Monday, November 1, 2010

Moving to and Living in New York City

My name is Trevre Andrews, and about a year ago (September 2009) I moved from Minneapolis to New York City.  I have spent the last several years of my life trying to figure out this city, from where to buy groceries to how to rent an apartment.  I figured millions of people have already done it and it shouldn't be difficult to find the answers to any questions that I had, yet with all the resources of the internet at my fingertips, many things were and still are beyond my understanding and scattered about in hard to find places.  Particularly if you want the BEST information and resources you cannot find them online without living in this city first.  Part of the problem is the overabundance of information and opinions available (I kindly refer to it as the Guestbook, since anybody can write in it, but in no particular order, and for every imaginable reason) most of which is overly enthusiastic, for publicity, or outdated.  I have waded through a small fraction of this Guestbook, and gleaned several pearls of wisdom and organization which I will do my best to make available here on this blog.  This is also a work in progress, and as this becomes to long and complicated I will continually reorganize and redistribute so that you have much more confidence in doing what I did. 

  1. The first rule of New York City that GOOGLE doesn't work in this city.  In just about any other place in the country you can Google your way most efficiently to anything, but time and time again in this city I have found Google to be outdated, incorrect, a funnel towards scams, and providing a false sense of confidence.  That is part of the reason why I put this blog together.  That being said, Google maps is a "cannot live without" in this city and once you have lived here for a year you will gain the "New Yorker" Google filter so at which point Google may become useful to you. 
  2. Do yourself a favor
    1. Before you even consider moving here, visit Manhattan once for at least and weekend.
  3. Finding a place to stay
    1. Stay with a friend at first as long as possible
    2. Before you impose on a friend's shoebox consider if you can even afford living here and what kind of lifestyle you are willing to cope with (yes I do mean cope).  Generally you are going to need at a bare minimum about 3K in the bank for security deposit and first month's rent plus a regular 1.5K monthly to burn when you write each rent check.  That is not for some glamorous 1 bed room apartment in Manhattan, that is for a studio, off the subway 10 minutes, probably in Queens, Brooklyn, or upper upper Manhattan, but it will be a place to yourself.  Now if you think you can handle a New York roommate, you can probably cut that down to 1.1K a month, get a better location and a bit more space.  I have found two excellent resources for housing prices in New York and also finding a place to rent.  The fastest way to learn the market is to read through the latest Market Report from City Habitats  A good place to start for finding the place to rent is also through City Habitats, whether you want a fee or no-fee place (which are described in their  Market Report ). 
  4. Getting to know the city
    1. Take a tour bus, take a tour boat, and walk from one end of Broadway to the other.
      1. There is no way to beat the Metrocard prices.  They are what they are, there are no coupons, or sales, or ways to beat the system.  Cough up your 100 bucks for the month and enjoy the ride.  
  5. Moving around the city
    1. Subway, bus, bike, car, taxi, motorcycle, scooter, ferry, and especially your own two feet, there are definitely a lot of ways to get around in this place, none of which are bad depending on your situation.
  6. Shopping
    1. Yeah I am not a huge shopper, but everybody needs groceries, furniture, booze, camping gear, and a motorcycle shop, but it isn't as easy as rolling down to the local shopping center here in NYC.  
      1. Groceries - In New York they are about twice as expensive and twice as heavy as anywhere else in the country.  Don't underestimate living near a grocery store (A Deli is not a grocery store, see below).  Since groceries are double the price, and your kitchen is likely half the size it becomes nearly reasonable to just eat out for every meal (seriously). 
      2.  Furniture.  One word, IKEA.  I know I hate it to, everything is so...ununique.  But IKEA works in New York because their stuff is light (because you will have to carry it), it is cheap (because you will likely have to throw it away when you move and you are just out of cash after paying for an apartment).  You will convert, and the thing you spend the least time with in NYC is your furniture.
      3. Booze.  Its expensive, even beer in bulk will set you back a dollar a can at a minimum and two dollars a bottle.  I have yet to find a solution to this problem. 
      4. Camping Gear.  New York and the Northeast for that matter has some of the better hiking and camping spots in the country, all within a few hours drive.  Don't believe me?  Check out my hiking photos.  There are several good stores for gear in town, the best of which is Paragon, they will match any online price.  
      5. So maybe you don't own a motorcycle or scooter, but seriously it is the fastest way to get around town.  You should at least consider it.  There are plenty of motorcycle clubs in NYC, but I haven't found one I would recommend yet.  Hopefully I will expand on this later.   
  7. Deli's
    1. Delis are great, and I am not talking about Carnegie which is a delicious tourist attraction, but technically not the type of Deli I am referring to.  I am talk about those corner places that have everything except a website or phone number.  Delis are probably one of the greatest things in the City, but they ARE NOT grocery stores.  They provide delicious subsistence at a low price in a hurry.  They give you a spot to pick up the things you forgot when you went to the Grocery store.  And the owners and shoppers are usually quite entertaining.  Use them, but use them right.
  8. Pizza
    1. Frankly I wasn't a fan when I first moved here, but you get used to certain things.  I like lots of toppings and lots of sauce, two things NYC pizza doesn't have.  What they do have is delicious crust.  I have also found a few jewels, including the pepperoni pinwheel and the grandma's slice.  Never use a fork, folding is preferred, and its alright, the pizza is supposed to be old and cold, they will heat it up for you.  
  9.   Things to do
    1. There is really only one rule here, you can't possible do it all.  There are millions of things to do in NYC and millions of people to tell you how to do them.  Pick one, do it, then move to the next one.  Go back to the things you like, and forget about the things you didn't.  You can start here at Time Out New York (its a magazine). 
  10. Don't give up and after you live here for 6 months expect to never want to leave, it is addicting, you will get hooked, and there is nothing else to say about it.  
That is it for now, come back to check for updates, I will update the above, and I will try and add lots of interesting posts in the future.