Live and Work in New York: Your Ultimate Guide

African-American woman sitting at her desk working in NYC with the city skyline in the background

Overview

Live and Work in New York: Your Ultimate Guide

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Relocating for a career can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to start a new job, but you also have to get comfortable in a new place. And if you’re contemplating a career that would take you to New York City? There’s even more to consider.

As America’s most populated city, New York is full of exciting career opportunities and plenty of things to do. Regardless, it’s not unusual to have reservations about such a big move. But with adequate prep, you can adjust quickly and embrace your new life in no time. Read on for your ultimate guide to living and working in New York.  

What to Know Before Moving to the Big Apple 

New York City is known as “the city that never sleeps” — and for good reason. No matter what time it is, there’s always something going on. So, lean on advice from locals to learn the basics and avoid overwhelm. After all, nobody knows New York like a New Yorker! Without exception, they’re your best source of information about where to live, where to shop, how to get around, and how to spend your free time.

New York City’s population of 8 million people is spread across five unique boroughs. Each borough has dozens of neighborhoods, and each neighborhood has its own character. So, below, we’ll take a look at the various boroughs — as well as the pros and cons of living in the Big Apple. 

The Five Boroughs

Manhattan

Manhattan is the best-known borough. It is also home to many of the most recognizable things about NYC — Broadway, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, and Chinatown, to name a few. Moreover, many businesses are based in Manhattan — and its population of 1.6 million nearly doubles during working hours.

Brooklyn

With nearly 2.6 million residents, Brooklyn is the most populated borough. It includes popular neighborhoods like Park Slope and Williamsburg, which is home to a thriving music and art scene. For many New Yorkers, life just feels a little more laid back in Brooklyn.

Queens

The largest borough by area is Queens, which is located east of Brooklyn on Long Island. Queens is home to both John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. Additionally, it is home to the New York Mets baseball team.

The Bronx

Next up is the Bronx, New York City’s northernmost borough and home to the New York Yankees baseball team. Rich in diversity and culture, the Bronx is also considered a birthplace of hip-hop music.

Staten Island

Finally, the smallest, southernmost, and arguably most suburban borough in New York City is Staten Island. It is connected to Lower Manhattan by the Staten Island Ferry, which runs across New York Harbor.

The Pros of Living in NYC

Wondering what all the fuss is about? We could go on and on — but we outline a few highlights below.

Culture and Diversity

Love exploring different cultures? You can get a taste of them all in NYC. Chinatown is a famous destination, but you also won’t want to miss Little India, Koreatown, Little Italy, and many more. No wonder they call it a melting pot!

The Art Scene

You could spend weeks exploring all of New York’s museums and galleries. And if museums aren’t your thing? Check out the city’s endless libraries, live music venues, fashion shows, or theater performances instead.

A Foodie’s Paradise

Bagels, delis, and pizza joints are always top of mind when people think about NYC. But you can truly find any cuisine imaginable in the city. Want to grab some street food, or would you prefer to dine at a Michelin-star restaurant? Either way, you’re in luck. 

Public Transit

Getting around New York is a breeze with its effective network of buses, subways, and trains. You can easily get anywhere in the city without worrying about navigating crowded streets in your own car. 

Of course, the Big Apple has countless other wonderful qualities, too! Just ask a New Yorker what they love about their home, and you’ll have them talking for hours.  

The Drawbacks of Living in NYC

There’s no question that New York City is loaded with culture, excitement, and opportunity. However, living in NYC comes with a few cons as well. Below, we outline a few of the negatives to keep in mind.

High Costs

New York City is widely considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. Though it’s possible to find more affordable housing when you know where to look, you’ll still never get the bang for your buck that you would in another location.

Crime

Like most densely-populated cities, NYC tends toward a higher rate of crime than rural and suburban areas. But it’s important to note that the crime rate in NYC has been declining steadily since the 1990s. Additionally, New York’s crime rate is lower than in many other East Coast cities — like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. 

Crowding

Again, crowding comes with the territory in many urban areas. But if you prefer wide open spaces, NYC may not be the place for you. And along with crowds come noise, trash, and more — so it’s a good thing this city is known for its beautiful parks. 

Schools

If you have kids in school, you should know that New York City public schools can be hit or miss. You’ll definitely want to carve out time to research local schools before you decide on a neighborhood. 

Even with these drawbacks, New York City is so large and diverse that you’ll find plenty of safe, affordable options for living and working. Just remember: moving to NYC requires a lot of legwork, and you should always visit at least once before making the move.

