All you need to know before moving to New York



Almost everything in New York comes with a considerable price tag but the city never gets old. Be it activities, jobs, houses or schools, there is a wide selection to choose from. Due to the overpopulation, expats however, should brace themselves for the fierce competition and fast-paced lifestyle. Also, caution against dodgy vagrants, pickpockets, alcoholics and sexual perverts along the streets or at the train stations. 

New York City is made up of five boroughs, which are the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Each borough is represented by a borough president, who serves as ceremonial leaders for their boroughs on important issues. At present, New York City is considered to be the cultural capital of the United States and is widely considered to be the financial, cultural and fashion centres of the world. A global hub for international commerce, New York City is one of three command centres for the world economy and is a major centre for tourism, banking, finance, real estate, advertising, theatre and the arts.

The area where New York City now stands was originally inhabited by the Lenape Native American tribe until 1524 when Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano anchored his ship at Staten Island. A trading post called New Amsterdam was established by the Dutch in 1613, and the island of Manhattan was bought from the Native Americans. The city fell under English control in 1664 and served as the capital of the United States until 1790. As its reputation as a trading port grew, German, French, English and Jewish settlers made their way to New Amsterdam, making the city a hub for immigrants.

Due to the city’s history as a major port of entry for immigrants, as many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New York City is home to more than 8.4 million people, and as of the year 2000, 37% of the city’s population is foreign-born. The cultural diversity that New York holds can be seen in the number of ethnic enclaves that the city has, where communities of Indians, Chinese, Italians, Puerto Ricans, Russians and Hasidic Jews congregate. However, there is no single country or nationality that dominates most of New York City. 

The currency used in New York City is the US Dollar, which is the currency most used in international transactions. Quantities are listed as $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 dollar bills. Unlike other currencies, American dollar bills are all the same size and colour. There are a number of major businesses that have chosen New York City to set up their headquarters in, among them 45 Fortune 500 companies. When one considers the vast amount of employment opportunities the city offers, as well as the quality of life and entertainment options available, it’s easy to see why New York City attracts many expats from all over the world.

Like other major cities in the world such as London and Paris, the cost of living in New York is quite high, but the standard of living in the country can be quite low. If you want to stay in Manhattan, prepare to pay a hefty price for a standard flat, or settle for a very small room that can still be very expensive compared to other locations. Living on a budget can be quite challenging in a city like New York.

Essential relocation information 

New York is the home of the Empire State building and the famous historical landmark, Statue of Liberty. But apart from these world renowned tourist attractions, this city is also a favoured destination for many expats because of its undeniable mesmerising aura which emanates from the towering, sky-high buildings and the cosmopolitan that never sleeps.

New York serves as the headquarters of several huge local and international companies that are seeking for workforce from the talented pool of expats like you. Multi-cultural and ethnically diverse, the Big Apple is surely a concrete jungle where opportunities are so clear they might as well look like blinking neon lights that point directly toward everybody’s dreams. So if you believe that New York is where you should be, here are some tips that’ll equip you in starting a very exciting journey.


New York is a massive city composed of different neighbourhoods which make the search for the perfect house/apartment quite frustrating. It will be helpful to make a list of potential accommodations by browsing through online portals that contain real estate advertisements which usually include the photos, locations and prices of the properties. It will give you an overview of how much to prepare and where to start once you arrive. However, if you want your search to be easier, you can hire a local realtor to assist you. An agent is very familiar with the neighbourhoods so make sure you tell them exactly what you are looking for so they can give you the best options in the market.

If the landlord tells you that the utilities are not included in your rental pay, you should budget at least €120 to cover the bills for your water, gas, electricity and maintenance like garbage collection. You can also apply for internet connection which will cost you around €50 per month and make local mobile prepaid calls which will be charged €0.15 per minute.

House and Apartment Hunting

There is a tight competition in New York’s housing market because of the growing demand and limited supply. Loft, brownstones, modern, new, pre and post-war buildings are the most common types of accommodations in the city. You should also expect that the rental costs are expensive especially as you move closer to the central town of Manhattan. Most expats choose to live near the business district because of its proximity to the work offices and amenities. The price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre starts at €2650 per month and €5200 for a three bedroom unit. You can also find rentals in the outer boroughs such as Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The average price of a one bedroom flat in these areas is €1600 monthly, and a three bedroom unit is roughly €2800 per month. 

