Advice for Foreigners Moving to New York

Moving to New York can be a challenging but rewarding experience. There are many things to organise before you can book your flights to New York and settle down in the city. First up, obviously, you'll need a residence visa if you're not local and this is a matter of reading up on which residence options are suitable for your situation. It may seem scary but there's plenty of information available and it's a fairly straightforward process.

Many people move to the Big Apple to find work - in fact, there are millions of foreign workers in the USA and in New York in particular, with many working in the service industries and in conglomerates in the banking, finance and IT trades. Although the job market is competitive, candidates with degrees and knowledge of multiple languages are at a greater advantage. Keep your eyes glued to online classifieds, register with an employment agency and there's always the option of hiring a head hunter.

You've probably heard rumours about the difficulties of finding an apartment in New York - that it's expensive, competitive and sprawling - but the fact that it's one of the largest cities in the world provides a lot of choice. Although the rents tend to be high, many properties come with perks including laundry facilities and access to fitness centres. There are numerous real estate agents that list homes and apartments across the five boroughs of the city, but be sure to have a security deposit (usually the first and last month's rent) ready before contacting them.

On the subject of money, you'll need to open a bank account, for which you'll need a driver's licence or state-issued identification, social security card and proof of address (for example, an electricity bill). Non-citizens and even non-residents can open bank accounts in the USA as long as you have a valid passport (translated into English).

You've probably also heard that New York is expensive. According to a 2011 Mercer cost of living survey, New York is the most expensive city in the United States (ranked 32), although it compares favourably with far pricier cities like Launda, Tokyo, Zurich and Hong Kong. The majority of monthly cost of living expenses, according to city database Numbeo, is spent on rent, with restaurants, groceries and transportation (in descending order) trailing behind.

New York has been described as a hyper-competitive, busy city in which everything feels magnified - enjoyment included. Although it might be daunting to move to one of the largest cities in the world, it comes with immeasurable rewards - particularly for those who plan in advance.

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