Living in NYC
You did it! You packed up your life, you got yourself and your things through customs, and you finally made it to New York City. Congratulations! You can breathe a sigh of relief.
But you’re still not done yet. So what’s next?
Simply getting to New York isn’t the last step in your move to this vibrant city. Now is the time that you start establishing yourself. Here are the main things you'll need to do as you start your new life living in New York City.
Get a Social Security Number
If you’ll be working in the U.S., getting a Social Security number (SSN) will be one of the most important first things to do. These nine-digit numbers are used for identification purposes, reporting wages to the government, and receiving government benefits.
You should be able to apply for a new Social Security card from your home country when filing an application for an immigrant visa . However, you can also get a number once you arrive in the U.S. by applying for one at a Social Security office. See the Social Security Administration ’s website for more details on the process.
If you aren’t authorized to work in the U.S., you probably won’t be able to get an SNN. However, you may want another means of identification for tax or other purposes. If so, you can apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which will serve many of the same functions of a SSN.
If you don’t have a Social Security number and are asked for one by a business or government agency, don’t fret! You should usually be able to ask them to identify you in a different way and still get the service or license you need.
Set up a bank account
Having a U.S. bank account will be important, especially if you’re earning money in the States. You may be able to open an account before you get here — some U.S. banks, such as Citibank and HSBC, operate in other countries as well. However, usually you must meet several requirements first, such as already having a U.S. address and a Social Security number. Check to see if this is an option for you.
If you open an account here, there are a number of different options available to you, ranging in costs and features. Bankrate.com is a good website that will allow you to compare different banks and accounts.
However, the most important consideration in finding a bank is choosing one that is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), meaning the U.S. government will protect your deposits up to $250,000. Most banks here are FDIC insured, but a few aren’t, so be sure to check!
The main types of accounts you may wish to sign up for once you’ve found a bank include:
A checking account is probably the first account you’ll want to open. A checking account allows you to deposit and withdraw money with few limitations. They often range from “no frills,” meaning offering basic function at a low cost, to interest-bearing accounts, which offer more services at a higher cost.
With a checking account, the bank will issue you a check or debit card. Both types of cards can be used to purchase items, similar to a credit card. However, checking and debit cards are linked to your checking account and will automatically withdraw money from the account.
A savings account is the second account you’ll want to open, and it often comes bundled with a checking account. These accounts provide incentives for you to save money. Usually they allow you to withdraw only a certain amount a month before the bank charges you a fee, but often the interest rate you get back will be higher with these than from your checking account.
A money market account is a type of savings account that requires large deposits and places strict limits on the number of transactions you can make in a month, but offers a high interest rate return.
Get a credit card
In addition to a bank account, you also should get a credit card. Having good credit in the U.S. is vital — particularly if you plan on making any large purchases that require financing, but often even for smaller purchases.
In the U.S., a person’s credit is built from scratch, which means that your credit history from your home country usually doesn’t count toward your credit here. So your best way to build credit is to get a secured credit card. A secured credit card is linked to a sum of money deposited in an account and issued in that amount. For example, if you put $5,000 in the account, you can charge up to $5,000 on the card
Connecting Your Utilities
There are a number of utilities in New York you may need to set up in your new home. These may include:
- Water and sewer
- Telecommunications (phone and Internet)
If you’re renting, your landlord should know which utilities you’ll need to set up. He or she should also have contact information for the corresponding companies. In addition, gas, electricity, steam, and/or water may already be running in your apartment and included in your rent. Check with your landlord to see if this is the case. Some condos include utilities as well.
If you bought property, you may need to set up all utilities yourself. Here is a breakdown of the major utility services in New York City:
- Consolidated Edison (Con Ed) provides electric, natural gas, and steam services in Manhattan and much of the other boroughs.
- National Grid supplies electricity and natural gas to New York and surrounding states.
- Verizon , Time Warner Cable , AT&T , and Cablevision offer phone, television, and Internet services.
- NYC Environmental Protection supplies water and sewer services.