The Cost of Living in New York City

Living in New York City can be expensive. In fact, it’s ranked as the most expensive big city in the United States. But what is the cost of living in NYC, and how does it compare to the national average?

According to the latest census data, the mean income for an individual nationally is $35,384. In New York City, on the other hand, the mean individual income increases to $41,625. But does this increase in income cover the extra living expenses in the Big Apple?

A woman walking in New York City, enjoying the skyline at dusk.

How Much Does It Cost to Rent an Apartment in NYC?

As of July 2022, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the United States was $1,450. To get the same in NYC? You’ll spend a whopping $3,780 per month.

But it’s important to know that the cost of rent in New York City varies widely by neighborhood. In some areas, for example, you may be able to find a studio apartment for around $1,700/month. But in more trendy and centrally-located neighborhoods, you could be looking at $5,000/month for a one-bedroom place.

P.S. If you’re moving to NYC, you’ll want to find a great apartment moving company to make sure everything gets there safe and secure.

Where Is the Most Affordable Place to Live in New York City?

The Bronx is the most affordable of the five boroughs in NYC. However, it also lacks the gentrification of Brooklyn and Queens. So, while you can find quite affordable housing in the Bronx (by NYC standards), your neighborhood may not have all the other amenities you desire. Luckily, efficient and accessible public transit means that you can get from the Bronx to Manhattan or Brooklyn in under an hour.

What Are Other Costs to Consider?

City rent is high — but a few other factors can help make up for this. For example, when you rely on public transit instead of a car, you can save money on gas and insurance. Additionally, other costs — such as internet, electricity, and gas — are comparable to other U.S. cities. And due to an abundance of grocery stores — ethnic and otherwise — New Yorkers tend to pay less than average for groceries.

New Yorkers’ Advice on Living in the City

When it comes to living in New York, trust the locals! Indeed, New Yorkers are happy to offer advice to newcomers about the best places to live, work, and shop. So, it’s a great idea to walk around and see what’s available in your neighborhood — all while meeting your neighbors. Explore different areas in your spare time to get a true feel for the city — and the people who call it home.

Is New York City a Good Place to Live?

The answer to this question depends on what you’re looking for. But, by and large, most people agree that life in NYC is something special. After all, it’s significantly safer than other large US cities, and you have access to unrivaled food, entertainment, and culture — of the world-class variety.

So, if you’re comfortable living in an urban area and love being out and about, New York City could be perfect for you. From the diversity of the Bronx to the hustle and bustle of midtown Manhattan, New York has something to offer nearly everyone.

Do You Need a Car in NYC? 

With a stellar subway system at your fingertips, you can feel free to ditch the car in New York City. Indeed, the subway is cheap, fast, and accessible. And trains arrive and depart every few minutes — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Finally, when you don’t have a car, you save on the many expenses of car ownership!

What Makes New Yorkers So Happy?

New Yorkers love their city, and they’ll proudly stand by it — even in the toughest of times. And, guess what? It doesn’t take long for newbies to feel at home in NYC and develop that same sense of pride.

So, why are New Yorkers so happy? It’s because they live, work, and play in one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic cities!

Exploring New York City 

Once you decide to call New York home, how do you start living like a local? Well, you could begin with a picnic in Central Park. And even if theatre isn’t your thing, you can’t live in the city without visiting Broadway at least once. Finally, like any local, you’ll need to establish some favorite eateries and hang-out spots. Don’t limit yourself — try new things, and explore outside of your comfort zone! That’s the spirit of New York, after all.

A view of sunny Central Park in New York City.

Still Uncertain about NYC? 

So you’ve been offered the job of your dreams in NYC, but you’re still wondering if New York is really the place for you. Take it from Robert De Niro, a lifelong New Yorker: “I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome. And I always say, ‘There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is.'”

Live and Work in New York: It’s the Place to Be!

It’s easy to see why New York City is such a popular place to live and work. From food to entertainment to culture, it really is the best of the best. But remember, New York is a huge city. So before you relocate, check out a few different neighborhoods to find one that fits your needs. Get a feel for the people, the public transportation, and the amenities each neighborhood has to offer — and then decide which one to call home.

Finding a Job in New York City

New York City really is a land of opportunities. Millions of people head to the city to clock in every day. And people come from all over the world looking to make it in the Big Apple. So, here’s the thing: working in New York can be both thrilling and stressful, but overall, it’s bound to be a rewarding experience.

