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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.
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.
What do you 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.
Rent or buy
The decision 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.
Type of property
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.