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Emigrating to NYC!

(32 Posts)
pegasus Sun 21-May-06 11:52:48

We are seconding over there for 2-3 years from July and I would love any advice/ experience you can offer about living there. I have never been there at all so know nothing and will be a SAHM (as I am over here) so will need all the help I can get! DH's work look like they will be extremely helpful but I would also really appreciate advice from mumsnetters including input about areas to live (-good for kids and dogs); whether it is realistic to expect to find a rental property that has a fully-fenced backyard and allows dogs; whether I can get away with walking/ public transport everywhere as not keen on driving on the wrong side of the road; whether there are long waiting lists for kindergarten/ toddler groups, etc. Also any general advice about moving to the US including social security numbers, mobile phone contracts, etc would be great. Thank you so much for any help you can give.

alexsmum Sun 21-May-06 11:54:18

no help or info just

swedishmum Sun 21-May-06 19:06:51

So jealous - it's my favourite city. Our old neighbours moved there for a while with 2 young boys and loved it - Greenwich, upstate NY I think. I know they found it incredibly friendly.

JoshandJamie Mon 22-May-06 18:52:19

I lived there for a while when we didn't have kids - so sadly I'm not as familiar with the kiddy elements. But, if you plan on living in Manhattan, then go for the Upper West Side. Loads of people with kids live there, it's close to central park and most everything to do with kids is located in that area.

If you can't afford Manhattan, consider Brooklyn. Also very family oriented, lots of lovely big parks. But you'll need to get the subway into the city (and if you're only there for a short time, I would recommend living in the city - you can't beat it!!)

Rentals in NYC are ridiculously expensive and you have to pay enormous agents fees on top of the rental. Trying to find something with a garden will be trickier but there are loads of people in NYC with dogs so they must be out there.

Applying for social security numbers: if you/your husband have a job, then you usually get a letter from them saying that you're there for x amount of time and you apply to the social security office. I can't remember how you do it but you'll get help from your employer. Get this first. Without a social security number, you can't get anything else - no rented accomodation, no bank account, no utility bills etc. Also, if you've rented here before, take references over there with you - sometimes they're picky about that.

Just about no-one cooks in NYC. They shop from small delis. Whole Foods is a fantastic supermarket for fresh, wholesome food. There are too many great places to eat out to mention but buy a Zagats guide and you'll be set.

Shops you have to go to:
Crate & Barrell
Pottery Barn
William Sonoma
Bed, bath and beyond (to kit your place out cheaply)

Warning:summers are ridiculously hot and humid and winters are so bloody cold you'll feel like your ears are going to freeze off (you don't go out without a coat, hat, scarf and gloves).

But NYC is just so fabulous - I am so jealous. You'll have a fab time. If I think of anything else, I'll post again.

ediemay Mon 22-May-06 19:13:47

Get the best medical insurance you can afford

JoshandJamie Tue 23-May-06 15:49:31

Try this site for things to do with kids in NYC

hotmama Tue 23-May-06 15:54:26

You absolutely lucky cow!

My friends lived in Brooklyn which has some lovely child friendly parks and coffe shops.

at you again

hana Tue 23-May-06 16:12:36

it's really not that bad driving on the other side of the road - you'll be limiting yourself if you don't drive in the states! one of the nicest things about driving is that you can turn right on a red light ( equiv of turning left on right here......think of all the traffic jams that could potentially clear up!)

pegasus Fri 26-May-06 17:41:39

Thanks JoshandJamie - all very useful information.

Dh's job will cover medical insurance, house rental costs, etc so no probs there!

Anyone else lived/ living there with children? We don't want to live in the city with the dog and children but we need to be in a commutable distance as dh will be working there. He will drive over there (-but not to work) but I would prefer not to if possible/ realistic.

Medea Fri 26-May-06 18:23:26

I'm a New Yorker, but I don't know much about the 'burbs, which sounds like what you need, if you want a garden etc. (That'd be very hard to find even in a borough like Brooklyn.) You mention "toddler groups & kindergardens". . .so are your children old enough that they'll be in proper school in the next 2-3 years? If so, you'll need to think about school districts, eg catchment areas, unless you plan to educate privately (and that, too, requires research).

