4 things to know before moving to New York

By Charlotte Deprez Published 15/08/2019

Start spreading the neeeeews, you’re leaving todaaaay! Moving to New York? Good for you, a lot of people dream of taking that leap of faith without ever acting on it. Now that the hardest part is done, you’re gonna have to adapt to the city that never sleeps. To help you in that process, here are a few tips that might be useful!

Living in food paradise

Forget about McDonald’s! Forever! New York is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, making it an incredibly rich city from a gastronomic standpoint. Whether you’re looking for an authentic peruvian ceviche, Japanese noodles or a Spanish paella, you’ll definitely find it in New York. And if you’re missing your mom’s food, you’ll quickly realize that there’s a neighborhood for pretty much every single nationality here.

Trying to live on a budget — you’ll see there’s no such thing in the second item of this list, but we don’t wanna spoil — ? Privilege the local structures! For a fair price, you can eat food from a Deli for example. Also, $1 pizza slices are still a thing and they’re actually really good. Always comes in handy at the end of the month.

Here are a few insider hotspots you don’t wanna miss :

  • Kopitiam: fusion asian cuisine, more precisely Nyonya cuisine, a hybrid of Chinese and Malay flavors. (151 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002)
  • Red Hook Lobster Pound: if you’re always down for a good lobster roll, you’ll be happy here! All of their seafood comes directly from the Maine Coast. They have a few different locations and a food truck.
  • Di Fara Pizza: arguably the best pizza in New York, and at least the best in Brooklyn (1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn, NY 11230)
  • Peter Pan Donuts & Pastry Shop: it says what it does! The donuts here are to die for. (727 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222. peterpandonuts.com)
  • Sprinkles: the most famous cupcakes in town, and for a good reason. Hesitating? You can’t go wrong with a red velvet from Sprinkles! And the good news is that they have three locations in NYC.
  • Katz’s Delicatessen: famous for its pastrami, hot dogs and corned beef, Katz’s has been around and praised since 1888! By the way, they also do deliveries. (205 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002.
  • Levain Bakery: two words. Their. Cookies. Just trust us on this one. They have 5 (soon 6) locations in New York.


Last tip regarding food paradise: a lot of places worth eating at are — surprisingly — cash only, so always carry $50 to $100 with you.

Always overestimate 3 things: your budget, your commuting time… and the tip

As mentioned in the previous point, living in New York on a budget is close to impossible. That is if you wanna live, not just survive. Groceries are a ripoff and a simple beer in a bar can cost you more than $10. So yes, saving money while living in New York is absolutely off the table. But is that what you came for? We think not.

The biggest expense you’ll be facing: accommodation. Along with San Francisco, New York is one of the most expensive cities in the US, but also in the world. That’s one of the reasons coliving structures like Cohabs have been developing in the past few years. Coliving actually provides all the services you need when arriving in New York, from a beautifully decorated room to wifi and international housemates. All that for a rent 10% to 20% lower than average. And that means more money to explore your new city and live the NYC experience!

Commuting in New York is also largely underestimated by newbies. In the city, we measure distances by blocks, not meters or miles. And you’ll be walking a lot. On one hand, it’s a good way to stay active (you’ll definitely burn a lot of calories), but on the other hand, you’ll find yourself taking way more time to go from one place to the other.

Another good option is the subway, but again, it will be hard to understand it at first and you might wind up getting on the wrong train. Thinking “but I know how to take the subway, dude”? Let’s touch base after a few weeks living in the Big Apple — or get stuck 4 stops away from your destination for no apparent reason. Just learn to go with the flow, there’s nothing you can do about it, except overestimating your commuting time. One good piece of advice for you: download the Citymapper app. (https://citymapper.com/nyc?lang=en). It saves lives, or at least time, really.

Last thing that tends to make non-Americans anxious (and penniless) : tipping. In a lot of countries, tipping isn’t part of the culture. There’s a fixed price, you pay that price and everyone’s happy. Not in the US. A lot of workers rely on tips to make a living, so it’s a pretty serious matter here.

To make sure you have it right, remember these 4 simple rules that should help you in most situations :

  • At a restaurant : pre tax total + 20% if the service was good, 15% if the services was average
  • At a bar : $1 for a beer and a bit more for a cocktail
  • For a taxi : 10% of the total at least
  • In a hotel : something like $1 per bag carried for you by the porter


Buying groceries will be an adventure

As you know, the price for a square meter in New York is extra high. As a result, malls and big grocery stores are quite far from the center and you’ll need a car to get there. Your only viable option is to buy your food in different places, as one shop will have the veggies you were looking for, but not the cereals or the dairy you need.

There are also a lot of fruit and vegetable stands on every corner, take advantage of those as they are usually cheaper and very good value for money. Street food is also big in New York, and can be a very good and fairly priced option.


New Yorkers are nicer than they look

Just don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Seriously, there’s no better way to piss off a New Yorker. With 4 million people passing through Manhattan every single day, the streets can get way too busy. And believe it or not, not everyone has the time to wait for you to find your way on Google Maps. So, in order to avoid creating traffic jams and fury, stay in your lane and go to the side whenever you need to slow down, as you’d do with a car.

Same goes for the subway : prepare your subway ticket beforehand in order to swipe it right away and avoid blocking 10 New Yorkers in a hurry.

However, never hesitate to ask a local for directions or recommendations! You’ll see that most New Yorkers are eager to help you out and give away their best tips.


About the author Hello there! I'm Charlotte, based in beautiful Brussels and passionate about traveling, food and photography. Follow me @thetinynomad!