Almost a full year after moving from Ireland to New York I feel like I’ve finally gotten my head around living in this crazy city. My time is almost up here (we won’t talk about that yet) but I wanted to answer the questions I’m most commonly asked and share some tips on moving and getting set up here as I’ve experienced it.
Where to live:
New York is a huge place with lots of boroughs and neighbourhoods to choose from. As a starting point, I would use your work address (if you have one) to help you decide what area to live in – you really don’t want to be living somewhere that is too far from where you will be spending most of your days!
I lived in Astoria in Queens for 8 months of my year here as well as on my J1 and I would definitely recommend it.There are 4 trains that go out there (the N & Q on one line and the M & R on another). There are lots of lovely restaurants, bars and shops, the rent is reasonable (for about 800 or 900 you could get something nice) and it’s about 15 minutes to midtown.
Sunnyside & Woodside in Queens are great areas too – very popular with Irish people and not too far from the city on the 7 train.
Long Island City in Queens has lots of gorgeous new high rise apartments on the water, with amazing views of the city. Not the most affordable if you are coming over here on a graduate visa but it’s an up and coming area so definitely worth checking out if a reasonably priced apartment becomes available.
Williamsburg and Greenpoint are lovely areas with lots of bars & restaurants. They are very popular with young people but rent-wise you are usually looking at around 1000 if not more. The L train that runs out there has been a bit of a nightmare this year – but hopefully next year it will be back to normal.
I know lots of Irish people that live out in Bushwick in Brooklyn and love it. It’s very up and coming and rent can be very reasonable.
Manhattan can be quite pricey but if it is something you’re interested in doing I would have a look at apartments in the East Village, Lower East Side, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Murray Hill. These are probably the most reasonable areas.
Woodlawn in the Bronx is quite popular with Irish people. It’s a little far out for my liking (last stop on the subway) – but if you’re looking for great craic and cheap rent this is a good spot for you.
Finding an Apartment:
Looking for an apartment can be difficult without a ‘credit score’ which we, as Irish, don’t have. Without this you would need a guarantor living in the States and earning a certain wage (this differs based on the apartment). A lot of places – especially outside of Manhattan don’t look for it. Another solution would be to apartment share i.e. move in with someone who has already taken care of the credit details.
Important factors to consider in terms of budgeting are as follows:
- Many apartments have a brokers (real estate agents) fee – that is usually one month’s rent.
- All leases will require a deposit – again this is usually one month’s rent.
- Apartments usually come unfurnished (unless you are subletting) – this means no beds, no tables, no chairs. Another important factor to consider when budgetting for the big move.
My situation was a little different because I had the job with Tourism Ireland before I left Ireland so they helped organise the visa for me, but USIT have a great team in Ireland that can help you with any questions you have about the visa process.
Jobwise it can be tough to organise a job before you get out here but I wouldn’t let that dishearten you. The best thing to do is try and set up interviews before you get here so you can get interviewing ASAP. The great thing about NY is even if you dont get the job you want right away you’ll never be completely broke as theres always waitressing/ barwork to fall back on and doing that you can make more than enough money to survive – thats what most of my friends did until they got the job they wanted.
With regards to looking for jobs – I would recommend the following:
- Upload your Resumé (CV) to Indeed.
- Change your location settings & preferences on Linkedin and have a look on there, so many major companies are uploading job opportunities there these days.
- I would also recommend finding a recruiter – they are great for getting people jobs and negotiating the best salary – just make sure you read all the contracts and be sure of all terms and conditions with both the recruiter and your company before moving forward.
- For internships, you can try Interships.com and Internmatch.
- Don’t undersell yourself. Us Irish, as a nation, tend to be humble but in New York you need to be able to talk about what your good at. The world is your oyster – especially here. Trust me – there are so many opportunities and I really believe if you look hard enough you will find them.
First things first, get to know the area you are in: find your closest grocery store, laundromat, subway stop etc. It’s important to get your head around the basics of living in a different country in order to be able to settle in.
I know moving country already has yourself outside of your comfort zone – but it doesn’t stop there. You really have to push yourself to meet people. American’s are so good at networking – it’s something I was definitely not used to when I moved here but I must put that down as one of the most valuable things I’ve learned this year. It’s great to have the confidence to have a conversation with a complete stranger – you never know who you might be talking to – it could be someone you will work with in the future or it could be your new best friend. I’ve had both happen this year.
There is a networking breakfast on the first Friday of every month in the Irish Consulate at 8am and there’s always lots of Irish people at that.
I would also recommend Googling your work area of interest – see if you can find networking events/ mixers happening that you can go along to – if you are looking for a job when you are here this would be a great way to get some pointers.
Things to do:
New York really is the city that never sleeps – there is always so much happening. You have to make the most of it. Some of the best advice I got since I moved here was to check the following websites a few times a week:
These websites are updated daily with all different things happening all over the city. Please do them for me when I’m not here next year!
If you plan on travelling while you are here for the year I would recommend signing up for email alerts from:
- Travelzoo (Their Top 20 deals of the week are always so good!)
- Cheapcaribbean.com (I booked my trip to the Dominican Republic with them)
I would also recommend checking out New York based bloggers, they are always up to speed with nice restaurants, sites & events. I got so many ideas from following them all year. In particular, my lovely Irish friends Erika, Lorna & Michaela are great gals to follow and they will be here for the next few years!
After spending 3 summers here before moving this year – I felt like I sort of knew New York. Little did I know how much more there was and still is to learn & explore. I hope my tips will help make some of your transitions between countries a little easier – please feel free to share with friends if you think this has been useful.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org & Twitter: @louisecooneycom.
Best of luck,