Congratulations, you’ve decided to move to one of the greatest cities on the planet. Ok, sure, that’s just my opinion, but my year in NYC was one of the greatest of my life and whenever someone asks me “do you think I should move to New York?” I immediately answer “yes!”
Taking the big step and actually making a move to NYC seems like a complete nightmare at first – never fear, I am here to help!
Here are some tips from someone who moved to NYC from small town New Zealand having never lived overseas alone before (If I can do it, you can too!).
Do as much research on the city as you can. The more you know about New York, the more likely you are to know whether it’s a place you’d enjoy living or not. It’s also super important to know about various etiquette and customs to avoid offending and ease your transition. Tipping, for example, is a compulsory, not optional etiquette. You should add 10% of your bill for bad service, 15% for OK service and 20% (the most standard tip) for good service.
You will certainly need a visa to work in the United States (unless you happen to have an American passport or are a lucky green card winner). I moved on the J1 visa, which allows Australians and New Zealanders to work and live in the US for 12 months within 12 months of graduating. There are other visas available, but most require some kind of sponsorship or job offer, so work out if there is one for you and apply. To get a visa for the US you will have to go along to the American embassy in your home country and attend an interview. Follow the instructions and make sure you have all the necessary documentation. You will also need to have booked flights.
A temporary visa will require that you have an exit ticket from the States. They don’t care where you are going, as long as you’re leaving. This can be very inconvenient for a one year visa, because you cannot book flights that far in advance, so make sure you book an exit flight that is changeable without too much of a cost.
4. Job search
Living in NYC is not cheap. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, so having a job or interviews lined up for when you arrive is very important. American’s love to network. So connect with as many people as you can virtually before you arrive. You might be surprised who you Dad’s brother-in-laws Uncle knows in NYC. I ended up finding my job through a New Zealand network after approaching companies, applying for roles through Craiglist and Monster (something that seems to be more trouble than it’s worth) and approaching recruitment companies.
5. Temporary Accommodation
You will need somewhere to live until you find something more permanent. I stayed in a hostel when I first arrived. Airbnb‘s are also a good option and much cheaper than hotels, which can break the budget. Manhattan is incredibly expensive, but many people (including myself) believe it’s worth living in because of the incredible buzz and energy it provides. Some people prefer Brooklyn price wise, but in trendy neighbourhoods it can be just as expensive. Brooklyn tends to be a more relaxed creative vibe – so it really depends what you’re after.
6. Find a place
Finding a permanent place in NYC can be difficult, but I have never known of a person who didn’t end up finding somewhere decent. With a bit of persistence you will almost certainly find a place, you might have your push your budget up to do so though. I don’t know of anyone paying less than US$1000 per month and most of us living in Manhattan were paying closer to $1500 or more. Craiglist is where most places are listed, but be warned it is a minefield of scams and dodgy places. Be suspicious of anything that sounds too good and make sure you view a place and meet the people before paying any money to anyone. Ask a lot of questions and if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
I advise narrowing your search down to a neighbourhood. Decide if you’re willing to pay the high cost of living in Manhattan or would prefer to hang out with the hipsters in Brooklyn. Then try to narrow it down further to concentrate you search in one area. After doing my research and spending some time in East Village, I decided it was a neighbourhood that was relatively affordable and would be somewhere I could enjoy living. Concentrating on this neighbourhood meant that I ended up finding places within the vicinity for my whole stay. It is still one my favourite places in the city.
7. Download Apps
Fortunately NYC is one of the easiest cities to navigate. It has an incredibly simple grid system that can be logically followed. If you walk from 45th street to 46th you know your walking north – or “Uptown” as they call it. If you walk from 1st Ave to 2nd you know your walking west. The Subway is also very easy to navigate, once you get a hang of it. Generally trains are either Brooklyn Bound, Manhattan bound or heading Uptown and Downtown, making it much easier than other cities whose trains are often labelled with the last stop instead of a direction. With that said, there are a few apps that are useful in journey planning NYC Subway and CityMapper should be all you need.
8. Book an airport Shuttle
Like in many other cities, airports in NYC are not conveniently located. A taxi from the airport is not cheap, (roughly $60-70) so if you can, booking a transfer for around $20 is a good idea. Some transfer companies will only take passengers to hostels or hotels, so if you happen to be staying at a home address you may need to check with the company. If you’re really game and willing to carry your bags down the steps, a Subway ticket will only set you back $2.50.
9. Coffee dates, apartment viewings and job interviews
NYC can be a lonely, intense and tough place to live. You want to get to know as many people as possible and get yourself settled quickly. Try to set up coffee dates with friends of friends, or people who you’ve met on social networks. You will need to go to plenty of apartment viewings before you find the right place – trust me. The same goes for job interviews.
You just moved to one of the most amazing cities in the world. Congratulate yourself on one of the biggest steps of your life!