Moving to NYC
Moving can be a stressful experience for anyone, but for those moving to New York City from outside of the U.S., it can be particularly overwhelming.
Knowing what to prepare for before you move can greatly reduce headaches on the road ahead and ensure that you’ll be ready to take on this exciting city from day one.
Here’s a checklist of the things you’ll need to do as you plan and execute your move.
Calculate Your Financial Needs
New York City is one of the most expensive places to live in the world — with some of the highest rents and housing prices. Complicating matters is that there are more costs associated with finding and securing a new home than you might think.
For example, if you decide to rent an apartment (as most New Yorkers do) you may need to pay:
A broker’s fee: Often about 10 percent of your yearly rent, roughly equal to one month’s rent.
An application fee: Typically nominal — about $50 to $150 — although they can run up quickly if you apply for multiple apartments.
A security deposit: Usually equal to one month’s rent, although you should get the money back in full once you move out of the apartment.
One to two months’ rent: Many landlords require that you not only supply the first month’s rent up front, but the second month’s rent as well.
To give you an idea of how this adds up, some financial experts recommend that you save five times your expected monthly rent, which itself should be no more than 25 percent of your yearly salary.
However, that figure doesn’t account for the many additional costs associated with immigrating to the U.S., such as shipping your belongings, paying U.S. Customs and Border duties, keeping storage, finding temporary housing, paying moving companies, and the list goes on. So make sure you do plenty of research on the costs of your move, and budget, budget, budget.
Packing and Shipping
Give yourself plenty of time to plan. Making all the necessary arrangements for a move can take several weeks or months. For example, if you’re going to hire a moving company, they may need many weeks' notice so they have time to survey the items you’ll be moving, make a cost estimate, and work out other details.
Generally speaking, there are three different ways you can move your household to the U.S. You can hire a moving company, you can pack and ship everything yourself, or you can work out some combination of the two.
Moving companies can save you a lot of time and effort by packing, moving, and unloading your things for you. In addition, many companies will take charge of clearing your things through customs or will guide you through the process.
However, moving companies are very expensive. If you’re relocating to the U.S. for work, check with your company to see if they will cover your moving expenses or if they offer discounts with specific moving companies. And when searching companies, make sure to compare policies, insurance coverage, and guarantees.
Do-it-yourself moving is generally the cheapest, but also the trickiest option. It entails packing your things yourself, taking them to an agent who will ship them, picking up your things from customs, and transporting them back to your new home (or storage, if you haven’t yet found a home).
You should be aware that getting your belongings through customs is very complicated. For example, you’ll need packing and inventory lists that adhere to very strict rules, and there are some shipping containers that border patrol won’t accept. If you’re not prepared to do the necessary research and nitty-gritty work to get through customs, it’s best to hire a moving company.
A combination of do-it-yourself and moving company is a good option for people who don’t want to go through the work of preparing their things for customs, but who want to save money on cost. Some moving companies will work out deals with you wherein you do the packing and they do the moving and clearing through customs. Check with moving companies to see if they provide this option.
In addition to figuring out how you’ll ship your things, make sure you pay attention to how long the shipping process will take. Depending on how you send them, your things could take several weeks or months to arrive. If they arrive in the U.S. a long time after you do, you’ll need to figure out how to get by without them until that time.
As you pack make sure you have a detailed inventory list, even if you’re hiring a moving company. That way if things get broken or lost, you might be recouped for those items. Take pictures of your most valuable belongings.
Find interim housing
When you move to the U.S., there is usually a six- to eight-week gap between your arrival and your shipped container's arrival. Therefore, you’ll need to find interim housing to live in during that time. Here are some options to consider:
Extended stay hotels. Many hotels offer discounts on stays of weeks or more. The accommodations can range from a single hotel room with the bare essentials to an apartment-style suite complete with a kitchen and living room.
Corporate housing. Some companies offer temporary housing for their employees. If you’re relocating to New York City for work, check with your company to see if they offer temporary housing.
Temporary apartments. Some apartment buildings offer furnished, temporary apartments for a short-term rental.
Sublets. Sublets often become available when a leaseholder is out of town for an extended stay and needs someone to take over their rent for that time. Subletting can be a good option for temporary housing, but be careful about whom you sublet from, and know your rights and responsibilities.
Find storage for anything you won’t immediately be able to move. If your belongings arrive in the U.S. before you find a place to live, you’ll need to put them in storage. There are a number of options in the New York area, ranging from about $30 a month to well over $100 a month. Some amenities may include climate control, alarm systems, delivery of boxes, and inventory maintenance.
International moving companies:
- Allied International
- FlatRate Moving
- Interconex, Inc
- Interdean Relocation Services
- Omega Shipping
- Sea & Air International
- 123Movers.com (search for and compare shipping rates, calculate weight and volume, get general moving tips.)
- OneEntry.com (offers comparisons on international moving companies.)
- Marriott ExecuStay
- Furnished Quarters
- New York Habitat
Storage facilities in New York City:
- American Self Storage
- Chelsea Mini-Storage
- Shurgard Self-Storage
- Oz Moving and Storage
- Tuck-it-Away Self Storage
General moving resources: