Moving to New York can be daunting. To make the transition easier for the next developers, I have compiled what I have learned from the many people who were kind enough to point me in the right direction.

Disclaimer: I have been here for two weeks now, so obviously I am now an expert on these matters…

Apartment Hunt

The of the things I worried about most was finding myself a place. I did not want to live out of hostels for long, mainly for cost, privacy, and convenience issues.

Hostels will cost you around 50$ a night and will let you stay a maximum of 14–20 nights (in case you do want to spend that much money on a cheap shared-room bunk bed).1

I’m sure Manhattan is a great place to live, but there do seem to be less rooms available that are affordable. I’d say that you can find a decent room in a shared apartment for about 700–800$ a month including utilities in Brooklyn or Queens. I arrived in June, with many people looking to sublet their place for the summer, so my advice may not apply to your situation.

Some nice neighborhoods:

  • Williamsburg: hipster central, lots of cafés, restaurants, indie businesses.
  • Greenpoint: cozy Polish neighborhood, slighty isolated due to missing direct subway to Manhattan, good beer. I am moving here this weekend.
  • Most other neighborhoods in N/NW/W Brooklyn should also be nice, but some of them (DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights) might be unaffordable.
  • I also considered moving to Long Island City or Astoria in Queens.
  • I looked at a 500$ room in Harlem (160th St), which I was surprised to find a very ethnically diverse neighborhood dominated by Hispanics. I almost moved there.

PadMapper is a wonderful no-nonsense mashup of Craigslist/Airbnb and Google Maps, and should be all you need to find yourself a decent place.

Whoa! I just learned that PadMapper got a cease-and-desist from Craigslist. This is terrible news for everybody looking for a place in New York. I feel lucky to have found my place just before the takedown. // h/t @Reustle

Getting Around

Get yourself a MetroCard 30-day Unlimited for 104$ and not worry about public transportation until it expires.

If you live and work in Brooklyn, getting a bicycle might be a good idea. There are good bike lines, and the only other good crosstown option is the G train. I see lots of fixies and single-speed bikes around Williamsburg.

Get yourself a prepaid SIM for a phone number and 3G data. AT&T has a decent 25$+25$ monthly plan called GoPhone. I had no problems getting a micro-SIM for my iPhone 4.

Making Connections

There is a lot of “new tech” happening in New York, which is probably one of the reasons you are coming here in the first place anyway, so why am I telling you this. There is a big overlap with the exploding startup scene, so I am including entrepreneurship-focussed pointers.

There is a handful of meetups to choose from on any given day. A word of warning: It’s easy to get caught up in it and not get anything done at all. What follows are some good resources to start with. Shop around and see what interests you.

Startup Digest, Gary’s Guide, and Charles O’Donnell all publish weekly e-mail newsletters on upcoming events.

Meetup has loads of groups you can join. You could start with NY Hacker and take it from there. Eventbrite also has many free and paid-for tech events.

Some co-working spaces have a regular happy hour, e.g. General Assembly on Fridays at 6pm, which I hear is also great for exchanging ideas and meeting new people.

Note that there are different kinds of events. Some are more geared towards business/marketing/sales people, some are pretty much about startups and investors getting together. If you want to meet and connect with other developers, your best bet are explicitly non-headhunting events, such as Brooklyn Coded’s “It’s coding time” and NY Hacker’s “Hacker hours”.

In the short time I have been here, I most enjoyed the organized-chaos un-conference BarCamp NYC and the Northside entrepreneurship festival in Brooklyn.


Most cafés seem to tolerate hipsters hacking away at their MacBooks. Some even have tables to work on, e.g. the Starbucks at 525 Fashion Av, or the Black Brick café on Bedford Ave (at Grand St, Williamsburg). Most Starbucks have WiFi, but you’d miss out on the so-much-better coffee elsewhere.

In summer, you can always find a bench or a free spot in any of the many parks and squares. In Manhattan, you have a decent chance at getting WiFi, e.g. from Blis NY Wi-Fi. Or just pop into a Barnes and Noble.

The other, really really great, option is to hang around at one of the many coworking spaces. They are generally all crowded, have desks and couches, and provide WiFi, coffee, and clean toilets. They generally cost 200–300$ a month for access to their lounges. LooseCubes is the Yelp for coworking places. Here are some of the ones I have come across:

  • General Assembly (902 Broadway / 20th St). Wonderfully welcoming common working area, as well as permanent desks. I hear the required membership has a long waiting list.
  • New Work City (Broadway / Canal St). They have a 30$/month community membership including 1 day of coworking.
  • The Yard (33 Nassau Ave, Greenpoint).

Amazingly, there are also free coworking spaces:

  • Wix Lounge (10 E 18th St). It’s awesome.
  • Ace Hotel (29th St / Broadway). Free public lobby.

Job Hunting

If you attend some of the meetups, you will meet lots of startups eagerly looking for good developers. Bring lots of business cards. (I made myself some with Moo – “commissioning” the cards was a nice experience, and I’m looking forward to getting them in a week or two.)

From what I hear, most experienced developers in NYC freelance, especially in “hot” technologies like iOS, Android, and Python. Even startups in the early stages seem to resort to contracting developers for their prototypes and first iterations, because they have trouble finding developers who will commit long-term to becoming part of the team.

I have heard good things about Huntsy, a service that lets you centralize all your job-hunting in one place.

The coworking spaces often have message boards. General Assembly has a job board for the startups they host, which you can look at during their happy hour.


  1. I stayed at the NY Moore hostel in East Williamsburg, which was clean and fairly quiet, but the beds were a bit short for me. The friendly staff was very helpful, and its location between the J (Flushing Av) and the L line (Bushwick Av) meant to got to experience some interesting neighborhoods.