Planning to move to New York? Be prepared for an exciting transition. In New York, you’ll have the world at your fingertips. Everything from shopping and dining to culture and education is right here in the city, and as a bonus you won’t need to own a car.
Of course, there’s a learning curve to living in New York. Traffic jams are common, and temperatures can get uncomfortably high in the summer. Like all new cities, though, getting familiar with the place before you move can make a major difference. Back in May, we covered 7 things for newcomers to keep in mind. We knew this was just the tip of the iceberg, and today we want to share some additional tips. Learn these 15 things before you move, and you’ll be a true New Yorker in no time.
There is more than meets the eye to almost any neighborhood.
There are five boroughs in NYC (Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island), and each one has its more and less sought-after neighborhoods. Being on the edge of a popular neighborhood can mean better deals for renters. Consider the East Village’s eastern reaches or Manhattan Valley, located on the Upper West Side’s North end.
Expect parking to be an issue.
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No matter where you end up living in New York, parking is going to be a challenge. You probably won’t need to drive a car thanks to the city’s excellent public transportation. However, if you do own a car, you might have to pay a monthly fee to park it in a garage. These charges can add up, especially if you’re trying to save money.
As a result, you’re better off getting on a subway. If you aren’t within a short walk of the train, make sure there’s a bus nearby. That seemingly pleasant eight-block walk to the subway might be anything but on freezing winter mornings. You should also plan ahead for potential delays. Planned maintenance is a part of New York life, and you’ll notice an influx of tourists during weekend. Leave home early and you’ll never have to worry about being late.
You probably won’t cook much.
If you’re living solo in New York, it’s easier to order takeout than cook at home. Good food is abundant in NYC, and delivery services like Caviar and Postmates are readily available. Moreover, smaller apartments tend to have limited kitchen appliances. Consequently, you might have trouble fitting enough groceries in your pantry for the week. Avoid the hassle and order some beef chow mein from your favorite Chinese restaurant.
You'll love to shop at New York’s Green Carts.
Supermarkets in New York tend to be expensive (hence why it’s often cheaper to order takeout). If you insist on cooking at home, consider supporting your local green cart (produce stand). The fruits and vegetables at these carts are cheap and delicious, and you’ll run into locals from all runs of life. Slice some peaches for a quick dessert or simmer mangos for a delicious chutney.
Prepare for your first lease in advance.
Moving to New York City can be expensive. When you rent an apartment, you’ll likely need to have a fair amount of money available (typically in the form of a certified check). Plan to pay your first month’s rent, security deposit and broker’s fee within a few days of signing your lease.
Understand evacuation zones.
Severe weather can have a significant impact on the city. Neighborhoods are assigned to Zones 1 through 6, with Zone 1 having the highest flood risk. These areas get evacuated first, and it’s worth considering where your rental will be. Even if there’s no damage to your building, an evacuation will mean a temporary disruption. If your building is damaged, the upheaval will be much bigger.
Owning a dog in New York requires adjustment.
Many rental buildings in NYC either prohibit pets or have limits on the size and breed of dogs they allow. As a result, you should check the rules of the pet-friendly buildings you find. In some cases, you might have to use a side entrance if you’re returning from a walk. You should also be aware that your dog won’t have a lot of space to romp. Fortunately, New York has plenty of dog-friendly parks. Look for a park near your place and take in some fresh air with your best friend.
Not all rentals are created equal.
You can rent an apartment in a rental building, or you can rent a condo or co-op building. As mentioned in our property types guide, not all rentals are created equal. Some people prefer renting co-ops or condos but expect there to be a good deal more red tape involved, such as lease duration restrictions and higher application fees.
You should also know that not all buildings will have doormen. Smaller and cheaper properties tend to not have someone screening the building’s visitors. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for cheaper properties to rent.
New York’s not quite like the movies.
Young hopefuls may very well move to NYC with nothing but the clothes they’re wearing and the drive to make it. However, of all the films set in NYC, very few paint an accurate picture. In reality, apartments as beautiful as Monica and Rachel’s are expensive to rent. Moreover, most newcomers come in with a gameplan, and you don’t want to spend the first few months relying on tips from serving at a dive bar. As a result, you’ll probably want to have a job waiting for you in advance. You should also know your neighborhood’s local hotspots in advance so you can hit the ground running.
How you dress will probably change.
You’ll probably notice that many residents in the city are rather eccentric dressers. Your wardrobe will likely evolve in a more chic direction. As a result, you should probably save money and look out for clearance sales so you can fit in.
Locals don't call it the Big Apple.
Tourists use a lot of terms for New York City, ranging from the Big Apple to “The City that Never Sleeps”. Locals, however, call it “New York” or simply “the city.” Use the local terms whenever you’re outside, and New Yorkers will embrace you as one of their own.
If you want to party, look for a neighborhood with a thriving nightlife scene.
Some regions seem to have a bar on every corner. If you love a good cocktail, consider the East Village, the Lower East Side, or Murray Hill in Manhattan, and Bushwick or Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Likewise, you should stay clear of these neighborhoods if you’re worried that the noise and crowds will bother you.
New Yorkers are not as rude as you’ve probably heard.
Don’t be surprised if you get shoved by someone who’s running down the street late for work. However, you shouldn’t expect rudeness to be the norm. The city is mostly full of friendly people, many of whom were also once new to the town. Once you get to know them, you’ll be making friends in no time.
Odd-numbered streets run west; even-numbered streets run east.
Getting used to any new city takes time. Fortunately, New York is a fairly easy place to navigate. Odd-numbered streets have westbound traffic; even-numbered streets have eastbound traffic. Note that there’s no 4th avenue except between Astor Place/Cooper Square and Union Square. The rest of 4th is known as Park Avenue.
Central Park is an urban oasis.
Central Park will be your oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. People of all ages find fun things to do, even if all you want to do is sit on a bench and enjoy your coffee in peace. There are lots of free events in the park; look for festivals, parades, concerts, and more. As an extra bonus, there’s free Wi-Fi in Central Park. You can thus go online to do what you need to do while you unwind in the park.
New York is a huge, vibrant city, and in spite of its quirks, the people who live here believe it’s the greatest town in the world. With a little preparation, you will too. If you're looking for things to do in New York in autumn, check out our 11 favorite activities. Planning to move to Boston instead? Check out our list of 15 things to know about Boston.