New Yorkers will tell you that NYC is the greatest city in the world, with better food, better entertainment, and, well, better everything than any place else on the planet.
I recently moved to New York a few weeks ago, and it has taken a lot of adjusting for me. Moving to New York was nowhere in my plans for this year (I explain in this video), and New York as a city and place to live takes some getting used to, especially if you’ve never visited or if you’re coming from a smaller city or town.
In case you are (considering) moving to New York, there is SO much to know, and here I share here only some of the most important things you should know about life in the City That Never Sleeps before you get here.
1. Do your research
You are going to want to read and listen to as much as you can about New York, and the specific area you wish to live. The beauty is that we live in the age of the internet, and that this information is fairly accessible if you look hard enough.
2. Apartments Are Really Expensive
Everytime I hear someone mention the cost of rent in Manhattan, my brain would glitch a little bit. New York, Manhattan to be precise is likely the most expensive place to live in the world.
You May Have to Pay a Broker’s Fee to Get an Apartment
Renting in Manhattan (and possibly the entirety of the US) is much different to what I am used to. Here, you mostly get a minimum 1 year lease, which in very simplistic terms means you own the apartment for the specific duration of the period, at a fee.
New York’s rental market can be crazy at times, or all the time. In order to lease an apartment, you often have to pay a “broker’s fee,” which can equal to 10% – 15% of your annual rent. There are no-fee apartments, but competition for these is fierce (more so than the already fierce competition for regular apartments).
One way to skip broker’s fees is to use a service or website that puts you in touch with people searching for a roommate so that you don’t have to be the first one to lease an empty apartment. While moving in with a stranger may sound odd to those from other parts of the country, it is fairly common in New York City because most times it’s a necessity.
There Are Quiet, Residential Neighborhoods
Most people hear “New York City” and think of Manhattan: taxis, traffic, crowds. Noise. But much of the city isn’t like this at all. Further from the city center, there are neighborhoods with houses, driveways, and even lawns. Check out, for example, Little Neck, Queens. Even within Manhattan are fairly quite neighbourhoods.
4. Understand the Map of NYC
There are five Boroughs
Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island. Each is its own little city, with separate neighborhoods within. Queens is the largest by area. Brooklyn is the largest by population. Manhattan is the most expensive. The Yankees play in the Bronx. You have to take a boat to get to Staten Island from Manhattan but you can drive there from Brooklyn, over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Each has its own culture and plenty to explore.
4. Public Transportation is the norm
Most People Don’t Own a Car
According to the U.S. Census, about 56% of New York households don’t have a car, which can be a budget saver. Having a car in New York is a big hassle. In many neighborhoods – including most of Manhattan and the denser parts of the other four boroughs – free parking is rare. In the evenings, it is not unusual to spend 30 minutes or more searching for a spot.
Even if you do find one, you likely can’t leave it there for long. Alternate side parking means once or twice a week you have to move your car to the other side of the street so that street cleaners can come through. And then, a few days later, move it back. This isn’t just inconvenient, it’s pretty annoying to residents.
Without a car, you can do away with insurance, car loan costs, gas, and maintenance costs that can go towards the higher costs you’re already going to be paying.
Leaving my car back home was one of the hardest things I had to do, as I am really attached to her, and she represented a good amount of my autonomy. I am having to refigure that.
Good Shoes Are a Must
In New York, you walk a lot.
To the subway.
To the store.
To the park.
This can take a toll on your feet if you don’t have a solid pair of kicks. Plus, with all the rain, the slush in the winter, and the general nastiness of the streets, you don’t want to put your feet in anything substandard.
It Helps to Know the Subway Map
The good news is that New York is one of the rare American cities where you can easily get by without a car. According to some sources, it is the most walkable city in the country, with a score of 88. Plus, taxis and ubers are everywhere if you don’t mind spending some money.
The city’s transit system is vast and (fairly) efficient. The highlight, of course, is the subway system. It can be a little confusing at first, so I suggest you download the system map to your cell phone. Public transportation adds a bit more to your budget as well.
New Yorkers Walk Really Fast
If you want to go for a leisurely stroll, find a park. New York City sidewalks are the fast lane and no one is going to apologise if you feel like they are in your way or ushering you along. In fact, many people walk so fast that they ignore the lights of when they should cross a side street and just cross as fast as they can regardless of what the cars are doing.
Avenues Are Longer Than Blocks
City blocks in New York (especially Manhattan) are not squares but rectangles. Streets run east-west and are about 250 feet apart – 20 of these is one mile. Avenues run north-south and are typically 750 feet apart, or about three times the length of a standard block. So, if someone says they’re four avenues over, they are actually more than a km away – further than it sounds!
It Takes a Long Time to Get Almost Anywhere
Distances are deceiving in New York. Even traveling by subway, it can take over an hour to get between two neighborhoods that look relatively close on a map. Plus, there are constant delays unless you’re walking so prepare extra time than you think to get from place to place.
5. Everything Is Really Expensive
You May Have to share your living space
The reason many New Yorkers have roommates is that New York City’s cost of living is insane. It’s not just housing, either.
Nearly all your bills will be higher in NYC. This includes groceries, entertainment, and alcohol. You can expect that your budget is going to increase substantially when moving here and should plan beforehand how you’ll make it work.
NYC Has Some of the Highest Taxes in the U.S.
There are three different income taxes paid by New York City residents: the federal income tax, the state income tax, and the city income tax. Depending on your income, tax rates can be higher than 50%. The sales tax in NYC is quite high too, at 8.875%, although New York property tax rates are actually fairly reasonable (if you own a home).
6. Everything Is Really Fun
Exploring Takes Some Effort, But It’s Worth It
After a long hard week, you may not feel like braving the streets or the subway system to see a new part of the city. Do it anyway. It’s a great way to learn the layout of the city and you are guaranteed to see something new and different every time you go out.
New York Has Beaches
In NYC, you can take the subway to places like Rockaway Beach or Coney Island.
These tend to be pretty crowded, but there are also more scenic options. Areas like Fort Tilden Beach are a little harder to get to, but may be worth the extra effort. Or, travel further out on Long Island to someplace like Robert Moses State Park. You may even forget the city for a few hours.
7. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity
At Some Point, You’ll Have a New York Moment
This is the best part about moving to New York. This could mean something very different to you than it will to someone else, but you’ll know when it happens.
In case you need assistance with your NYC relocation, feel free to reach out to me via my email [email protected]. My hourly rates might apply for assistance rendered.
All my love,
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