Saunders 1865 | Moving to New York City

Moving to New York City

New York City. The Big Apple. Possibly the most vibrant and exciting city on the planet, and certainly the heartbeat of the US and the headquarters of corporate America. Founded in 1624 by Dutch settlers and initially known as New Amsterdam, the city was the capital of the US from 1785 to 1790. It has long been America’s most populous city and in popular culture it represents the apex of the American Dream—if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!

Not only is it the world’s major financial centre, it’s also a powerhouse in terms of commerce, media, art, fashion, research, technology, healthcare, real estate, insurance, education and entertainment. The United Nations and countless other organisations headquarter here, as well as major corporations from all over the world. For expats moving here to work, the stakes may be high but life will never be dull and the rewards can be great.


Obviously, furnished apartments are a lot more expensive than unfurnished, by as much as 20 to 40%.  But factoring in the time and effort, it may be worth it.  Firstly, you would be able to move straight in. Plus, furnished apartments are ideal for short-term leases.  Fully furnished spaces charge higher deposits than unfurnished to cover the cost of repairs or replace furniture if damage is caused.

Putting New York on the Map

The city is situated on the northeast coast of America, on one of the world’s largest natural harbours. It lies approximately halfway between Boston and Washington. The harbour is at the outlet of the Hudson River into the Atlantic and the shelter it offers enabled New York to become one of the world’s most important ports.

New York covers three islands—Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island—and is divided into five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. It covers approximately 300 square miles, with land reclamation continuing to nudge that figure upwards.

As the city that never sleeps, New York is reliant on a complex transport infrastructure:

  • The NY rapid transit system accounts for one third of the mass transit users in America.
  • The city’s subway system is the world’s largest, with 469 stations and 1.75 billion annual journeys.
  • Grand Central Station is the world’s largest railway station by number of platforms.
  • 52% of New York households don’t own a car.
  • The commuter rail network is the largest in America, with 20 rail lines and 250 stations.
  • The city boasts the largest public bus fleet in America and the Port Authority Bus Terminal serves 200, 000 commuters daily.
  • New York is served by three airports—John F Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty.
  • The Staten Island ferry is the busiest ferry route in the world.
  • New York was served by 12,000 yellow taxi cabs before Covid-19. It dropped to 982 in April 2020. It is on the increase again to around 3800 in April 2021.
The Areas

When you’re looking for a place to live, New York literally has hundreds of areas to choose from across its five boroughs. Each borough alone is the size of a large city, and they’re all densely populated. Certainly, if you have no prior knowledge of New York, the choice will seem bewildering. If this is the case, talk to colleagues who already live in the city. If you have children, where they will go to school needs to be factored into the decision at an early stage.


Manhattan is the part of New York you see in the movies—think Central Park, Times Square and the Empire State Building. It’s also the most densely populated borough and the most expensive.

Upper East Side – cultured and wealthy, this is one of NY’s most desirable—and therefore expensive—residential areas. Green spaces, good schools and cultural institutions attract well-heeled families.

Upper West Side – a smart enclave between Central Park and the Hudson River, this is possibly one of the most expensive residential areas anywhere. Smart shopping and fine dining are a feature.

Harlem – gentrification has made Harlem a popular destination for families, with a rich cultural heritage.

Gramercy and Flatiron – one of the city’s central shopping areas, but a little lacking on the social front.

Midtown East – this is a land of smart new apartment blocks with excellent facilities and price tags to match.

Hell’s Kitchen – having been gentrified in the 90s, this once rough area is now popular with Wall Street workers and Broadway actors. The place to look for older, character properties.

Lower East Side – with a range of accommodation styles and prices, and vibrant retail, nightlife and dining scenes, the Lower East Side is popular with young professionals.

Meatpacking District – if you’re looking for a dose of NY cool, this is the place. Loft apartments, trendy restaurants, clubs, boutiques and galleries rub shoulders and draw a young demographic.

NoHo – short for North of Houston Street, this is one of NY’s most desirable residential areas. 19th century commercial buildings have been converted into wonderful loft apartments and it’s one of the few areas of Manhattan with good public schools.

