Moving to NYC from Elsewhere

moving to New York
(Source: Kathleen Bence via Flickr Creative Commons)

Relocating to a new city can be stressful. With a population of over 8 million people spread across five boroughs, adjusting to NYC’s hyper-urban setting can be daunting. Sure, I thought I was prepared. “It will be like a larger version of San Francisco, just less quirky, right?” Not so much. Although I did plenty of research on neighborhoods, safety and entertainment, I missed the mark when it came to the daily realities of living here. Below are tips to make your transition a bit smoother.

Intro to Apartment Hunting in NYC

Lower your Expectations 

Tough intro, we know. But unless you are a high roller with plans to move into a luxury building, get ready to lower your expectations in your apartment search. According to Naked Apartments data, the average 1-bedroom apartment in NYC is 750 square feet. New York apartments are often small and lack amenities like a dishwasher, central AC or an in-unit washer and dryer. Speaking of laundry, get ready to use a public laundromat. If you’re not into that, most offer drop-off service.

Prepare for stiff competition

The rental market in NYC isn’t like the rest of the United States. Apartments move fast because demand is so high and vacancies are very low. Often a place will go to whoever can put down the money first. That could mean writing a check on the spot right after your first visit. It’s imperative to have all the necessary paperwork together in advance. If you’re serious about the place, consider putting down a deposit to hold it while the landlord/broker checks your financials and credit.

Intro to Transportation and Navigation in NYC

Sidewalks are like highways 

New Yorkers have no patience for slow walkers oblivious to their surroundings who hold up foot traffic during rush hour. Don’t be one of those. When walking, do not abruptly stop in the middle of the sidewalk or at the entrance/exit of staircases, subway turnstiles or escalators. You’ll cause a bottleneck for the herd of people behind you and will attract some angry stares. Keep moving!

Avenues vs. Streets 

Walking from First Avenue to Eighth may seem like a short jaunt, but it is a longer journey than you may expect. In Manhattan’s grid layout, all blocks are not created equal. “Short blocks” run north to south and longer blocks east to west. Tuck this into your memory: Walking 20 blocks north-south is a mile and walking approximately seven blocks east-west is a mile. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Uptown vs. Downtown/Taking the Train 

Navigating NYC’s vast subway system can be tricky for newbies. Before taking the train, you’ll need to establish which direction to travel. “Uptown” refers to traveling north to the top of Manhattan and “downtown” refers to traveling south to lower Manhattan. Additionally if you are traveling from Manhattan to the Bronx, that’s uptown. It’s important to note that while our train system is pretty reliable Monday through Friday, taking the train on the weekend is quite the crapshoot. This is certainly true if you live outside of Manhattan. Check for service changes in your area via MTA’s site. Also, it’s a good idea to download a NYC Subway map app on your mobile phone.

Intro to Shopping in NYC

No hard alcohol in grocery stores 

Are you used to purchasing all of your alcohol needs at your local grocery store? You’re in for a rude awakening. In NYC, beer can be purchased at grocery and convenience stores, but wine and liquor will need to be purchased at licensed liquor stores and wine shops.

Wear and Tear on Shoes

 New York City streets will show no mercy to your beloved footwear. No matter the quality or price point, all shoes will fall short of the glory sooner than you anticipate. Unless you plan to use Lyft every day, know that your shoes will wear down. It’s especially important to try to weatherproof them before bad weather hits. Once snow and ice hit, the salt put down on sidewalks will take its toll. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself Googling the nearest cobbler to replace the soles of your favorite pair.


Living in one of the most expensive cities in the nation, it’s tough to catch a break. It will serve you incredibly important to look hard at your finances and set a realistic budget so that you can actually afford to live here. The good news is there is no sales tax on groceries, clothing or footwear less than $110. The bad news? There’s also an additional personal income tax.