to meet your neighbors after you move, go ask them something or invite them over for drinks. In case you’re moving with pets, go to Central Park or any other park, talk to your coworkers, start going to the gym, or take some classes where you can socialize. Moving away from friends is heartbreaking, but you have to give new people a chance.
How to Adjust to the Concrete Jungle Lifestyle?
When relocating to the greatest city on Earth, you have to keep in mind that this is indeed a jungle. You’ll often find yourself in the situation that things aren’t going according to plan, and you’ll have to make certain adjustments and lifestyle changes to adapt to this fast-paced environment. Depending on where you come from, some things might surprise you more than others, but overall, you will certainly adapt to it all, more or less. Take a look at this video to see how this looks from the perspective of someone who’s a local.
The Costs of Moving and Living in NYC
There is one thing everybody is going to warn you about, and it is the fact that the cost of living in New York is insanely expensive, and we are not exaggerating. You have chosen to move to the most expensive place in the entire US, frequently featured on the list of most expensive cities in the world.
The cost of the moving services itself depends on several factors, but distance and the amount of stuff are the most significant ones. Learn how to recognize fake moving reviews and save some bucks by avoiding scammers. Whether you’re relocating from the West Coast or a nearby state, choose reliable New York City movers, it will pay off.
How Much Money Should I Save Before Moving to NYC?
If you’re trying to move out of state on a budget, try saving as much as possible, for every cent counts. Try to prepare yourself for some serious budgeting and start writing down everything you spend, so you can have a better idea of how much you’re actually spending, and where you could save more. According to Numbeo, on average, a single adult person spends a bit less than $1,300 per month, without the monthly lease. And when it comes to renting, it is recommended to have savings for at least three monthly rentals in advance, because many will ask for a deposit and one or two rents at the start.
This can be quite a shock for someone moving from a small town to a big city such as Gotham, and you’ll probably have to find many ways to cut the costs of moving. Compare those numbers to your current expenses and lifestyle to get an idea of how much you should save. If you don’t have enough funds, perhaps you should focus on how to find a job before you move. Then you’ll be aware of how much money you have, and you’ll be able to plan your life.
How Much Does It Cost to Live in New York?
We mentioned that it is expensive, but just how expensive could it be? To help you get a better picture of some basic costs, we curated this brief chart that contains all information about some average expenses that you can’t avoid. We also included the average monthly salary, which tells a lot about why so many want to move here. Yes, the costs are high, but those who hustle hard can afford it without a problem.
|Utilities||Monthly Public Transportation Pass||Renting Apartment (1 bedroom)||Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment||Average Monthly Net Salary|
|New York City||$155||$130||$2,035||$715||$6,510|
Guide on Relocating to the Big Apple on a Budget
This is not really a budget-friendly place, but if you know how to manage your finances, everything is possible. Budgeting is never easy, and it requires a lot of waivers, but we gathered some tips that could help you make your dreams come true and cut down relocation costs:
- Organize a garage sale – Everything you don’t use, from furniture to old clothes, you should sell. Estimate the value of your household goods and see what’s worth selling. It is a win-win situation. You’ll earn money, and at the same time, spend less on shipping.
- Don’t overpack – The less stuff you have, the less you’ll have to spend on packing services, you can always donate unwanted items. So knowing what not to pack is essential, because some things are not worth the cost.
- Pick the date carefully – Some days are more expensive than others for relocations, we are talking about weekends, of course. If you can, try to avoid them, as well as moving during the holidays.
- Don’t buy supplies – Cheap supplies are all around us, you have to be a bit creative and get to know some moving hacks. Find free boxes and other packing materials at a local store or on Freecycle, and ask friends to give you a hand.
- Find a roommate – If you’re moving to a city alone, You can cut down the costs if you find a roommate, and luckily, here it won’t be so hard to find one.
- Find month-to-month rental – In case you’re not ready to commit for a year lease, or you have not found a job yet, this gives you the flexibility to move frequently and explore different neighborhoods.
