Moving to NYC: The Comprehensive Guide

For many people, moving to NYC is a dream come true. New York is the biggest urban area in the country and a very popular tourist destination. It's home to world-class museums, great restaurants, parks, and universities that attract college students from all across the globe.

Affectionately hailed as the greatest city on earth by its devoted dwellers, we're inclined to nod in agreement. But living the New York dream does come with its challenges. With the high cost of living, even those with substantial incomes can find themselves doing a tightrope walk to make the rent each month.

In this guide, we'll arm you with all the insights you need for your New York City apartment hunt. We'll take a deep dive into the distinct quirks of each borough, provide the lowdown on public transport, pull back the curtain on the housing market, give you the scoop on food costs, and so much more. Welcome to your go-to manual for making your move to the Big Apple!

Should I move to New York?

Moving to New York might sound like an incredible proposal. It's a city that never sleeps, full of cultural and sports events. This place gave us numerous romantic stories, so it makes sense that most people would love living in Big Apple.

Unfortunately, this enormous hype is the reason why people struggle with crummy rental buildings, renting prices that are sky-high, and hectic traffic.

Every night, more than 60,000 people sleep on the streets. The crime rates are also very high, and most neighborhoods are extremely dangerous at night (especially for women).

The monthly rent alone is starts around $2,000 which could allow you to live in another US city for several months. What's worse, the previously polite landlord has no problem tossing away tenants from glamorous NYC apartments for even the smallest infractions.

So, should you move to Big Apple?

That's something you should figure out for yourself. Although this city is expensive, you might be able to afford it as a well-paid professional. Similar goes for families where both spouses work. Otherwise, it’s probably going to be a struggle.

We suggest that you put things on paper before moving out, to see whether or not you can bear the financial expenses.

Moving to New York City and analyzing 5 boroughs

If you're planning to move to New York but still haven't figured out where, here's a breakdown of five boroughs. We’ll analyze the cost of living, population, transport, entertainment, and all other major factors that you should know before renting. 

Here are some tips that you can’t read anywhere else!

The Bronx

The Bronx has an incredible subway system that quickly connects you to other parts of New York. The borough is extremely diverse, which makes it an excellent choice for just about anyone, regardless of ethnicity or religion. It's a gritty part of the city and according to locals, this is where the real New Yorkers live.

Like many other zones, it has been on the housing upswing in the last few decades. Renting a one-bedroom apartment has become extremely expensive, although still on the cheap side compared to other boroughs.

The area features numerous tourist attractions, including Woodlawn Cemetery and Van Cortlandt Park, which is a fantastic spot for nature lovers. You can also visit Edgar Allan Poe Cottage, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Yankee Stadium.

Average rent:

  • $2,041

Best moving companies:

  • 5 Star Movers LLC
  • Abreu Movers
  • Bronx Moving Company
  • Shleppers Moving & Storage


Although not as densely populated as Manhattan, Brooklyn has the most citizens. It has become increasingly gentrified in the last few years, which is reflected in a steady growth of housing prices. Brooklyn is equally popular among families, singles, and couples.

As for tourist attractions, you should definitely see Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge, and Museum. Coney Island is a fantastic choice for families with small kids because of its amusement parks. Unfortunately, moving around the borough can be a bit harder than in other parts of New York.

The central parts are somewhat similar to Manhattan, dominated by apartment buildings. However, there are also zones where you can find a place with a backyard.

Average rent:

  • $3,252

Best moving companies:

  • Men On The Move
  • Excellent Quality Movers
  • NYC Great Movers
  • JP Urban Moving


Manhattan is the richest, most recognizable part of the city, with high population density. It’s America’s financial center and the home to the famous Wall Street. There are lots of places you can visit in Manhattan including Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, etc.

Although this borough is a must-see for tourists, it isn't the perfect choice for living. Most notably, the entire area is extremely expensive, although you have different housing options at your disposal. The saving grace is that you don't have to use a car because everything is relatively close by, and you have fantastic transportation options.

