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Moving to New York City

New York City is the storied destination of American immigration. The diverse communities and enduring old-world neighbourhoods are living representations of the city’s worldly appeal.

Expats moving to New York today aren't the wide-eyed 'fresh off the boat' fortune seekers of old, but rather the jet-setting, business-savvy players of the world's economy.

At first, moving to New York can be frustrating; expats must learn to manage the competitive housing market, adjust to a new system of schooling, and find adequate employment. The work environment and the Manhattan lifestyle are brisk and energetic, and enjoying the fruits of 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. Expats moving 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 and commuter trains for those travelling to places that are a little further afield. 

As is the case throughout the USA, 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 that are boasted by the city. 

The standard of public schools in New York is generally good, but many expats send their children to one of the city's many excellent international schools. Fees are high and space at the most popular schools is limited, so it is best to begin the application process before relocating.

Granted, the cost of living is high, but this is just 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 a dynamic nightlife, eclectic selection of restaurants and thriving theatre scene.

Weather in New York City

Expats living in New York City will probably find that spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons weather-wise; the city has a continental climate and is prone to cold winters and warm, humid summers.

Winter is from December to February, and snowfall and winter rain are regular occurrences. Temperatures tend to hover at or just above freezing during this time of year. In summer, from May to September, the average temperature is a warm 84°F (29°C). Heatwaves have been known to occur occasionally, sometimes pushing the mercury as high as 100°F (38°C).

 

Pros and Cons of Moving to New York City

With all the glitz and glamour associated with New York City, it can be hard to keep expectations in check when considering a move to the Big Apple.

While it's true that there are many unique and exciting things about moving to New York City, there are also downsides when the initial shine wears off and the grind of day-to-day life sets in.

Below we've weighed up the pros and cons of moving to New York City.


Lifestyle in New York City

+ PRO: A global cultural capital

New York City has an almost legendary status as a cultural goldmine. From cultural marvels such as Broadway and the Met to famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, there’s an endless array of things to see and do in New York City. And unlike tourists, expats living in the city will have much more time to take in everything the city has to offer.


Accommodation in New York City

- CON: Expensive and often small accommodation

Given that New York City is the USA’s most populated city, it comes as no surprise that space comes at a premium. Renting is the norm when it comes to accommodation in New York City as the cost of buying real estate is extremely high. Not that rental costs in the city are cheap either, with the average New York City rental price being double the national average.


Cost of living in New York City

- CON: One of the world’s most expensive cities

It’s not just the accommodation that’s pricey – though it certainly does its bit in pushing up the cost of living in New York City. Other expenses such as healthcare, food, transport and international schooling can add up fast.


Getting around in New York City

+ PRO: Well-developed transport network

With the subway running 24/7 through its network of more than 400 stations across the five boroughs, getting around in New York City is easy. The subway is also well integrated with other types of public transport, such as buses and commuter trains.


Working in New York City

+ PRO: A thriving and diverse economy

New York City is one of the world’s top financial centres and the city is replete with headquarters of large multinational companies in all kinds of industries.

- CON: Stiff competition for jobs

With a highly educated population, expats looking to find work in New York City will find themselves up against some strong candidates when it comes to job applications.


Education in New York City

+ PRO: Local schooling is a good option

Public schooling is free of charge and, as long as expat families are living in a good school district, they can expect a good quality of education.

+ PRO: Lots of options for international schools

International schools are private institutions offering the curriculum of a foreign country, usually in that country’s main language. As a multicultural and diverse city, New York City has plenty of great international schools for parents to choose from.

This includes British, German, French and Japanese schools among others. International schools also frequently offer the International Baccalaureate, which is a global curriculum allowing easy transition between schools around the world.

- CON: Extremely high cost of international schools

When making the decision to opt for international schooling, expat parents should be mindful of the fact that fees and other associated costs are high and will take up a large chunk of their budget.


Healthcare in New York City

+ PRO: Experts and cutting-edge medical facilities

For those who can afford it, healthcare in New York City is of an excellent standard and is one of the main industries driving its economy. 

- CON: Often unaffordable without medical insurance

Without medical insurance or other means of paying medical bills, hospitals may refuse to treat a patient, unless it is an emergency. In this case, patients will receive treatment to be stabilised but will then need to secure payment for long-term treatment.

Working in New York City

Expats working in New York City often arrive ready to run in the most daunting rat race of them all at full sprint. As the largest regional city economy in the country and one of the world's top financial centres, it's certainly easy to glamorise the opportunity to be part of Manhattan's wheels and cogs, but expats should also be prepared to walk into a business environment that is defined by cut-throat competition, high stress and long working hours.


Job market in New York City

The city acts as a headquarters to many large international companies and is home to major branches of foreign industry, many of them listed as top global Fortune 500 organisations. 

New York City's economy is built on the financial, healthcare, real estate and technology sectors, with secondary industries like publishing, manufacturing, media, and trade helping to drive the beast forward.

The Big Apple is also often pegged as a global creative hub, and many expats who are up-and-coming in the art world aspire to one day be working in New York City.


Finding a job in New York City

New York City has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, so international employers may offer additional assistance to those recruited from abroad. Expats with sought-after skills and experience will find that employers in New York will be able to offer lucrative packages. However, more recently, such positions aren't as easily available as they once were. 

It follows that maintaining a low-paying job will make life difficult in the city and will be certain to cause unnecessary stress. As an expat moving to New York for a work opportunity, be sure to negotiate a sizeable salary package to offset the high cost of living. 

Some of the most popular ways of looking for jobs in New York City include the employment sections of newspapers, online job portals and employment agencies.


Work culture in New York City

Understandably, with an economy as diverse as New York, the business culture varies according to the industry one is working in. Expats working for a large corporation in New York should expect long hours, a lot of responsibility, and pressure to meet deadlines and make decisions quickly.

