Immortalized in song by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Joni Mitchell to Jay Z, New York isn’t just a state — it’s an idea and a way of being. And as one of the globe’s most important marketplaces and cultural centers, New York has truly earned its name as The Empire State. Whether you’re looking for the fast-paced buzz of NYC or prefer the idyllic wilds of the Adirondacks, New York State has the resources, beauty, and diversity of a small nation all its own.
In business, arts and sports, the 11th state in the union is a dominating force, much of that concentrated in the Big Apple, where you’ll find world-class museums, cutting-edge restaurants and one of the most diverse populations of any city in America. But there is so much more to the 11th state in the union than New York City alone.
Two Great Lakes form the state’s Western border, and the Atlantic coastline on the eastern edge creates a vibrancy all its own. But from the Hudson River Valley to the dense forests in the north — where trees still seem to outnumber people — is where New Yorkers find their true respite. The T-shirts don’t lie. There are so many reasons to love New York.
Living in New York
As one of the most diverse and populous states in the nation, New York has a wealth of cultural resources to offer its residents, whether they reside in the New York City area, the capital region in the east, or the Great Lakes region in the northwest. This cultural diversity establishes dynamic and welcoming communities throughout the state and supports wide-ranging industries and professions. Truly, it’s one of the most important elements that makes New York … New York.
One of the major cultural assets of the state is its higher education system. New York is home to over 130 colleges and universities, including prestigious institutions like Columbia University and Cornell University — both Ivy League universities — as well as Barnard College, New York University (NYU), Syracuse University, the University of Rochester and The New School, which houses the esteemed Parsons School of Design.
One of the major investments the state has made in its residents is in public transportation. The NYC MTA is the largest network of trains, buses, boats and ferries in North America, and it offers service throughout the five boroughs. The Long Island Railroad — the busiest commuter line in the country — and the Metro North rail line takes passengers upstate and into Connecticut. Despite some of the recent strains the NYC system has suffered, the state’s public transportation system offers a convenient alternative to the state’s notorious traffic congestion.
Cost of Living
The obvious downside of living in one of the most exciting states in the nation is that the cost of living in New York state is one of the highest. As New York’s nearly 20,000,000 residents can attest, the cost to rent or own a home in New York is much higher than the national index. The median home value of $325,000 is nearly $100K over the U.S. average, and the median gross rent in the state of New York is $1,315 — 20% higher than in the rest of the country. Across the state, the rate of home ownership is 10 points lower than the national average: Just over 50% of New Yorkers own their own home.
In New York City, the cost to own a home and rent is higher than other metro areas in the state. The Big Apple saw rent increases of 19% from 2021 to 2022— and these costs can vary dramatically by borough.
Brooklynites, accustomed to paying $2,787 in rent on average, had to find an additional $534 each month to cover the 19.2% increase in rental rates.
Manhattanites fared slightly worse, where the annual rent increase topped 20%.
In Queens, the average rent jumped from $2,324 to $2,645 — a 13.8% increase.
Meanwhile, residents of the Bronx had to swallow a 7.6% increase in rental rates, which amounts to 4.6% of their monthly household income of $3,229, the lowest of any borough.
Staten Islanders fared the best: their rents saw just a 6.2% increase over rates in 2021, and with the highest monthly income in New York City ($8,333), the increase in rent amounted to just 1.4% of household earnings.
What’s driving these costs skyward? The bustling job market, a diminished housing supply — coupled with rising demand for larger spaces by remote workers — and rising interest rates from the fed are all to blame for the increased cost of housing in New York City.
As of October 2022, over 9.5 million people were employed in the state of New York, and unemployment remains stalled at 4.4%, higher than the national average. The average wage for a private sector employee in New York state is just over $89,000.
The industries offering the highest wages in the state include wholesale trade ($100,630 avg.), professional and technical services ($140,693 avg.), utilities ($141,398 avg.), information ($169,852 avg.), management of companies and enterprises ($177,801 avg.) and finance and insurance ($286,786 avg.). But with over 1.5 million employees, the health care and social assistance sector dominates the New York market, followed by retail trade, professional and technical services, accommodation and food services, and finance and insurance, which employ over 500,000 individuals across the state.
According to Forbes, the largest private companies (by revenue) in New York state are in the business services and supplies sector: McKinsey & Company, which brought in an annual revenue of $12.5 billion and employs 30,000 individuals, and Bloomberg, which earned $12.2 billion and employs 19,000. With $11.9 billion in revenue last year, media giant Hearst employed 20,000 people. Supermarket chain Wegmans employs a whopping 52,000 individuals and earned $11.2 billion. Standard Industries, whose diverse practices range from manufacturing solar panels to providing real estate investment services, has 20,000 people on its payroll and $10 billion in revenue.
