Ah, the Big Apple. Whether you’ve heard it in Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” or through Frank Sinatra’s famous “New York, New York”, you’re finally at that juncture of Googling what it’d be like to move to and live in NYC. Naturally, the city’s reputation precedes it, and rightly so. Although, it’s only fair that you spend some time thinking about how to find a locale that helps you avoid the traffic and the sky-high prices. Let’s face it, dreaming about living in NYC and actually giving it a rational thought are two completely different things. Luckily, we have covered every last detail about moving to NYC, so read on and find out.
What Should I Know Before Moving To NYC?
It would be accurate to compare NYC to space. There’s so much going on everywhere, you’ll never get to see all of it even though you live in it, and it seems to ever expand without splitting at the seams. In fact, does it even have any seams? With an approximate 2020 population of 8,323,340, NYC is the largest city in all of the United States. NYC spans across 470 miles, and has a population density of 27,709 people per square mile.
NYC is made up of 5 boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. Within each borough lie many neighborhoods, each with their own characteristics and vibes. To say that NYC is diverse is an understatement. With these many people coming from different places and backgrounds, there’s not a dull neighborhood to be found.
There are also plenty of restaurants and parks (Central Park anyone?), plenty of recreational activities for music lovers, historians and night owls alike, and a vast transportation system in this dreamy powerhouse of a city. A word of advice: don’t underestimate the busyness of NYC and New Yorkers. They are fast walkers, marching to the fast-paced drums of the city.
Crime Rate in New York City
For a city this size, NYC’s crime rate is practically commendable. It isn’t entirely safe (which city is?), but it definitely is safer than several other big cities, all of which are smaller than it. The violent crime rate comparison to 1,000 residents is 4.78, a mere .78 points over the national median of 4. Even better yet are the property crime rates: the rate comparison per 1,000 residents is 18.64, lower than the national median of the country which is 24. Your overall chances of becoming the victim of a crime is 5 per 1,000 residents. For its size, New York City is one of the safest places to live in America.
Dorothy Parker once said “London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.” Living in New York means constantly having your opinion about the city challenged. Just when you think you’ve seen all there is to see, you turn a corner into a new neighborhood or stumble across a new museum.
NYC is dynamic and alive to say the least. But not just in terms of the neverending bustling of people or the bars that shut at 4 am and open at 7. It also applies to the very heart of the city that is constantly throbbing. For some, the dynamism may spill over into chaos. For others, they find their method behind the madness and thrive here.
NYC experiences four distinct seasons in a year, with hot summers and cold winters. Summer in NYC has clear skies and bright sunny days, with daytime fairly hot. Temperatures hit 76°F, and you’ll need hats, glares and plenty of sunscreen. Though it is hot, it is far from dry, as NYC experiences moderately high rainfall during the summer. Light thunderstorms may come around, particularly in the afternoons. But the skies clear once the rain subsides, and the sun shines once again.
Summer moves into fall from September to November, met with chilly temperatures and crisp air. You’ll definitely have to layer up a bit, as temperatures can drop to as low as 47°F, especially getting closer to winter. You’ll get a few showers of rain occasionally, but for the most part, New York is beautiful in the fall. December to February sees temperatures that can go as low as 29°F. Winter days are cold and snowy, and though there’s few showers of rain. Count on the streets to get uncontrollably slippery when the rain starts pouring.
How Expensive Is It To Live In NYC?
Frank Sinatra can sure make New York sound desirable, but he ain’t paying the bills. According to GoBankingRates.com, homeowners in NYC need an annual income of $148,448 in order to live comfortably here. Living comfortably in this case is spending 50% of your income on necessary purchases, 20% to investments or savings, and 30% for recreation and fun. Renters need $128,552. So, will living in the Big Apple slice out a chunk of your savings or shave off a few years off your life? Read on for some insight into expenses when living in NYC.
Cost Of Living In NYC
The cost of living in NYC is 129% higher than the national average. A family of four living in NYC will spend approximately $4,837.52 a month on their expenses, while a single person will spend around $1,316.71 on monthly expenses. Keep in mind that New York State also has income tax, the rate of which varies from 4% to 8.82% depending on your earnings.
