It’s clear that New York City is one of the most popular destinations for expats and Americans alike to live in. London is the only other city in the world that can compete on the basis of being so international, and New York City also literally has the United Nations near its heart. It’s the land of opportunity for those who can afford to move there, and that’s really the tricky part.
Housing prices in New York City (as in London) are outrageous, which makes the stunt pulled off recently by a British couple even more impressive. They are location-independent workers who decided to live in NYC for 6 months, moving every few weeks to cover a total of 8 of the trendiest and most popular expat neighborhoods. They don’t mention how they did it, but I assume they found short-term rentals on craigslist or perhaps Airbnb from people who were leaving town for just a few weeks.
Proof that big cities are complicated
One reason I found this article so interesting is that I grew up in the Los Angeles area, but I lived for about 5 years off and on in NYC, spending time in almost all of the neighborhoods they did. It’s interesting to see a foreigner’s perspective of a city I called home for so long, and just as interesting to see that I agree with pretty much everything they said.
It’s true that New York City and London (and Paris and Berlin and many others) can be so complex that you could move 3 or 4 blocks away and feel like you are in a different country. A good friend of mine has lived in Astoria, Queens for going on 20 years and I know exactly the streets the Brits mention where one block is Arabs, the next block is Greeks, and another is mostly Italians. Many people brag of the diversity, but really they tend to be tiny and mostly closed communities that happen to exist next to each other.
Helpful if you want to move to NYC, but applicable to many large cities
As someone who has now lived in almost 10 different countries and in a variety of cities large and small, this experiment hits home because it helps point out how different one’s experience can be depending on the block you end up on. I’ve written in the past about how I moved to Chiang Mai for a few months but didn’t really enjoy it because the apartment I rented turned out to be a long way from any expat neighborhood. And I’ve had an incredible time living for over a year in Kas, Turkey, when I got lucky and was plugged into the expat community on my second day there, and was treated like family when finding housing and such.
Finding proper housing can make or break the entire experience of living in a foreign city, as I’ve learned. We often concentrate on finding a “nice place that we can afford” but really that’s what I had in Chiang Mai and I was pretty miserable. I’m trying to be extremely conscious of the neighborhoods before I commit to a place now, and to me it’s worth waiting longer and staying in a hotel for a while in order to make just the right decision.