With grad season nowhere, it’s time for many young people to start dreaming big and preparing for the big move. Others may be moving for a new job or to make a fresh start in life. Whatever the reason, New York City can make for an exciting transition. But before you can start enjoying the nightlife on the Lower Eastside, watch the sunrise over the Williamsburg Bridge, or much on $1 pizza, you’ll need to find a new home and get settled. With just a bit of planning, you can make the big move much more straightforward. We cover here how to find the right place to live and prepare for the big move. Once that’s done, you’ll need some help to get you settled. We provide the checklist moving and getting settled tips to get you going and learn what living in NYC is all about.
Living in NYC can be highly stressful for new arrivals, especially if you don’t have any friends there. But with so much on offer here and a lifestyle like no other, the initial stress is worth it. This guide will help you make the transition from stressed-out new-arrival to an established New Yorker
Table of Contents
Finding the Right Place to Live
At first, glance, deciding on where to live in NYC can be rather tricky. With a metropolitan area stretching over 6,720 square miles, in five boroughs, with over 300 individual neighborhoods, you’ve got a lot to choose from. Each neighborhood has its unique vibe and will cater to particular lifestyles. Even New Yorkers who’ve lived their whole life there can feel as though they’ve moved to a different city when they move to a new neighborhood. Take some time to research each borough and make a list of potential neighborhoods you might be interested in.
If you’ve only ever visited NYC before as a tourist, then get out there and see each borough and neighborhood that caught your interest. Bring a notebook and take detailed notes on things you like about each area, things to avoid, and details you want to remember. It’s well worth visiting each borough personally to get a feel for it.
- Manhattan – The beating heart of the city where you’ll find its biggest attractions such as Broadway, Times Square, The Empire State Building, and Central Park.
- Brooklyn – Art and cultural capital of the city and the home of tourist favorites like the Brooklyn Bridge, Prospect Park, and Park Slope.
- Queens – The most diverse of all the five boroughs. Home of the New York Mets and the Queens Botanical Garden.
- Staten Island – Most suburban of the five boroughs. It is known for the famous Staten Island ferry, Historic Richmond Town, and NYC’s largest forest preserve.
- The Bronx – Home of the New York Yankees. The birthplace of the hip-hop genre. It’s also where you’ll find the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden.
If you wish to make it easier, Elika Real Estate has a relocation service that can provide an orientation guide to help you find the right place.
- Top 12 Neighborhoods in NYC for College Grads in 2019: Learn more
- How to Pick the Right NYC Neighborhood: Learn more
- What is the True Cost of Living in NYC?: Learn more
Finding Your New Home
For housing, you have several options. There are stylish and modern co-op and condo apartments to choose from, beautiful townhouses on tree-lined avenues, prewar 5-6 story walk-ups, and deluxe penthouse apartments for those with larger budgets. NYC has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world for real estate. As such, you’ll need to do a lot of searching if you want to get a good deal. Most New Yorkers rent rather than buy and due to the high costs for housing. Even if you do have the means to buy now, you’re probably better off renting for the first few years. It gives you time to get to know the city better and find the right neighborhood to settle in permanently.
When home hunting, be aware that the demand for housing here is very high. A limited inventory means you need to be quick when you do find the right place. That said, take the time to look over each lease before signing it. Read over the terms carefully and clarify anything you’re unsure of. Also, be wary of no-fee apartments. These are apartments where the landlord offers to pay the broker’s fee. The terms might look good for the first year. But when it comes time for renewal, you could see your rent skyrocket. Most landlords will also require you to make 40-50 times the monthly rent or have a guarantor if you don’t.
Another significant consideration is transportation. In NYC, most people rely on public transport, so consider your daily and weekend needs before choosing an apartment. Check how far away the closest bus line or subway stop is. You can use the MTA website to search for the subway map. Be aware that delays are common, especially on weekends.
- How to Rent an Apartment: Learn more
- When should I buy an Apartment?: Learn more
- Understanding Rent-Stabilized Apartments: Learn more
Preparing for the Big Move
When moving to any new city, there are a few things you’ll need to do before you can leave your current residence. For starters, you’ll need to notify the US Postal service of your new mailing address with a Change of Address Form. You’ll then need to disconnect local utility services and decide on the most efficient means of moving your belongings.
If you hire a moving company, then you’ll have to do some research to ensure you’re choosing a reliable business. Start by visiting review sites like Yelp to see what previous customers have to say. Another great resource is Consumer Affairs, which provides comparisons of the top moving companies in the country. For further research, you can use MyMove and MovingScam to assess different companies further. To get your new utilities up and running, AllConnect can put you in touch with local services in your new neighborhood.
If you’re going to move before you have an apartment lined up, then think about storage. This is becoming an increasingly popular option in the city for those who want less clutter and more space. Just make sure to work out the rental in advance as the demand for storage is currently higher than the supply.
Once you’ve signed your lease and moved all your stuff in, it’s ready to start living the New York life. The city is filled with opportunities, but making friends and getting acquainted with your chosen neighborhood can take some time. Take a proactive approach and start learning about your new home right away. Food will be a big priority, and the city is famous for its diversity in this regard. Crowd-sourced sites like Yelp, Zagat, Zomato, and Gayot can tell you about all the best dining options in the city.
Take a Class or Workshop
A great way to make friends is by taking a class or workshop to find likeminded people. The city has something for everyone, whether it be cooking, acting, dancing, writing, photography, or fitness. The New York Public Library has a host of programs for people of all age groups and interests. Vimbly is another excellent resource for finding events and classes near you. To find out what the significant events are each month, NYCgo has a full events calendar that is regularly updated.
Enjoy the Nightlife
For a fun night out, try a comedy or improv show. Nothing breaks the ice like beer and laughter, and NYC is famous for its comedy clubs. The great thing about an improv show is that you can go in without knowing anybody and leave knowing half the attendees. The Upright Citizens Brigade has several locations in Manhattan, and there’s always a show going on. Most of these locations have a bar so you can either grab a drink during the show or hang out afterward with most of the crowd. Most of the performers will hang out after the show also so if there’s anyone there that you particularly liked, then go and say hi.
Explore the City
Don’t just limit yourself to your neighborhood, get out there when you can, and see other parts of the city. Joining a tour is the best way to do this as it puts you together with other likeminded people that are probably new to New York City like you. You’ll have a better time if you stick with small group tours like Graff Tours who do artist-led tours of the cities street art. For food lovers, Foods of New York is a great way to discover the cities diverse cuisines and meet other foodies. For the photography enthusiasts, Shoot New York City does workshops and photo tours of the city’s landmarks and individual neighborhoods.
Do some Volunteering
Give back to the city by volunteering with local organizations and doing some charity work. This will connect you with local people in the community and provide a talking point when meeting new people. There are tons of places that would welcome any help you can offer. You can help take care of your local parks, help the homeless, or mentor and coach the youth. An excellent resource for finding volunteer opportunities in New York Cares, which provides orientation guides and introduces you to the many ways you can give back to the community.
New York can be a scary place for the new arrival. But for those who can grab its opportunities with both hands, it can give you a life experience like no other. The cities diversity means there’s a little something for everyone and no shortage of events to enjoy. Take your time to plan your move to NYC, and once you’ve arrived, make the most of it. It can be a tough city at times, so don’t forget to take some time to get out every once in a while. The tri-state area can be easily reached at any time and has plenty to offer for a weekend getaway. For those who’ve lost their heart to the city, though, it won’t be long before you are itching to get back into its hustle and bustle.