Ever since graphic designer Milton Glasser created it in 1977, the I Love NY logo has been slapped on everything from t-shirts to tea cozies. There’s a reason why. People really do love New York City. Yes, it can be heartless, cold, overcrowded, breathtakingly expensive and dysfunctional, but it is also one of the world’s all-time great cities ever. Throughout its history, New York City has inspired artists, novelists, songwriters, poets and other assorted dreamers. Call it Gotham, the Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps or just The City, period. It’s not the capital of New York, but it was once the capital of the United States and it is arguably the financial capital of the world today. It is a 305-square-mile collection of five boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that 8.4 million people call home and over 50 million more visit each year. It is also the world’s most densely populated city. And few places offer such diversity in terms of ethnicity, history, culture, entertainment and business opportunities. You’ll see iconic architecture around every corner, hear some 800 languages being spoken and have a chance to taste foods from around the globe. If you’re thinking about moving here, you’ll find it challenging, rewarding and unlike any other place on earth. This Guide to New York City will provide you with a brief overview of what you can expect, particularly in terms of essential insurance coverage for homeowners and renters, cars, health and small businesses.
A Quick History of New York
Algonquin tribes hunted, fished and farmed here for centuries before Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed into what is now New York Harbor in 1524. One hundred years later, the first of many waves of immigrants arrived, sponsored by the Dutch West India Company. They called it New Amsterdam, a name that stuck until the British seized it in 1664 and renamed it New York City. For the next century, the population grew larger and more diverse, attracting immigrants from Northern Europe. NYC was a strategically important center during the American Revolutionary War and the U.S. capital from 1785 to 1790. By 1810, it was one of the nation’s most important sea ports. And the immigrants kept coming from Germany and Ireland, then from Southern and Eastern Europe, settling the ethnic neighborhoods that remain today. In 1895, the independent cities of Queen, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx voted to consolidate with Manhattan, growing Greater New York to about its present size in terms of area, with a population of 3.3 million. Deindustrialization, the construction of the U.S. interstate system and the growth of suburbs following World War II brought an out-migration of affluent whites, but the void was soon filled in the 1960s by immigrants from Asia, African, the Caribbean and South America, who revitalized many of New York’s old neighborhoods. Over the years, New York has survived wars, natural disasters and terrorist attacks, but it remains a vibrant city, a major financial center, a cultural mecca, and an amazing melting pot that has never lost its power to attract visitors, newcomers and dreamers.
New York Weather and Weather-Related Risks
New York is notoriously hot and humid in summer. July is the warmest month with average temperatures ranging between 65 and 83. Winters are wet and cold, with the coolest month of January ranging between 23 and 36. It rains year-round, with May typically being the wettest month. Severe thunderstorms are the most common threat, bringing lightning, hail, heavy winds and flooding. These storms often spawn tornados that knock down trees. Hurricanes and attendant storm surge, such as what happened with Sandy in 2008, can cause extreme flooding. While not common, earthquakes have been recorded in New York City. Neither flood nor earthquake coverage is included in a standard homeowners or renters policy. They have to be purchased separately.
Driving and New York Car Insurance
You do not need to own a car to get around New York City. Public transportation is excellent, and with parking scarce and at a premium, many residents (especially those living in Manhattan) opt to do without a vehicle. If you do have a car, you’ll need New York State minimum auto insurance of
$25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
$50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
You have 30 days from the time you establish residency in New York city to obtain your New York driver’s license and vehicle registration. You can learn more about requirements and find a New York Department of Motor Vehicles location here.
If you do find a parking spot in New York City, be aware that all of it is a designated Tow Away Zone. If you are parked illegally, have a missing or expired registration or inspection sticker, you can and will be towed. You should also take care to observe alternate side of the street parking restrictions.
Wherever you live in America, you are now required by federal law to have a qualified health insurance plan that covers the essential benefits mandated by ObamaCare (also known as the Affordable Care Act). The State of New York has additional mandated benefits that insurers must provide. You can learn more about them here. You can shop for competitive quotes online for New York health insurance for individuals and small business here.
If you need medical care, New York City has some of the world’s finest facilities. USNews.com has a list of 55 of the top-ranking hospitals and medical in and around New York City. These include New York-Presbyterian University of Columbia and Cornell, NYU Lagone Medical Center, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Morristown Medical Center.
