Moving to New York

Moving to New York

Since you will likely be asked to state where you will be living in NYC, you can either look for a room/apartment before leaving or decide to find a room when you move to New York City.

While you’re searching for a place to stay in the city permanently, we recommend using a FlatClub apartment as your home base. That way you can get a good idea of the sorts of neighborhoods you like, the ease of public transport, and more. Odds are good also that your host will be a native New Yorker who can help you decide.

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world - but if you’re coming from London for instance, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is actually more affordable! Rent does vary quite widely depending on location, and when moving into a permanent spot in the city it’s recommended that you try and find an apartment with rent stabilization: this limits the percentage of rent raising that your landlord can do in one year. This keeps NYC more affordable than similar metropoli - at least when it comes to accommodation.

If Manhattan is overpriced for you, extend your search to other boroughs, such as Brooklyn or Queens. These areas are becoming more and more lively and attractive, thanks to students and young professionals who have found affordable accommodation in the last years.

One of the main features of New York is its ability to change: not only as a fast-paced and constantly evolving city, but as a place whose shape is completely different if you just move 5 streets uptown or downtown.

Therefore: walk a lot, look for the area you'll like most, consider whether you can afford it or not. And don't forget to include the 4 boroughs outside Manhattan in your search. Once you've found the right areas for your relocation to New York City, start your deal-hunt. Consider that dozens of apartments are left and rented every day, so keep searching whenever you can: timeliness is your friend.

Ask as much information as you can think of, and remember that agencies will usually charge about 1-month fee per 6-months rental or 15% fee per 1-year rental. Once you're inside the apartment you like, check the furniture and take pictures of the rooms, especially if you're opting for a furnished flat. Check heating, windows, bathrooms, and ask whether bills are included in your rent.

In order to rent an apartment, you'll need proof of identity and perhaps your credit report (provided by your bank). Things may be different for a room in a shared apartment.

Visa for New York

The United States maintains a healthy & diverse immigration plan, staying true to it’s history as a hub for immigrants. One of the most interesting options for those looking to move to the United States is the ‘Diversity Visa Program’, also known as the visa lottery. Check out which countries are eligible for the DV program, and which aren’t.

If you’re unable to enter into the visa lottery, there are still other ways to immigrate to the USA. It’s best to consult with an immigration attorney in your home country, particularly if you don’t have an employer or family member who is able to sponsor you. New York is no different than the rest of the United States - once you’re legally free to live & work in the USA, it will apply to all states within the country equally.

Healthcare in New York

One of the most important things you have to do before leaving is obtaining health insurance. Health issues can cost you a fortune in the United States: don't underestimate this.

First of all, ask your current insurance provider if they have any policy for the United States: you may save money. Otherwise, check the web: many companies offer different solutions for different kinds of travels and budgets. Compare services and prices.

Once you've decided and you've signed the contract, always have a copy with you or keep at least the policy number in your wallet, along with the emergency number. Ask if you have to pay in advance (and be refunded afterwards) or if they will take care of any expense on your behalf.

Opening a Bank Account

As soon as you relocate to NYC you'll see the astonishing number of bank branches in every corner. It's not hard to have your bank account settled up. Even if every bank has its own requirements, you will basically need two forms of identification (such as your passport, driver's license, visa) and a proof of your address (it can be a utility bill if you have a permanent accommodation, or a letter from your employer stating that you have been provided temporary housing). Some banks may require your social security number. If you don't have it, or are not entitled to it, just choose another bank. Also consider a debit card as an option: it is easier to manage and obtain, and it can work great, especially if you are not interested in the advantages offered by a credit card.

Dealing with bank accounts, you will soon learn about "credit history" or "credit report". Starting from the day you apply for a credit card, you will build your credit history: it's a list of information about your ability to repay a debt. It is a relevant document for creditors, since they can see how you handle credits in order to decide whether to accept your request or not.

