I have always been a city person. I grew up in Las Vegas but knew from a very young age that New York City is where I would end up someday. The thing is that moving to New York is not as simple as the starry-eyed move to Los Angeles that many people make. New York is its own beast, sink or swim. If you do not do your research and are not prepared you will sink.
Here are some insider tips to making your move (or extended visit) to New York as smooth as possible.
Cabs are neither fast nor affordable. You pay extra and do not get places any faster than you would with public transit and walking, for the most part. Getting to know the subway system is really important. This will take some time but is well worth it. Another great way to get to know your city is to walk and walk some more. Keep in mind avenue blocks are longer than street blocks and even numbered streets go east and odd numbered streets go west. Explore what New York has to offer while simultaneously learning how to navigate your new home.
Admittedly the subway can be rather daunting at first. Luckily there are apps for that. There are a few subway map apps that allow you to put in your destination and it will tell you which subways you need to take, what times they will arrive at each station and how long it will take. Super handy.
Also, a lot of employers participate in the Commuter Benefit Program. Ask your new employer if they are one of the many and this will make your travel expenses tax-free!
Notice that I didn’t even mention driving your own car. For good reason: Don’t.
Also, with the high-level security and re-routing of traffic near Trump Tower in Manhattan, be sure to check your route ahead of time to avoid as much of the hassle as possible.
Meals: Groceries and Dining Out
If you are moving from a place where you could easily make a stop at the grocery store on your way home from work and you are used to packing a lunch every day, you are going to have some adjustments to make. Your grocery shopping will present a unique challenge. Another aspect of the distinct New York lifestyle is that you will have to carry your purchases on the subway with you. Be realistic about how often you will be able to go grocery shopping and where.
Many people opt out of typical grocery shopping altogether and choose to have their groceries delivered to their home. One option is Peapod and Fresh Direct. They let you order your groceries online. You can choose a delivery time frame for them to bring them to you as well so that you don’t miss them. Peapod is from Stop & Shop so they have weekly sales and a lot of cheaper grocery items than the grocery stores in Manhattan.
Because of this, many people eat out regularly.Take advantage of the fruit and veggie stands on every corner. They are great and cheaper than the grocery store. This is also true of the carts selling bacon and eggs, and chicken and lamb with white sauce. Don’t be afraid of them. Again, explore your area. New York has some of the best food on earth because it has food from all over the earth. Little Italy, K-Town, Little Ukraine, whatever your choice, get in touch with your roots or explore some new ones. You can also get just about any kind of food delivered at any time. World market takeout for the win.
Worried about packing on the pounds with all these amazing food options? Don’t worry about it for too long. You’ll soon realize that all the walking you will be doing will quickly burn off those extra calories. Mayor Bloomberg also made it so that all chain restaurants have to list the calories information on their menus. Another reason to eat from the local carts. I for one, am not interested in counting calories.
This is a biggie for a lot of people. I think New Yorkers get a bad rap. Granted the pace of the city is much quicker and there are areas where you probably should not be hanging out alone after dark, but there is a sense of community like nowhere else. If you are looking for a safer neighborhood and want to check crime statistics the NYPD posts weekly crime statistics on their website.
The best advice I can give you is to follow your gut. If you are uncomfortable, then remove yourself from the situation. There is an app for that as well. It is called Exit Strategy. It helps you figure out which subway car you should get into so you can get out at your destination as quickly as possible.
There are conflicting ideas about whether or not to go through a broker. They are expensive, like everything else here. I suggest attempting to find a place without one but sometimes that isn’t likely. Even if you do end up researching the apartments yourself, a broker often shows you the apartment and charges you a fee. Broker fees are usually 10-15% of the first year’s rent, plus you pay first month + security deposit when you sign a lease.
In-person visits are your best bet. Brokers or landlords sometimes lie about the neighborhood to make the space seem more desirable so find out the exact location and google it to find out the actual neighborhood. If you do not have a friend or family member that can check it out for you, setting up an AirBnB until you find a place might be a good idea and relieve some of the stress of the move.
Keep in mind the cost of living here. You pay double for half of the space. Overestimate your budget by at least an extra month’s rent. Calculate how much of your income you can afford to spend on housing and move on from there. Another important factor is finding an apartment with rent stabilization. This limits how much the landlord can raise the rent within a year.
As expensive as it is to live in New York there is surprisingly a ton of things to do for free or just about free. The Bronx Museum of the Arts and The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan always have free entry. The Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays from 4pm-8pm and websites like TimeOut and NYCGo have lists of free things to do every week. NYC-Arts also lists free or pay what you wish days for all museums. There is also Shakespeare in the Park, or attend a taping of one of your favorite tv shows that are shot in New York City. Fun and free.
Broadway is one of the most intriguing attractions in NYC and is not cheap. It generally runs anywhere from $100 – $500. This is worth the price tag but for some of us being able to spend to drop that kind of cash, especially right after a move is far from possible. There are some ways around this, though. I am sure I will get some flack for sharing these tips… but Playbill has a list of ways to see a broadway show for a fraction of the price as well as TKTS. Goodluck!
My favorite experiences and happenstance meetings have happened simply walking around, soaking in the sights, people-watching, and being open to new experiences.
This is key to survival but especially in a place where the cost of living is so high. In the information age that we live in, here we constantly have so much thrown at us it would make sense that the top industries hiring in New York are advertising and marketing related. If you are experienced in the digital and media world and are looking for new opportunities, the hustle and bustle of New York may be a great choice for you. Even most city parks have free wifi. Disconnecting can be hard at times but after awhile you will find your balance and if not you will come to realize that maybe New York is not the place for you, and that is fine too.
There is so much to do and so much opportunity whether you are a visitor here or you live here it’s impossible to list it all. Bottom line: don’t waste time comparing your NYC life to some ideal version of NYC life you assumed you’d be living. Be smart, and live to the beat of your own drum and you will do just fine. And, lucky for you that winter time is the cheapest time to move.
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