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Living in New York

Welcome to New York, the city that never sleeps! Each year, thousands of expats move to the Big Apple and make their dream of living in New York come true. We give you facts on this unparalleled city that countless movies didn’t already tell you: information on healthcare, public transportation, education, and more.
New York's trademark yellow cabs were introduced in the early 1900s.
  • New York City is the place for expats not wanting to lose touch with their culture. Being one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the States, the chance to meet people from your home country is high.
  • The city attracts millions every year with its over 1,400 arts and cultural organizations and countless theaters and musical stages.
  • The best public transportation system is found in the city that never sleeps, where the subway runs 24 hours a day and even the suburbs are well connected by bus and commuter rail.
  • Healthcare is still an issue in the States, but the New York City government offers a comparatively inclusive healthcare system.
  • Children between five and 21 years can attend public school in New York City for free, regardless of their immigration status or citizenship.


According to recent news reports, people from various countries, including those with a valid visa and residence permit, have encountered difficulties when entering the United States. Unfortunately, the full extent of those issues seems to be unclear. Before you decide to move or travel there, or leave the country temporarily if already living in the USA, please consult a US embassy and an immigration lawyer if you fear you might be affected.


Roughly 8.5 million people are currently living in New York City. Meanwhile, the New York metropolitan area stretches across four states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) and is home to a staggering total of 20.1 million.

New York City itself consists of five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island — and the city houses some of the most ethnically and culturally diverse communities in the USA and in the world. In total, around 37% of the residents living in New York are foreign born.

Needless to say, this makes New York an exciting city to live in. At the same time, it makes the expat experience a lot easier for foreigners living in New York, who otherwise might be concerned about losing touch with their home culture. No matter where you come from, you are bound to eventually meet someone from your native country.

The City That Never Sleeps

In the eyes of many, life in New York is synonymous with glamour and excitement. For many immigrant and US families living in New York’s homeless shelters or on the streets, however, the reality is quite different. In fact, one-fifth of New York City’s residents live below the poverty line.

Nevertheless, the city’s bright neon lights, illuminated skyscrapers, and dazzling reputation tend to outshine such statistics. For people who enjoy life in a buzzing city with a vibrant, never-ending nightlife and a cutting-edge arts and cultural scene, living in New York would indeed be a dream come true.

In 2016, New York was ranked number two on Long Finance’s annual list of the world’s top global financial centers, right after London. New York City is one of the safest big cities in the States, so expats living here can rest easy. The city is also home to a good mass transit system, over 1,400 arts and cultural organizations, more than 700 art galleries, and plenty of public green spaces covering roughly 30,000 acres or 46 square miles (119 km²), which adds up to 14% of New York City.

International employees working in high-end jobs may never have to confront the grimmer sides of life in New York. Despite high property prices, long commutes, and constant exposure to loud noise and endless throngs of people, there is indeed much to be said for living in New York City.

The Cultural Capital of the US

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (including the Metropolitan Opera) and Broadway’s many theater and musical stages attract millions every year. Fans of slightly wittier, less lavish and commercial productions will probably find what they’re looking for in one of the countless theaters on Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway. Traditionally, these terms merely referred to the geographic locations of stages in relation to the official theater district. These days, however, the different stages cater to the widely varied tastes of the theater-going public. Safe to say, your life in New York City will never grow dull.

From exotic restaurants to traditional American diners, bars, night clubs, and live music concerts, there is always a new place to eat, drink, or dance for people living in New York. Various festivals also take place in different parts of the city throughout the year. Lovers of outdoor performances should, for example, visit the Central Park Summer Stage for free plays and music.

To find out what’s going on in the city, you can always check out the events section on the New York City government website. Alternatively, simply purchase a weekly listings magazine, such as Time Out New York, to find out about current events.

If you are interested in American culture, including festivals and traditions, religion, sports, and American cuisine, you should take a closer look at our articles on culture, shopping, and recreation in the US.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Javier Vazquez

"Even in a crowded city like the Big Apple you can easily get lost. With InterNations I've made some really good friends and also added to my business contacts."

Noemi Roussel

"The top events organized in the New York chapter helped me get to know expat women from France and many other countries all over the world."

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