If you plan to work in New York City, you'll need a Social Security Card to pay taxes, apply for a driver's license etc. Go to the nearest Social Security Administration (SSA) with a proof of identity (preferably your passport) and your visa. In a couple of weeks you'll have your card. For any information on how to obtain a Social Security Card, visit

Employment in New York City

New York is a city of opportunity. While it is always recommended that when moving to the USA (or anywhere for that matter) that you already have a job lined up, if for whatever reason you don’t & you’re a skilled worker there will be a place for you if you just keep looking. Make sure that you are legally allowed to work in the USA through your visa & immigration status.

What are called CVs in the UK are known as resumes in the United States - a CV exists, however it is a much longer document mostly in use for universities & colleges. To apply for a job, you’ll need a resume. In the United States, photos are not attached to resumes nor are birthdates or marital statuses shared - as these fall foul of the anti-discrimination employment laws in place in the USA.

There may be other differences between resumes from your home country and the USA, so please do some research into resume templates and follow them carefully. It’s best to submit your resume in English & have a friend proof-read it if English is not your native language.

Budgeting in New York City

Much of the same general budgeting advice applies for NYC as anywhere else, however one thing you may not expect & therefore may not know to utilize well are coupons. In the United States, coupons are incredibly common. They come in newspapers, magazines, and inside the grocery stores themselves. Many families use them and come up with huge savings on their food & household essentials. Not only are savings made on groceries using coupons, sites like RetailMeNot help Americans find deals for online shops - clothing, specialty goods, and electronics. While coupons & deal-hunting hasn’t taken off as much in many European cities, it’s a smart way to save in the United States.

We also recommend farmers’ markets & co-ops for food shopping, as the urban area of NYC encourages competition among these non-chain shops to lower prices. Not only that, but by and large you’re getting higher quality produce & supporting a local economy.

There are countless restaurants in NYC, ranging from eye-wateringly expensive haute dining to a slice of pizza for the change in your pocket. You’ll get healthier food at a better price if you cook at home, but if you need something to reward yourself there are plenty of mid-range $10 - $20 dollar meals to be had if you look around.

It may go without saying, but the vast majority of people in NYC get by just fine without a car - a car in the city will end up costing you a lot, so take advantage of the 24 hour public transit instead, and hail a cab, call Uber, or another ride-sharing service if you must go by car.

There is also plenty of free entertainment in NYC that we will highlight later in the article -so do that stuff more often than you go to Broadway.

Education in New York City

If you’re traveling with your family, it’s very important to look into the public school system that you will be entering in NYC. There are some good public schools in the city, however there are also some poorly performing schools. You can get more information on the independent website InsideSchools, but the best way to get the info you need is to ask other families you know who live in NYC. Registering your child for school in NYC is also perhaps a different process than you’re used to - as first you go to an enrollment centre in the city for any child newly immigrated who is over 10 years old. You can get more direction by calling 311, the number for information in NYC.

There are of course also plenty of adult education options in NYC, you can find more info at TimeOut. The options include fun, engaging courses that teach you a few new skills to intensive classes that will vastly improve your career prospects. They’re also a good way to meet people with the same interests as you, too!

Meeting People in NYC

In a big city like New York, sometimes it may feel that you’re surrounded by people, but you’re completely alone. Making friends in the city isn’t that difficult, but it’s not as easy as just showing up or taking a seat on the A train! Lots of people, especially newcomers to the city, use websites like Meetup or taking classes at night. If you have a hobby, there is sure to be a group dedicated to it in NYC - that’s an excellent way to make friends!

The working culture in NYC has a bit less focus on outside socialization among co-workers than London, for example, but the people you work with are likely to be friendly & open to going out after hours. You just might have to be the one to suggest it, so don’t be shy.

If you’re not into meeting people or you just prefer to have some alone time, NYC will cater to you well. In the city there are lots of people who are by themselves, at least for the day, and so you won’t stick out at all if you hang out in a coffee shop & catch up on the news, or even a restaurant with a good book. In a city that works this hard where you’re always shoulder to shoulder with someone else, you may learn to relish the alone time, too.