East Village – the presence of New York University means the East Village attracts a lot of students—so the rents are lower and there are lots of ethnic restaurants. Plus good nightlife.

Little Italy – this area buzzes with boutiques, galleries and hip eating houses, making it popular with professional singles and couples.

The Bronx

The northern most borough lies partly on the USA mainland and is home turf to the New York Yankees and Bronx Zoo.

Riverdale – the rents here are reasonable and so is the commute, but there’s not such a good choice of schools.

Belmont – great Italian food and low rent offset by a grittier edge and poor transportation.

Co-op City – this is a diverse middle-class enclave but suffers from a long commute into Manhattan.

Bedford Park – good transport and public schools make this one of the better parts of the Bronx to live in.


With the highest population, Brooklyn lies on the western end of Long Island, across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It’s known for its cultural, social and ethnic diversity, and it’s certainly now viewed as a cool place to live. Townhouses here offer more space for less money than you’ll find in Manhattan, and the borough has some excellent schools.

Carroll Garden – historic brownstones and leafy streets equate to a classic New York neighbourhood. Good schools, excellent restaurants and Italian markets add to its appeal.

Williamsburg – home to large Jewish, Polish and Latino communities, this is a cultural melting pot with a good choice of property. Warehouse conversions have pulled in a hipster crowd and there’s a great music and art scene going on.

Park Slope – good schools, good transport, excellent museums and cultural institutions, numerous restaurants and plenty of brownstones make this an increasingly popular area.

Greenpoint – rents here are slightly more affordable, attracting a younger crowd to this part of the borough. The nightlife’s good, while the range of facilities and parks make it a great place for families.


North east of Brooklyn, Queens is the largest NY borough and the most ethnically diverse county in the United States. Home to the US Open tennis tournament and the New York Mets, it also hosts two of the city’s three main airports.

Long Island City – from bohemian artists to investment bankers, you’ll find a real mix of residents. The commute to midtown Manhattan is convenient but poor schools mean it’s not the best location for families.

Flushing – home to the US Open tennis tournament, Flushing also boasts good restaurants and schools but a slow commute.
Corona Park – more affordable than other parts of Queens, possibly because there are less facilities.

Staten Island

Staten Island is green and suburban with 2,500 acres of greenbelt land which includes a forest and 28 miles of walking trails.

New Dorp – a family-friendly suburb with low crime and decent schools.

West Brighton – slightly edgier than New Dorp, but rents are affordable and there’s a good shopping area.

St George – a diverse area with an interesting architectural mix, particularly at the waterfront.

Who lives here and why?

One could just as easily ask, who doesn’t live here? New York is one of the most densely populated and diverse cities in the world. Almost 8.5 million people live in just 300 square miles, which works out at nearly 28,000 people per square mile. As the main gateway for immigration into the US, approximately 37 percent of New Yorkers are foreign-born and up to 800 different languages are spoken here. The largest groups are from the Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, Guyana, Jamaica, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Russia and Bangladesh.

Naturally, as one of the world’s pre-eminent commercial centres, New York attracts a large number of domestic and foreign corporations. Important business sectors include banking and finance, transportation, trade, retail, legal, accountancy, insurance services, tourism, property, media and advertising, fashion, technology and entertainment. New York has been ranked the top city in the world for attracting capital, business and tourists. The city’s real estate has been valued at over $900 billion, with the Time Warner Center being the highest valued property.

Wall Street is the epicentre of the city’s financial district and is synonymous with it. With more than 160,000 jobs in securities, and home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, Lower Manhattan represents the largest global centre for trading in the world, and it’s also the world’s largest centre for hedge fund management. Similarly, Silicon Alley has become the byword for the city’s high technology sector, a major generator of venture capital investments. The biotechnology sector is also gaining in importance.