In short, there’s a lot to love about living in New York — provided you have the opportunity and income to support it.
Have questions about moving to New York? United Van Lines is here to help.
New York Weather
Owing to the size of the state and the diverse terrain it covers, the weather in New York is a mixed bag.
Summer’s heat waves are especially hard on city dwellers, where the asphalt and skyscrapers compound the humidity and congestion. (There’s a reason why so many flee to nearby beaches on Long Island). Apart from these periodic events, summer temperatures across the state are mild, with an average of 64°F in the mountains and 77°F in Manhattan.
But winter snowfall comes for all New Yorkers. The hardest hits are those in cities like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, where the lake effect can cause multiple feet of snow to rapidly accumulate. These areas can even see “thundersnow,” a surreal phenomenon where thunder, lighting and snow make a rare joint showing. Residents of the Great Lakes region in the northwest can expect upwards of eight feet of snow annually. Statewide, annual precipitation ranges from 32 inches in the lowland region and up to 45 inches in the Catskill Mountains.
Late spring and early fall are generally the nicest times to be in New York. If you’re looking for the best time to move to New York, May, June, September and October are the most reliable months to relocate here.
Fun Things to Do in New York State
If you’re moving to New York state, one thing is certain: You will never run out of things to do. From New York City museums to historical sites upstate, you can cultivate an individualized experience that suits your individual or family preferences.
If you’re in Manhattan, there’s no better place to start than at the top — with the Empire State Building from the 102nd floor. A 90-minute guided tour will give you even more appreciation of the structure’s incredible history. It’s all worth it to take in the 360° views, where, on a clear day, you can see for 80 miles in all directions.
After you’ve got your bird’s eye view of the city, your next stop should be one with actual birds — in Central Park. Each year, 42 million people flock to the city’s most expansive green space to picnic at Sheep Meadow, go bouldering on Umpire Rock, smell the springtime blossoms on Cherry Hill, rent rowboats at the Central Park Boathouse and see the 210 species of birds that live in and migrate through the park each year.
Bordering the park’s east side is Museum Mile, where you’ll find the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Jewish Museum, among others. A short jaunt across Central Park brings you to the fabulous Museum of Natural History and the recently refurbished Lincoln Center, where you can see an opera, the famous Chagall murals, or the masterful new work on the West 65th Street façade by artist Nina Chanel Abney. After all this walking and museum-hopping, you should treat yourself to one of Levain Bakery’s signature dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies or a Valrhona chocolate roll.
Of course, one of the city’s most popular destinations of all is the Statue of Liberty. This is one site that lives up to the hype and is worth braving the crowds to see in person. The structure alone is a sculptural marvel, and the museums on site, including the National Museum of Immigration, further enhance the experience. The pilgrimage to reach Liberty Island and Ellis Island — both of which are accessible only by ferry — is a moving journey on its own.
When you disembark from the Statue of Liberty ferry in lower Manhattan, the famous “Charging Bull” sculpture welcomes you to Wall Street, the heart of the financial district. But there’s much more to this area than money. The National Museum of the American Indian is located here, as are the Korean War Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial Pools.
Midtown has a flavor all its own. Among other things, it’s home to destinations like MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art), the Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If the kids need a break from all the serious culture, a stop by the Lego Store or FAO Schwarz should quickly reorient them toward their happy place.
For a more immersive, child-centric experience, take the train to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Children can play in a recreated Brooklyn neighborhood as pint-sized shopkeepers, designers and builders. Temporary exhibits allow kids to explore sound through gigantic instruments and see work from local artists while skating on a synthetic ice-rink.
Sports fans have several top teams to cheer for in New York. In midtown Manhattan, Madison Square Garden hosts the NHL’s New York Rangers and the NBA’s New York Knicks. The NFL’s New York Giants (who play at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey) have had an impressive history, with five Super Bowl appearances and four wins. In baseball, there are the kings of Queens, the Mets, but their rivalry with the Yankees (based in the Bronx), seems like an almost settled bet. The team has earned 27 national titles and made a bat-cracking 40 World Series appearances — figures that hit their closest competitors out of the ballpark.
Outside the NYC area, one of the biggest annual attractions is the Great New York State Fair. In late August each year, the historic fairgrounds open their gates in Syracuse to 1.3 million visitors, eager to see educational exhibits, try out the Butterizer — a social media filter which depicts you in butter sculpture form — watch the famous Hollywood Racing Pigs and witness other miracles of nature, like a dairy cow giving birth. The requisite state fair fare is on hand in plentiful proportions, but the Taste NY section offers the best-in-state of New York originals: wine and spirits, organic nut butter, and specialty condiments.
