How to Move to New York City: The Ultimate Guide

Learning how to move to New York City is essential before you actually make the leap. The ins and outs of apartment hunting, broker’s fees, restrictive moving rules, huge deposits and the relative affordability and desirability of various New York neighborhoods reaches a level of complexity that makes even seasoned New Yorkers dizzy.

So it’s time to start learning. This guide will take you from the fantasy of a glorious Manhattan apartment to the reality of moving to NYC.

If you are truly ready to actually relocate to make your dream a reality, you are going to need a little advice. This is a huge move, and one that comes with a unique set of challenges. This ultimate guide will bring you from noob to expert pretty quickly.

 

Actually Visit the City

It is surprising that countless people move to New York City without ever even visiting the city. Don’t assume you will be happy here just because it’s a place you think you want to move to. You may visit the city and decide it’s not for you. Spend some time here. This will also allow you to get an idea of what area you would want to live in.

And don’t just do the touristy things. Skip the Empire State Building and Times Square. Pick a random neighborhood and spend some time getting to know it. Chat with the locals and learn about the best spots to eat, to drink and how to get around on the subway. Nothing beats on-the-ground intelligence.

Take some time to ride the subway to get familiar with it rhythms. It will most likely be your most frequent mode of transportation. Knowing the Metrocard system is key to getting over the intimidation of moving around NYC.

 

Build Up a Cash Cushion

Capital is king in the Big Apple. Moving to New York City takes the courage of your convictions, an unshakable faith in your mettle and a hefty savings account. Or trust fund. Or your parents’ Visa. Just make sure you have some money in the bank to fall back on, if you don’t have a job lined up.

You could probably pack your bags and head to some beach village in California or Florida and make it. You’d get a quick job, find a place to live, and build a life. This does not work in NYC. This city will eat you alive, if you’re not ready. You may not find a good job right away or the only apartment you find may be more than you budgeted for. Have enough money saved to live comfortably on for at least two months. You don’t want to be forced home because you run out of money.

NYC has a well-deserved reputation as the world’s most competitive city. There are jobs and apartments, but there is also more competition than what you will find anywhere else. Approximately one quarter of a million people move to this city annually, which replaces nearly the same number of people moving out. All that influx and outgoing traffic causes chaos, but also opportunity. Especially if you are willing to live for a time in Queens or the Bronx. You still will need a bit of a cushion, but an affordable place can be had there more easily than in Brooklyn or Manhattan.

Figuring out how to move to NYC comes with a steep financial learning curve. Master it before you take the plunge.

 

Know the Layout

New York City is a lot bigger than just Manhattan. The outer boroughs, i.e., Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island are all viable options if you want to live and work in NYC. Except for Staten Island. It is really the suburbs. And the only way to get to Manhattan, sans car, is by the Staten Island Ferry. Really, just focus on Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. They all have their charms.

Brooklyn is hip and quickly catching up to Manhattan in terms of desirability and real estate values. And it has its very own NBA team, with a hockey team not far behind. Queens has an incredibly diverse number of neighborhoods, with a vast array of cuisines and relatively affordable living spaces. The Bronx is generally more affordable than Queens and has the added benefit of being closer to upstate New York, for those interested in mountain/country getaways.

This advice is especially important if you are relocating from the Left Coast. Moving from L.A. to NYC is a serious culture shock. Cars are a necessity in LA. They are nearly an impossible luxury in NYC. But the outer boroughs are much friendlier to automobiles than Manhattan.

If you can swing a rental car on your visit to NYC, use it to explore some of the outlying areas. And even if you come to the city and ditch your car, the experience of driving in NYC is one that you need check off your bucket list. The honking cabs, aggressive walkers and the packed bridges and tunnels will be a bit stressful, but it prepares you for life in the big city. And if you do manage to keep a car in NYC, you will learn quickly and be able to drive anywhere with confidence.

 

Pick a Neighborhood

A lot of thought should go into selecting a neighborhood. You may want to live in a specific area, but if it is going to cost a fortune in transportation costs to get to an area where jobs are abundant than maybe it’s not worth it. Choose, an area that you think is in your price range. If you have a job lined up find a place within walking distance or at least an area that offers an easy commute.

Great food is one of the perks of living in the greatest cities in the world.

It you want a crash course in how to eat in NYC, you can’t go wrong with skimming New York magazine’s restaurant rankings. They can give you price, cuisine and neighborhood breakdowns.

As we mentioned above, the commute is the key. You may want to make the sacrifice of a long commute from Queens to have some relative peace and quiet along with an affordable lifestyle. Or you may want to bite the bullet on rent and be right in the center of it all in Manhattan.

Research the neighborhoods before you even visit NYC. And study the subway map. It’ll make your life much easier.

 

Be Ready to Close on an Apartment

If you don’t live too far away, make this easy on yourself and find an apartment first. The move is so much simpler when you actually have a confirmed place to go. Obviously, this is not always possible.

People complain that there are no apartments in NYC. There are plenty of apartments! They just go very quickly. So, when you go apartment shopping be prepared to close on one. Have money with you for a deposit. If you hesitate, so you can think about a place, it will be gone before you blink.

Be prepared to pay a broker’s fee, in addition to a deposit, especially if you want a really good place. It is possible to find a place without shelling out for a broker, but takes diligent searching and leveraging connections you may already have in NYC.

There are some ways to avoid the broker’s fee and this breakdown can help you get started. Learning how to move to NYC is a crash course in the economics of reality. Negotiation is your friend. Get good at it.

 

Hire a Moving Company

Regardless where you find a place there is very little chance you will have an actual parking lot. The vast majority of apartments in NYC are lofts above businesses on the street with no designated parking. The closest parking spot you find will probably be a couple blocks away. You won’t want to leave your truck unattended between every load and you certainly won’t want to carry heavy furniture that far. When you hire a reputable moving company, the little details are handled, so you can enjoy the moving process.

Those little details are one of the most annoying aspects of moving to NYC. From restricted move-in dates to freight elevator negotiation to the need to produce an insurance certificate, FlatRate has you covered.

 

Down and Dirty Details

The subway is always crowded. The air conditioners might leak on you. Walk on the right always. Times Square may be cleaned up, but it is a super-pricey tourist trap.

Moving to NYC will apparently give you more sinus issues then you can handle. At least according to some posters on this Yelp thread. Find in out about all the little tidbits most people don’t like to discuss in polite company can be the final piece in your sojourn to learn how to move to NYC.

Explore local blogs and New York media websites for these little gems. Like how hard and expensive it is to get a cab to go from Manhattan to the boroughs. And vice versa. And when to avoid Penn Station. (Pretty much all the time. Use Grand Central Station as much as you can for out of town trips. It is soooo much nicer.)

Moving to NYC is a beast all its own. You may have moved to Houston or Chicago or Seattle straight out of college, but the relocation to NYC will challenge you like no other city. Take your time, do your research and soon enough you will be schooling all the newbies that make their way over the George Washington Bridge (That’s the big one up in Jersey).

People move to New York for all sorts of reasons. Whether your relocation was inspired by love, work or family — we have you covered in The Big Apple! We service the entire city, the outer boroughs, Long Island and Westchester/Rockland Counties. Let FlatRate show you that a move to New York can be virtually stress-free. Get a quick quote!