Groceries in NYC cost 28% higher than the national average which means you’re paying around $4.30 for a loaf of bread or a bunch of bananas. A gallon of milk is $2.49, and a carton of eggs is $2.32. Healthcare is 15% higher than the national average, and a visit to the doctor will cost $127.32. That’s not all, as a vet visit can be a gargantuan $76.07, with a visit to the dentist also being $109.38, and slightly higher at $119.30 for an optometrist.
Buying A House
Housing rates in NYC are a whopping 369% higher than the national average. The median house value of homes in NYC is $660,001. The median home price is $1,628,124. But NYC has a range of homes, so keep in mind that this is only an average across all the ranges. Although, if we’re being honest, that’s still a mammoth of a price.
Renting A House
The median monthly rent in NYC is $5,100, taken as a wide average. These figures change as we take a look at the rent in the boroughs. The average rent for an apartment in Queens is $2,487, and in Brooklyn is $2,649. The Bronx sees a little lower average at $1,658, while Manhattan is the highest at $3,790. Staten Island joins the Bronx with $1,598 as its average monthly rent.
Utilities in NYC cost 25% higher than the national average cost of utilities. You’ll spend approximately $210.08 a month on your energy bill, and around $223.94 on your phone bill. Gas in NYC is sold at $3.47 a gallon. A family of 4 using an average of 16,000 to 24,000 gallons of water (including laundry, sprinklers etc) over 3 months would have a combined water and sewer bill of between $140 to $200 (including the meter fees).
New York City Economy And Employment Opportunities
New York’s economy is as diverse as its people and neighborhoods. Home to Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, New York City is quite the obvious finance hotbed. High tech, insurance, real estate and health care are other big industries, as are journalism, media and publishing. Manhattan’s Silicon Alley, a region containing NY’s high technology industries, is its seat of technology.
Interestingly, the port of Manhattan happens to be one of the busiest ports on the entire Eastern Coast. The average salary earned in NY is $78k. Software engineers, project managers and executive assistants are some of the most popular jobs in NYC, paying between $66k to $103k collectively. Psychiatrists, chief executives and financial managers are some of the highest paid professions.
New York has the New York City Public School System, the largest in the United States. It is overseen by the NY Department of Education, which in turn overlooks over 700 school districts with 3.2 million students. There are plenty of public, private and charter schools (known here as un-zoned schools) alike, and loads to choose from.
Some of the top elementary schools are Anderson School, Lower Lab School and the Special Music School. Some of the top high schools are the Byram Hills High School, Bronx High School of Science and the Stuyvesant High School. Don’t worry if your child is not fluent in English, as they can participate in ESL programs. English as a Second Language programs are designed to help children familiarize themselves with the English language.
From Ivy League to community colleges, NYC is also well equipped so that you can see your child complete their education. Some of the top colleges to look into are Columbia University, Barnard College, Baruch College and the New York University. There are over 80 colleges here to look into, so you’re better off starting the search right away.
Transportation in NYC
The responsibility of shuttling people up and down the city that never sleeps is on the shoulders of the MTA. The MTA, or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is North America’s largest transportation network. And its branch in NYC is the MTA New York City Transit.
The MTA New York City Transit runs this city’s rail and bus system. Four-fifths of all rush-hour commuters to New York City’s central business districts use MTA transit. It gives users the option to use the MetroCard. Just make sure you put in the minimum $5.50 value, as well as the $1 card fee.
You’re going to love the subway as much as you’ll hate it when you live in NYC. There’s 472 stations and 27 subway lines that snake their way through NYC. The routes are identified by letters and numbers. Each of these routes serve the 4 boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. The Staten Island Railway (SIR) serves Staten Island.
The subway trains run at all hours, during all 7 days of the week. Trains run every 2 to 10 minutes during rush hours, every 5 to 10 minutes during the slightly emptier midday hours, every 5 to 12 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight and every 20 minutes between midnight and 6.30 a.m. Stand in the Off-Hour Waiting Area, identified by a yellow sign, when travelling at odd hours. This ensures you are within sight of a station agent to ensure your safety.
The cost of a SingleRide ticket is $3.00. As long as you don’t exit through a turnstile, you can use the system citywide and transfer to other subway lines as many times as you need. Using the Metrocard reduces your ticket fare to $2.75.