Depending on the particular industry, employees may compete directly with colleagues to work on the best and most lucrative accounts. So while teamwork is valued and necessary, those that want to succeed in the Big Apple will have to also have the ability to shine independently.

Cost of Living in New York City

New York is still regarded the most expensive city in the US. While the cost of living is slightly cheaper than other global cities such as Hong Kong, Tokyo and Zurich, the Big Apple is by no means a cost-friendly location. Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2020 ranked New York City as the 6th most expensive city out of 209 cities evaluated worldwide.

To help new arrivals overcome this economic intimidation, most employers will offer a relocation allowance for those moving to NYC. This initial supplement is designed to ease employees into life in the city; it helps tremendously when it comes to finding an apartment, paying deposit fees and shouldering the burden of set-up costs while jumpstarting a new life.


Cost of accommodation in New York City

New York City is made up of five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Expats who choose to live in Manhattan will find the cost of living to be extremely high, particularly those who choose accommodation in the more sought-after neighbourhoods of Manhattan. But those willing to look beyond Manhattan may be able to find good deals on housing in one of the other four boroughs.


Cost of transport in New York City

New York has a comprehensive subway system that covers all five boroughs, so there's no need to purchase a car. However, the cost of public transport is high compared to other cities in the US. Those utilising public transport on a regular basis can save by purchasing travel cards.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in New York City

Eating out at some of New York’s culinary hotspots or enjoying an evening of wine and cocktails can come at a hefty price. However, those on a budget will still find plenty to see and do, whether it's taking a stroll in Central Park or taking advantage of one of the many free-entry museums dotted around the city.


Cost of groceries and clothing in New York City

Everyday groceries and clothing will be much more expensive in Manhattan than any of the other boroughs. Expats will certainly find better deals outside of Manhattan but failing that, they can try buying online or from large main-street stores. The smaller corner stores and clothes stores downtown are lots of fun to browse, but they can be pricey. 


Cost of healthcare in New York City

New York City has great healthcare facilities, but this high quality of treatment comes at a price. Those relocating to New York should establish whether their employer will provide them with comprehensive health insurance coverage, or whether they would need to organise this themselves. Insurance will cover most expenses, with only a small co-payment required.


Cost of living in New York City chart

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for New York City in March 2021.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 2,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

USD 6,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

USD 3,500

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

USD 3.30

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.20

Rice (1kg)

USD 6

Loaf of bread

USD 4

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 14

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 15

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

USD 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2

Cappuccino

USD 5

Bottle of local beer

USD 7.60

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 100

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

USD 0.20

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 65

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

USD 140

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

USD 1.90

Bus/train fare in the city centre

USD 2.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

USD 0.70

Accommodation in New York City

Expats hunting for accommodation in New York City should prepare themselves for an adrenaline-driven experience marked by cut-throat competition.

In general, buying, renting or finding any type of housing can be difficult and expensive. Prices are high and competition for apartments in New York City is fierce. Expats should start the search as soon as possible to give themselves the best chance of securing a suitable place. 


Types of accommodation in New York City

There are numerous housing options in New York City. Anyone moving to the Big Apple is sure to find something that suits them – providing that their budget allows it. Below is a breakdown of the types of property available in New York City.

Pre-war buildings

Constructed prior to World War II, pre-war buildings are known for their quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail and architectural splendour. Some still employ an elevator operator and may provide a doorman and laundry facilities.

Post-war buildings

Anything built from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s is referred to as post-war property. Almost all have elevators and laundry facilities and many have doormen. Post-war buildings generally have larger windows. 

New buildings

These properties are usually less than ten years old. New buildings tend to be quite luxurious and often feature marble or tile bathrooms and state-of-the-art granite kitchens. Many of these buildings are newly constructed high-rises containing a variety of amenities, including laundry facilities, valet and maid services, health clubs, swimming pools, lounges and parking facilities.

Walk-up buildings

Constructed in the early 20th century, a walk-up is a three- to six-storey building. As the name implies, they do not have an elevator. Most also don't have laundry facilities. There is no doorman, and security is generally a locked double-door with an intercom to let in guests. 

Brownstones

The term 'brownstone' was derived from the brown sandstone materials used in the construction of single-family homes in the early 20th century. Brownstones usually have a street entrance to the ground floor half a storey below street level. The ground level itself may have a garden behind the house.

Townhouses

Built as upscale private homes, townhouses usually offer amenities that are more associated with a house than an apartment such as private backyards, terraces, fireplaces and other charming details. Townhouses are mostly found in the suburbs, away from downtown New York.  

Loft buildings

These are usually commercial buildings that have been converted into residential dwellings, characterised by tall windows and an open living space. Many have self-service elevators and were originally created for artists.


Factors to consider when looking for accommodation in New York City

New York City is separated into five distinct areas or boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx. Manhattan is the central borough accessible by bridge or tunnel, while the others are the outer boroughs. Although many expats would prefer to live close to their workplace, the main business district of Manhattan claims the most expensive real estate and has few options for family-sized accommodation. 

Even neighbouring boroughs outside Manhattan – like Brooklyn – have started advertising property with sky-high prices, although properties here usually offer more space than one would find in the centre of New York. Striking a balance between location, type of accommodation and affordability can be tricky.

When moving to New York, commute time is another essential consideration in choosing a location. The city has extensive public transportation, but there are still a few noteworthy limiting factors. Subways can be crowded and rerouting is a common occurrence, especially on weekends. On the other hand, commuting into the city by car will result in up to an hour wait to get through the main tunnels during rush hour, and parking is either impossible to find or extremely expensive. 


