Posted by: Gerry Martini | 4th May, 2014

Why You Should Move to Queens

Moving to New York is quite daunting if you are an out-of-towner, as I was. The city is huge, expensive, and haphazardly designed; how’s a non-native New Yorker to know what neighborhoods to look at apartments in? Well now you’ll know (because I am telling you!) what I learned by chance: you should move to Queens.

Forget Manhattan, especially anywhere south of Central Park, right away. This is graduate school—you don’t have the cash for that sort of thing. Brooklyn has been the place du jure for grad students, but I have found the neighborhoods less accessible by the subway (in the areas that you will be able to afford at least) to the Graduate Center, more expensive, and a little too hipster-ish for my taste. Plus there are all those buildings with that ugly plastic siding. Who thought that was a good idea?

Queens, on the other hand, is slightly more affordable. Many of the neighborhoods that I know best (like Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, etc.) are a single subway line (either the 7, N, or Q, depending) away from the Graduate Center, making for a total commute of less than 45 minutes or even a half an hour. Plus there are more besides these that make for a short commute as well (the F and M lines are also easy ones).

Queens is also the most diverse county in the nation, so we’ve got some killer food of all stripes; you name it, we’ve probably got it. And it’s just generally invigorating being around that variety of people (when we were first looking at apartments in our neighborhood, we heard at least six languages on the street in one afternoon on a walkabout).

I take a lot of pride in the neighborhood that I live in—in embracing it and all it has to offer. We go to the farmer’s market every Saturday for the 8 months of the year that it is there and chat with many other shoppers (and our favorite vendors); we frequent our neighborhood shops with their local owners; we eat at the many restaurants that make it such a great locale. But regardless of whether you take my advice and choose one of the neighborhoods in Queens, these are the sorts of things that you should do when you move to any area of NYC. Being integrated into your local community—not just the academic community in which grad students often find themselves totally absorbed—will really help you enjoy this fantastic city all the more. And a happy grad student is a productive grad student.

Responses

Thank you for sharing you experience concerning such a capital issue for new graduate students.
I have already collected some information on neighborhoods, average costs and main features of the different areas but I guess it takes a lifetime to know such a big city.
I heard from friends who live there and read through online forums and blogs that it is almost impossible to find a place without being in NYC. Can anybody confirm that? I am from Italy and will not move until August so I was trying to figure out if it’s worth searching online or just wait to be there in person.
I will be attending the PhD in comparative literature and if any other incoming student of the same program is reading and would like to get in touch before classes begin, I will be happy to chat.

Hi there! I would agree that it is definitely a lot easier finding a place if you are in the city, but at the same time you might not want to show up in August and only start looking then (because what if it takes several days, or more, and you have most of your stuff with you?). If you can come look at places in July that would be ideal, but obviously getting a flight for a short trip entails extra time and money on your part. So otherwise you are just going to have to do your best contacting potential roommates or building owners/managers online. Another thing that you can do is consider living in the Graduate Center housing–you can contact Haslyn Miller (hmiller@gc.cuny.edu) for more information on that. If you want to talk more about this you can also email me (amartini@gc.cuny.edu).

Francesca, I’m in the Comp Lit program too! I currently live in Washington DC and am trying to figure out housing myself. If you’d like to talk, my email is laurajmalhotra@gmail.com :)

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