A concrete jungle perched on the Atlantic Ocean, New York City is the storied destination of American immigration, and its diverse communities and enduring old-world neighbourhoods remain living representations of the city’s worldly appeal.
Expats moving to New York City today aren't the wide-eyed 'fresh off the boat' fortune seekers of yesteryear but are rather the jet-setting, business-savvy players of the world's economy.
Living in New York City as an expat
At first, moving to New York can be frustrating; new arrivals must learn to manage the competitive housing market, adjust to a new schooling system and find lucrative employment. The work environment and the Manhattan lifestyle are brisk and energetic, and enjoying the fruits of one's labour is the best part of working in the Big Apple.
NYC is known as the city that never sleeps, and it's true that New Yorkers really do work hard and play harder. New arrivals to New York will be moving to the most populated city in the United States and will find that while space comes at a premium, they will have a host of diverse neighbourhoods to choose from.
The city's well-established public transportation network is another bonus. The subway operates 24/7 and there are also buses, commuter trains and ferries for those travelling to places that are a little further afield. As is the case throughout the US, expats moving to New York will have to ensure they have invested in a fully comprehensive health insurance plan. This will allow them to take advantage of the leading healthcare facilities in the city.
Cost of living in New York City
While it's true that the cost of living in NYC is high, it's best thought of as the price of admission to living in a city with endless highlights. There’s no better place in the US when it comes to broadening one's horizons, with ample opportunities to explore the dynamic nightlife, eclectic selection of restaurants and thriving theatre scene.
Accommodation will take a significant chunk of new arrivals' salaries, but fortunately, newcomers can mitigate these costs by opting for a houseshare or living further out from the city centre. Entertainment and eating out will largely depend on newcomers' personal preferences as New York offers opportunities for both fine and food truck dining.
Expat families and children in New York City
The standard of public schools in New York is generally excellent, but many newcomers send their children to one of the city's outstanding international schools. Fees are high but the facilities and standard of teaching are usually top-notch. Space at the most popular schools is limited, so it is best to begin the application process before relocating.
Those planning on opting for public schooling should note that priority is given to families living in the school's zoning area, a fact best kept in mind when choosing a new home. Similarly, spots at some of the best public schools in the city are also limited, so parents should prepare their plans and applications well in advance.
Climate in New York City
With a humid subtropical climate, New York City's weather patterns are characterised by warm and humid summers while winter is known for being cold, rainy and snowy. Newcomers to New York should be sure to pack their umbrellas and warm clothing, as well as sunscreen for occasional heatwaves in summer.
New arrivals moving to New York City will be in for one of the most exhilarating and culturally immersive experiences of their life thanks to the city's diversity, economic prowess and dynamic nature.
►Read more about Accommodation in New York City
►For a comprehensive guide to education, download our free New York City Schools Guide
"New York is a unique place being so busy and so tightly packed. It’s frantic, it’s loud, and you learn to love the trash on the sidewalks. I moved here because I wanted to be part of a big city, and that’s exactly what I got. There’s always something new to explore, and there’s always somewhere new to visit." Read more about Australian expat Josh's experiences in NYC.
"I love the energy and vibrancy of New York, and the accessibility of culture – theatres, museums, galleries are all within walking distance for us." To read more about British expat Jayne's NYC experiences, check out her expat interview.
"Explore, explore, explore! Get out of your comfort zone, even if it means going sightseeing by yourself. Take your free time – be it the weekends or other days – to simply explore the streets and look at great New York things. And don’t be afraid to go to areas that are not mentioned in the tourist guides. My friend and I went to Harlem, Bushwick and Bedstuy in the beginning (during the day). It was helpful to gain an overall impression of the Big Apple and to not only see the glamorous side Europeans often brag about." Read more in German expat Laura's NYC interview.
Are you an expat living in New York City?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to New York City. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.