There’s a lot of information on this website about getting settled in New York City but how about distilling it right down to the essentials?
This is what I recommend doing right at the beginning in your first couple of days.
1. Fly Here & Go Through Immigration
I can recommend Hopper for great flight prices when you’re planning to make your big move.
You’re going to land in the US and probably be a bit nervous about immigration because of the stories about the border security. If you’re here with a visa or an ESTA, and it’s legitimate, RELAX. You’re going to get asked about why you’re here, where you’re staying (know your address), and who you might be staying with.
Answer honestly and carefully and you’ll sail right through (by the way – it will take forever because the lines are always huge, so be sure to use the restroom on the plane before you land). Having print outs of everything readily available in a folder will save you the stress of phone batteries and finding things.
2. Get to your Accommodation
You’ll find free WiFi in most major airports, it’ll be terrible quality but it’ll get you onto one of the many services to get a car to your accommodation. You’ve got all your bags, save the hassle, don’t worry about public transport yet.
WiFi also exists in all Starbucks and basically every café you can find (hell, even public parks have WiFi now), so if you need to you can always get online.
If you already have a rental agreement, that’s fantastic. Ensure that it has your full address and phone number, your full name, and the full name, phone number, and signature of the landlord. This will save you SO much time down the track when setting things up (more here).
You can actually (in Google Maps on your phone) download a map to your offline storage, so this is a handy tip while you’re in your WiFi planning for Day 1.
3. Wander & Sleep
You’ve just arrived in a big new city, so the first thing you can do is get to know your neighborhood, stretch your legs, and stay awake until the evening. Remember, we not only drive on the right over here, we also walk on the right. If you’re walking towards someone, DODGE RIGHT, not left.
Be sure to drink lots of water, sleep at a good time (no earlier than 8pm) and set an alarm to get up at an appropriate time in the morning. Yes, this is a whole separate section because it’s important to the next few weeks of craziness.
The best thing you can do is walk around a few blocks near your apartment. Get outside and find out where a supermarket is, where the closest bank is, where a cool bar is, where good coffee is (here’s our article), and where the closest subway stations are (our apps can help).
If you want (or have) some hot tips about your area be sure to read our neighborhood guide.
4. Get a SIM
First things first, get a SIM card for your phone so you can start your adventures online. I’ve written a list about the best telephone providers here that should be able to help you out!
P.S. We’ve even got a super special deal with Expat Connection and T-Mobile. Click here to find out more!
5. Social Security & ID
If you’re on a Visa, Social Security is incredibly handy for you so get it done early. We’ve got information on how to do that over here.
When you’ve got your Social Security, you should go get a New York State ID, this will save you from carrying around your foreign license or passport everywhere.
You’re now online and ready to go, so where to next? I’d say the bank because having bank statements readily available is incredibly handy. There’s more information about banking here, so be sure to get your documents ready and walk in, you don’t need to make an appointment.
7. Find an apartment
If you don’t already have somewhere to live, you want to start the process of looking for an apartment and making sure you have all the information you need to find a good one.
I’ve written up a number of articles about what you should do and what you should be careful about here, when looking for a new place.
8. Join some networks
The best thing you can do in a brand new city is get to know some people. It’s big and scary, so feel free to send me your details so we can catch up and/or then head over to our Communities page to find a number of other resources across the internet.
9. Get a NYCID
This one isn’t essential at all but it will get you into a range of museums and also save you a lot of money around the place. More over here.
10. Get some food
Ordering is stressful the first time, even for a sandwich, but we’ve got you covered.
It’s only day 2 and you’re absolutely knackered so do what everyone else does and get onto Seamless and have some food delivered.
Sit and enjoy your food remembering that you just moved to America. Woo!
While you chew, check out my list of Useful Apps.