Helpful information for our new families
Moving to a new country can be overwhelming and the amount of information that you need to gather in the beginning can be time-consuming. We have compiled a list of things that we all wished we knew when we moved here. If we have missed something, please let us know! Watch out for upcoming seasonal blog posts on Halloween and ‘things to do with your kids now that the weather is getting cooler’.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, MEET OUR PTA!
The NAISNY PTA serves as an invaluable resource for our new parents. Find out who your class representative is and make sure that you are getting the class PTA emails. Through the PTA, you can meet new friends, ask for advice or information and speed up the settling-in process. Our PTA meets once a month but also holds coffee mornings and other social events. Watch out for information on the school’s communication channels. The first social event of the school year is on September 26th, come along and meet our community!
FINDING AN APARTMENT
There are a few ways to find an apartment. If you have an agent, they will help you find an apartment for a fee. If you do not have an agent and want to avoid the fee, many people use Streeteasy. Many apartment buildings will charge a fee to move in, which can sometimes work out quite costly. You can avoid this by looking for a no-fee apartment. Streeteasy is helpful in this respect because they give information about moving-in fees that available apartments are charging.
BUILDING YOUR CREDIT RATING
When you move to the US from abroad, your credit rating is not transferred. This can mean that getting approved for an apartment can sometimes be tricky. It is helpful to get a credit card as soon as you move here and start to use it so that you build up a positive credit rating. Making sure that you pay off debt, and do not have debt sitting on the card more than 33% of your credit limit. If you are coming from a country from where HSBC bank operates, then you can arrange your US bank account and cards before you come, which can be very helpful when you arrive here in New York.
DINNERS MADE EASY
Ordering in, grocery deliveries and shopping in-store
New Yorkers rely a lot on restaurants and take-out food. You can order in using one of the many apps. Seamless and Yelp are easy to use. Pre-prepared and cooked food is available from many of the delis or larger stores like Whole Foods (you will get a discount if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber). If you like to cook at home, then consider getting your shopping delivered. Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct both deliver everything from groceries to household items as well as pre-prepared meals. Amazon Pantry is also useful for non-perishable items such as dry and tinned foods and household cleaning items – and it can work out cheaper. Trader Joe's is a popular place to find good quality and interesting food at US market rates rather than the inflated Manhattan prices.
Meal delivery services
There are also many meal delivery services, either prepared meals or pre-measured ingredients/recipes available. Some of the most popular are Hello Fresh and Home Chef, though preferences may be personal so try out a few and see what you like!
DO IT YOURSELF – OR DON’T!
Many newcomers to New York find the services offered on Task Rabbit helpful. From unpacking and assembling furniture to handyman services, there are lots of services on offer.
Try not to get lost on the Subway!
The subway can be very confusing for people coming from different cities. Do not pay attention to the colors that lines have been assigned. Instead, look at the letter or number. Pay attention when entering a subway to see if the train is going uptown or downtown. Sometimes the entrance to the uptown train will be on the opposite side of the street to the downtown train.
Don’t forget the ferries and the buses!
Ferries and buses are often overlooked by people living in NYC. Both can actually be more relaxing, sometimes faster and easier ways to travel, especially if you are traveling with young children and/or a stroller. Download the apps (NYC Ferry, My MTA) or look online to check their routes.
If you have a foreign Uber account, you will be able to use Uber as normal when you arrive in New York. Your foreign credit card will also be accepted.
The same international brands that are found in many cities around the world are also available here - in-store and online - Gap, H&M, Zara and so on. Also, consider also looking at Old Navy, Target, Land's End, Carters and ask around our school community for recommended stores. Shopping in-store, many families like Macy's, Century 21, Burlington and Marshalls.
We asked some of our parents where they recommended shopping. Online, Marks and Spencer, Lands End, Clarks and Next are popular. For in-store shopping, Macy’s, Little Eric Shoes On Madison were recommended too.
There are so many babysitting services around New York. Parents often find one through word of mouth and this ensures that you will find one that meets your standards. Also, many kids' clubs do a babysitting party evening whereby the kids are entertained, fed pizza and play while you get to have a few hours to yourself. NY Kids Club is one such place. Many of our families use www.care.com and The Beehive as their babysitting agency.
AT THE WEEKENDS AND DURING VACATIONS
Places to visit at the weekend
Of course, anyone visiting New York will know about Central Park, the museums and art galleries. Some of the art galleries offer classes for families at the weekends. MOMA runs very popular classes on Saturday mornings which are free. Other options include Chelsea Piers which offer an array of classes and drop-in activities.
Our favorite indoor activities for smaller children:
Twinkle Playroom, Williamsburg – a play space for under 5s
City Treehouse in Chelsea – a play space with water feature – under 5s
Scandinavia House on Park Avenue, Murray Hill – a lovely Scandinavian play space that is open to the public on Saturdays – under 5s
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Upper West Side: Floor upon floor of interesting and engaging play spaces! – children of all ages can enjoy this museum
Brooklyn Children’s Museum – children of all ages will enjoy this fantastic museum
The Children’s Museum of the Arts, Charlton Street, West Soho – they have many interesting activities that will encourage your children to get creative.
Finally, visit one of the many carousels across the city. There are carousels in Bryant Park, Dumbo waterside, Prospect Park, Central Park, next to Queens Zoo.
And for older children
Museum of Mathematics, Madison Park – this is a fantastic museum that has an amazing array of interactive exhibits
Bouldering under the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo – drop-in $11 per person. Adults can participate too!
Science museum, Brooklyn- they have a great outdoor play space too!
Governors Island – they have wonderful play areas and climbing spaces for children. Take the ferry from Wall Street Pier
During vacation time, New York summer camps offer an impressive variety of camps. Your children can learn circus skills, work on their acting skills, as well as play sports, do crafts, and learn to swim. Check in advance what is available because classes will book up. It pays to be organized!
It is worth considering getting a NYC ID card. It is free to sign up and you will get into many museums and attractions for free or a reduced price. Click here for more. See below for a list of the museums and attractions that give discounts to anyone with an NYC ID card:
- American Museum of Natural History
- Bronx County Historical Society
- Bronx Museum of the Arts
- BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music)
- Brooklyn Children’s Museum
- Carnegie Hall
- Central Park Zoo (enrollment is only available at the Bronx Zoo)
- China Institute
- The Drawing Center
- Film Forum
- Flushing Town Hall
- International Print Center New York
- Jacques Marchais Center for Tibetan Art
- King Manor
- Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Metropolitan Opera
- Museum at Eldridge Street
- Museum of Chinese in America
- Museum of Jewish Heritage
- Museum of Modern Art
- Museum of the City of New York
- New York Aquarium (enrollment is only available at the Bronx Zoo)
- New York Botanical Garden
- New York City Ballet
- New York City Center
- MoMA PS1
- Park Avenue Armory
- Pregones Theater
- Prospect Park Zoo (enrollment is only available at the Bronx Zoo)
- The Public Theater
- Queens Museum
- Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden
- St. George Theatre
- Staten Island Museum
- Studio Museum in Harlem
- Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling
- Symphony Space
- Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo
We hope this post has been useful. If you have any comments or additions, please contact us. Watch out for upcoming blog posts in the future and if you have any topic requests please let us know!