Finding accommodation in New York City

Expats wanting to live in New York are advised to hire an agency for help. They charge anywhere from a month's worth of rent to the equivalent of 15 percent of a year’s rent. It's possible, but rare, to find accommodation in New York without the help of an agent. In some cases, landlords are willing to take on agency fees, but this is unusual and may be due to the landlord wanting to fill the dwelling quickly. Possibly the building is new and needs tenants, or the apartment has been hard to rent because of undesirable features. On the other hand, high-end luxury apartment owners sometimes hire and pay for a broker themselves so that the tenant doesn't have to. Househunters will need to weigh up the benefits and drawbacks, should they come across such a case.

Young single expats might consider sharing an apartment in New York. This is not only a great way to save money, but also allows new arrivals to meet people and create a larger social circle. Online property portals are a great way to find house- or flat-share options and finding a flatmate online can eliminate agency costs. 


Renting accommodation in New York City

Making an application

Prospective expat tenants should be ready to prove their financial capacity with pay stubs, bank statements, income tax returns, a letter of employment and a refundable security deposit, among others. A credit check will also be conducted – expats new to the US won't yet have a credit history in the country and will need to instead provide a personal or institutional guarantor.

Deposits

By law, the deposit is limited to one month's worth of rent and must be returned within 14 days of the end of the lease.

Leases

A typical lease is for 12 months. It's possible but difficult to find shorter-term leases in the city. They also tend to be more expensive.

Utilities

The inclusion of utilities like heat, electricity and water in the rental price will vary from lease to lease. Prospective tenants should ensure they understand any extra costs on top of rent.

Areas and suburbs in New York City

The best places to live in New York City

Every year, an impressive number of expats make their dream of living in New York a reality by moving to the city that never sleeps.

New York is one of the biggest, most colourful and inspiring cities on the planet – and it's no surprise that it has drawn the attention of expats and immigrants since its founding. From the influx of immigrants in the 19th century until today, New York has become one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the world with more than 3 million – that's around 40 percent – of the population in New York being foreign-born.

New York City is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. The island of Manhattan is the smallest but most densely populated of the boroughs. Brooklyn and Queens are geographically part of Long Island, while the Bronx is the only borough situated on the USA mainland. Each borough has its own distinct character so it's a good idea to explore the city before deciding on a long-term place to settle.

Several personal factors will also need to be considered when deciding on what neighbourhood to live in, such as lifestyle, budgetary concerns and distance to work and school.

Below is a list of areas and suburbs of New York.


Downtown New York City

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Little Italy

This thriving district of Manhattan is brimming with unique boutiques, restaurants and cafés. Each September, the community hosts the Feast of San Gennaro, which is marked with colourful parades and religious processions. Most residents living in this area are young professionals or couples. Little Italy is a perfect home for those who enjoy a social lifestyle and want to be close to the dining and entertainment facilities of Downtown New York.  

NoHo

Short for 'North of Houston Street', NoHo is a district in Manhattan situated between East Village and Greenwich Village. One of New York's most desirable neighbourhoods, finding an affordable apartment here is no easy task. This charming area is characterised by loft apartments in transformed commercial buildings along with newer luxury apartments and walk-ups. NoHo is home to several theatres and close to numerous tertiary institutions, making it an ideal choice for students and those who enjoy entertainment and the arts. 

East Village

The East Village has a rich cultural history and is associated with a number of prominent artists, poets and musicians, including Iggy Pop, Allen Ginsberg and Madonna. The area's heyday is immortalised in Rent, a revolutionary 1990s musical by East Village resident Jonathan Larson. Today, many find the East Village's green spaces and riverside position to be a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Though relatively quiet during the day, the East Village comes alive at night as the area's bars and restaurants fill up. Housing in this area is mostly in the form of pre-war walk-ups, which, while attractive, can be expensive.

The East Village is home to a number of prominent international schools, including Nord Anglia International School New York.

Meatpacking District

Once an industrial area known for its slaughterhouses, factories and packing plants, the Meatpacking District is now one of the trendiest places to live in New York City and is a favourite among fashion lovers. There's no shortage of exciting things going on in the district, with boutiques, restaurants and bars lining the streets. The most common types of accommodation found here are townhouses and loft buildings.

Lower East Side

In the Lower East Side, old-world shops sit side by side with a new generation of boutiques and galleries that showcase the best of New York’s avant-garde art scene. Lower East Side cuisine has developed a faithful following, with some of New York City’s best Kosher-style, Chinese and Latin food establishments. Once the sun goes down, the curtain goes up on the Lower East Side’s nightlife where one can enjoy cosy lounges, local bands and poetry readings.

The Lower East Side is a great option for younger expats as rent here is relatively low-priced. There's a range of accommodation options in this part of town so whether one is looking for a charming old apartment or a newer build, there is something to meet everyone's tastes and preferences.


Midtown New York City

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Hell's Kitchen

Once considered the 'rough' side of town, this Manhattan neighbourhood became a hotspot in the 1990s and is now home to everyone from Broadway actors to affluent Wall Street workers. An eclectic mix of restaurants and bars are located here, along with speciality boutiques and art galleries. The apartment buildings are a little older but have a lot of character, and the area's brownstones and walk-ups are generally better value than those in other parts of Manhattan.

Midtown East

Midtown East is populated with some of New York’s most iconic landmarks and tourist attractions, such as Fifth Avenue, Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building. Townhouses are available in this part of town, while apartments are often modern and well serviced, frequently including laundry and gym facilities. However, prices for these kinds of accommodation tend to be high. Those looking for something a little friendlier on the wallet should look for walk-ups in the area, which are usually more affordable.

Kips Bay

Though often overlooked, Kips Bay is a pleasant but relatively quiet neighbourhood, ideal for a break from the hustle and bustle of life in New York City. Housing here is generally more affordable than surrounding areas. For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are a few parks in the area as well as easy access to the walking path next to the East River.

Kips Bay is home to a number of excellent international schools, including the United Nations International School and the British International School of New York.


Uptown New York City

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Upper East Side

The illustrious Upper East Side is widely renowned for its high-quality residential living and its world-class cultural institutions. This neighbourhood is famous for being safe, green and beautiful, so it’s no wonder that the Upper East Side is easily one of the most charming neighbourhoods in Manhattan. This is a great area for expats moving to the Big Apple with children – even though not all properties have outside areas, the neighbourhood has plenty of green spaces, making it easy to take the kids to the park to enjoy a bit of fresh air. Similarly, the area is popular with active people and expats will get used to seeing lots of runners and cyclists in the locality. 

Expat families from France often gravitate towards this area due to the presence of the Lycée Français de New York.

Upper West Side

This upscale area lies between Central Park and the Hudson River and features some of the most expensive real estate in the city, though slightly more affordable options may be found towards the north. Residents are treated to a plethora of elegant restaurants, boutiques and cafés. For those that can afford it, the Upper West Side offers a whole host of entertainment facilities.

For expat families, both campuses of the well-regarded Dwight School are located in the Upper West Side.


Brooklyn in New York City

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Carroll Gardens

Carroll Gardens is a charming neighbourhood with tree-lined streets and beautiful brownstones with front and back gardens. The area offers a diverse array of restaurants, bars, local delis and Italian markets. The neighbourhood is popular with families thanks to a number of good public schools located in the area.

Williamsburg

Williamsburg is a neighbourhood with a variety of personalities. Here, expats will find a large Hasidic Jewish community alongside Italian-American and Latino enclaves. This warehouse-filled, once industrial area now has a thriving art and music scene, stellar restaurants and some of the city's most interesting shopping.

Greenpoint

Rentals in Greenpoint are some of the most affordable in the city and apartments are quite spacious. There are many parks and facilities here that are geared towards those with children. Young, single expats living in the area are sure to enjoy its music venues, bars and restaurants.

Healthcare in New York City

New York City has plenty of hospitals – some much better than others – but the sheer number ensures expats will certainly be able to find top-notch healthcare in the cosmopolitan centre. In general, large teaching hospitals can be counted on to provide some of the best healthcare in New York City.

Due to the presence of so many facilities, some hospitals and clinics have become heavily specialised, with their areas of expertise ranging from paediatrics to joint disorders. Healthcare institutions are also quite competitive, which has created a standard that ensures patients benefit from more modern facilities and the most up-to-date techniques.

Pharmacies are widely available in New York. They can easily be found in any mall, supermarket or main shopping street. Many pharmacies in New York are open 24/7. 

Private insurance is necessary for the best healthcare in any hospital, and although emergency services will never be legally denied if patients do not have insurance, hefty fees do accompany treatment. Long-term healthcare can be refused to those without proper medical insurance. So we'd recommend that expats moving to New York City get an adequate health insurance policy to allow them access to the right treatment if and when they need it. 


Hospitals in New York City

Lenox Hill Hospital

Website: www.northwell.edu
Address: 100 East 77th Street

New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Website: www.nyp.org
Address: 630 West 168th Street

Tisch Hospital

Website: www.nyulangone.org
Address: 550 First Avenue

The Mount Sinai Hospital

Website: www.mountsinai.org
Address: 1 Gustav L. Levy Place

Education and Schools in New York City

As an expat family moving to New York with children, wading through the barrage of city schools to make a suitable selection can be an extremely daunting task.

The decision on what type of school expats send their children to in New York may play a significant part in which neighbourhood they choose to live in as well. Public school attendance is based on school zones, so expats who want their children to attend a public school in New York will need to ensure they can find and afford a place in that catchment area. Those opting to send their child to a private or international school in New York will have more flexibility, as admissions aren't governed by the student's address.


Public schools in New York City

The New York state public school system is the USA's largest, with an enrolment of close to 3 million. There are more than 4,000 public schools throughout the state, which can range from first-rate to totally inadequate.

Public schools in New York don't charge fees. Howevery, the better public schools tend to be in the wealthier areas, and individuals can usually only attend schools within their school zones, which are based on address. Attending schools outside of a designated zone is difficult, but possible in some cases.

Most New York City schools are diverse and well accustomed to students from overseas, so expat students should be able to settle in fairly easily.

Charter schools

There are a number of charter schools in New York. Though classified as public schools, charter schools have more freedom and flexibility in terms of teaching style, school policies and academic programmes. These schools operate on a performance-based contract with the government.

Charter schools generally have better facilities and higher standards of teaching. They tend to be very popular, however, so they can be difficult to get into. In the case that there are more applicants than the school can accommodate, admissions are decided through a lottery system.

Magnet schools

Magnet schools operate in a similar fashion to charter schools, except that they are typically more specialised and able to customise their curriculum. Each magnet school is focused on a particular subject area, such as science, the arts or languages. Like in charter schools, admission to magnet schools is decided via lottery. The exception to this schools focused on a subject area that requires a certain level of ability, such as music schools.


Private schools in New York City

New York is home to very many private schools and they are extremely competitive academically. Many also have stringent application procedures, so waiting lists can be long and prospective students must often pass academic tests and interviews.

In general, the standard of education at private schools tends to be better than at the average public school. Private schools also tend to have state-of-the-art facilities that allow their students to pursue extra-curricular activities such as sport and music to a higher level. 

The downside to private school education in New York is the high fees. Expat parents will also need to budget for other costs such as uniforms, textbooks, extra-curricular classes and field trips.


International schools in New York City

In a city as diverse as New York, it will come as no surprise that there are a large number of international schools available to meet the demands of the city's expat population.

