The term “tough New York” is not just a brand; it's a challenge. If NYC were a sovereign nation, it would be the world's tenth largest economy. But there's so much more to this metropolis than meets the eye, with vibrant cultural, social, and business options that make the difficulties well worth it.
Whether you're a student, professional, entrepreneur, or artist moving to New York for the first time, there are a few key things to know to frame your early decisions and make settling in a little less complicated.
1. Where you'll live
Choose the neighborhood that feels perfect for you; it will influence how much you enjoy your current home and, of course, how long it takes to get there. New York City is made up of five distinct boroughs, each with its own unique atmosphere and hundreds of vibrant neighborhoods.
Many people move in and out of Manhattan, so the island tends to get referred to as simply "the City." But if you grew up in Queens, you consider yourself just as much of a New Yorker as someone from Brooklyn, the Bronx, or Staten Island. And each group believes they live in the best part of NYC!
It's worth noting that north is toward Central Park and south is toward Wall Street if you're thinking of working or studying in Manhattan. It's easier to travel from north to south than east to west, so keep this in mind when choosing your home. Over half of the city's population was born outside of the United States, so if you get lonely, think about how similar your journey has been to theirs.
2. New York City is teeming with energy, so be prepared for a lively experience.
New York will constantly push you to excel professionally, as well as walk down the street at a quicker pace.
Sure, New Yorkers may seem harsh and unapproachable on the outside, but if you take the time to get to know them, you'll find they're really soft and compassionate people. You might even catch yourself tearing up on your stoop after a breakup or feeling homesick from time to time.
New York City is constantly bustling with activity, and the locals are always on the go. It can be loud and fast-paced, and some businesses are open 24 hours a day or close at 2 am. The excitement of living in such an intense city may fade after being harassed on the street or crammed into a crowded subway during morning rush hour.
To ease the unrelenting pace of New York City, find some green and open spaces in your neighborhood to relax or catch up with friends. You might also bring a good book along. As you take in the skyline view, you'll be reminded why you fell in love with this city in the first place-and it likely won't be because of its peace and quiet atmosphere! Let's face it, people come to NYC to hustle.
3. Expensive and aggressive
NYC is one of the most expensive places to live in America, with costs about 20% higher than average. While it's home to more billionaires than any other city, many other residents have to hold down 2 or 3 jobs just to afford basic necessities like housing, food and utilities. Some areas that used to be affordable are now becoming gentrified, so make sure you know what you're getting into if you're considering moving to one of the outer boroughs. Only a third of New Yorkers are homeowners, leaving the majority to rent. The size and expense of apartments in NYC might be a shock when you come from a smaller city, but many adult renters share the burden with a roommate so they can live in their ideal location while still saving money.
Depending on where you go grocery shopping in the city, you might be unpleasantly surprised at how much your bill is when comparing it to other stores. For example, Gristedes and Moreton Williams are generally cheaper than specialty stores like Eli's, Citarella, and Dean & Deluca. Even though you can find some cheap options like a street hot dog or cart coffee for under $3 in NYC, the city is also home to more high-end restaurants that have been given 3 Michelin stars like Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernardin, and Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare.
Since the COVID lockdown, more high-end eateries have begun offering, so be cautious when ordering via Uber Eats that New York is a city of extremes, even when it comes to takeout. Don't forget to tip appropriately if you're ordering takeout or using other vital services in severe weather conditions such as storms, heat waves, and snow.
New York has some the highest tax rates in America, and as a resident (or someone with income from NY sources) you will be subject to federal, state and city taxes. New York’s tax filing deadline follows the schedule set by the IRS. If your yearly income is less than $72,000 then you can use free filing software provided here on the NY State website to do your taxes online.
4. Locating a rental property
Most people want to move into a new apartment during summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. However, securing the apartment you really want is harder than it seems with how aggressive both other renters and brokers can be in this housing market.
To help protect tenants, NYC has put into place laws capping application fees and requiring landlords to keep security deposits in an interest-bearing account. NY state has created a guide which outlines different types of housing, lease provisions and other pertinent information.
The winter months are when housing inventory drops, and it rises again in the warmer months, but as a general rule leases in New York terminate at the end of the month, whether it's monthly or annually. It implies there's a mad last few days of the month moving period. Regardless of how much furniture you have, it's essential to communicate with your building management team about when you'll be moving in and book the service elevator in advance. Once they have given you the okay for a specific day and time, you can then acquire your Certificate of Insurance (COI), which is required by most buildings in New York and worth millions of dollars.