One thing to keep in mind: when you’re applying for jobs in NYC, you’ll be competing against dozens or even hundreds of applicants for each position. Some industries — like tech, finance, and media — are booming in the city. But booming business means lots of competition when looking for a job. So, all in all, persistence is the key to finding a job in New York City. Don’t give up! After all, the average job search takes 8 weeks or longer — so be patient. 

Is It Hard to Find Work in New York? 

There are thousands of job opportunities in New York right now, so nearly anyone can find employment in some form or fashion in the city. But finding a career that you love within your field? That can be trickier — and often depends on the demand for your industry and desired position.

Dedicate plenty of focused time to your job search, and apply to as many jobs as possible. The hard truth? You may not land your dream job on the first try. But your first job in New York City will allow you to establish yourself, make connections, and network with the right people — as well as build your experience and resume.

How to Find Work in New York

If possible, make looking for jobs a full-time job. Apply for any positions related to what you’re looking for. Attend networking events, and make sure everyone in your network knows that you’re job-hunting. Use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect with recruiters, and meet up with connections whenever you can. After all, you never know which connection might share a worthwhile job lead.

It can also be helpful to connect with your university’s alumni network. Many alumni associations have chapters in NYC, and the people in these networks may be able to introduce you to the right people. 

Best Places to Work in New York City

When most people imagine working in New York City, they see themselves in a skyscraper in Midtown or Lower Manhattan. But did you know that downtown Brooklyn has the third largest central business district in the United States? In addition, plenty of businesses call Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island home. 

So, with hundreds of thousands of businesses operating in New York City, there’s no reason to limit your job search to Manhattan. After all, it’s important to research employers carefully to find the one that’s right for you.

People going to work, walking across the crosswalk in NYC.

The best places to work in New York City will offer a great salary, enticing benefits, and a good work-life balance. And remember: the NY job market may be competitive, but that’s no reason to settle for a job that makes you unhappy.

Best Companies to Work for in New York

Wondering about the best companies to work for in New York? We've compiled a few options here to make it easy to narrow down your choices:

  • Merck - As one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, Merck is a leader in innovative medical solutions. With 70,000 employees, Merck offers top-tier benefits and pay to attract the best talent.
  • American Express - This famous credit card company offers lots of growth opportunities for employees. They're always looking for the best project managers and software developers to help the company grow.
  • Travelers - Travelers Insurance is known for its diverse workplace and competitive pay. Insurance companies like Travelers need skilled customer service representatives to help consumers navigate their products and find needed solutions.
  • Wegmans Food Markets - Wegmans is one of the East Coast's favorite grocery stores, and for good reason. They offer a shopping experience like no other! This is thanks, in large part, to marketing coordinators who focus on creating a great experience (as well as bringing in more customers, of course).

This is just a sample of the many companies where you can advance your career in New York City!

Work in New York: 10 In-Demand Jobs Right Now

Want to land a job in New York as quickly as possible? Keep reading to learn more about some of the most in-demand positions in NYC.

  1. Real Estate Agent

    Real estate agents in New York earn some of the top pay of any real estate agents in the U.S. Have excellent people skills, a tenacious disposition, and a strong drive to succeed? Consider joining this thriving field. You'll work under the supervision of a licensed real estate broker to guide buyers and sellers through every step of property transactions.
  2. Marketing Coordinator

    Marketing is important for businesses in every industry. So, as you can imagine, marketing coordinators help to build and maintain a company's brand. They also ensure their company's message gets to the right people, so that the company continues to grow and thrive. 
  3. Retail Manager

    New York City is a shopping mecca. And it offers some of the highest pay for retail managers, who supervise staff and operations in every store you can imagine. So, if you have excellent interpersonal skills and experience working in retail, this could be the role for you.  
  4. Finance Intern

    The financial industry is one of the most competitive in NYC. So, if you want to work within it, you may need to start at the bottom. A finance intern position will get you the entry-level experience you need to move up in this lucrative field.
  5. Software Engineer

    So much of our personal and professional lives revolve around computers — and the demand for specialized software is always growing. Software engineers build computer programs that make our lives easier. Learn how to write the best software engineer cover letter and get busy applying to jobs in this dynamic field!
  6. Assistant Editor

    Publishing is a major industry in New York. Have a sharp eye for detail and a desire to work in this field? An assistant editor position is a great place to start. 
  7. Customer Service Representative

    Businesses small and large are always in need of customer service representatives. These positions require patience, empathy, and stellar customer service skills. If this sounds like you, consider applying! 
  8. Business Analyst

    A business analyst has an eye for numbers and a love of data. So if you enjoy crunching numbers, spotting trends, and making financial forecasts, a position as a business analyst may be right for you. 
  9. Project Manager

    This is another position that applies in any industry. If you have experience managing teams and seeing projects through from start to finish, you have the skills needed to be a project manager. 
  10. Recruitment Coordinator

    Hiring employees is a long process that many businesses don't want to handle on their own. So, they may outsource recruiting candidates to a third party. Enjoy helping people — and businesses — find the right match? Then this position is a great opportunity for you. 