The Best Bits

New York is visited by more than 50 million tourists every year and is home to three out of the ten most-visited tourist attractions in the world. Of course, everyone will have their own favourites but these are some of the city’s most iconic features:

  • Central Park has appeared in so many movies that most people feel as if they’ve been there. This 880-acre space in the middle of Manhattan hosts 25 million visitors each year and boasts lakes, ice rinks, a zoo and a theatre.
  • One World Trade Center and the 9/11 memorial and museum make up a fitting reminder of the city’s darkest day in 2001. One World Trade Center is America’s tallest building and the fourth tallest in the world.
  • Other iconic skyscrapers include the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, One57 and 432 Park Avenue.
  • New York brownstones—these elegant terraces of reddish-brown sandstone townhouses characterise many of the city’s residential areas.
  • Broadway conjures an instant image of musical theatre but actually represents just a tiny fraction of New York’s multitude of offerings—there are more than 2,000 cultural and artistic organisations and 5000 plus art galleries.
  • Eating in New York City is like being seated at a global buffet—pick from more than 20,000 restaurants offering every nationality of cuisine, from French fine dining to MiddleEastern street food.
  • Chinatown is home to the highest concentration of Chinese people in the Western Hemisphere—and the best place to eat Chinese food.
  • The Gateway National Recreation Area is a national park covering 26,000 acres of open space in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens.
  • Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are both symbolic of the welcome that New York and the rest of the States gives to immigrants from other parts of the world.
Bringing the kids

If you’re bringing your children with you to New York, deciding where they’ll go to school is one of the most important—and earliest—decisions you’ll need to take. Access to the city’s public schools is based on which school zone you live in, so you’ll need to look at the catchment area for your chosen school and find your property accordingly. If you select a private or international school, you won’t be so tied, but you’ll still need to bear in mind the daily commute to and from school.

  • There are 1,700 public schools in New York, of varying standards.
  • The better schools tend to be concentrated in the wealthier areas of the city.
  • Charter schools are publicly funded schools with better facilities and standards of teaching, but they’re tough to get into, with admissions decided through a lottery system.
  • The public school system is very well accustomed to pupils from overseas.
  • There are more than 70 private schools in the city, and they’re very academically competitive, with long waiting lists and stringent entry procedures.
  • Private schools can charge fees averaging around $19000 per annum. However, they generally offer better facilities and teaching than the public schools. The elite Dalton School will set you back $55000 per annum – and this excludes school trips and activities.
  • The city has a choice of more than 20 international schools, including establishments catering for French, British, Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, Arab and Spanish children. They tend to be expensive and over-subscribed.
  • There are 120 institutions of higher education, including a number of prestigious private universities.
Relocating to New York City

A new job and a new life in New York is an incredibly exciting prospect. After all, it’s a city that can quite reasonably lay claim to being the world’s capital! It’s vast and vibrant, and represents the global focal point for numerous business sectors. Being posted to New York can be career dynamite. It can also be a great place to live, whether you’re single, one of a couple or bringing your family with you. Different areas of the city have quite different characteristics and benefits—from the trendy buzz of downtown Manhattan to the leafy suburbs of Brooklyn or Staten Island. Making your choice on where to settle will be governed by multiple factors, including your lifestyle, your budget and your family needs. This may seem a tricky decision if you don’t know the city at all, but using a good relocation agent will help you find your way.

At Saunders 1865, our teams of experts combine local knowledge with first-hand experience to pinpoint the right area and the right property that will tick all your boxes. Do you have children that need to be enrolled in school? Are the transport links convenient for your needs? Does this location fit with your expectations of expat life and is the space configured in a way that suits your requirements? We can bring expertise to all these factors and help to arrange smooth, efficient and stress-free relocations – to New York, London and destinations across the world. Our services include home finding assistance, school finding, lease negotiations, temporary accommodation, move management and immigration assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out how we can help you.


City Centre
Good Schools
Great Transport
Museums & Galleries
Average Monthly Rent - New York City, Central
Apartment, studio $2,295
Apartment, 1-bedroom $2,660
Apartment, 3-bedroom $6,383
Median monthly rental prices for random areas :
Financial district $3318
Washington Heights $1875
Downtown Brooklyn $3488
Gramercy Park $3350
Greenwich Village $3900
Lower East Side $2575
Brighton Beach $1875
Chinatown $2550
Coney Island $2089
Westchester Village $1700
New Dorp $1550
West Brighton $2400
Contact us for a free initial consultation about your specific situation.
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