1. What was the hardest thing(s) to adjust to when moving here? The Prices – We knew that NYC was the most expensive US city to live in, and we tried to prep ourselves, but it still shocks me whenever we eat out and get the bill. If you use yelp as a gauge for how much you think you’ll spend, expect the scale to be different here. One dollar sign means two, two means three, and three means four.
The Cold was difficult at first to cope with, but after the temperatures dipped into single digits, anything above 30 felt like a nice day. Having the right coat and winter gear makes all the difference. Getting Around the City – When I moved I was very stressed out about getting around. I am a person that generally doesn’t have a good sense of. I didn’t have an iPhone at the time and often times went the wrong way on the subway. On my first day of school, I was late because I went the wrong way and was very disoriented. Navigating can be disorienting and can be very stressful, but once you feel comfortable with it, it’s one of the most gratifying things and makes you feel like you belong.
The “New York Attitude” – The hardest thing for me to adjust to was the “New York attitude”. Being from the South, I wasn’t used to such direct and forward personalities, especially ones that didn’t smile as much as I do, but I’ve learned that it is a kind of realness that I can really appreciate now. I know I can generally experience people and things as they are, and it has helped me to embrace the ups and downs honestly and develop and grow myself as well. A close second hardest thing to adjust to for me continues to be the winter cold. I feel like I’m still learning how to layer and wear enough clothing because my brain just doesn’t understand why it is so cold sometimes. Some days I just pray I’m wearing enough.
Downsizing – We moved from a house twice the size of our NYC apartment that also had an attic, garage and plenty of closets, so it’s been an adjustment learning to live in a smaller space. I did a LOT of purging before we moved – selling and donating furniture, clothes, etc., which helped – and have gotten creative with storage to maximize space. I’ve also had to adjust to a different schedule with my dog – we had a yard at our old house which made it easy to quickly let him out instead of a walk if I was in a rush or the weather wasn’t great. Now, regardless of weather, I’m out walking him a few times a day.
2. Do you have any tips for apartment hunting? How did you find your place? Watch carefully how apartments list their monthly rent. For newer buildings, there could be hidden costs like amenities. Also, if they have promotions with free months, they can be tricky with how they calculate it to make the monthly price sound cheaper. For example, the listed rent might be $3800 with two months for free. That sounds like you’re getting two months for free and the remaining 12 months at $3800 a month, but it’s actually closer to $4400 a month because they calculated their numbers to be at $3800 for 14 months instead.
Streeteasy! Also, know that you’re not going to get everything on your wish list (or you can. You just have to pay a million dollars.) I definitely recommend looking at the no-fee rental options before moving onto one that has a fee. Make sure you know what is important to you, set a budget that makes sense, and do some of the homework so you have a good sense of where you want to be. Do you want to be in a certain neighborhood? Is being close to transportation important? Or are you on a very strict budget?
Don’t Panic. There are plenty of ways to find housing opportunities. – I’ve moved a number of times and have lived in different parts of Queens, Brooklyn, and now Manhattan. There are always housing opportunities you can find even one week out from when you might need to move. A few popular ways to find apartments are: ask friends (someone usually knows someone who needs a roommate), look carefully on Craigslist (I’ve gotten lucky a few times, but be sure to do your research), or stay at a sublet for a short time so you can keep looking. As another option, there are also dorm style living situations you can apply for. I’ve done all of these before, and it has turned out well so far.
Use a Broker – We were fortunate to have a corporate relocation package, and as part of that had a broker who helped us with our apartment hunt. As first-timers in the city, she was a great resource because she understood what we were looking for, suggested neighborhoods we should consider, and helped coordinate everything with our search which took a lot of the stress off of us. My advice would be to spend as much time in the city as you can before committing to a lease – find a short-term sublet, crash with a friend, or even just visit for a few days and explore neighborhoods. This way you can figure out what is important to you in a building or location, and what will drive you nuts before you commit to a lease. – Julia
3. Do you mostly dine out, order in, or cook at home? We cook at home the most to save up and eat at places we really want to try rather than eating out more often at places that might be mediocre. There are so many delivery services and you can almost always find a promotion for them. Seamless is by far used the most by anyone we know. We tried many of them once with their promotional codes. Overall, we don’t use it much unless we’re at a friend’s place. We would seamless it more often if we lived in an area with better food.
4. How do you grocery shop and/or what’s your favorite app to order food with? We use Google Express for non-perishable items or heavy things since it’s free shipping with a minimum order. There are a couple local grocery stores to grab last minute essentials but the ones near us don’t have a great selection and are pricier. We also try to bring a backpack with us so that whenever we’re out, we can pick up small items here and there. When we grocery shop, we use Amazon Fresh the most. For groceries, my go-to spot is Trader Joe’s UWS, and I buy only as much as I can carry. In terms of apps, I don’t use any regularly, but FreshDirect is popular and seems to provides quality food and deliveries.
I live about 10 blocks from a Whole Foods so I do most of my grocery shopping there and carry it back – it’s easy, especially if my husband is with me to share the load. I had a coupon for FreshDirect so I’ve had groceries delivered a few times as well – I haven’t been blown away by the quality of product but it’s nice to have for stocking up on heavy items or when I don’t have time/feel like running to the grocery that week.
5. What’s your preferred way to get around the city? And why? We use the subway the most. Subway because it’s the most convenient. I would love to sit in a car instead, but I always regret it because of traffic. I love taking the subway to get around the city and am happy to not be driving anymore. For the most part, the stations are conveniently located, and it’s often fastest to get to my destination that way. It is another expense to account for each month, but it is still more affordable and easier than having a car. Walking is also a great way to see the city from a different perspective and get good exercise at the same time. I’m learning to love the bus more too. Google maps is my friend and gets me everywhere I need to go!
My general rule is that I will walk anywhere that is less than three subway stops away, which is typically about a 20-minute walk. More than that and I will usually take the subway. I try to reserve cabs and Ubers for bad weather and late nights.
6. Any other tips to give to people moving here? The city is as overwhelming as you make it. Wherever you are, it’s about who you spend your time with and what you spend your time doing. Besides work, your pace of life is up to you.
I think living in NY is an experience that everyone should have at some point in their life. It’s such a great place that caters something for everyone. It’s a place you’ll learn about yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Come and enjoy everything this city has! It is a place for dreamers and believers to experience the world’s best of anything you love. The key is to keep your head up and trust that things will be ok.
Thanks to Caty Julia & Ted