Of course, this is just a short list of some top opportunities in New York. Don’t see your dream job on the list? Don’t despair! Do some research online to find companies in your industry with opportunities available. 

Working in New York: Pros and Cons

Working in New York has both upsides and downsides, and you’ll want to keep these in mind as you search for a job. That way, you can make the most of any available opportunities.

What Are the Best Parts of Working in New York?

Working in one of the most famous cities in the world, surrounded by historic landmarks and boundless culture? It’s an amazing experience. Indeed, when you work in New York, you’ll always be right in the middle of the action. Below, we highlight some of the best parts of working in the Big Apple.

Opportunities Galore 

More than likely, you can find dozens of job openings in your field on any given day. This means your dream career is within reach! 

Better Salaries 

The cost of living in New York City is high — but so are the salaries. On average, you’ll get more “bang for your buck” than someone working the same job in a different city.

Great Networking

Living and working in New York offers the chance to connect with some of the world’s top professionals. In fact, the city’s countless social events are perfect for networking and meeting other people within your industry. 

As you can see, working in New York City offers great opportunities for people at any stage of their career.

What Are the Challenges of Working in New York?

For many people, working in America’s largest city is a dream come true. However, New York — like any city — also has its drawbacks. Read on for a few of the more difficult things to keep in mind about working in NYC.

Lots of Competition

Lots of people want to work in New York City, which means competition is fierce. You’ll really need to highlight your unique skills when applying for your dream job.

It Can Be Overwhelming

There’s no denying it: New York is crowded, fast-paced, and busy. Some people thrive in this type of environment, but others find it overstimulating. So, make sure to manage your work-life balance — and have a calm place to unwind at the end of the day. 

Transit Complications

NYC has one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the country. However, it’s important to remember that New York is a huge city — and it isn’t always easy to get from one place to another. Subways break down, trains get delayed, and navigating urban traffic can be a headache. 

So, if you want to work in New York City? Make sure it fits with your lifestyle, preferences, and priorities. 

Working in New York: Is It All It’s Cracked Up to Be? 

Working in New York is a life-changing experience. You'll make unexpected connections, meet talented people, and gain the experience you need to grow your career. Whether you're a recent graduate or someone with years of professional experience, New York has tons to offer. You simply need to know where to look! Get started with a peek at available jobs in NYC.

A night time view of the statue of liberty and skyline in New York.

Working in New York is perfect for people who want a fast-paced and exciting career. After all, many top professionals in leading industries hang their hats in NYC. So, if you want to make a name for yourself — and you’re willing to work your way up — a career in the Big Apple may be the right move. Just remember: even if your first job in NYC isn’t your dream role, it could be a great chance to start climbing the ladder. 

What Salary Do You Need to Live in NYC?

The cost of living in NYC is notoriously high, but salaries also trend higher than the national average. So, making a decent salary isn’t difficult — but how much do you really need to live? Well, it depends on the neighborhood! Regardless, you should aim to spend no more than 30% of your income on housing. If you prefer to live on your own, this means you should aim for an annual salary of at least $70,000. This would allow about $1750 per month toward rent — which can get you a one-bedroom apartment in some of the city’s more affordable neighborhoods.

Make Your Career Goals a Reality

A job in New York City can bring your career goals to life. But remember, if you want to work in New York, you’ll need dedication. Seek out the top companies, apply to as many jobs as you can, and look for opportunities that match your priorities. 

Above all else, remember to be patient. The New York job market is competitive, so it may take a few tries to get it right. But — with a little commitment and determination — you’ll be on your way to living and working in NYC in no time!

Ready to jump in? Start your search on Lensa.com today!

Lensa Insights
Lensa Insights
Work is changing faster than an angry retrovirus. For jobseekers, that means one thing: adapt or die! Lensa Insights is your survival guide, offering actionable career tips to keep your future in focus.

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