Getting Acclimated to Living in New York City
If you're one of millions who have decided to live in New York City, hold on for the living experience of a lifetime. Living in New York City will definitely change your worldly perspective, because magic happens every time you step outside your door. There is inspiration and passion waiting for those considering moving to NYC. Whether you're making a move because of a job opportunity or because you've always dreamed about calling "the Big Apple" your home, there is so much to do and see in this great City, you'll never be bored.
The Five Boroughs
New York is a big state, and the city of New York is broken into five boroughs - Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. No matter where you choose to live in New York City, you'll be competing for resources that include both personal and professional opportunities to make the very most of your talent and time. The good news is that New Yorkers for the most part are kind and respectful of others, because deep in their hearts they know they are facing similar challenges. You can take comfort in the fact that from a psychological perspective, you are not alone in this great city.
Living in the Boroughs
If you move to New York City on a shoestring budget, you might want to choose one of the boroughs outside of Manhattan to find a place to live. Whether you decide to buy or rent property, Manhattan is undoubtedly one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Whereas, the other boroughs offer more affordable real estate for purchase or rental. The infrastructure of the five boroughs is such that transportation into Manhattan is fairly simple using the subway systems, Metro trains and buses. Therefore, commuting is never an issue, as long as you plan on giving yourself an adequate amount of time for travel. For example, should you chose to live on Staten Island and commute to the City, there is a free ferry that runs on approximately a 20 minute schedule back and forth from Battery Park to Staten Island. The trip takes about a half hour. You can also take the train or a bus from Staten Island to the City. Housing costs run about a quarter less or better than what you would pay in NYC.
If you don't have a lot of money, a budget is important if you live in New York City, because spending can get out of control very quickly in New York. Hopefully, you came with some savings stuffed away, so that when you look for a place to live you have something to show potential roommates or landlords. A budget is important to have in place before moving in order to know what you have to spend on housing, food, activities, etc., as well as an emergency funds for the unexpected. As you begin to make more money (and hopefully you will), you can adjust your budget to fit your lifestyle.
Finding Housing in New York
Manhattan in particular, has fewer places to live than the number of people looking for places to live, but by going to and searching for housing using a source like Craigslist.org, you'll find housing opportunities available by boroughs, neighborhoods, types, etc. Another good source for housing is The Village Voice and The New York Times real estate sections. Types of real estate include brokered, no-broker, sublets and rooms. There are also people looking for roommates, which can bring down your housing expenses a good deal, and give you the chance to stash some savings for when something better comes your way. Subletting is also a popular choice for many, since the city is filled with a transient population of international workers and performers who like to sublet when they travel for extended periods of time. In order to sign a lease for a place of your own, you must keep in mind that in most cases a landlord will be looking to see if your income is forty to fifty times greater than your monthly rent, or approximately one quarter of your gross income for rent. Landlords can and are very picking about who they rent to because they have the luxury of knowing that there are many, many people competing for housing.
Most New Yorkers depend on the subway or bus to get them where they need to go. Subway and bus passes are one in the same and can be purchased as unlimited or per-ride metro cards. If you're planning on using the subway or bus transportation system, purchase either a seven day, 14 day or 30 day card from a subway attendant or at any kiosks in subway stations. Individual rides are currently around $2.25, with discounts for multiple ticket cards. Taxis are an alternative, but can be very expensive. For example, if you travel from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Lower Manhattan, you can expect to pay in excess of $20, plus tip.
Shopping around for things like groceries is key to saving money in the City. Basics are higher in NYC and in some parts of Brooklyn, where there are more high priced markets and health food shops. Cheaper markets like PathMart, C-Town and Fairway can be found by using the subway or bus to your advantage.
Heath care in the city is expensive if you don't have employer coverage, but it's something you really need. There are organizations like the Freelancers Union or Fractured Atlas for artists that offer relatively inexpensive health care programs. Also, if your income is very low and you've lived in the city for six months or more, New York has a few government sponsored health care programs for the uninsured. There is a waiting period for this coverage, and an applicant must prove eligibility by submitting piles of paperwork. However, if you qualify, it's worth the time and effort involved.
Perhaps the easiest way to enjoy New York is finding entertainment. There are many venues throughout the city that provide everything from free concerts, street fairs, walks in Central Park or other beautiful areas. You can take the subway to many Long Island beaches and to the famous Coney Island Amusement Park and beach. There are many websites including freenyc.net, which list free activities in the City and include art and gallery events, parades, street fairs and more. Central Park also offers The Public Theatre's Shakespeare in the Park, which is phenomenal and free. To find the best activity promotional sources look for AM New York, The Post, Daily News and The Voice, which list all kinds of free events, as well as music and movies. Keep in mind that if it's free, there may be a long waiting line, so plan on bringing breakfast, lunch and maybe even dinner to tide you over during your wait.
Money & Costs