Moving Your Belongings

Furnished accommodations in New York come at a very expensive price that’s why more expats choose to move into an unfurnished unit because it’s more budget friendly. If you have furniture, appliances and belongings that you want to bring with you, there are international shipping and removal companies that you can contact to help you move your stuff to New York. The containers are expected to arrive in the Port of New York within 20-29 days, but this will still vary depending on your originating location. To learn about the city’s import regulations, click here.

Your pet is not required to undergo quarantine, but you need to present it to a local customs veterinarian at the port of entry to be examined if it has any infectious diseases. You also need to provide the original copies of its Rabies Vaccination Certificate and International Health Certificate that are both signed by a licensed veterinarian from your home country.

Commuter trains, subway and buses are the most common type of public transport in New York. You will also encounter people who are either walking or cycling to avoid getting caught up in the huge number of commuters, especially during rush hour. Driving is a not so popular option in the city, but if you prefer this method, you should know the right places where to park because fines can be quite hefty. Here are some of the papers that are required if you want to bring your vehicle to New York:

  • Original Purchase Invoice
  • Original Title and Registration
  • Copy of your Passport
  • Vehicle’s year, make and model

This city is not just exciting for the young but also to those with families and their children. Your kids will enjoy many outdoor activities, a trip to the museum or just a simple game of Frisbee on the famous Central Park. New York is indeed a city that ensures a boredom-free lifestyle! 


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How to live like a local  

The fast paced work culture, high cost of living, low standard of living, and the stress of everyday life usually shocks people who expect the movie version of New York City. 

This world renowned city is the most populous and dense city in the United States and living in this city is the stuff of dreams to most people due to its popularity and the opportunities that it presents. However, as you would quickly find out when you move here, New York isn’t exactly what you would imagine it to be like in the famous movies and series about it. 

Culture Shock

As with most famous cities in the world, New York faces a lot of disappointments from people who come to the city expecting it to look and feel like all the famous movies and series that are set in it. No, you cannot get a huge apartment in central New York on a rent control like they do in Friends, you cannot just run around in heels and designer clothes and not get mugged in alleys like they do in Sex and the City, and your kids are less likely to survive on their own in the big city like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2, and no, going to the Bronx is not as dangerous as you would expect either (though regular caution should still be exercised). The expectations for this city is insurmountable because of its fame and portrayal for years in the media, so don’t expect all the clichés to happen to you when you move here. Just keep a regular optimism and sensible caution, be alert and observant, give yourself a week or two to be a tourist and make your own experiences in New York.


It’s not very advisable to drive in New York City. There are several modes of transportation available, but as the city is very densely populated and busy, all modes of transportation are busy all the time. Afterall, it is the city that never sleeps. The five borough of New York is massive, and the streets can be awfully confusing.It would be best if you can find housing near your work to make your commute easier, but as the city is also very expensive, it’s either you negotiate for a bigger housing budget, or you negotiate a transportation plan for getting to the office. If you really insist on driving in the city, you would need an international driver’s license and a really good sense of direction and rules for parking in New York. The Subway, cabs, cycling, or taking buses are the more common and more efficient ways to get around the city than driving yourself. In recent years, uber and uberpool have also been a more popular option to get around the city.


New York is an international hub for commerce and business, so naturally, the city offers a myriad of options in Banking. It is also the home of Wall Street and has a global reputation for finance. Banks, ATMs, and other financial centres can be found everywhere in the city. If you wish to open a bank account, you would need your passport, social security number, proof of your immigration status and any form of billing address. The major publicly traded financial companies in New York are JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and American Express. All the other major American banks, as well as other major international banks, are also easily accessible in New York.


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Kids Activities

As we all know, New York City is a famous tourist spot, so naturally, there are many things to see around the city for all ages. On a weekend or holiday, most tourist places would be crowded with people, but there are still some spots you can enjoy with your family such as Ellis Island, which is a lesser known tourist area in the city. It is a historical spot for immigrants, and it used to be the busiest immigrant station in the United States. Showing your kids the roots of the first expats in the country is a nice way to inspire them about their new life.

Central Park, American Museum of Natural History, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and Coney Island are also just some of the various places you can take your kids to during the weekends or school holidays. There are also several plays in Broadway, ballet, theatre on ice performance, and parades that kids will surely enjoy in New York.


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