There is a broad range of international schools in New York which teach foreign curricula. The ideal situation is to attend an international school where the curriculum of one's home country is followed and where teaching is in the family's native language. International schools are a good option for students whose first language is not English, as well as those who are only in the USA for a short time. However, not all countries are necessarily represented in New York's international schools. However, even attending an international school with a different curriculum from that of one's home country can still be beneficial as they allow expat children to mix with other expats from a variety of countries.

Fees at international schools tend to be very high. Many of the more popular international schools in New York are oversubscribed and have long waiting lists. Therefore expats who wish to send their child to one of these schools should begin the application process as soon as possible.


Tutors in New York City

Local tutors can be an extremely useful resource for expat families and can provide support in several ways. For example, an expat child struggling to adapt to a new curriculum may benefit from extra lessons with a tutor to help get them up to speed. Tutors can also assist expat children who have low English proficiency, or help them maintain their mother tongue if they're attending a school taught in a different language.

There are many reputable tutoring companies throughout New York City. For specialised one-on-one tutoring, parents may want to make use of a private tutor. Some well-respected tutor companies in NYC include Central Park Tutors, Prestige Prep and Big Apple Tutoring.

There are also tutor services provided by non-profit or government-affiliated organisations. One such example is the New York Public Library's 'Enrichment Zones', where children can go to get help with homework as well as developing general skills such as reading and maths. Organisations such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 826NYC offer similar programmes.


Special needs education in New York City

The New York City Department of Education provides assistance to students with special educational needs in the form of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Under this programme, the student's IEP team will determine what kind of school will best suit the child's needs and what level of assistance is needed. Ideally children aren't separated from non-disabled peers in NYC public schools but are rather be given additional resources and support.

In cases where more care is required, special needs students may be placed in part- or full-time Special Classes (SC) in public schools. These classes are limited to 12 to 15 pupils and students with similar needs are grouped together. Parents can also consider 'District 75' schools – these are public schools providing highly specialised education for those with disabilities.

If private schooling is preferred, there are close to 200 dedicated private special education schools throughout New York state. There are also other private schools that mainly cater to non-disabled pupils but that also have special needs services available. International schools, for example, will often have a special needs department catering for mild to moderate learning disabilities as well as assisting speakers of English as a second language. This usually comes at an additional cost to regular school fees. 

International Schools in New York City

Expats moving to the Big Apple will find a strong presence of excellent international schools in New York. There are many curriculum options to choose from, the most popular being the International Baccalaureate (IB). There are also international schools offering the well-respected British curriculum, including the Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels. The national curricula of France, Germany, Japan and others are also represented.

Attending an international school in New York, particularly one with a curriculum from home, can be a comfort to expat children in new surroundings. Getting to know fellow students from all over the world and being exposed to many different cultures are also valuable experiences for the expat child.

School admissions generally operate on a rolling basis. Places in New York's best international schools can be limited, though, so it's well worth applying for a spot as early as possible.

Below is a list of popular international schools amongst the expat population of New York.


International schools in New York

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Nord Anglia International School New York

Nord Anglia New York is part of the worldwide network of more than 50 Nord Anglia schools. The school offers enhanced learning through collaborations with world-leading organisations such as the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT) and the Juilliard School. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum and International Primary and Middle Years Curriculum
Ages: 2 to 14

Whitby School

For 60 years, Whitby's revolutionary child-centric approach to education has inspired children to better understand themselves and the world around them. Whitby's enquiry-based learning style cultivates students’ curiosities and turns new knowledge into new passions. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate and Montessori
Ages: 1.5 to 14

British International School of New York

This top-quality school offers a well-rounded British education in the heart of New York City. The school's picturesque campus overlooks the East River and is replete with facilities, including a swimming pool, a secure playground and a gymnasium. All classrooms are equipped with Smart Boards. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: English National Curriculum, Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 17

Dwight School New York

A prestigious school with close to 150 years of history, Dwight School New York has a bustling student population of over 1,000. Class sizes are nevertheless kept small with a maximum of 15 students. Dwight School is a proud IB World School and offers the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 2 to 18

EF Academy New York

Set in the leafy suburbs of Thornwood, EF Academy New York offers a comprehensive and well-rounded education. Students can graduate with either the International Baccalaureate Diploma alone or with both the IB and the American High School Diploma. Prior to this, the Cambridge IGCSE is taken to prepare students for the rigorous academics of these two diplomas. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: American, International Baccalaureate and Cambridge IGCSE
Ages: 13 to 19

German International School New York

German International School New York provides a comprehensive dual-diploma programme. Students earn the German International Abitur and the American High School Diploma concurrently. Expat families can look forward to excellent facilities, comprehensive language programmes and well-qualified teachers. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: German and American
Ages: 3 to 18

Keio Academy of New York

The only overseas organisation affiliated with the prestigious Keio University, Keio Academy of New York provides an individualised bilingual education. The student population is kept to around 350, allowing small classes with an average of 20 pupils and a student-teacher ratio of 9:1. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Japanese
Ages: 13 to 18

Lycée Français de New York

Founded in 1935, Lycée Français de New York offers an excellent English/French bilingual education. The school is set on a newly built campus and features a rooftop playground, a digital media lab, a makerspace and two gymnasiums. There are a number of specialised facilities for sporting, creative and academic after-school activities. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French and American
Ages: 3 to 18

United Nations International School

Initially established by United Nations parents in the 1940s, today the United Nations International School has a thriving multicultural population made up of students from all over the globe. The school offers the International Baccalaureate infused with UN principles and values, and its students benefit from a number of UN-related events, talks and excursions. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 4 to 18

Lifestyle in New York City

The lifestyle in New York City is vibrant, exciting and ever-changing. There is a plethora of restaurants, nightlife hotspots, shopping destinations and events to enjoy, not to mention an abundance of theatre, arts and culture venues, health and beauty centres, and sports facilities.