Things to Do in NYC

There are plenty of things in New York City that you can do for free, so it’s great for budgeting in some entertainment. Websites like TimeOut & NYCGo list out some awesome things to do every week. The Bronx Museum of the Arts always has free entry, as does the The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

There are also many museums and exhibitions that have free entry on some days & times. For example, on Wednesdays the Bronx Zoo has a pay-what-you-will fee - so not exactly free (that’s a bit cheeky) but certainly you can discount the rate. The Museum of Modern Art is free on Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm - which is an amazing deal. Find more free times to visit museums at NYCGo.

Perhaps one of the most rewarding free things to do in NYC is walk around, soak in the sights, and people watch. Do keep an eye on where you are & stay especially aware as it gets a bit darker, as you would in any city, but feel free to browse around on foot.

Broadway is of course one of the top attractions in NYC, and it comes at a fairly high price. Some top tickets run as high as $500 and average at about $100, but you can get a deal if you’re savvy. There are plenty of discount ticketers in NYC, but we suggest TKTS booths for the most legit savings. You can also sign up for HitShowClub, and receive information on ordering discounted tickets online before you arrive. They don’t email you too much, so it’s a good option!

There’s so much to do in New York, whether you’re a visitor or you live there, it’s difficult to list it all off! Generally going out to eat, seeing a show, going to a comedy night are all fun options in NYC.

Yearly Events in NYC

New York has events that happen every year - rain or shine. Some of the best known are:

  • Chinese New Year - Considered one of the top places to celebrate Chinese New Year...outside of China. Celebrate with a big parade, lots of great food, and cultural connections.
  • Westminster Dog Show - If you’re a big dog fan you must already know about this one! Buy a ticket to watch, unless you have a purebred pooch to show.
  • Tribeca Film Festival - Get involved with Robert DeNiro’s awesome festival and watch one of the free ‘drive-in’ screenings, with or without a car.
  • Cherry Blossom Festival - View some beautiful sakura blooms in Brooklyn & enjoy some Japanese cultural events.
  • Gay Pride Parade - Whether you’re gay or not, there is no reason not to celebrate the fun & diversity of NYC’s LGBT community for a whole week in June!
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade - This is one of the most famous events in New York. A huge parade with lots of floats, balloons, and good fun for the family.
  • New Year’s Eve in Times Square - Watch the world’s most famous ball drop on midnight if you’re lucky enough to be in NYC at New Year’s Eve!

  • Everyday Life in NYC

    Every day life in New York involves some socializing at a local bar with friends, perhaps going out to a nightclub or a comedy show, or dining out somewhere with an intimate group. There are so many free events that many people are happy to go to one or two during the week, either by themselves or with one or two friends.

    A lot of people spend time in their apartments in the city, perhaps more so than in London, as they’re generally more spacious & comfortable. Some people have dinner parties, and others attend supper clubs in New York - private dining experiences that are a great way for foodies to meet for fun. Going out with your co-workers is always a possibility, and of course there are plenty of cool places to shop around in NYC. Most people in NYC relax during the week, and go out and do more exciting things at the weekend.

    Integration in New York City

    Integration is an entirely easy process in NYC - if you’re not from a city, you’ll have to adjust to city life in general. That means things are a bit faster, people are less chatty, and there will be a huge range of diversity among the population. That diversity means that wherever you’re from in the world, you’ll find like people in New York City. Not only that, but you’ll also find people who don’t come from your background who would love to get to know your culture better.

    One of the main things you’ll need to adjust to if coming from a country that isn’t primarily English-speaking is the amount of English that is used in NYC just to get around. Many signs also include other languages, such as Spanish & Chinese, but there may not necessarily be many workers in shops that speak your language. If you need assistance you may feel overwhelmed, but never feel scared to approach someone for help - New Yorkers reputation for coldness is not deserved. People living in NYC come from all over the world.

    You’ll make friends in NYC and you’ll find yourself becoming more independent, and once you know your way around all the train lines, where to get the best pizza, and whether you’re a Mets or Yankees fan you’ll know you’ve truly integrated.