moving to New York

Many of our students move to New York City from far away lands and some not so far away places.  But if you are going to be living in New York City for the first time, you should start your apartment search early.  But keep in mind that landlords will not want to rent to you if you are not ready to take on a lease within a month or two.  Regardless, you should at least visit so you have a sense of what neighborhood you would like to live in — There are five boroughs that make up New York City and within each borough, there are different and unique neighborhoods.   Columbia University is located in Manhattan in Morningside Heights.  Morningside Heights starts on 110th and runs to 125th Street from Morningside Drive/Columbus Avenue to Riverside Drive. Morningside is defined by the presence of its academic institutions, a group that is obviously anchored by Columbia. It has a relatively quiet, relaxed character, along with a good selection of businesses, bars, and restaurants that cater to students and faculty.  Once you have settled on where to live, you’ll need to pack and get here.  You may find yourself packing too much or packing too little.

Our resident admissions extraordinaire,  Maggie Pittman, mewho you will pleasantly encounter several times during the admissions process, put together a lighthearted “Pack for New York – clothing essentials” guide for those who have inquired about how to pack for our seasonal weather.

The weather in New York City, particularly during the academic year (fall, winter and spring) is forever changing and so this post will provide you with some helpful tips on clothing and accessory essentials.

To start off, definitely read the SIPA Survival Guide if you haven’t already. Thank me later! Okay, on to the list:

These are general recommendations and knowledge that I have obtained through living here.  Think of it this way, YOU are the all-terrain vehicle.

  • An investment coat: a long coat that can be worn at night and during the day (or a nice pea coat), a winter/puffy coat: LL Bean or Land’s end (Macy’s has a huge selection too of all varying price ranges) – But get real.  It gets COLD in New York; it’s one thing to look good, it’s another to FREEZE.
  • Your feet, like the tires on a car, are essential to getting you around so treat them accordingly and provide the proper maintenance. Comfortable shoes are a staple!
  • Boots: Difference between snow and rain boots.
    • Rain boots and/or boot liners (waterproof)
    • Winter boots (waterproof, with good tread and insulation)
  • Gloves:  touch screen gloves are especially useful!
  • Wool/thick winter socks for boots
  • Hat and/or ear muffs
  • Umbrella (it’s worth investing in a good one)
  • Sunglasses
  • Scarf(s)
  • A versatile, strong carry-all bag (because you don’t have a trunk) especially for those that want to wear nice/fancy shoes, CARRY THEM WITH YOU (I can’t even tell you how many ladies I see slipping and sliding their way through sidewalks and snow banks in heels.)
  • Layers are your friend: the only way to cope with the cold above ground and the heat below
    • T-shirts/ tank tops (and/or camisoles – for the ladies)
    • Leggings and/or long underwear
    • Sweaters, cardigans, hoodies

If you’re coming to New York (or live in the northern hemisphere) during the humid summer months, some quick clothing tips:

  • Avoid wearing anything too tight, or jeans, especially skinny jeans.  The days can be oppressively hot but bring a lightweight cardigan or hoodie for the nights (if you’re staying out all day) – temperatures can drop slightly at night.
  • Avoid wearing flip-flops on city streets. The relaxed ease of flip-flops are tempting but they are rarely durable for the rough and pothole laden streets and, with the tourists pouring into the city, you risk getting your exposed foot stepped on. While socks and sneakers seem too hot to wear in the summer, try sandals with a thick sole.   If you must wear open toe, make sure to watch out for crowds of people stopping in the middle of the street to read a map.  You don’t want your feet stomped on accidentally.
  • Sunglasses and a hat (for shade) are a must even with the skyscrapers and high rise buildings that may block the occasional rays.

If you don’t want to pack it, you can always buy it (but don’t forget to refer to our earlier post about living like a college student, and not like a rock star).  For where to find these items, you can start with some of New York’s famed flagship stores: Century 21, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s.  However, there is something to be said for getting great stuff on sale (such a rush!) so I recommend:  TimeOut New York: Best Vintage/Thrift stores, Top 20 NYC Thrift stores, Racked: Ten Consignment Shops every sample sale junkie should know.  Speaking of sample sales, HuffPost’s 7 tips for survival is a must read before you go! Goodwill and Salvation Army (via Yelp) locations also have affordable options.

There’s also online shopping – the easiest way to find, research and compare prices. Oh, be sure to sign up for Amazon Prime Student –free for 6 months!

It IS possible to be fashionable and practical!