The melting pot of New York City has immense variety and people of all persuasions are sure to find something to suit their tastes in this vibrant city. 


Shopping in New York City

With a vast and varied calibre of shopping options, expats in New York will have a hard time holding onto their purse strings in the city. From neverending shopping streets to packed fleamarkets, it's easy to while away the hours browsing.

The infamous Fifth Avenue is a must, even if only for window shopping, as is trendy Madison Avenue, lined with designer shops including Chanel and Prada. The cobblestone streets of SoHo also host many chic outlets. On the other hand, there are bargains aplenty to be found in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.


Nightlife in New York City

As expats may imagine, nightlife in New York is as eclectic as the city itself. Whether in the mood for a chic jazz lounge, world-renowned DJs spinning mixes or a wild nightclub, New York really does have something to meet every reveller's expectations. This is, after all, the city that never sleeps. Each of the New York boroughs has its very own unique nightlife scene, so don't be afraid to explore new places.


Arts and culture in New York City

For arts and culture buffs, it doesn't get any better than New York. The city boasts internationally acclaimed art exhibitions and new productions pop up every week in the Big Apple.

Galleries and museums in New York range from the massive to the miniscule, and attract millions to the city each year. Along Fifth Avenue, the city's famous Museum Mile plays host to museums such the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, as well as the lesser-known El Museo del Barrio and the Museum of the City of New York. New York's best art galleries are in Chelsea, but those wanting to view something edgier should head to Queens.

Expats in New York City should be sure to catch a play or musical on Broadway during their time in the city. The Phantom of the Opera is a classic that is sure to impress – with a run of over 13,000 performances to date, it is by far the longest-running show on Broadway. Those looking to see a celebrity in the flesh may also have some luck in the New York theatre scene – many famous musicians and actors have graced the Broadway stages. For something a little more off the beaten track, check out what Off-Broadway has to offer, too. Off-Broadway theatres are typically smaller than Broadway theatres and up-and-coming plays and musicals are often staged there as a test run before moving to Broadway itself.


Eating out in New York City

While roadside vendors selling everything from hot dogs to bagels are a common sight in New York, there are also a number of excellent restaurants for expats to try. All kinds of cuisine can be found in New York, so expats fond of dining out can have whatever their hearts (or stomachs) desire.

For the best in restaurant variety head to Queens. Chinatown is good for all types of Asian fare; the East Village has Ukrainian, Indian and Japanese eateries; and a good selection of African and soul food restaurants are based in Harlem. There are steakhouses, as well as Italian restaurants and pizzerias aplenty, throughout the city.


Sports and outdoor activities in New York City

With so much going on in terms of shopping, eating out, entertainment and nightlife, many expats can't help but wonder when they will ever get time to keep fit in New York. But the fact is that New Yorkers really are an image-conscious bunch and new arrivals will soon get used to the sight of runners in Central Park, cyclists biking to work and people somehow finding the time to fit in the odd gym session or yoga class.

Those who prefer watching sport more than partaking in it will be pleased to learn that New York has a long sporting history. Baseball is the city's most closely followed sport and expats should be sure to go and see the New York Yankees or the New York Mets take to the field. American football is also a popular sport and the city is home to both the New York Giants and the New York Jets.

Shopping in New York City

Expats relocating to New York City are in for a treat if they enjoy a regular dose of retail therapy. NYC is probably one of the most popular shopping destinations in the world and the city really does have something to suit everyone’s tastes and requirements.

From renowned department stores in Midtown Manhattan to the weekly markets in Brooklyn, New York City boasts a whole host of trendy shopping opportunities to fit a variety of different lifestyles.


Street shopping in New York City

Despite the cold winters, New Yorkers don’t confine themselves to shopping indoors at mega malls. To visit some of the best shopping spots in the city, new arrivals will need to be willing to brave the elements and hit the shopping streets.

Fifth Avenue is probably the most famous shopping street in New York City, best known for its luxury boutiques and big department stores. Famous names found here include the likes of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Gucci and Tiffany & Co.


Department store shopping in New York City

Macy’s Herald Square

Macy’s is a must for any prospective New Yorker. The store is huge and covers an entire block. Even for those on a tight budget, it’s worth visiting Macy’s just for the window displays. There are lots of other Macy’s scattered throughout the city but the flagship store in Herald Square is the one that draws most of the visitors.

Bloomingdale's

Bloomingdale's is famous for their little brown bags but there's also a lot more to this Midtown Manhattan department store. It's known for having the best selection of designer clothes and luxury brands so if new arrivals have cash to burn, this is the store for them.

Saks Fifth Avenue

This is a New York institution. Those after a luxury shopping experience will find that this is the ideal spot. Located in the heart of Fifth Avenue, here shoppers are treated to some impeccable service and expertise from the staff.


Markets in New York

For a different shopping experience in New York, the city’s many flea markets and farmer's markets have plenty to offer. Whether looking for vintage fashion or furniture, original art pieces, the freshest vegetables or most delectable baked goods, New York’s markets won’t disappoint.

GreenFlea Market

This established market with a wide variety of vendors is a hodgepodge of old and new items. Shop for a 1930s milk-glass lamp or stock up on Lancôme mascara. Buy a 1950s mink stole, an old Singer sewing machine table or a trendy new cuff bracelet made of wire. Every category is represented here and, in the warm months, the flower vendors have among the best assortment and prices in the city. There is also a small farmer’s market. 

Union Square Greenmarket

This is a farmer's market of homegrown produce, gourmet foods, flowers and herbs. Much of the fare is organic. On weekends, it's also common to find food tastings and book signings. Visitors may well catch a local chef purchasing goods for their own restaurant and will have the chance to meet local farmers, bakers and harvesters.

Brooklyn Flea

This is a great urban experience with a very pleasant atmosphere. With more than a hundred vendors to browse, shoppers can find everything from impeccably preserved deco furniture to pinball machines and local homemade apparel. The chic Brooklynites make these markets a weekend meet-up must, taking the time to enjoy some of the delicious ethnic delicacies on offer. Visitors are sure to enjoy the people-watching as much as the shopping.

 
 

 

 

Kids and Family in New York City

Expat families will discover dozens of fun places to explore with their kids in New York City. On warm sunny days, there are parks and other outdoor attractions to enjoy, while colder rainy days can be spent at toy shops, museums and entertainment centres.


Family-friendly entertainment in New York City

While notorious for its bustling streets and ubiquitous nightlife, the city that never sleeps has plenty to offer kids, too. Broadway shows are an excellent choice for a special experience and there are a number of kid-friendly options, such as the long-running Tony-award-winning production of Wicked, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz. There are also hours of fun to be had at the amusement park and beaches of Coney Island.

Kids and families in New York should also take some time to enjoy the sightseeing the city has to offer. A trip out to Ellis Island to see the famous Statue of Liberty is not to be missed, nor is going up to the observation decks on the Empire State Building. Children are sure to be delighted by a trip to the dazzling lights and sounds of Times Square, and there's nothing kids enjoy more than running around and playing in Central Park.


Schools and education for kids in New York City

The quality of schooling in New York City is a mixed bag – some schools, including public schools, offer an excellent standard of education. Others leave much to be desired. School attendance is zoned according to the family's home address, so it's worthwhile to do some research before choosing which area to move to. The city is also home to several excellent international schools, each of which offers a foreign curriculum. However, the best schools have long waiting lists, so applications should be done as far in advance as possible.

See and Do in New York City

Expats will find themselves with an extensive and ever-expanding list of things to see and do in New York – sightseeing in the city could take up nearly all of a person's free time on its own.

Revel in awe at the enormity (in size and number) of the Times Square billboards, spend time relaxing in beautiful Central Park or view the city from the top of any of the iconic buildings – both the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are located in the metropolis.

There is also a plethora of museums in New York to satisfy all interests, as well as delightful Broadway entertainment. Even slowing down to mull over coffee at one of SoHo’s many French cafés can be a treat in itself.


Recommended sightseeing in New York City

Statue of Liberty

With a history that dates back to the 1800s, the Statue of Liberty has become a universal symbol of freedom and democracy, and is a must-see for expats in New York.

Empire State Building

Built in just 410 days, the famous Empire State Building is one of New York’s tallest structures, standing at 1,250 feet (381m) tall. The building's observation decks offer splendid views of the city.

Central Park

Largely thanks to film and television, Central Park has become internationally known and holds the distinction of being one of the most-filmed locations worldwide. Nevertheless, it remains a wonderful natural haven to escape to, with more than 800 acres of beautiful gardens and lakes to enjoy on a day off.

Times Square

Known by many illustrious nicknames such as 'the Center of the Universe' and 'the Crossroads of the World', this famous intersection at the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street is a feast of sound and colour, with flashing advertisements and gigantic billboards all around.

Broadway

Taking a trip down the Great White Way is a must for expats in New York. This theatre district is home to the world's best plays and musicals, offering up something for everyone, ranging from time-tested classics like The Phantom of the Opera to widely hailed contemporary shows like Hamilton. A hub of creativity, there's always plenty to choose from on Broadway, with new plays and musicals constantly popping up.

9/11 Memorial and Museum

Constructed where the Twin Towers once stood, the 9/11 Memorial Museum is a sobering reminder of the terror attacks that destroyed the towers in 2001, with a resulting death toll of close to 3,000. Outside the museum is the Memorial Plaza, where visitors can walk among the oak trees and sunken fountains in remembrance of those lost.

American Museum of Natural History

Not to be missed, the American Museum of Natural History is situated in the Upper West Side and is one of the largest and most important establishments of its kind worldwide. Here, more than 34 million artefacts are stored – a selection of public displays can be viewed in the museum's 45 exhibition halls. There's also a planetarium and a library.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

With one of the largest collections of art in the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (known simply as 'the Met') is an appealing stop for any expat in New York. The museum houses over 2 million artworks from all over the globe, including not just the paintings and sculptures one would expect at an art museum, but also ancient weapons and armour, antique musical instruments and authentic historical clothing and accessories.

What's On in New York City

A city full of things to keep all types of people busy, New York's buzzing energy can be felt as much during the day as it can at night. In the summer season, in particular, the energy is almost palpable, seemingly bouncing off the gleaming buildings and steaming-hot asphalt.

There is simply always something going on; either an old favourite pastime or an entirely new pursuit. Picking just a few events is a difficult task, but here is a list of the best tried and tested annual events in NYC.


Annual events in New York City

New York Restaurant Week (February and July)

Some of the city’s most famous and most exclusive restaurants participate in New York’s biannual Restaurant Week. Participating eateries offer prix-fixe meals, giving attendees a chance to sample some of the best kitchens in the city at bargain prices.

St Patrick’s Day Parade (March)

There's always been a strong Irish heritage in the New York area and St Patrick’s Day is the event of the year to witness it in all its intoxicating glory. On the day itself, there is a parade, complete with costumes and marching bands, that slowly snakes up 5th Avenue.

NYC Pride March (June)

NYC Pride is a huge event in the city and usually lasts an entire week with a number of smaller events all leading to the main parade on the Saturday of the festival. As the home of the first Pride March held in 1970, the event is of particular significance to NYC.