Your movers can handle your COI, but it's up to you to connect them with your building management contacts and get them in touch with your mover.
5. The procedure of renting in New York City
To avoid any stressful situations, have all your paperwork in order before you start apartment hunting. This includes pay stubs, employment letters, tax returns, bank statements and previous landlord referrals. By having everything ready beforehand, you can quickly submit an application as soon as you find a place you love.
To qualify for a lease, tenants must make at least 40 times the monthly rent or obtain a guarantor who can meet the minimal requirement. If you don't have that alternative, Insurent can guarantee your lease for an upfront charge of around a month's worth of rent.
When it comes to finding the perfect home, there are always a lot of people competing for your attention. If you don't act fast, select wisely and get an offer accepted quickly, you will miss out on some excellent properties that are reasonably priced and go on the market quickly. Look around if someone else has submitted an application to see what their asking price is. They may charge a fee, but you can still find "no-fee" apartments in NYC to save several thousand dollars throughout the process. There is no charge to you for the broker showing you the property in these situations.
If you visit some property management companies' websites, you can eliminate the middleman and save money. However, it's important to know that luxurious Co-op buildings in busy locations oftentimes have a long application process (between 4-6 weeks), including interviews and voting at a board meeting. If you want to get an idea of what types of housing are available and their prices, real estate websites like StreetEasy or Zillow are very helpful.
Decide what type of monthly rent you're hoping to pay, and keep that in mind as your guide when apartment-hunting. In general, apartments built before a certain time period (particularly those without elevators) will be less expensive than newer condos. And if the building has added amenities like a doorman or gym, the monthly rent will be even higher. Some buildings accept electronic payment methods for rent while others only allow check payments; either way, make sure you know ahead of time so you can avoid any late fees.
6. Creating a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) in your customers is a great way to get them to take action.
It's easy to get caught up in the social events of New York City-there's always something going on! With a never-ending stream of tourists, there are always reminders of all the incredible things to do in the city: from world-renowned museums and art galleries, to iconic landmarks and historic venues. Whether you enjoy being around people or not, it's hard not to find yourself immersed in culture when living here.
Once you've lived in New York for a while, you'll be surprised by unexpected delights like a zip line in Queens or a pocket of ancient growth forest in the Bronx. It's a city built for adventure, and you'll be on your feet quite often, which is one of the greatest ways to discover new things.
Although your budget might be tight, the city provides a range of free or cheap events, like free days at museums, public art and performances such as Shakespeare in the Park, kayaking on the Hudson for discounted prices, and street fairs. For some ideas regarding events occurring soon, try checking out NYC Parks website here. With all that said-and considering you will find friends who are experiencing similar money strains-you'll probably end up sharing more 99c pizza slices than you care to remember.
This city has a significant turnover of residents, and people frequently move on after several years, so appreciate them while they're here.
7. Transporting oneself
Living in New York City doesn't require a car-in fact, finding free parking is quite challenging. If you don't use your vehicle often, it's wiser to rent a car for the occasional road trip rather than incur the costs of insurance and maintenance.
Although New Yorkers tend to complain about the old subway system, it runs all day and most people living in New York City only have to walk an average of 1 mile to get to their nearest stop. You can easily refill your card that you use for riding public transport, and the tap and go feature with credit cards has made having a separate transportation card unnecessary. Children moving to New York will be able to utilize the city's student MetroCards, and therefore travel more independently earlier on than their peers in other cities.
The standard fare for most riders is $2.75, but unlimited ride packages are also available at select locations. You can find all the latest fares and updates here on the MTA website. As a word of caution, if you ever come across an empty subway car, assume there's a good reason why it's unoccupied like broken air conditioning or a bad smell. It's always best to play it safe and switch cars instead of remaining in an unknown area by yourself.
New Yorkers have many options when it comes to getting around the city, including bus services, ferry services, a bike share program, commuter rail lines, taxis, and ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber. While yellow cabs are an iconic part of New York life, traffic in the city is just as legendary. Gridlock in peak periods due to special events or construction work can strike at the most inopportune moments. Many a New Yorker has abandoned a cab mid-ride for the subway during a traffic jam.
It all boils down to the best rule of thumb when it comes to living in New York: be prepared. If you don't enjoy carrying a bag, you'll be happy you did once that umbrella, phone charger, band-aid, and Tide-to-go save your life.