Working and Living in New York

Working and Living in New York

Working and living in New York is not easy. I am often asked how I managed to move to the US. I always give the same answer: it is difficult. Getting a visa can be complicated, especially when it comes to a work visa. Without a residence permit (Green Card) or a visa granted by the government of the United States, you will not be able to get a job and stay in New York legally.

Living in New York

Living in New York is a dream for many. It was for me, at least! If you are a Canadian citizen, you do not require visitors, businesses, transit or other visas to enter the United States. However, there are some exceptions to this situation. In case of doubt contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for further information.

Renting Apartments in New York

Renting apartments in New York, is difficult: you’ll first need to prove your annual income is 40 to 45 times the monthly rent. Your payslips/contract will be checked to make sure you can pay your rent. They will do some background checks as well. Prepare to pay a one-month security deposit, first-month rent and last month’s rent, so three months, upfront.

The best time to start looking for a new place is 4-8 weeks before you intend to move in, don’t start too early. Usually, you get a one-year contract but no longer than two years.

There are different ways to find an apartment in the city. You can search for apartments via an agency, through Google, through Craigslist or by responding to a “for rent” sign on the facade of an apartment building. The last two options are often less restrictive and it might be easier to rent through them but beware of scams. For shorter stays (a couple of months) you might want to have a look at Airbnb. Know that when you go via a realtor you often have to pay one month’s rent as a commission to them.

Working and Living in NYC - Apartments for Rent Ad Working and Living in NYC - Apartment for Rent

Costs of Living in New York

Costs of living in New York can get high as it’s an expensive city so it might come in handy to know how much you will spend each month.


In Manhattan, a reasonably priced studio will cost you around US$2500 per month and a one-bedroom apartment $3000-4000. In Brooklyn, it is hard to find a studio under $2000. Many people in New York share a flat. If you prefer this option, you will pay about $1200-$1500 per person in a shared apartment in Queens or Brooklyn.


Gas and electricity come on top of your rent and you might end up paying US$100-$200 per month. You will also need a mobile phone when you move to the city. The cheapest subscriptions range between $40 and $80 and if you want to have internet access you can end up paying $120.


Something you will definitely need, to get around is a MetroCard. A 30-day pass will cost you US$132 and you will get unlimited travel in both the subway and local bus rides.

If you don’t want to get lost during your first days in your new home town, I recommend downloading my free New York app. You don’t need an internet connection for it and thanks to GPS you will see at any given time where you currently are.


Groceries can be expensive too, but this varies a great deal depending on the person and the area where you live in. In Manhattan, supermarkets tend to be pricey. Sometimes a takeaway will be much cheaper than buying your own food. An Asian takeout might be US$8 and often you will have leftovers for the next day. Count on about $100-$150 per week per person on groceries.


I did not include health insurance for a reason: it is very personal. If you are planning to be in New York for a couple of months only, you might be covered by your insurer back home. If you work in New York, your employer might or might not contribute to your health care plan. Health costs are very pricey in the US, so make sure you are covered to enjoy a worry-free stay.

Working and Living in NYC - Apartment in Manhattan Working and Living in NYC - Apartment with a view

Working in New York

To work in New York you will need a work visa or a Green Card. These can only be issued by the authorities (US embassy or consulate) before you travel to the United States. How to get one? You will need a US-based company that will sponsor you. This means that when you apply for a job in the US, the company will need to support your visa application. Without sponsorship, it is extremely difficult to work in the US.

Alternatively, you could start your new business in the US, but keep in mind that you will need a substantial initial investment to do that. Check with your embassy about the specific requirements for this type of visa.

Studying in New York

If you plan to study in New York you will need a student visa. There are two kinds: the F-1 (for academic students) and the M-1 (vocational training). To get one of them, you will need to enrol in a course from an institution recognized by the government.

Once you are enrolled, the school will send you an official form (DS-160) that you will need to fill in, in order to apply for your visa. You will also need to show a valid passport and prove you can support yourself financially during your stay. You will need an average of US$10 000 during your stay. This includes travel expenses from and to your home country, books and rent. Additionally, you will have to pay an administrative fee (SEVIS, around $200). You will need to do this through the US embassy in Canada.

A student visa will allow you to enter the U.S one month before classes start. Once your course is finished, you can only stay in the country for up to 60 days (F-1) and 30 days (M-1)

A student visa does not allow you to work in the US.

Eric’s Tip: “I run but I am not an expert in residence permits or visas to the US. I strongly advise you to check the specific requirements to enter the US from Canada. Every country is different, so please make sure you are well-informed before you travel to New York. Contact your local embassy for further information. Unfortunately, I cannot offer internships/jobs at this time though I appreciate your interest.”

Working and Living in New York Erics New York

How much money do you need to make it in New York?

The cost of living in New York is very high, for housing you need to prove that you annually earn 40 to 45 times the monthly rent.

How can I get a job in New York?

If you want to work in New York you either need a US-based company as your sponsor or a work visa, which is hard to acquire.

How expensive is living in New York?

New York is in the top 10 of the most expensive cities on earth to live in, with high rental prices and other exorbitant living costs.

What is a green card?

A green card allows you to work and live in the US as a permanent resident, but it is hard to obtain.

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