New York City
The world may know New York City as the home of the Statue of Liberty and the bright lights of Times Square, but becoming a New Yorker means looking beyond the traditional attractions and exploring the hidden gems.
New York City boasts the most diverse communities in the United States and a dazzling array of neighborhoods, restaurants, and lifestyles.
Historic cultural institutions and smaller creative hubs keep the city brimming with new ideas and innovative industries. Here is everything you should know before you move to New York City.
New York City has to offer
New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
Manhattan and Brooklyn are the two most popular boroughs for new arrivals, though Queens and the Bronx offer vibrant communities and cultural activities. Staten Island is the least dense of the five boroughs and a bit separate from the rest of the city, though what you lose in urban life you gain in green space.
In Brooklyn, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens are all favored by newly arriving families due to their elegant brownstones, proximity to parks, boutiques, and high-performing schools. They all have a tight-knit community feel, and boast excellent restaurants, bars, and subway options. Williamsburg and Greenpoint have both been gaining popularity among families in recent years as well and have some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.
In Manhattan, Battery Park City’s condominiums are tucked away from the hustle and bustle and have an abundance of green space for families to break free from the concrete jungle. Runs, walks, and bike rides along the Hudson River will become your regular activities. The Upper East Side and Upper West Side are both brimming with families as well, and can be quieter and more relaxing than lower Manhattan. Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, features sky-high luxury condominiums, a mall with high-end retail and restaurants, and one of the city’s newest subway stops.
In Queens, Forest Hills has long been a favorite for New Yorkers looking for more space and less hustle and bustle. Long Island City, a residential neighborhood just a short subway ride from midtown Manhattan, is full of brand new apartments, art galleries, restaurants, and lounges teeming with young professionals.
For younger movers and students, Brooklyn’s Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights combine affordability with vibrant, authentic neighborhoods. New art spaces, dive bars and restaurants are always emerging in the historically Black and Latino communities, and each neighborhood throws summer block parties in their own unique ways. A plus: it’s only 30 minutes from Manhattan on nearby subways.
If you have a little more money to spend and want to be in the middle of it all, Manhattan’s East Village, West Village, SoHo, and Chelsea are all great options. All are among New York’s most iconic—and most expensive—neighborhoods, and contain some of the world’s best restaurants, clubs, and bars.Collapse
Food & CultureExpand
There are endless restaurants and cultural institutions to explore in New York City,
and many trace their roots to the city’s history as a landing spot for immigrants from around the world. Jewish delis like Katz’s Delicatessen in lower Manhattan and Liebman’s Kosher Deli in the Bronx serve up colossal classic sandwiches like pastrami on rye. Pizza is a New York City tradition with too many institutions to name, but John’s of Bleecker Street in Manhattan, Lucali in Brooklyn, and Joe and Pat’s in Staten Island offer up some of the city’s best pies.
No matter where you’re from, you can find a taste of home in New York. Brooklyn’s Sunset Park has some of the city’s best Mexican food, while there’s an enclave of exceptional Korean restaurants nestled into a stretch of midtown Manhattan. Jackson Heights in Queens—often touted as the most diverse neighborhood in the world—offers up everything from Nepalese to Salvadoran cuisine, sometimes on the very same block.
The greatest museums in the world are here, ranging from the world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art to Brooklyn Museum’s locally beloved First Saturday event, which features free admission, special programming, and guests. For music lovers, The Museum of Modern Art’s Queens outpost PS1 hosts an annual summer concert series that attracts a young stylish crowd. To check out New York’s independent music scene, look up the calendars for The Shed in Hudson Yards, the Bronx Art Space, and National Sawdust in Williamsburg.Collapse
New York City has the largest public school system in the country.
Like most school systems, where a student is placed will depend on where they live. Elementary and middle school students are guaranteed a spot in class regardless of immigration status, and there are also magnet schools that admit students based on testing. Many of those schools are selective and fill their spots up quickly, so be proactive about researching options.
The city has a wealth of options for private education as well, and many offer enrollment for students from kindergarten through secondary school. Trinity, Collegiate, and Dalton in Manhattan, Horace Mann and Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, and Saint Ann’s and Packer Collegiate in Brooklyn are some of the city’s best day schools. The United Nations International School is also sought after by many new arrivals from other countries, making the student body a mix of local and international students.
The city is home to some of the best universities and colleges in the nation as well, including the Ivy League institution Columbia University, New York University, Fordham, and The New School. The city’s public university system, CUNY, has several campuses with great academic reputations including Baruch College, Medgar Evers College, Queens College, and the City College of New York. The CUNY system boasts several well-respected graduate programs in law, medicine, journalism, and public health.Collapse
Three of the top 21 hospitals in the U.S. are in New York City: New York-Presbyterian Hospital – Weill Cornell Medical Center; NYU Langone hospitals; and Mount Sinai Hospital. The city is home to several of the world’s leading facilities in specialized medicine, as well, including facilities dedicated to pediatric orthopedics, joint diseases, and spinal conditions.Collapse
Being a New Yorker means riding the city’s subway system,
so it’s important to consider commute times between work and home when you’re looking for a place to live. The system is massive and runs nearly everywhere in the city 24 hours a day, which also means you’re never more than a subway ride away from a new adventure. There are several other transit and rail options as well, including the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) which connects the city with the suburbs on Long Island; the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (PATH) which connects Manhattan and the nearby neighborhoods in New Jersey; and New Jersey Transit, which runs from Penn Station in Manhattan throughout New Jersey. Each option is frequently used by commuters who wish to live in the suburbs and head into the city for work and play.
Car ownership is notoriously tough in New York, and most residents don’t keep their own vehicle. But if you do want to own a car, consider whether your building has designated parking spaces or if you want to deal with the twice-weekly tango of street parking. Traffic can be snarling throughout the city, and commuters deal with near-consistent congestion in the city’s bridges and tunnels.
Cycling is quickly gaining traction in New York as well, and kilometers of new bike lanes are created every year. There’s also a popular bike-share program with hundreds of stations spread across the city.
New York has three international airports: LaGuardia and JFK in Queens, and Newark Liberty just over the border in New Jersey. All are accessible by public transit, though many travelers opt to take cars to and from the airports as the subways and buses can be difficult. New York is a major hub for nearly every international airline, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a flight to one of the three major New York City airports.Collapse
Weather & ClimateExpand
Like most of the mid-Atlantic, New York City experiences cold winters,
mild springs and falls, and hot, humid summers. New Yorkers loath to let beautiful days go to waste, so expect packed parks and promenades on sunny days. New Yorkers in the know also hop on the subway and go directly to the beach during the summertime, taking the A train to Far Rockaway to relax on a stretch of sand. The New York City region is home to hundreds of kilometers of hiking and walking trails as well, including Bear Mountain, Breakneck Ridge, and Storm King State Park.Collapse
Jobs & IndustriesExpand
If New York City were a country,
it would have the 14th largest GDP in the world at $1.4 trillion. That’s due in part to Wall Street’s role as the global financial hub, but industries including telecommunications, technology, and biotech have all seen growth. There’s no shortage of professional options in a wide range of sectors in New York City; it’s just a matter of finding the right network and the right opportunities.Collapse
Discover other guides
Scroll through to discover more city guides