Living in New York: Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Even if you’re moving from a high-ticket housing market like San Francisco, New York prices may give you sticker shock. According to Trulia.com, the first quarter of 2014 saw the median sales price for a NYC home hit $1,182,500 – or $1,378 per square foot – an increase of nearly 17% over the same quarter in 2013. Rentals are fairly steep, too. A 2013 report in the Wall Street Journal cited research from Reis Inc. that put the average monthly NYC rental at $3,017 for the five boroughs. The fact that average rent for the rest of the U.S. is $1,000-a-month should put it in perspective. What you get for your 3K will vary widely from borough to borough and neighborhood to neighborhood. For example, it might get you a studio on Manhattan’s Broad Street, a 2-bedroom in Harlem or a 4-bedroom in the Bronx. If you want to live near Central Park, however, you’re looking at a minimum of $5,000 a month. The amenities in your building will run the gamut, too, ranging from 24-7 doorman and fitness center to be-grateful-you-have-a-closet. What you are very unlikely to get with any rental is a parking space. Those are extra, but the city will extend the Manhattan Resident Parking Tax Exemption that reduces the tax on rental parking spaces from 18.375% to 10.375%.
As already mentioned, you’ll have your choice of five boroughs. NewYork.com provides useful profiles of each, along with some details about the dozens of neighborhoods within them. Here’s a brief synopsis:
Manhattan – 23-square miles of very expensive real estate with about 1.6 million resident and a front-row seat for everything that is NYC. Neighborhoods include Chelsea, Harlmen, Little Italy, Greenwich Village, SoHO and Tribeca
Brooklyn – NYC’s most populous borough with 2.5 million residents packed into 82-square miles at the west end of Long Island with killer views of the Manhattan skyline. Neighborhoods include Brooklyn Heights, Coney Island, Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg.
The Bronx – The northernmost borough is also the only one on the U.S. mainland. It’s a collection of about 50 neighborhoods and 1.4 million residents. Neighborhoods include Greater Bronx, City Island, Morris Park and Riverdale.
Queens – 109 square miles and a remarkable diverse population of 2.2 million people from over 100 countries. Closest to JFK and LaGuardia, and home of the Mets. Neighborhoods include Astoria, Flushing, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Jamaica.
Staten Island – The most rural and underpopulated borough with about half a million residents, parklands and suburban-style neighborhoods.
Wherever you decide to live, you’ll definitely want New York homeowners or New York renters insurance to protect you possessions from loss or damage. You can shop for competitive quotes and learn more about the types of property and casualty insurance policies available here.
Property crime rates in New York are surprisingly low, indexing far below the national median and only slightly higher than the entire Empire State, according to NeighborhoodScout.com data. Your chances of being a victim are just 1 in 52. To get a better idea of crime statistics by neighborhood, check out the data published by the NYPD. You should also take a look a weather-related risks for NYC before you decide on a homeowners or renters policy.
In terms of healthy places to live, New York ranks fourth among the 50 states and Washington D.C. for life expectancy. Anyone born in New York today can expect to live an average of 80.5 years according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a 65-year-old New York resident, the Centers for Disease Control gives you another 20 years on average. But before you start feeling too secure, the WorldLifeExpectancy.com wants you to know that accidents are the fifth leading cause of death for all New York residents. Given the ever-present possibility of an accidental death, you might want to put life insurance on your list of things to consider when you move to New York City. There are four good reasons why:
To pay for funeral and other final expenses.
To replace your income if you’re leaving behind a spouse.
To help cover your children’s needs.
To help your survivors pay off debts and estate taxes.
If you purchase whole life, your insurance can also be a means of setting aside money for retirement, college and other needs. You can learn more about the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance, and shop for competitive life insurance quotes here.
Doing Business in NYCand New York City Business Insurance
Like few other cities in the world, New York truly is all about business — from the tiniest corner food vendor to the penthouse corporate headquarters and everything in between. NYC is has the highest per capita income in the U.S. and $1.21 trillion GDP, larger than many entire countries including Mexico. Like the song says, if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. But you’re going to need the right permits, licenses, zoning and insurance. You can find out exactly what New York City requires to start and run a business here. You can get quotes online for a variety of New York small business insurance policies here.