- Keep it minimal – When relocating, many cannot resist the urge to shop, from decorative items to some things you won’t even use as much. There are many things you need for your first apartment, but try to shop rationally. In the beginning, buy only what is necessary, until your incomes are stable and you’re standing on your feet firmly.
How to Move With Children to the Concrete Jungle
Although everybody thinks that this place is all about skyscrapers, hustling, and parties, a mecca for millennials, it is also a great place for families. We are not saying this due to the numerous things to do in New York with kids, but because of excellent schools and education opportunities. So this could be the best thing you could do for your children because you’ll give them the chance to have endless opportunities and benefits of growing up in the Capital of the World.
Whether you’re scouting for elementary or high schools or even colleges, here you’ll find some of the best ones in the country. The competition is tough, so your kids will have to learn how to find their way and be on top of the task every time. If you’re hesitant about relocating and choosing the right neighborhood, consider moving to the suburbs, and choosing communities that are safe and kids-friendly.
The Costs of International Relocation to the Big Apple
The Big Apple welcomes expats from all corners of the world, and around 36% of its residents are foreign-born, which tells just how ethnically diverse and multicultural this place is. This melting pot is the main destination for the vast number of immigrants, and allegedly, even 800 languages are spoken in NYC, from around 6,500 how many it is believed it exists today.
People from various backgrounds, education, and professions relocate here to make their dreams come true every day. International relocations are always pricey, you have to ship your belongings across the sea, purchase plane tickets, find where to live, and all that while you’re miles away. Luckily, wherever you come from, there is certainly an online community of expats from your country, so don’t hesitate to contact them to get some firsthand information and moving tips.
There are three major international airports, JFK, LGA, and EWR, so you’ll be able to easily access the Big Apple from any part of the world. Depending on the country you’re coming from, research well all visa terms and documents required for legal immigration to the US.
How to Find a Job as a Newcomer?
Job hunting is never easy because a lot of times, it depends a lot on luck or being at the right place at the right time, with the right people. Your educational background doesn’t have to be the main factor, but your experience can be. The abundant job opportunities are the main reason why so many relocate, but finding the right one might take a while. So polish your CV and start sending those online applications as soon as possible.
Can I Move to NYC Without a Job?
Many decide to move without having a job offer waiting for them on the table, and that is totally fine, as long as you can afford to support yourself, so make sure you have enough savings. You might find a job in two days or two months, you never know. However, one significant advantage, in this case, is that you’re actually there. You can meet people and mingle around, which is often the best and fastest way to get a job – through contacts and recommendations.
How to Find the Right Neighborhood as a Newcomer?
Besides finding a job, your main concern will be how to pick the right neighborhood, and that is never an easy task. If you’re flexible, you can move frequently and explore different options, but if you want to settle down in one place and stay there for a while, you can’t allow yourself mistakes, especially if you’re signing a yearly lease. Here are some criteria, you should consider when picking the location of your future home:
- Distance to work/schools
- The floor of your flat, in case there’s no elevator
- Are you relocating alone or with kids?
- Your budget and salary
- Your lifestyle
- Do you have a car
Brief Guide to 5 Boroughs
Those who are moving to New York City should get familiar with five New York boroughs and their pros and cons. Each borough with its numerous neighborhoods offers a different experience of living in the Big Apple, so strive to find the one that suits your lifestyle. Although the majority perceives Manhattan as the most exciting borough where everything happens, other boroughs such as Brooklyn are also very popular among newcomers.
- Manhattan – Although it is the smallest, this is by far the most densely populated borough. Even the tiniest apartments here cost a fortune, but that is the price you pay for the proximity to Central Park, Times Square, and other major landmarks. It is the financial and cultural center that attracts many young professionals, but also families because schools with an excellent reputation can be found here.
- Brooklyn – This is the most populous borough that has improved its reputation significantly in recent years and became a must-see spot for every tourist. It is not just about the stunning view over the Brooklyn Bridge, but its quirkiness and eclecticism, independent art scene, and hipsterish atmosphere make Brooklyn so unique. Here you’ll also find a great sense of community and friendly neighbors, so it is great for families and singles.
