This is a guest post by Ashley Clark from New York International.
Moving to New York City is a big decision and, as with any international move, it should be done with much preparation and careful planning. Most people are familiar with the basic costs of moving – transportation expenses, paying the moving company, new furniture and items for your new home, etc. But there are additional expenses to be considered when moving to a new country and a few surprising ones when it comes to moving to New York City.
Coming to America on a visa is usually a time consuming and expensive process. If coming as part of a work transfer you may be fortunate to have your company pay for your visa, but if you are coming as a relative, spouse, fiancée, or professional you will find yourself facing a series of visa fees. There is no quick and simple guide to fees since they vary from type to type, but the USCIS does have a helpful website that lists the various types of applications and the fees associated with them. The most important point here is to make sure you know what your visa type is, and to prepare ahead of time for not just the application fee, but additional filing fees, adjustment fees, biometrics fees, doctors fees for required vaccinations, and more.
Even though you must be present in the city before you can sign a lease, looking into the details of renting before you arrive in the city is a wise decision. You are expecting to pay rent for your apartment, naturally, but did you realize that in New York City there are certain fees required up-front such as application fees and broker’s fees? It is important to be prepared for these fees ahead of time so that you aren’t caught by surprise.
Broker’s Fees: If using a broker to help you find an apartment you will usually pay him or her 15% of the first year’s rent, or one month’s rent for a short term lease of 3-6 months.
Application Fees: To simply apply to be considered for a place in a condo or coop the application fee can range anywhere from $300-$1500. If you’re applying to a rental apartment the fees are considerably smaller, ranging from $25-$100.
Up-Front Rent: To rent in New York City, most landlords require that your guaranteed income is 40 to 50 times the monthly rent. Additionally, as an international moving to the US for the first time, you are unlikely to have a credit score and thus potential landlords cannot look up your credit history to see if you are likely to pay your bills on time. To mitigate this circumstance some landlords will require 6 to 12 months of rent up-front in addition to the security deposit and the standard first month’s rent.
In New York City, food is expensive and if you are on a budget this can be an unexpected hit to your wallet. Being prepared and seeking out the least expensive places to stock your fridge can save you a lot of money.
Eating out in NYC is very tempting, with a wide range of international cuisine offered and restaurants on every corner, but be prepared to spend a lot if you want to take advantage of the culinary offerings. In fact, 5 of the top 20 most expensive restaurants in the US are in New York City – small surprise. Dining out will cost you a pretty penny and when you add in the average 20% tip for the waiter (something many internationals are unprepared for) the cost can increase dramatically.
Don’t let the expenses of moving to New York City scare you – as with any major life change, preparation is key. Knowing about these potential expenses will help make the transition an easier and less stressful one.
For more information about moving to New York City and starting a life and business here, see our full relocation guide: New York for Internationals: Relocating, Living, Working.
New York International is a resource for professional internationals and the international-minded living in and around New York City. NY International provides helpful articles about city life and starting a business in NYC, hosts regular events and meetups, and provides services for internationals looking to move to NYC.
NY skyline photo credit: © Beboy – Fotolia.com