Continuing the expat advice series, FT Residential focuses on New York this time. We invite readers to participate in a short survey and share their expat tales from around the world and the lessons they learned.
Scott Snowden is a British journalist. He and his wife moved from London to the US in 2014, eventually settling in New York.
I have lived here for about two-and-a-half years. At first we lived in Battery Park City, but after two years in Manhattan we decided that the rent was frankly insane. We moved a mile west across the Hudson River to Paulus Hook in Jersey City.
We now live in a gorgeous river-facing apartment, exactly the same size as the previous one but with views of lower Manhattan, and pay $1,000 less per month.
The move to the US was based on little more than “let’s try it”. My wife and I knew about four people in New York and no one gave us any advice.
It goes without saying that visiting somewhere like New York and actually living here are very different experiences. Sure, there are the little distinctions: coriander is cilantro and spring onions are green onions, but then there are the more significant differences.
In time you work out what to ignore. In the UK, the phrase “let’s meet up” usually results in a rendezvous. Over here it means nothing at all. “How are you” is a not a question; replying “I’m good, thank you. How are you?” is totally unexpected and can be quite amusing.
Professionally, there is some confusion over job titles. Compared with UK equivalents, they tend to sound more grandiose. For example, in the UK an editor is the top position at a newspaper or magazine. In the US, everyone is an editor.
The best way to cut through this is to hook up with other expats. My closest friends are all British and I met them in The Red Lion, a British-themed bar in Greenwich Village, watching the Six Nations rugby the first year I was here. Alternatively, of course, there are Facebook groups where everyone pitches in and helps the new arrivals.
Most of them have monthly get-togethers in bars and it is a great way to make friends in a city of 8.5m, where actually meeting people can be quite difficult.
There’s no healthcare system, the cost of living is high, almost anyone can buy a gun and Donald Trump is president. So why are we still here? Because we managed to get a Green Card and accomplish something few will understand how hard it is to do: come to the USA cold and carve out a career.
What I wish I’d known before moving: What was b******t and what wasn’t.
Photographs: Patti McConville/Alamy; Ira Berger/Alamy; Robert Harding/Alamy; Joris Van Ostaeyen/Alamy
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