Moving To New York, NY - Relocation Guide

So You're Moving To New York

So maybe you're still just considering it or maybe you've finally made the decision: you're moving to New York, NY. As well as famously being the city that never sleeps, it's a city that needs no introduction. But what's it like to actually live there? Obviously, that can be subjective. We can rate cities by Livability, but the real answer depends on what you're looking for. For example, if you want a desert climate or lots of space, New York City is probably not the place for you.

On the other hand, it is the place for you if you want to live somewhere where you can experience true summer and cold-down-to-your-bones winter. You'll get used to falling asleep to the rhythms of the city. Depending on which neighborhood you choose, the night sounds could be as quiet as the average suburb elsewhere or they could be a little more raucous. You'll likely have better job opportunities, but competition can be fierce. You'll also have other opportunities, as there is always something to do and something to see. In New York, you'll probably live in an apartment and your neighbors will be very close. You'll get used to living among many other people.

Will You Be Their neighbor?

Who are these people? Well, when you're moving to New York, you're moving into a melting pot of over eight million people. People move to New York from not only all over the country, but all over the globe. A little over half of the population speaks English, which means you might have the chance to practice other languages if you want. About 44% of the population is Caucasian, with African-Americans and Asians making up the largest racial groups after that with 25% and 13%, respectively. The median age is 35.7 and the ratio of men to women is almost equal, so keep that in mind if you're looking for a date. About half the population is married, but those still aren't bad odds when we're talking about a population this size.

Moving to New York can be tough. However, there's no other place on earth like it. There's a reason it's the standard by which we measure making it. It's a city where you can play a game of soccer in a beautiful, verdant park and then see a classic Broadway play on Broadway. You can meet people from all over the world and then run into someone from your hometown.

Finding Your Neighborhood

Still want to move there? Then let's find you a place. In this city of about 302 square miles, there are 129 neighborhoods. We'll go through them all alphabetically. (Just kidding.) How do you find which neighborhood is the best choice for you? You could go through them all alphabetically and compare Livability Scores, but that might be a bit time-consuming. Instead, we'll take a closer look at a sampling of neighborhoods. Before we get to that, though, let's discuss the basics-your housing options.

First of all, actual houses are going to be out of the discussion. There are still a few left in New York City, but mostly they're either Gracie Mansion, where the mayor lives, or other historical properties turned museums. So unless you can convince the mayor to let you move in, your house dreams will have to be re-calibrated to townhouses or condos. If you don't mind an apartment, the options can be endless. Walk-up or elevator, doorman, bare-bones amenities or luxury perks-the choice is up to you. As far as neighborhoods, let’s take a closer look at a few.

East Village

If you’re looking for somewhere eclectic that’s still in Manhattan, the East Village is worth consideration. Like all of New York City, there are loads of local amenities, but the East Village has its own brand of cool. It’s known for being a hotbed of social and cultural movements from the Beats of the 50s to the punks of the 70s and 80s. In addition, the housing market is stable and it’s a low crime area, for those who value security.

Upper West Side

If you’re looking for something a little quieter or somewhere more appropriate for families, there’s the Upper West Side. The UWS may not have the raging nightlife that some other neighborhoods have, but they do have incredible world-class museums. These include the Museum of Natural History, where you can walk among the dinosaur bones. Like the East Village, the housing market is stable and there is a low crime rate.


For newcomers who are open to Brooklyn, you might consider Williamsburg. It’s got the eclectic cool of the East Village, but at slightly lower prices. The crime rate isn’t as low as the previous two neighborhoods, but with the rapid growth and development of the neighborhood, it’s worth a second look.

Getting Around The City

By car

Another consideration you might have, especially if you’re looking at neighborhoods outside of Manhattan, is your commute. First of all, if you’re bringing a vehicle, reconsider. Traffic in the city can be a challenge, but then there’s what to do with your car when you’re not in it. You probably won’t be able to park it on the street regularly, so you’ll need a garage and then you’ll need to add in those costs to your monthly budget. Of course, you may rent an apartment with garage space, but don’t count on that.

Public transportation

So if you’re not driving, how will you get around? There are cabs, of course, and the popularity of ride-sharing means that there are always taxi alternatives, but the most common form of transportation is public. You’ll need a Metrocard to ride the subway or take the bus. As a resident, you’ll likely want a 30-day card, which will cost around $120. However, you also might want to hold off on getting one until you know how much you’ll be using public transportation. It might be more economical to get a pay-per-ride card, for example, if you don’t take the subway that often.

Walking and biking

The other two main ways to get around the city are by biking or on your own two feet. If these are your preferred means of transportation, then you’re in luck, because the city is great for both. With rare exception, you can walk anywhere you want, whether restaurant, grocery store, or local pub. It’s also easy to bike around the city, if you want to go longer distances than your feet can carry you. Thanks to the popularity of bike-sharing services like CitiBike, you won’t need to buy, move, or store your own bike. If you’ve never used the service like it, there are bike stands all over the city where you can rent a bike, use it, and return it to a stand near your destination-no worrying about bringing it back to the original location if you’re not going back there.

Bike-sharing is an excellent way to save money in the city, which, as you’ll soon learn, is something you need to take advantage of it when you can find it. To put it mildly, New York is an expensive city. The cost of living alone is 68% higher than the rest of the country and that's before we even get into housing, where the cost is 136% higher than the national average. What accounts for those numbers? Let's take a closer look.

The Cost Of Living In New York

Cost of Living Index Breakdown

Goods & services

This category covers things like haircuts, non-food staples like toothpaste, and activities like going to the movies. In most cases, those costs are much higher than the national average. That might not matter to you much, though, unless you live to bowl, where you'll find yourself paying a staggering 151% more in NYC than the national average.


Where you might be concerned, though, is in other costs. After all, you may not attend the movies much, but you have to eat. The good news is that you won't feel the pinch as much at the grocery store, where prices are comparable to the national average for most goods. Exceptions include beer, pizza, and potatoes. For example, take beer. The national average will have you paying $8.63, while in New York, you can expect to shell out an extra $5 for that six-pack. Groceries in general will cost you about 21% more than the national average.

Health Care

Healthcare has similar ratios. Although prices for doctors' visits and medications are higher in New York, they're not that much higher. Expect to pay about 17% more for health care in New York than you would in any other city.


And then there's New York housing. As we've already discussed, it's 136% higher than the national average. That means that renters nationwide are paying on average $920 monthly for an apartment that will cost you $1,234 in New York. If you're wanting to buy, you can expect to pay around $175,700 on average, whereas in New York, you'll pay $490,700. To find a home in Manhattan is even more expensive, with average home prices coming in at more than $2,000,000.


The cost of transportation can be quite high in New York if you are not planning on taking advantage of the public transportation system. The fare for a ride on the subway or bus is less than $3.00 and it will take you anywhere you need to go. Owning a car in the city is extremely expensive and parking can range all the way up to $200,000 plus.


When you buy that house or rent that apartment, you can expect to pay slightly higher for your utilities as well. That also goes for vehicle costs, whether it's gas or simple upkeep. Overall, utilities in New York are 33% higher than the national average.

Buying versus renting

Now that you've taken that into consideration, let's revisit buying versus renting. What is the right one for you? To figure that out, you'll need to examine your budget. There is no magic number, of course, but a good rule of thumb is that your rent or mortgage payment should be no more than 28% of your income, but definitely not more than 36%. So if you the home buyer are making the New York median income of $85,930, then 28% of that would be $2,005. The median renter's income is $41,060, so 28% of that would be $958.

Crime In New York City

Of course, price isn't the only concern when choosing where to live. Besides being affordable, you're going to want somewhere safe. We've touched on crime rates a bit, but let's go a bit deeper. First of all, on paper (or on New York looks terrible, crime wise. However, what you see isn't exactly what you get. The crime rate in New York is actually 26% lower than the national average and New York is safer than 20% of other cities in the United States.

Crime Per 100,000 Residents

Types of crime

The most common crimes in New York are related to property-burglary, theft, vehicle theft, etc. The property crime rate is still lower than the national average, though. There are 1,519 property crimes per 100,000 people in New York, whereas the national average is 2,487 per 100k. That's annually, by the way. Overall, you have a 1 in 66 chance of being the victim of a property theft crime in New York City.

Although property is the most common crime, it's understandable that you might be a little more concerned about violent crime. What are the odds, literally? In New York City, the violent crime rate is higher than New York State and higher than the national average, but again, violent crimes are still not as common as property theft. So on average, annually there are 586 violent crimes per 100,000 people in NYC. The national average per 100k is 373. That means that you have a 1 in 171 chance of being a victim of violent crime in New York. Overall, you have a 1 in 48 chance of being a victim of any kind of crime in New York City.

By neighborhood

As far as crime by neighborhood, the safest outside of Staten Island include Battery Park City in Manhattan and Borough Park in Brooklyn. Areas you may want to avoid or at least be extra careful in include Midtown and the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, as well as Hunts Point in the Bronx and Brownsville in Brooklyn.

Finding Your Dream Home In New York

Median Home Prices

Now that you've got the basics down, it's time to get to the most exciting part besides your actual move: finding a new home or apartment. Here are some tips to make the process as smooth as possible.

First steps

Not a bad idea to stay in a hotel for a few nights to get the lay of the land before making your decision. As we've previously discussed, you should start thinking about what you want in a building. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get everything you desire, but it gives you a starting point. The next steps after that will be to do your research. Hopefully, this New York moving guide will be all that you need, but you may want to do some more in-depth research on neighborhoods. To help narrow that down, make a budget based on your income. Remember, that if the mortgage or rent is more than 36% of your expenses, it may be doable, but it won't be easy. Aim for more like for 28% of your income.

This must be the place

If you are a renter and would rather skip the searching yourself, consider hiring a broker. You will have to pay a broker's fee (about the same price as one month of rent), but if you don't know anyone in the city, they can be a big help. If you'd rather go it on your own, though, start searching about at least a month before your move. Check sites like this one and ask your friends for referrals.

Sealing the deal

Then when you find your new apartment, you're going to want to act fast. That means that when you go see apartments, you should bring the relevant paperwork-a copy of your ID, proof of income, etc. Although some brokers and/or renters might take credit cards, that's not a given. They might accept only a cashier's check, so you should find out in advance how to get one from your bank fast. Home owners can afford to be a little more patient with their searches as there is a lot more inventory.

And that's your New York moving guide. We hope you enjoy your adventures in New York!

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