If the archive search function is working again, I seem to remember a v similar thread from 2 yrs back or so. Someone in a v similar position to you, with similar requirements. Lots of suburbs were suggested: eg N Jersey, Westchester area, Long Island (which I, personally, wouldn't recommend). I guess there are also part of the Bronx like Riverdale which are grassy etc, but might be too expensive, and I don't know about state schools. Anyway, if you can find that thread, that might be helpful. I'll have a quick look for it too.

Medea Fri 26-May-06 18:25:16

Looks like search function works from December 2005 onwards, so the thread I'm referring to is unavailable just now.

pegasus Fri 26-May-06 19:24:15

Thanks Medea! - shame about the archives. What do you mean by a garden being very hard to find even in the 'burbs? Do people with houses not have gardens? My children are 5 months and 2.2 years and maximum stay will be 3 years (-from July) so may or may not need to send ds1 to school whilst we are there (-what age does school start?). Why wouldn't you recommend Long Island as a place to live?

Thanks for your input!

apronstrings Fri 26-May-06 19:36:49

we moved to the states two 1/2 years ago. In someways it was easier and in some ways harder than I htought . One thing you ask about specifically that we found hard was financial stuff. Credit checks here are personal - when you move here you have no credit history and ewe found it hard to be deemed credit worthy. We could not get mobile phones with contracts and had to buy pay as you go. When my dh got his first us credit card he had a limit of 1000$ - not much use to a family with 4 kids!!!

We have quite quickly managed to build a good credit score (you get points for paying bills on time) but we were really glad to have our EGG card for a while in case of emergencies etc.

If you don't have a visa to work (I don't) you will get a TIN number (tax identification number) when you file your taxes and can use it where you would normallly use a SSN(DH has one )
This meant hte frist year we were here it took us ages to get our tax rebate - we had to file our taxes by mail and wait 6 weeks first to be assigned tin numbers before they would even assess our taxes.

Good luck - please ask if you have any specific questions.

PS joshandjaymie has good shopping advice

apronstrings Fri 26-May-06 19:40:15

Incidently - with regard to the driving our UK licences were only valid for 60 days (we had to take US driving tests)but we are in the burbs outside wasington and this varies state to state - it was a shock to us to find that oiut though. car insurance cost an arma nd a leg for the first year also

SueW Fri 26-May-06 19:55:20

A friend of mine went out about 6 years ago. They rented a lovely house in Connecticut in a cul-de-sac in a great neighbourhood (no pavements though!). She wasn't allowed to hang her washing outside

I've been scanning the maps to see if it jogs my memory but I can't find it and have lost touch with her now.

I know her DH commuted into work on the train.

pegasus Fri 26-May-06 20:03:49

No gardens, no pavements and you can't hang your washing outside - what am I getting myself into?!

SueW Fri 26-May-06 20:19:20

I've just spoken to a mutual friend who gave me the old address!! She was in Riverside CT 06878.

Their house had 3-4 bedrooms I think, a kitchen, living/dining area, open plan and a large basement. There was a covered area for the car but it didn't have doors like a garage, I think but could easily be wrong!

They did have a garden - a good size one which they put climbing frame etc in for their daughters. One was old enough to go to some kind of kinder or playgroup and I went once to pick her up. It looked lovely.

The whole area was very wooded.

If you go to this google map zoom in two levels and move to hydrid (click in top right hand corner) they lived in the section which has E Putnam Ave/I95 to the south, the river to the west, Havemeyer Lane to the east and Palmer Hill Road to the north.

apronstrings Fri 26-May-06 21:12:00

yes the washing thing makes me sad - but if you don't have to use your tumble drier when its 90 degrees outside how else could the U.S. be responsible for 25% of the owrlds greenhouse gas - although I'm not even american

scienceteacher Sat 27-May-06 06:53:54

You have to find out how much DH's company is going to give you for a housing allowance and then pick the best school district you can afford. Parts of New Jersey, Long Island, Westchester County, and Western Connecticut are all suitable and reasonable, with their commuter trains.

You should be able to find a rental property with a fenced back yard, or with an 'electric fence'. Americans love dogs, so they are well equipped for them.