Manhattan also has some of the most recognizable suburbs in the world, including the Upper East Side, West Village, Soho, etc. Anyway, this is the center of the city's cultural, economic, and intellectual life, but you'd need an excellent job to cover the cost of living.

Average rent:

  • $4,501

Best moving companies:

  • Roadway Moving
  • Heart Moving Manhattan
  • FlatRate Moving
  • Perfect Moving NYC


Queens is the most diverse and largest borough in New York City. For example, Flushing is considered one of the most, if not the most, diverse area in the US. The suburb is home to hundreds of nationalities, all of which live in harmony. It's also worth mentioning that Queens is the largest NY borough, although not the most populous one.

The borough is connected to Bronx and Manhattan with a series of bridges. It was initially intended as an industrial zone, although it has been repurposed over the years to become a fully communal area. The borough is generally well connected with other parts of New York with modern highways and subway. It's one of the more car-friendly parts of NYC.

If you visit this borough, we suggest that you check out Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York Hall of Science, and the Unisphere sculpture.

Average rent:

  • $2,798

Best moving companies:

  • 1/2 Price Movers Queens
  • Pick-n-Move NYC
  • Teddy Moving and Storage
  • IPS NYC Movers

Staten Island

Staten Island is one of the city's outer boroughs and is heavily car-dependent. It’s the only NYC borough without a subway line and is somewhat isolated from one part of the city. Staten Island also has a more rural feel to it, although this is changing rapidly. Regardless of these drawbacks, it has the cheapest living costs out of all New York boroughs.

Generally speaking, this area is fantastic for families looking for a slow-paced lifestyle. It has lots of green areas, which are fantastic for outdoor types. When in Staten Island, you should visit the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, fort Wadsworth, and Historic Richmond Town.

Average rent:

  • $1,600

Best moving companies:

  • Verrazano Moving & Storage
  • Go To Moving and Storage
  • Trident Moving
  • 1/2 Price Movers Staten Island

How much does it cost to move to NYC?

Now that we’ve analyzed the boroughs, you should have a better understanding of rent prices in different parts of the city. Regardless, even with all this data, people are still shocked by all the living expenses. Because of that, we suggest that you put some money on the side before moving to New York.

Your costs are heavily dependent on the burrow and your standard of living. Whatever the case, you should have at least $20,000 in your savings account before arriving in the Big Apple.

The initial renting costs are especially high. Most New York landlords require that pay two months in advance. Aside from the first month's rent, you should also cover the second month. If we also consider that you need to leave a security deposit, the expenses quickly ramp up.

So, if you're renting a small apartment for $3,000 a month, you'll have to spend $9,000 immediately. Aside from rent, you need to pay a broker fee. Of course, you can also look for an apartment without the help of a real estate agency, but we suggest against doing so.

The down payment is especially troublesome for young professionals who have just moved to the city.

How to move to New York City: Taking first steps

Like with any major city, you should acquire all relevant information before you start searching for an apartment.

New York is one of the rare metropolitan areas where it doesn't pay off renting close to your work. The biggest companies are in Manhattan, but it's also the borough with the highest rent. That being said, it makes much more sense to get an apartment in Staten Island. Make sure the building is close to a subway station.

Keep in mind that renting in NYC is usually frustrating. It takes several months to find the right place, and there's enormous competition for cheap apartments. If you don't perform due diligence, there's a good chance that other families will steal a few properties under your nose.

Here are a few tips to avoid such situations:

  • First off, you should always check apartments yourself. There are a lot of scams going on, and agents claim that some NYC landlords even use stock photos when posting ads. As a result, the apartment might not look like the one in the pictures. 
  • Another important reason for checking properties in person is so you can determine the state of the building. Some buildings are literally falling apart, with garbage in the hallways and unruly neighbors.
  • Get enough money to cover three months and the agency fee. You might need to spend them on the spot.
  • The apartments go very fast, and you need to have a proactive role in the market. If you wish to move to New York, you should get ready to check several apartments every day for a few months.
  • You can’t plan several months in advance. In most cases, landlords are looking for someone to take the property immediately. Given there’s always someone ready to do so, you won’t even get a chance to sign any contracts.
  • In most cases, you'll have to juggle between several factors and choose things you'd like to prioritize.

As you’re waiting to rent, we suggest that you get a temporary apartment via Craigslist or Airbnb. According to local laws, you can't rent properties for less than 30 days.

What is the best time to move to NYC?

If you’re looking to rent an apartment in New York City, we suggest that you avoid summertime. During this period, everyone’s on the move, and the whole market is in shambles.

This also means there's a lot of fresh blood in NYC looking for their first apartment. Some landlords take advantage of this, ramping up the prices across the board. Aside from families and working professionals, students and tourists are also on the move during this time.

However, we should also consider the prices of moving companies. They also have much more work during summer, so they’ll also charge more. It doesn’t help that the traffic is also hectic and it takes more time to do just about anything.

All that said, you should definitely avoid the period from June to September. The prices are lowest during February and March, especially if the weather is rough. However, you can also lower your expenses by renting during autumn/spring.

Finding a reliable transportation company before moving to NYC

Relocating to a new city is especially troublesome if you’re moving from another state. Many things will be different in NYC, including the standard of living, renting prices, and taxes.

If you're coming from afar, we suggest that you hire movers in your hometown. Just about any city will be cheaper than New York, so there's no point in looking for someone in Big Apple.

Although people think that hiring movers is the simplest step of the process, it's everything but. You need to find a reliable provider who will take your belongings from one place to another without damaging your belongings and your new apartment.

In particular, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • Does the company have proper licenses and insurance? If you're transporting specific items, such as pianos and art pieces, does their insurance cover that specific type of damage?
  • Have they ever driven around New York? Can they reach the home address without taking many detours or getting into a traffic rush?
  • Will the building layout be a problem for them? Can they maneuver furniture without damaging it against wall corners, floor, and ceiling?
  • If you need additional help, can they provide it?
  • Are they transparent regarding their pricing? Have they asked for extra money to provide a quote, or do they have hidden fees included in the final bill?
  • Do they have good reviews on Google?

If everything went smoothly, we suggest that you tip the movers at the end of the process.

Nowadays, there are so many review sites that analyze moving brands. We suggest that you check BestMovers.Pro directories to find more information about local moving companies in New York and other cities.

What are the best tips for moving to NYC?

Here are a few important things you should consider when moving to the city:

  • Each neighborhood has its peculiarities. Learn more about the borough and general area before moving in.
  • Check out the broker fees in different agencies. You shouldn’t rent without an agency unless you know the landlord.
  • An apartment search in New York takes a while. Check out the market before making the decision. Most people need about one or two months to find the apartment of their dreams.
  • There will be a lot of paperwork to fill so get ready for an arduous process.
  • It’s imperative to find an apartment with good heating and AC.
  • Make sure to find a job well in advance. If you think you'll just stroll into the city and start working on the fly, you're in for a surprise. Not having a job for a few weeks can significantly reduce your odds of staying in NYC for a longer term.
  • The good news is that you probably won’t need a car. Even if you live in Queens or Staten Island, every borough is well connected through its extensive public transportation system.
  • You’ll need to find a local Laundromat when staying in the city. This should be another major consideration on your checklist.
  • Make sure to pack clothes for every occasion and season. New York has a diverse climate, so you can expect just about anything.
  • Get acquainted with the local stores. If you're strapped for cash, we suggest finding cheaper brands in your vicinity. Don't make the mistake of spending money in expensive hipster stores and over-the-top groceries.

Moving to New York is a major change for most people. This metropolis is like nothing you’ve seen before, so don’t be surprised if it takes time to get acclimated.

Whatever the case, we suggest that you take your time and don’t make any rash decisions. You will likely experience hardships, especially financial ones, so don’t quit too early!

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