Moving to New York: Here’s How to Relocate Seamlessly
Cinema’s enduring celebration of New York City can make it seem instantly familiar. But what is it really like to live and work there?
It’s known as "the city that never sleeps" for a reason. New York, a truly diverse and vibrant metropolis, stays open 24 hours a day in a way that other cities never quite manage. Many grocery stores, bars, restaurants and gyms can be visited around the clock, and you can hop on the subway or the Staten Island Ferry right through the night. In some places, you can even get a haircut at 2am. (We can’t think why you’d need to, but it’s nice to know the option is there.) Immortalised on the silver screen, New York tops many people’s lists of cities they dream of moving to. So, you’ve just found out you're moving to New York with your job? Lucky you. But where do you start? Navigating the labyrinthine process of moving to a new city – especially this one – can be a little daunting. Here’s how to turn that relocation to New York into the smoothest of rides.
With any corporate relocation, it’s vital to choose the right neighbourhood to balance the best quality of life with something resembling a straightforward commute to the office. Bear in mind that New York is vast, sprawling over five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island). Each has its own distinctive character. Manhattan remains the most luxurious and desirable – the Upper East Side and Upper West Side are perfect for families, while Murray Hill and the East Village top many wish lists for atmosphere. However, this little island can be crowded and expensive, so many people now look across the East River to Brooklyn instead, which is a little kinder on the wallet. Brooklyn Heights has become highly sought-after for its child-friendly green spaces and historic brownstones, and Williamsburg brims with bohemian charm. Both offer easy commutes into Manhattan, too.
Cost of living
We can’t sugar-coat this one: being a buzzing international financial and cultural centre unsurprisingly makes New York one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Here, the cost of living is 22% higher than the national average. You can expect New York’s most eye-watering bills amid those world-famous skyscrapers in Manhattan – but they do reduce as you move further out. (You get the best views of that jaw-dropping skyline from outside Manhattan, anyway…)
Your relocation to New York may involve some downsizing – as you’d expect from a tightly packed city, space is at a premium here. What’s more, the competition can be cut-throat, so start your search early (or see if your company will do it for you). Those archetypal brownstones and loft apartments remain a firm favourite, but don’t overlook some rather handsome architectural styles elsewhere. While pre-war buildings burst with splendour, post-war buildings – many with a doorman out front – are often flooded with light thanks to their larger windows. You can find many luxurious amenities in the high-rise new-build serviced apartments to rent in New York, such as swimming pools, health clubs and maid services. But if you’re in search of a little more room, head out to the suburbs for some glorious New York townhouses. You may even get a backyard.
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With its diversity and richness of culture, New York can be a rewarding place to raise a family. Brace yourself, though: competition for school places is pretty fierce, and if you have children it’s likely that the type of school you select will play a major part in the area you choose to rent or buy in. Public (state) school places are based on school “zones”, so you’ll need to put down your roots in its catchment area. However, private and international schools – often a favourite of expats – have more flexibility on that front. Whatever you decide, embrace city living to the full, create your own New York family and you’ll find it’s packed with opportunities for your little ones. Just make sure you take them to the amusement park on Coney Island in the summer.
Clichés are clichés for a reason. And yes, we know that’s a cliché in itself. But everything you’ve heard about working in New York City is true: it’s brash, it’s fast-moving and many New Yorkers are skilled at asking for exactly what they want. When you’re preparing for a corporation relocation, be aware the average working week is 49 hours – but wages are higher than average, too. Networking is key in this competitive, high-flying city. Isn’t that part of the appeal of moving to New York?