You can't rely fully on public transport unless you live in the city. In suburban areas and in smaller towns, everything is geared up for the car. You soon get used to the driving, and you will probably find that the roads are wider and parking bays a lot bigger than here.

Don't know if it is the same all over the US, but I found that for pre-school, there was a registration date in February for a September start. Since they were always oversubcribed, there was no possibility of starting mid-year. A lot of American kids don't go to pre-school. Kindergarten is the first year of compulsory school, and you will get a place in the school district you live in.

This is getting long! Maybe we could discuss general stuff including mobile phones and social security numbers on the 'Living Overseas' forum?

scienceteacher Sat 27-May-06 06:59:07


It might be 90 degrees outside, but it will probably also be 90% humidity (or even 99%!), which means your washing doesn't dry!

Americans make up for using energy for drying by not doing any ironing, so it's horses for courses.

KTeePee Sat 27-May-06 07:32:54

I'm so jealous!

If I was going I would love to live on Manhatten - but you probably won't find a house with a garden there! - but my cousin lives on the Upper West Side (agree with JoshandJamie that it's a great area) and she has a sheepdog! She has a small yard and they live close to Riverside Park and Central Park so they manage...

Unless you live on Manhattan (or maybe Brooklyn) you won't be able to survive long without a car - the suburbs are just not designed for pedestrians. Most kids go to school on a bus in the suburbs - but you will probably have left by then (6 is the normal starting age). You will probably go through the pre-kindergarten and kindergarden stage while you are there. A friend recently moved to Connecticut and her husband commutes into NYC by train - I think he finds it an easy journey.

Medea Sat 27-May-06 09:34:38

Pegasus: Sorry. What I was saying is that you would find a garden in the suburbs (eg New Jersey, Connecticut, Westchester, Long Island), but would be less likely to find one in any of the 5 boroughs of NYC (eg Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island). Queens, yes--but it'd be quite small. Parts of the Bronx, yes. Parts of Staten Island, no doubt. But Staten Island is only on the brink of becoming a "desirable" place to live...and it's quite out of the way, requiring a ferry to get to Manhattan.

In most of the boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn et al) you could get by without a car in theory. But as others have pointed out, you'd absolutely need a car in the suburbs--just as you would in places like Windsor or Surrey. But the upside of the suburbs is that, like Windsor and Surrey, they contain big houses with big gardens. Whereas the closer you live to Manhattan (eg the 5 boroughs) the more in "concrete jungle" territory you'll be, which happens to be what I love.

I don't recommend Long Island (I lived there into my teens) because I find it a miserable place. Overcrowded with obnoxious cars and obnoxious, money-obsessed people. (My dh, a Dutchman, very much dislikes Long Island too.) I do quite like Huntington, though, and places further out east on the Island. But living out east increases commuting time into Manhattan. Speaking of: the commute into Manhattan from LI unpleasant, whether you train it or drive on the Long Island Expressway (known as the "World's Longest Parking Lot").

That said, a mumsnetter called JanH lived on Long Island years ago and quite liked it. . .but I think it's changed a lot since she was there.

pegasus Sat 27-May-06 09:50:58

Thanks for all of your advice everyone! It looks like I'm going to have to drive then (-gulp). If the 'burbs aren't designed for pedestrians do you drive your dog to a park or woods or something to walk it?

Funny Medea I thought the M25 was the World's Longest Parking Lot!

apronstrings Sat 27-May-06 14:10:40

It might be worth checking about vaccinations for public school in you area. We had to prove our kids had been vaccinated before they were allowed to go to school. Hep B was required which you don't routinely have in the UK and Varicella (sp) if they haven't had chicken pox. Where I am unvaccinated children are not allowed to go to public school.

scienceteacher - mmmm...theres many a fine drying day here!

SueW Sat 27-May-06 14:17:09

No-one walked round my friend's neigbourhood but it was very ocmmon to see people power-walking! So you can't integrate exercise into your daily life just by walking up to the shops - instead you take the car to the shop, drive home then go out for exercise

(Mind you same thing happens in the UK too. I know people who drive just over a mile to work then go out for a lunchtime walk for 30 mins. OK, it helps break up the day and forces them to get away from their desk but they could have left the car at home and done a similar amount of exericse - or even more if they still went out at lunchtime.)

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