New York City NY
Also known as The Big Apple. The Capital of the World. The City of Dreams. The City So Nice, They Named It Twice. The City That Never Sleeps. Empire City. The Five Boroughs. Fun City. Gotham.
People move to New York for many reasons, driven by work, dreams, and to learn more about themselves in an exciting, challenging city. There is a strong desire to invest in yourself and seek the peak at what you do in this mythical metropolis. Whatever your reason, you\’ll soon find that New York\’s locals and their passion for what they do are the true heart of the city. People are attracted from far and wide to get a taste of this ambition – part of being a local New Yorker is earning the title of someone who has worked hard for something.
Along with this distinct culture of the locals, your life in New York City will greatly depend on where you work, your commute, your adaptation to the seasons and most notably the borough you choose to live in. Even the suburbs within the boroughs each contain their own distinctive quirks and charms. This blog post is from my experience as a New Zealander who moved to New York in 2018, working for property management company R.E.M Residential as an executive assistant and social media manager.
When I first arrived in New York I could not help but soak up the city around me in awe. I had always dreamed of moving to New York with the desire to experience something new and make a life for myself in this economic epicenter. Once the opportunity arose after my commerce degree, I packed my bags and got on a plane to make my dreams a reality. I had no job lined up, nor an apartment. I recommend finding work before moving, but there is an abundance of opportunities here. They don\’t come cheap, but are recognized to be worthwhile in part because of this challenge.
I first moved into an apartment in Brooklyn\’s Bedford–Stuyvesant with another New Zealand expat. The room had little natural light, and was more of a necessity to find a place to rent as opposed to the hotel I booked for arrival. I decided to move once more once I found work, to be closer to Manhattan. I discovered Facebook groups were a great way to find an apartment, but it\’s also worthwhile to contact local property management companies to find a gem. They come along with management you can trust, helping you find a spot close to a good subway route, and once you move in they are on call to fix a leaky pipe, as opposed to some more casual subletting situations.
When I arrived at the Brooklyn apartment for a walk through, I was expecting another New Zealander as it was posted in a New Zealand renting group on Facebook. To my surprise, a New Yorker greeted me and quickly explained that she had such luck with New Zealanders that she posted the apartment in these groups. Locals get the job done. Contrary to popular belief, many locals embrace the melting pot of different cultures – they are straightforward people, with a heart of gold. My apartment was at the top of a three level brownstone, with an abundance of natural light, house plants, and a 10 minute walk to the closest subway. I\’ve learnt important aspects of an apartment to me are these things – good light, a close subway station and good taste. Think about key qualities you will require for your work, and also the style you have imagined. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in your life here, and a go-getter attitude along with it. New York might knock you down a few times, but it\’s always there each time you get back up again.
Brooklyn boasts fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline and connecting bridges, and provides a charming respite for New Yorker\’s who want some room to breathe, yet still have a relatively quick commute to the city center. It represents the city\’s bohemian outer borough – the quick Starbucks coffee of Manhattan becomes a slow Brooklyn roast. It\’s full of hipster cafes, artisan bakeries, neighbourhood delis, and large street art and murals. Locals in Brooklyn tend to be the creative type, there are many artists, singers, writers, and designers seeing peaceful inspiration from the old, classic neighborhoods.
Brooklyn is large and the suburbs vary significantly from the tech magnet that is DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Downtown Brooklyn business district to the hipster Williamsburg. Gentrification is a controversial topic in New York and it\’s important to understand the experiences of those who have lived here their whole lives. I recommend researching the suburbs areas well, and moving somewhere close to other expats, friends and coworkers to prevent feeling isolated.
I loved my first Brooklyn apartment but was seeking more excitement, so I moved from the residential streets of Brooklyn to a R.E.M. Residential managed property in Williamsburg. It\’s closer to Manhattan but maintains the hipster Brooklyn atmosphere. Bedford ave is the central shopping hub of the neighbourhood, with vintage boutiques and trendy cafes dotted throughout. The waterfront boasts parks and restaurants with unobscured, picturesque views of Manhattan. Don\\\’t miss The weekly Smorgasburg food market, record shopping at Rough Trade, and Roberta\\\’s famous pizza.
My moving experience was similar to other R.E.M. Residential tenants. When relocating, they choose to stay in R.E.M. Residential managed properties because of their fond experience as a tenant with the company. The leasing and application process is seamless, creating minimal downtime for owners too. With offices in both Manhattan and Williamsburg, R.E.M. Residential has quick access to buildings across NYC, including Astoria and Queens. The R.E.M. Residential Williamsburg office is located on 207 Bedford Ave.
It\’s exciting to be a part of the hustle of Manhattan, but it is also vast and can be overwhelmingly complex to navigate at first. The economic hub for the US and the world is bigger than entire cities, and has lots of people walking through it. Albeit frustrating, locals understand tourists will stop to look around, and learn to navigate around them. If you\’re moving to New York from a less populated city, you\’ll quickly learn to walk fast and keep in your lane. Eventually you will uncover your way through a maze of numbered avenues and gain a sense of direction in the grid.
The rent in Manhattan is higher than its neighbouring boroughs, but to some nothing beats the enchantment of living above the cobblestone streets of East Village, the designer boutiques of SoHo and the crowd-pleasing restaurants of Chinatown. Throughout Manhattan there are also old-school bars, music venues and performance spaces that share the streets with posh cocktail lounges and hip restaurants. There\’s an endless amount of things to eat and do straight outside your doorstep. Street Style is a mix of formal and fashionable, with many people working in finance and fashion.
The chaos of Manhattan is balanced by the serenity of Central Park – in one step, you move from the chaotic metropolis to a peaceful meadow. It is the most visited urban park in the United States, but it never feels too full. You can walk the entire circuit in about two hours at a leisurely pace. You\’ll find locals enjoying jogs around the circuit and a variety of sports and activities including picnics, sports and with the lack of beaches nearby, sunbathing.
Upper East Side
When I moved to the Upper East Side, I was surprised at how tranquil it was. I expected it to be busier than Brooklyn but it turned out to have a similar calm combination of urban and serene. It\’s the most suburban-like neighbourhood of Manhattan with many choosing to raise their family here. I also thought it would be more expensive as it is home to some of New York\’s wealthiest, but I discovered there is a mix of luxury brownstones and more affordable apartments. My apartment was small but had everything I needed, and Central Park became my backyard. I have fond memories waking up with friends on Sunday morning, popping down for some coffee, brunch and local shopping at nearby boutiques. Evenings out frequently included local quiet restaurants and rooftop bars.
R.E.M Residential\’s Midtown Manhattan office is right in the midst of New York\’s hustle and bustle, but, like the Upper East Side, it has a calm inviting atmosphere. With good music playing, and the best scented candles lit, it\’s a nice change from the Midtown streets below. It was an enjoyable workplace for me as an employee, and an inviting atmosphere for walk-ins. Located at 36 West 37 Street, New York NY.
New York locals are up for a challenge, one of those being the seasons. The magnificent city is matched by its seasons, ranging from icy Atlantic winters to sweltering humid summers. New York\’s seasons are also really intense and affect your day to day, so it\’s important to keep that in mind when looking for a place to live. You will be commuting in the elements, and many wear business attire amongst all of this.
The city has its different challenges, but a local knows how to adapt to the weather. In winter you\’ll need layers, coats, and shoes for snow – don\’t underestimate the dangers of walking on icy snow. The cold also gets dangerous at night, you never want to be locked out in a frigid -2°F (-18C) snap. Instead of spending too much time in the elements, locals discover different routes that keep them warm (and the better subway stations too).Winter holidays accompany the colder climate, as offices and apartments become warm havens against the chill of winter. Spring comes to New York with a palpable sense of optimism as the city blooms and winter coats are shed. It\’s a good time to find an apartment in Spring, as many renters tend to start jobs, school and change apartments in the warmer weather. In summer, you\’ll find people out on the street in paddling pools cooling off. Air conditioning is your best friend, keep in mind the streets and busy subway are hot in summer, even at night. Fall\’s relieving drop in temperature is celebrated by the city, and the street fashion changes from more practical clothing to more experimental styles.
Fall was my favourite season. The orange and yellow leaves transform the city into an autumnal wonderland with festive pumpkins on stoops. The change of seasons makes New York City the vibrant city we know – we all complain about the cold of winter and the heat of summer, but in the end, the range of temperatures and colors make it even more of an exciting place to live.
It\’s no surprise that you\’ll never run out of things to do in the City that Never Sleeps. New York is lively after work and has an abundance of nighttime activities including internationally acclaimed productions and shows, live music, bars, and nightclubs. You won\\\’t find locals in Times Square, but taking the edge off a hard day\’s work at local bars, night markets and restaurants. Locals have also been here long enough to stumble upon hidden gems with loyal followers. Once you\’re in the area for a while, you might find the key to a speakeasy or two. You\’ll also encounter many interesting people, from street vendors and performers. It can be hard to tell the difference between a street performer from someone just doing their thing, even for a local. Some of these expressions can be confronting to those from a more conservative town, and it\’s important to keep your wits about you, but with the NYPD presence across the city, New York is a safe place to live. Some locals simply have a strong sense of identity and the desire to express themselves to the city, which is infectious and might bring the confidence out of you to try new things and find your own true passions. As Peter Boyle said, “You see more life experience in one trip to the corner to buy the paper in New York than you do in a month in another place.”
At the end of my time living in New York, I found living there evolved me from a tourist, who had only ever experienced the city through a screen, to a self proclaimed New Yorker who properly understood the culture on a greater level. Some people never see past the movie set to a whole other world beneath it that will never be on the screen, but that\’s what New York really is once you live there. As well put as Georgia O\’Keeffe said – “One can\’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.” When I see the Manhattan skyline now, I no longer see landmarks surrounded by a mass of random buildings with just the Empire State recognizable to my eye. I see Manhattan\\\’s west waterside which I walked mile after mile, passing cyclists, joggers, schools and parks, grabbing lunch from my favorite burrito spot and devouring it next to the water. I see the bridges I went for jogs over to gain an inspirational appreciation of the scale of the city I found myself in. I can spot rooftop bars where I shared cocktails and green beans with new friends, occasionally gazing at the familiar beauty of the Empire State at night. I see the Chrysler building which never fails to catch my eye from the footpath below. The World Trade Centre not only has historical significance, but now a personal significance after I worked in the building, and has a coworker stand with me, discussing the history of ground zero, pointing out the survivor tree below. I see the New York Times building and recall sitting in a coffee shop below, writing postcards to send back to New Zealand. A blur of buildings and preconceived beliefs about New York City turned into a recognizable place I\’m grateful to have called home.
About the Author – New York City Real Estate Agent Sophie Burns
Sophie worked at R.E.M. Residential in 2018. With over 20 years of experience managing NYC properties, REM has a knowledgeable team and state-of-the-art property management software. Owner Rick Elezi\’s experience in NYC property management also extends well beyond 20 years and he keeps the company up to date with modern property management technology. All properties are well maintained and predominantly located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
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