History buffs will want to make stops at several important sites across the state. In Auburn, you can visit the historic home of Harriet Tubman. In Seneca Falls, there’s the birthplace of the national fight for gender equality at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. Looking eastward, in Albany, witness some have dubbed the most beautiful state capitol in the country, which boasts elaborately carved store adornments and a million-dollar staircase. The actual cost of this architectural gem was $1.5 million, but who’s counting. In the Hyde Park vicinity, opt to visit the homes of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, both National Historic Sites.
Outdoor Places to Go to in New York
Some of the best spots to visit in New York are outdoors.
The most popular destination, undoubtedly, is Niagara Falls. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest of its kind in America. In addition to its picturesque hiking trails, the park offers numerous vantage points for viewing the dramatic falls, from inside the exhilarating Cave of the Winds to the Crow’s Nest (where you will get wet) to the Observation Tower. The U.S. and Canada share the four million kilowatts of electricity produced by the falls.
Niagara Falls isn’t New York’s only famous watering hole, however. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie comprise roughly half of the State’s western border, providing 370 miles of freshwater coastline. In addition to the two Great Lakes, New York has over 7,600 other lakes, reservoirs, and ponds which supply the state with fresh water, generate energy and create essential habitats for wildlife. But you’ll enjoy them for the beauty and adventure they provide.
Nestled in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid is both a freshwater beach in the summertime and a snowy haven for winter sports. Woodland trails beckon hikers and bikers alike, and the more adventuresome will enjoy rock and ice climbing on the cliffs. The entire region is a popular getaway for vacationers, so accommodations, shops and restaurants abound. There’s no better place to take in the scenery than at Top of the Park, which serves up an unbeatable view along with locally made artisan cheeses, meats and craft cocktails. In 2023, the area will host the Winter World Games where the world’s top collegiate athletes will compete in 12 winter sports.
Throughout the Adirondacks, there’s great hiking for enthusiasts of all ages and abilities. Mount Severance is a family-friendly, hour-long trip to the top, where you can take in views of Schroon Lake and Paradox Lake below. The 3.7-mile moderate climb up Poke-O-Moonshine is worth it for bragging rights alone. This is also one of the peaks with a “fire tower” at the top, which is open intermittently to climbers throughout the week. If you hope to be part of the Adirondack 46ers — those who have tackled the most difficult peaks in the range — you’ll earn your trail cred by completing summiting Mt. Haystack (4.960 ft.), Mt. Skylight (4,960 ft.) or Mt. Marcy (5,344 ft.), the highest point in the range.
Located in the Catskills, the Hudson River School of Art Trail takes visitors on an enlightening journey through the foundational history of landscape painting in the U.S. The views are majestic, and the stops along the trail include the studio and house of Hudson River School founder Thomas Cole. The Catskills are also a prime destination for agritourists and many farms and wineries open their doors to visitors. Feeling hungry? There are dozens of tempting farm-to-table restaurants to reward you for your busy day of goat milking, grape stomping and egg collecting. Try The Pines, with its upscale-woodsy décor, and better-than-classic English pub fare.
The Finger Lakes region around Ithaca is another treasured setting. And there’s no better spot to see than Watkins Glen State Park. Waterfalls pour down from the cliffs so gracefully here you might think Frank Lloyd Wright had a hand in their design. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are all popular activities, and there are campsites and rustic cabins on site.
But if you’re looking for roaring waves and salty air, New York also has 130 miles of Atlantic coastline to enjoy. From the humble shores of Coney Island to the exclusive enclaves of the Hamptons, there’s a seaside destination for everyone here.
At the far eastern end of Long Island is Montauk, where you can rent a seaside cottage and dine on the freshest catch. Montauk is also home to the oldest lighthouse in New York state, and it’s located within Montauk Point State Park — a lovely spot to relax after a day of seeing and being seen.
If you can do with less lavish digs, Rockaway Beach in Queens is the perfect place to be, particularly for surfers — it’s the only beach in NYC where it’s legal. The boardwalk scene is great for people-watching, and you’ll find gobs of classic beach fare to satisfy your appetite. Mind you, there are tons of inspiring eats elsewhere around town, like the Caracas Arepa Bar, where you will be bowled over by Venezuelan delights.
Want to explore more outdoors? Be sure to check out our National Parks of the Northeast guide.