- The Bronx – If you’re on a budget, you should definitely consider The Bronx. This northernmost borough is home to the Yankees stadium, Botanical Garden, and the largest metropolitan Zoo, so it attracts tourists, but not as much as the previous two boroughs. Here you can experience living like a local at an affordable price, but keep in mind that crime rates are higher in this borough, so choose your neighborhood wisely.
- Queens – Geographically speaking, this is the largest borough, but it is not so densely populated, so you won’t feel it is too crowded. Located east and north from Brooklyn, this borough is the most ethnically diverse county in the US. So if you’re coming from abroad, here you’ll certainly feel welcomed, and also two major international airports, JFK and LGA are in this county, making it even more convenient for expats.
- Staten Island – If you want to escape the jungle and have a more suburban lifestyle, Staten Island is the place for you. It is well connected to other boroughs with four bridges and multiple ferries, so you won’t feel too isolated. It has numerous parks and green areas and provides stunning views of the Statue of Liberty and skyscrapers. It is preferred among families and those who are looking for a bit more slow-paced lifestyle.
Things to Look After When Searching for an Apartment to Rent
Apartment-hunting could turn into a real struggle if you didn’t come prepared. Although the market is abundant, the number of newcomers trying to find a place to rent is incredibly high, so if you spot something you like, take it immediately. Tomorrow it will already be taken by someone else. For example, if you’re moving in the summer, prepare for chaos, because this seems to be everyone’s favorite season for house-hunting.
You are already aware that you need a budget, certain documents, and probably a roommate. But what you might don’t know is that there are a lot of internet scams. Don’t wire money or pay for seeing the flat. Also, there’s a lot of ads for apartments that don’t exist, so when you show up, you’ll be shown something completely different, so walk away immediately.
Broker fees are something you should also get familiar with. Working with a reliable broker can ease your hunt for that perfect place significantly, but it comes at a certain cost. Most brokers require a certain percentage from your annual lease for their favors, but that is often negotiable.
The Best Things to Do Based on the Stories of Those Who Moved Here
From catching the Manhattanhenge to splurging on a fancy dinner in some of the best restaurants in New York, there are many things that this place has to offer. Sometimes you’ll feel like a tourist, but there is nothing wrong with that, you should not miss experiencing some things because they are considered too touristy. Between house and job hunting, find some room to catch a subway ride and go on one of many adventures around this concrete jungle:
- Spend an afternoon in Central Park
- Go to the top of the Empire State Building
- Visit some of many museums such as MoMA, The Met, or Guggenheim
- Watch a Broadway show
- Take a walk along High Line
- Catch a ferry to Staten Island; it’s free
- Visit Coney Island beaches
- Visit Chinatown and Little Italy
- Visit Greenwich Village and admire the architecture of this picturesque neighborhood
- Go on an evening cruise around the Statue of Liberty
Does the Big Apple Ever Sleep?
You’ll probably catch yourself asking this every night until you get used to the fact that pretty much everything you need can be found or bought even in the middle of the night, which can be an advantage. A lot of places are open 24/7, and another convenience is that everything is available for delivery. Noise can be a problem if you have a light sleep, but investing in a pair of earplugs should solve that problem. Unless you’re a night owl, that is. You might get the impression that everyone here is a bit sleep-deprived, which is not so far from true. There is so much to do and things to see that 24 hours are not enough sometimes.
Is It Worth Moving to New York?
Can you say yes without having second thoughts? Then there is your answer. Relocating to the Big Apple can be a life-changing experience if you are bold enough to take that step. Many are hesitant because they worry about expenses, they don’t like the idea of using the subway, they think it’s too dirty, and so on. But, those are just excuses. Can you say you like every single thing about your hometown or current place of residence? Probably not. Once you move here, all those concerns will be the least problem. So is it worth it? We think it is, but you’ll have to try and see it for yourself.