22 helpful things to know before you move from the UK to New York


There are many similarities between London and New York. There’s also a whole lot of differences. In no particular order, here are some really useful things to know before your own move to NYC:

  1. Tips. Everyone gets tipped here. Restaurants expect 18-22% for good service, taxi drivers like you to add a dollar, hairdressers, supermarket check out staff all like tips (not obligatory). Clothes shop staff work on commission, so don’t get tips. Schools may well ask you to contribute for staff and teacher tips at Christmas. Doormen, concierge and janitors in your building also bank on a generous tip at Christmas. There’s a sliding scale for how much you give each person in your building, factoring in how long you’ve lived there, how much help each one gives you throughout the year, and how fond you are of them. It’s not unusual for a friendly Manhattan apartment doorman or concierge to get $100 tip at Christmas.
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Schools, statues and sloshing water

Big week – both girls started settling in at school and nursery, so finally getting back into a routine.  B had no trouble at all, and T’s first settling in session was probably the most restful hour I’ve had since The Big Move. I got to sit back on (another) enormous bean bag whilst T and her new friends romped about playing with adorable wooden building blocks that looked like they were actually bits of a tree. Makes a nice change from the insidious bright plastic toys you see so much in the UK.

Over the summer, T’s new school asked all the children to make a cushion that reminded them of home, as a comforter. “T” (i.e. me and her grandmother) duly spent a good 20+ hours stitching this little beauty. Many thanks to Julia at Pickwick Papers in Greenwich for getting hold of some curtain samples with lovely drawings of London. T got to choose which to put where – a Beefeater standing guard outside Buckingham Palace, a bus heading to 10 Downing Street. She also helped to pick and dry some lavender from our garden, so it smells of home. Wonder if she’ll always associate the smell of lavender with Greenwich, now? That’d be quite nice. So the cushion is currently wedged in her little cubby hole next to her two changes of clothes, suncream and water bottle.
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Bean bags and ferry boats

One week in, and starting to feel at home. Have bought a king size bed – living the American dream.

Feel should write something really profound and insightful about the move. But I don’t feel ready to, it’s all still far too new to say anything beyond the simple fact that I know we’re in for a wonderful few years. Feeling v lucky.

Slowly getting to grips with all the admin involved with any house move. Work out how to do the laundry? Tick. Find a source of utterly plain ham sandwiches T may actually eat? Tick. Buy a nifty whistling kettle to make tea? Tick.
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