New York City is an exciting, vibrant place to live. We may be biased, but there are reasons people continue to flood into the city. In fact, the United States Census Bureau estimated the city’s population grew to over 8.5 million as of July 2016, from less than 8.2 million in April 2010.
The career opportunities are endless, and, to quote the immortal Frank Sinatra, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” There are also cultural events and world-class museums. Meanwhile, crime is incredibly low and continues to fall. Through October 1st, major crime fell 6% to about 72,000 compared to a year ago, and down about 78% over the last 24 years. The murder rate had dropped from 2,262 in 1990 to 335 last year.
However, the city can be intimidating for those that are unfamiliar with the terrain, particularly since there are new neighborhoods cropping up (e.g., Hudson Square, Hudson Yards). There is ongoing gentrification in other areas, making these places hot spots. We would like to provide some guidelines to make your relocation as smooth as can be expected.
Have you become so enchanted by New York City that you’re ready to make it your home? More and more people move here every year, and for good reason. There’s always something to do, opportunities to grasp, and interesting people to meet. This checklist of resources will prepare you to relocate to NYC with all your bases covered.
Relocation Guide to New York City
Table of Contents
Learn the city
You cannot see the entire city in a day or a weekend. However, you can pick specific sections to tour and learn the neighborhood. Take the time to talk to the locals. Despite New York’s reputation, many people are very friendly, just not at rush hour.
If you aren’t moving with a specific job in mind, there are many ways to find work in the city:
- If you love the bustle of NYC and want to be a part of how it runs, you can find a job working for the city itself at nyc.gov. Job specialties run the gamut, from administration services to technology innovation.
- The New York Times has a live scroll on their website with featured jobs that are constantly being added.
- If you’re into the start-up scene, you can search employment listings on AngelList.
- For general employment, Indeed offers a variety of jobs in a lot of different industries.
Budget Tools and Tracking
Moving is never easy on the wallet. However, there are tools you can use to track your budget and anticipated moving expenses:
- Mint by Intuit is a great, free financial tracking tool. You can use the app to add moving expenses, like renting a moving truck—and gauge how close you are to max out your budget. This way, you won’t have to worry about building your bank account back up once you’ve settled in.
- There are plenty of blogs to follow, like The New York Budget, that offer details on where to shop, eat, and hang out while you’re living on a budget in NYC.
- If you are renting an apartment in NYC, be aware that your yearly income must be at least 40x the monthly rental rate of the apartment you choose.
How you are going to get around is one of the most important details to figure out. Public transportation or private? The following resources may help you decide:
- If you think you’re going to commute on public transit like most New Yorkers, then familiarize yourself with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) schedules, fares, and maps.
- If you’re planning on bringing a car, look at the DMV’s site to learn how to transfer your license and plates.
What do you Need and Want?
New York has an incredible array of neighborhoods. If you are interested in a quiet neighborhood with tree-lined streets and a nice view of Manhattan, perhaps Brooklyn Heights is where you would like to live. Maybe you want to live in a cool neighborhood, with a lot of young people, such as Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, Bedford Stuyvesant, and Fort Greene. Or, perhaps you want to live in close to Central Park.
Whatever neighborhood you want, whether it is a quiet place or one with an active social scene, New York City has it.
Although residents continuously complain about it, the city boasts one of the best public transportation systems in the nation. Your commute time and how close you are to public transportation is an important consideration.
Once you have decided what you want in a neighborhood and have done some sightseeing, you can narrow your search down to some areas you would like to live in.
Decide Whether You Want to Rent or Own
The decision of whether to rent or buy is complicated. You need to consider whether you are financially and emotionally ready for ownership. It also depends on how long you plan on living in the city. If you are only planning to be here for a short period, renting might be the better option.
Renting does not require as large a financial or time commitment, and provides increased flexibility if things do not work out. However, your rent payments are not building equity, and you answer to a property owner. Home ownership can be an expensive proposition, with a large down payment and decorating/home improvement projects that occupy your weekends. The benefits include potential capital appreciation and income tax savings from mortgage interest and property tax deductions.
Picking a Neighborhood
Once you figure out how much you can spend on rent and where you’ll be working, you’ll have to pick a neighborhood to live in. Decide what type of commute you want to have every day, and research what each neighborhood has to offer:
- Scope out crime rates on NYC.gov, especially if you’re commuting at night.
- Go walkabout to find out what’s nearby, such as grocery stores and bars.
Thinking about buying an apartment?
The city has a wide array of properties. This includes condos, co-ops, townhouses, and even single-family homes in the outer boroughs.
If you decide on a condo or co-op, you have to think about whether you want a high-rise or one with smaller units. It is a matter of personal choice. A high-rise might have more amenities and units available to purchase due to the larger size, but also increased crowding. A smaller building might not have the range of amenities, but you may find you end up paying a hefty price for items you do not use.
A co-op board’s screening process can be strenuous, but a buyer’s agent can help you prepare your financials and for the interview. The process of buying a condo is not as taxing.
At this point, you have done enough background work, and are likely looking at places to rent or buy (another complicated decision). We suggest delving deeper than a neighborhood search. You should examine the street and the building. For instance, certain streets are quieter than others, and not all buildings are the same. You want to ensure the interior is well-kept. We recently offered our Elika Micro Market Formula to help you with the process.
This is an overview of the process, but, remember, a qualified buyer’s agent is on your side and knows the city inside and out. He/she and can steer you in the right direction, but going in well informed does help.