What to Eat in New York
If there’s one thing that can bring all New Yorkers together, it’s a dining table. The Empire State is famous for so many foods, we’d run out of Internet before being able to list them all: pizza, cheesecake, hot pretzels, hot dogs, corned beef on rye, cronuts, bagels and lox, Manhattan clam chowder (hold the cream, please), Buffalo wings and General Tso’s Chicken, to name a few. There likely isn’t a regional cuisine from around the globe that you couldn’t find an exceptional taste of in the state, from Greek to Cuban to Ethiopian.
Fittingly, one of the foods New York is most famous for is the apple. The state is one of the top-ten apple producers in the country, and you’ll find orchards with classic varieties like Empire, McIntosh and Gala, as well as more unusual ones, like Acey Mac, Paula Red and Fortune (developed at Cornell). In the late summer and autumn, have your pick of pick-your-own orchards across the state to get your apple cider and pie fix.
Shellfish are another of New York’s claims to fame, from the Blue Point oysters harvested from the Great South Bay of Long Island Sound to the Violet Cove oysters from the waters of Mastic Beach. One of the best places to eat these delicacies is Jolly Fisherman & Steak House in Roslyn, serving up the finest surf and turf since 1957. Another is the award-winning Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, with its leather booths, bentwood chairs and marble-bottomed serving pieces that transport you straight to Paris.
New Yorkers take two foods more seriously than anyone else in the world: pizza and bagels. It’s not that New Yorkers think theirs are better, it’s that they know they are. Anything else is merely masquerading as the real deal.
If you’re looking for the ultimate classic New York slice, try Joe’s Pizza or Scarr’s Pizza. Seeking Neapolitan, which has really dominated the market in the last decade? Una Pizza Napoletana or Di Fara Pizza are guaranteed wows. And let’s not forget Roberta’s in Brooklyn, which set a standard for simplicity and authenticity all its own nearly 15 years ago.
Wearing the other crown of the gluten monarchy of New York are bagels. Bagels are holy, whole-y bread to New Yorkers, and bagel shop loyalties run fierce. We can’t argue with H&H Bagels’ claim to be “like no other bagel in the world,” because they are that good: unfussed, unpretentious, old-fashioned, kettle-boiled goodness. Ess-a-Bagel, another definitive bagelry established in 1976, has truly mastered the art of bagel shaping — tall and tightly formed with barely a hole in the center to maximize surface schmearing.
If you cannot leave the country, New York is the best state to travel to get your fix of international flavor, from Indonesia to Lebanon to Nicaragua. At Hutong, you can taste the flavors of northern Chinese fare, from its Sanchen spiced chicken to aromatic beef ribs in lotus leaf. But if you want its flaming Peking duck experience, be sure to make a special reservation. One of the newer establishments in New York City is Dhamaka, an “unapologetically Indian” restaurant where the starters include Gurda Kapoora — that’s goat kidney and testicles with red onion and pao — and Tabak Maaz, lamb ribs with Kashmiri chili and fennel. On the fence? The New York Times named it the best new restaurant in 2021. Not to be overlooked, Bunna in Brooklyn beautifully prepares affordable, plant-based Ethiopian cuisine.
But NYC isn’t the only destination for fine food in New York state. There are dozens of Michelin-star-rated restaurants elsewhere, and one that should top your list is L’inizio. This Italian eatery in Ardsley prepares its classic dishes with locally sourced ingredients. Tarrytown is the home of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which serves contemporary American fare in an atmosphere so dreamily rustic chic you will never want to leave. The barns here aren’t for show — they are where your meal originated, along with dozens of other area farms. Most unexpected is Badageoni Georgian Kitchen in Mt. Kisco, which prepares authentic Georgian cuisine. Their signature dishes include Chakapuli, a slow-cooked lamb stew with tarragon, scallions and sour plums, and Shkmeruli, a fried Cornish game hen served in a garlic cream sauce.
How to Move to New York
Ready to move to New York? Get a moving quote from United Van Lines.
United Van Lines offers full-service moving packages to make your upcoming move to New York hassle-free and easy. Whether you’re moving cross country or across the state, we can help you move to New York from anywhere in the U.S. We’ll manage your packing and unpacking and storage — even debris pick up and car shipping — too.
If you’re moving from out of state, our long-distance movers can help you move across the country to New York.
Moving within New York state? Our team of New York movers can help you with local moving services under their own businesses and brands.
Whether you want to move yourself or want your entire move handled for you, United Van Lines has a wealth of moving resources to help you. Be sure to check out our blog for tips and moving tricks.