You won’t encounter any great culture clash when you move from the UK to New York - after all, both share the same language, a very similar legal system and many of the same high-street brands. Through Hollywood movies and television you’ll already be familiar with the most important cultural touchstones.
In common with London, New York is a centre of international finance and media, where most people work in the service economy.
Unlike most of the UK, NYC is a truly 24 hour city. Many bars, restaurants, grocery stores and gyms stay open around the clock, as does the subway, the Staten Island Ferry, some hardware stores and even the odd hairdresser.
Once you’ve got used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, you’ll find navigating New York City, with its numbered streets and avenues and efficient underground system, considerably easier and cheaper than, say, London. While facilities for cyclists are slowly improving, unless you’re a very confident cyclist you might feel like leaving the two-wheeler behind.
One thing you might miss from the UK is greenery: while New York’s public parks are big (take for example the 843 acre behemoth of Central Park in Manhattan or Brooklyn’s 585 acre Prospect Park) and well maintained, they’re also pretty few and far between.
Thinking of moving to New York?
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New York, New York; The City So Nice They Named it Twice; Empire City; The Big Apple; Gotham; The City that Never Sleeps; The City of Dreams; The Capital of The World. Whatever you want to call it, one thing’s for certain: no city that picks up so many nicknames could ever be a boring place to live. The USA’s most heavily populated and iconic city is the inspiration for thousands of songs, books and movies. While a visit to New York can give you a taste of its awe inspiring diversity, energy and grandeur, to truly get to know it you need to live in it.
Relocating to New York City opens up a huge range of career, cultural, culinary and entertainment options but it does come with a few drawbacks. While the city’s reputation for crime is largely unearned - crime rates have been falling steadily since the 1980s and are currently pretty unremarkable - the cost of living makes it one of the most expensive cities in the world. Fortunately, in counterbalance, salaries in New York are also some of the highest globally. While the climate is temperate for most of the year, the city’s position on the eastern seaboard of the United States leaves it vulnerable to freak storms (as in the case of Hurricane Sandy), heavy snowfalls and summer heatwaves - all of which can cause severe problems for residents.
Case Study - Moving to New YorkJim moved to New York from Australia. He had lived in New York in the late 80s and early 90s and had been invited back to work as a comedian.
“This time, unlike last time, I knew that I wouldn’t starve,”says Jim. So he decided to go. But leaving Australia was difficult.
“I was in a developing relationship with a very sweet woman, my career was just at the verge of taking off and I was getting quite comfortable”.Some things about the city were just how Jim remembered from his previous stay.
“I find New York City to be one of the friendliest cities in the world. As I say in my stand-up act, I love New Yorkers because they stab me in the front. They tell it like it is.”As an expat comedian he is interested primarily in the people of New York.
“I got help from total strangers when I first arrived. They could see I was frustrated when I was lost and offer their assistance. I still find them that way. They have an amazing sense of humour as well… There is almost a sense of innocence… I can’t just go onstage with my [Australian] accent and ignore it. I have to acknowledge who I am and audiences find that very entertaining.”
But he found the practicalities of taxes and housing difficult. Jim had to pay to have a visa that would permit him to pay taxes, plus pay further tolls and self-employment taxes. Opening a bank account was difficult too, but ultimately it all worked out.
“I moved several times, which is very difficult and stressful but I finally settled into a place very close to where my cousins live and I haven’t looked back since.”
After all this, what kind of relationship does Jim have with the city?
“Nowadays, I feel very at home in New York. I keep calling New York my girlfriend; we had a rocky start because I wouldn't commit to her and always wanted to leave so we agreed to see others cities. I dated London for a little while but that's when I realized where my true love lies. I came back to New York and told her I'm willing to commit. We haven't looked back since.”
New York vs London
In terms of quality of life New York just edges London out as a desirable place to live. First of all, it seems your money goes further in NYC with both property and consumer goods working out cheaper as a proportion of average income. In New York people also spend less time commuting to and from work and there’s marginally less crime and pollution. A good deal, as long as you can live with less green space and more expensive health care. Find out more about shipping costs from London to New York
When it comes to culture and attractions it’s a toss up. Obviously New York lags behind London in terms of historical interest but the two go toe-to-toe when it comes to museums and galleries; there’s not much between Broadway theatre and the West End; and both cities have an abundance of sporting venues.
Both cities see their warmest month in July and their coldest in January. New York is warmer than London (in the summer) but also colder (in the winter) and experiences almost twice as much precipitation.