There’s over 5,900 buses in the MTA bus fleet, all of which are accessible for people with disabilities. 23 local bus routes, 73 express routes and 20 Select Bus Service routes connect you with the different nooks and corners of NYC. The express buses get you from one borough to the next, while local routes run within the same borough.
Buses are available 24/7, but this varies by the route and type of bus. They run about every 5 to 15 minutes, but timings can vary depending on the time of day. A single ticket costs $2.75, which you can pay with the Metrocard or direct change. Buses do not accept paper money. Do note that express buses cost $6.75.
Yellow cabs are available 24/7 throughout New York City. Your metered fare starts at $2.50, increasing 5 cents for every fifth of a mile or every minute. An additional $1 surcharge is added to the meter Monday through Friday, 4–8pm (excluding holidays), and a 50-cent surcharge is added daily at night and early morning, 8pm–6am. You can also make use of ride-hailing service Uber and Lyft.
NYC doesn’t do things the “normal” mediocre way, which is why it has not one, or two, but three different airports. You have the infamous John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), and the lesser known LaGuardia (LGA) and Newark (EWR) Airport. JFK is conveniently connected to the subway (via the A, E lines and AirTrain), while the subway lines stop a mile away from LaGuardia. Newark is in New Jersey, but is technically considered an NYC airport.
See also: New York DMV Change of Address
Best Neighborhoods In NYC
We’re just going to go ahead and say what’s on your mind: it’s impossible to give you an accurate rundown of NYC neighborhoods. There’s one too many to choose from, which is why it makes sense to narrow down on which borough you want to call home. You can also consider these 3 neighborhoods that caught our attention.
1. Lower East Side – Lower Manhattan
Eclectic vibes meet a wave of real estate development in Lower East Side, popularly abbreviated to LES. Tenement-style buildings stand alongside high-end apartments and penthouses, with a healthy dose of nightlife added to the mix. LES attracts a lot of the young working population, also because it is well connected via public transport. There’s a lot of music venues and restaurants as well, so there’s always something to do in LES. The typical home value of homes in the Lower East Side is $884,648.
2. Jackson Heights – Central Queens
The diversity in Jackson Heights is enough to make it a microcosm of NYC. It is multicultural in nature, and it is said that there’s over 150 languages spoken here by its residents. Jackson Heights has a range of restaurants reflecting its cultural influences (yay for the foodies!), and also has a lot of parks and playgrounds. The annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival is hosted here every year. The typical home value of homes in Jackson Heights is $421,346.
3. Prospects Lefferts Gardens
This residential neighborhood is on the brink of some top-notch development, and is one to watch out for. It is located east of Prospect Park and is connected to Manhattan via the subways, such that you can get there within 30 minutes. You can pick from one of the lovely 19th and 20th century row-houses that line the streets, the typical value of which is $957,570.
Is It A Good Idea To Move To NYC?
Overwhelming crowds, a constant sense of rush and urgency, insane traffic on the streets. An excellent and cheap public transportation system, a neighborhood for any and every kind of person, an unbeatable range of choice across all aspects, and the thrill of living in NYC. New York has much to dislike, yet everything else it offers seems to drown out all the negatives, or at least make them more bearable.
Read Also: Largest Cities in New York | Moving to New York State
Top Realtors in NYC Share their Thoughts
1. Gavin Hammon
I truly believe that there is no greater city in the world where the old world collides with the new. We have access to the greatest galleries, theaters, parks and shopping as well as medical facilities in the world. It truly is the city that never sleeps and once you have lived here, you’ll find it very hard to leave. I have lived all over the world and I can truly say that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. New York is tough. It’s not for the faint of heart. It demands that we step up and become the best version of ourselves, as you are surrounded by a collective energy that promotes and encourages this. New York will get under your skin! I also love movies. So many of my favorites were filmed here and that industry is growing stronger all the time. That only adds to a cities allure and credit.
Make sure you choose your neighborhood wisely, and above all else, be sensitive to those who have lived there much longer than you. NYC is going through a lot of changes that involve replacing the old and familiar, so keep in mind that these people have seen a different time. Overall, we say it’s time to join Old Blue Eyes and sing about how you can make it anywhere if you make it in ol’ New York.
Must read: Best Out of State Movers in America | Best Movers in NYC