Feast of San Gennaro (September)

San Gennaro is a week-long festival that takes place in Little Italy every year. A highlight is the parade, where a statue of San Gennaro (the Patron Saint of Naples) is carried through the cobbled streets, followed by a large procession. The atmosphere is electric with music, street-food vendors selling their wares, and huge crowds slowly meandering through it all. Adventurous expats might enjoy trying their hand at the festival's famous cannoli-eating contest.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (November)

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a world-famous event with a procession of floats and entertainers celebrating this special occasion. Even the preparations can be captivating to watch. On the night prior to the parade, the famous huge balloons depicting animals or cartoon characters are inflated somewhere on the Upper West Side – a great spectacle to see after a dinner out with friends.

Frequently Asked Questions about New York City

Expats considering moving to the bright lights of New York City are bound to have plenty of questions about life in this world-famous city. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about living in the Big Apple.

How do I find cheap accommodation in New York City?

'Cheap accommodation in New York' would be considered by many a contradictory phrase, but the one thing expats can do to reduce rental costs is to live in an area outside the city centre in one of the outlying boroughs like Brooklyn or Queens. Shared accommodation is often cheaper than renting a studio apartment, so single expats should consider subletting as this can work out to be economical.

Do I need a car in New York City?

No, public transportation in NYC is exceptional; subway, buses and rail lines even run out to the suburbs. Taxis can also be widely used but can become expensive if travelling longer distances. Owning a car is often an unneeded hassle as on-street parking is nearly impossible to find. To rent a parking bay in a covered garage is also usually outrageously expensive.

Are New Yorkers rude? Is this difficult for expats to adjust to?

New York is massive and plays host to an incredible variety of different cultures and people of different backgrounds, many of whom are expats themselves. So making new friends is likely to be a similar process to what it would be in any other expat destination. New Yorkers do have a reputation for being abrupt and curt but this attitude is more a reflection of the pace of the city rather than the demeanour of its individuals.

Is New York a safe expat destination?

Despite its gritty reputation (mostly earned in the '70s and '80s), New York is a safe place to live with about the same amount of criminal activity that would be expected from any large global metropolis. For the most part, crime is relegated to specific city areas; certain parts of the Bronx and Queens have somewhat rough neighbourhoods that are not recommended, though other parts of these boroughs and the city in general are perfectly safe. However, it's still a good idea to remain security conscious, especially when walking home alone at night or taking the subway after 11pm.

Getting Around in New York City

Expats will find that Manhattan, the largest of New York City’s five boroughs, is certainly foot friendly; and even if one does need to zip from point A to point B, there is plenty of public transport to assist. It's also not necessary to have a car in Manhattan, and can be more of a hindrance than a help due to limited parking.

It's more common to have a car if living in the outer boroughs of Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx. Though these areas are covered by public transport, travel times can be long and tiring.


Public transport in New York City

New York City has an integrated public transportation network. To use the subway system, a smart contactless card known as a MetroCard is needed. These smart cards can also be used on buses. Users can load credit or unlimited travel passes onto them, which saves commuters time and money. MetroCards can be purchased and reloaded online, at selected grocery stores, station booths or vending machines at the station. Bus fare can also be paid for in exact change.

Subway

The subway in New York City operates around the clock and is by far the fastest way to get around the city. New York's subway network is extensive and efficient, covering over 400 stations across the five boroughs. Services run every few minutes, so there's no need to spend time studying the schedule in detail. There are also express subway services which do not stop at some of the smaller local stations.

The subway is generally a safe and comfortable way to travel. However, services do become crowded during rush hour periods and passengers should use common sense when travelling alone in the night. Violent crime is rare, but petty theft does occur. Using busier stations and keeping valuable items hidden are good basic precautions. 

Buses

Despite New York's dense subway network, buses remain a good alternative when it comes to getting across the city. Furthermore, buses are an ideal way to comfortably travel around the city at a more leisurely pace while taking in some of New York's great sights. Naturally, this is best done outside of peak hours.

There are express buses that travel between Manhattan and the outer boroughs and often serve areas which aren't sufficiently covered by the subway network. Express bus services are slightly more expensive than regular services. 

The major downside to using buses in New York is that they are often delayed as a result of traffic congestion. 

Commuter trains 

New York City is served by three commuter railroads which operate through the major hubs of Penn Station and Grand Central station. These train lines serve destinations further away from Manhattan and are a good option for regional travel.


Taxis in New York City 

The fabled yellow taxi cabs are one of the many little pleasures of New York City life. These famous icons are omnipresent and ready to whisk people off through the avenues and streets to their next appointment, without the stress of an around town subway ride. They operate on a running meter that charges per mile and can be the most efficient and reasonable option when travelling in groups, but expensive if travelling alone. Always ensure the meter is reset at the start of a journey.

Ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft are also operational in New York City and may be cheaper than using a yellow cab.


Cycling in New York City

While cycling often beats most other forms of transport when it comes to getting around New York, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted. New York's busy traffic, aggressive taxi drivers and jaywalking pedestrians make cycling in the city quite difficult. Despite these hazards, it's common for New Yorkers commute to work by bike on a daily basis and the city is taking steps to improve infrastructure for cyclists. The network of cycle lanes in continuously growing, as are cycle storage facilities. There is also a bicycle-sharing scheme in place, known as Citi Bike.


Driving in New York

While it really isn't necessary to drive in New York, a number of people still choose to own a car. Those who opt to drive in New York City should be aware of some of the finer details of driving in the Big Apple. While expats are initially allowed to drive in New York with an international driving licence, foreigners must apply to exchange their licence for a local one after becoming legally resident in the state.

It is important to be aware of parking restrictions in New York because fines are hefty. Worse still, if a vehicle is impounded, the driver will have to pay a large fee to have it released. Parking in New York often involves renting a space in a parking garage, many of which have long waiting lists and charge huge fees, so it's well worth researching parking options to find something suitable. Parking on the street usually requires paying at a parking meter.