Are you finally making your Big Apple dreams come true, and relocating to NYC? No matter where you’re moving from, this is a big deal. New York City is a place like no other, and moving in is a decision not to be taken lightly.
Tens of thousands of people move to the city each year, most with a dream in mind. With so much diversity and opportunity around every corner, it’s easy to get swept up in the daydreams of a fantastic, never-a-dull-moment lifestyle. But it’s not all chic cocktails and ultra-hip art galleries. Let us help you with a few things you should know before you move to NYC.
Different neighborhoods, different vibes
When you’re visiting NYC, it’s fun to flit around the city. Hopping on the subway is charming if not a bit chaotic, and everything you encounter is a new experience.
When you live in New York, you start to understand the impatience of New Yorkers who don’t want to stop and wait for you to take a photo of that gorgeous brownstone. You also come to realize that each neighborhood has its personality, and not all of them are for you.
Take a moment to research the different neighborhoods and get an idea of what each of them is like. If you already have a job lined up, that should help narrow down your options. Trust us, you want to take your commute into account when you’re lining up a place to live.
More than the commute, decide what sort of vibe you want. Want nightlife right outside your door? Something slightly slower-paced? Looking for a modern condo, or is a unique older building more your style? There’s one thing that’s for sure: no matter your taste, there’s something for you.
But the whole city is vibrant
NYC is a big personality. The charm – and the challenge – in New York is in its so muchness. There’s just so much of everything.
You’ll be pushed to be the best you can be professionally, and you’ll be encouraged to walk at a fast pace on the sidewalk. New Yorkers don’t mince words, so expect to hear exactly what they think at any given moment. While this can be a bit startling for new imports, trust us – behind that direct exterior often beats a heart of gold.
The City That Never Sleeps? That’s a motto NYC lives up to. You’ll find many businesses are open well past midnight or even 24/7. That’s great for convenience, but it adds to the noise levels. You can expect to be approached at some given point while you’re on the street or navigating the subway, by people looking to sell you something or simply ask for money.
To find some respite from the go-go-go of the city, find the green spaces in your neighborhood. Identify your “locals” – the places you return to where you recognize the people working there, and that feel like home outside of your home. Don’t forget to take a look around, a deep breath, and remember that you came to this vibrant city for the excitement.
The cost of living is high
All of the virtues of living in this wonderland are not without a tradeoff. The cost of living in NYC is amongst the highest in the country at 20% more than the national average. Indeed, more billionaires live here than anywhere else in the world, but a large portion of the population works multiple jobs to make ends meet.
If you’re coming from a smaller town or city, you’ll likely get a bit of sticker shock when hunting for an apartment. No, there isn’t an accidental extra zero on the monthly rent on that listing. Depending on your savings and the work you plan to do, you may end up joining the adult renters who share with a roommate to secure a place.
Your cost of living will be high here, and so will your taxes. You’ll be subject to federal, state, and city taxes here. Make sure you factor those into salary negotiations and your rental budget.
Competition for housing is fierce
Notice we didn’t say “rental negotiations.” The housing competition here is so fierce, that you’re lucky to even have an opportunity to pay the asking price in many cases.
The peak rental season spans the summer (between Memorial and Labor Day), though you have to be on your toes at any time of year. Thankfully, there are laws in NYC to help with tenants’ rights. There is a cap on application fees, and landlords are required to hold security deposits in an interest-bearing account, all of which is paid to the tenant when they move out.
Once you secure your dream place, make sure to communicate fully with your building manager or landlord. Many buildings require you to make arrangements for your move-in day, particularly if you’ll need access to a freight elevator. You’ll need a COI (certificate of insurance) for most buildings. Building managers require this certificate to show that your mover is insured and held liable for any potential damage during the move.
You can’t do it all
Be prepared for a massive case of FOMO. It’s impossible to avoid – you simply can’t do all of the things you want to do.
Cultural and social events, pop-ups, new restaurants and bars, one-night-only shows, museums, performances… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Sure, you think you know New York. You’ve seen tons of movies, you’ve binge-watched Sex in the City more than once. You had the time of your life there on vacation, and your bestie from college relocated to the city after graduation. But truly, you have no idea.
Did you know there’s a zipline in Queens? An old-growth forest in the Bronx? Did you know it’s a top bird-watching city? Or that the New York Public Library has a collection of locks of hair from famous people including Mary Shelley and Walt Whitman?
If your rent is eating up a lot of your budget, have no fear. You don’t need to miss out on everything in NYC, as there’s a lot of stuff that’s free or cheap as well. Free museum days, public art performances, Shakespeare in the Park, kayaking on the Hudson, and art fairs are among the things you can do without taking out your wallet. The city is known for its pizza, of course, and there are plenty of places to get a 99c slice.
Consider how you’ll get around
Not only do you not need a car in New York City, but it’s also pretty challenging to own one. Parking is scarce (to say the least) and if you choose to drive somewhere you might be in for a battle for a space when you return. Renting a parking space can be very costly. If you don’t regularly use a car, save yourself the insurance and maintenance costs. You can always rent a car for the times you want to take a road trip.
The subway runs 24 hours a day and it’s very accessible. The majority of New Yorkers live within 1 mile of a subway station, and Metrocards are easy to top up. Children get student Metrocards, and you’ll have another growing pain: getting used to your kids hopping public transport on their own. Young people start commuting independently earlier than in other parts of the country, partly because public transportation is just a way of life.
The possibilities are endless
New York City is truly a place of endless possibilities. With so many cultures, lifestyles, and interests surrounding you, you can truly be whatever – and whoever – you are. Half of the population comes from outside of the US and there are more than 600 languages spoken in the metro area, making it one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world.
Whatever you’re hoping for, you’ll find it here. Unless, of course, you’re dreaming of warm weather and beach days all year round. If so, perhaps you’re more of a Miami person.