Pre-Move Visit to New York City, and Why I’m Going To Move to Queens

Six months ago, I made the decision to move to New York City after I graduate from college in December. As I was doing research and trying to find answers to all of my questions, I realized it would be best to just take a trip from my current home in San Francisco to visit the different neighborhoods in New York. I decided to get my dad on board, and we purchased two tickets to JFK airport in New York.

We wanted to do a lot of research for my move. We wanted to really see what it’s like in New York. I wanted to make sure that this was something that I actually wanted to do.

On October 18, my dad and I got on the plane full of excitement and plans to learn, and we were off! When we landed, I instantly felt a vibe I liked it. We stayed in a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Bedford-Stuyvesant. There was a pretty nice hotel with a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, and we liked it. In terms of living, it didn’t seem like the right fit for me, but it was a good start, and the subway station was very close.

One of my goals of going to New York was to get familiar with the transportation options. On the first day, we bought two 7-Day Unlimited Metro Cards for $30.00 each. These cards turned out to be great! We were able to transfer from train to train, switch stations, and get on and off as we pleased. The subway turned out to be a phenomenal resource for us. Quick fact: The subway trains almost always come within 5 minutes of your arrival to the station! In San Francisco, I am constantly waiting 10-20 minutes for buses and trains. The subway system was surprisingly clean as well (compared to the Bay Area transit).

Fall day in Central Park

Fall day in Central Park

On our first day, we decided to go into Manhattan to see some tourist-y things. We got out of the subway at Penn Station, and I was really excited because I saw Madison Square Garden! My big goal of the day was to see Central Park, and when we did, I totally fell in love. Mark my words: Central Park is gorgeous. We started walking through, and we couldn’t believe how many interesting people we saw. We saw people rowing boats in the lakes, playing guitar and singing for mid-sized crowds, and tons of people walking and running for exercise. I noticed that just being there made me want to go for a jog!

We made it a goal to ask people about their stories, and ask if they had any advice for me, since I was planning to move there in January. While we were in Central Park, we talked to some people who had moved to New York in the past few years, and we got a lot of good information. We noticed that the people were quite nice, believe it or not! Everyone seemed to want to help.

During the next few days, we wanted to check out Brooklyn. A lot of people told me to try to live in the Williamsburg area. I was really excited to see this area, but when we got there, I actually didn’t love it. I had heard some really great things about Brooklyn and Williamsburg, but I was disappointed. The main reason I didn’t feel that Brooklyn was a fit for me was because I didn’t find a lot of places for me to hang out with friends in public. I am the kind of person who loves to spend time in large restaurants and bars, big nice parks and stores. I found that Brooklyn instead had small corner stores and delis, and it just didn’t seem like my style.

My dad had the idea to rent a car and drive through Brooklyn to see what it’s all about. Maybe I was missing something! The next day, we did just that. We rented a car and we just started driving. We drove through Park Slope, Bushwick, all over Williamsburg, and much more. I just didn’t love it! As we began to drive north towards Greenpoint, we decided to do something new.

Ben exploring Queens on a rainy night

Ben exploring Queens on a rainy night

A lot of people had told me to check out an area in Queens called Astoria. For some reason, I had shut out Queens as an option. I am not sure why, but I just didn’t like the idea. However, the second we drove into Queens, I basically fell in love. They had a big mall, a bunch of big restaurants, and stores! It was totally my thing. We got a hotel room on Queens Boulevard, and we decided to check out the mall area. The World Series games were starting, and so we wanted to make sure we could watch the game! We decided to go to the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings, which is one of my favorite restaurants!

We then spent two days looking around Queens.  It felt like I could actually make a home there, and make friends. I really liked the area! On our second night in Queens, we asked someone about where the “downtown” area would be. We were pointed to a street called “Steinway,” and we immediately fell in love.  This was a street that had everything. It’s a very long strip of a wide variety of stores. Everything from outdoor fruit and produce stores to a Hugo Boss and a Victoria’s Secret. They have Starbucks, gyms, and even a karaoke bar! This street is one of my favorite places I have ever been to! I decided that I wanted to live around this area. It seems like a cool place for a guy like me.

Though this trip, I realized that I need to keep an open mind while searching for a place to live. If I hadn’t given Queens a chance, I never would have found this area that I really love. I am  glad we took this trip, and I highly recommend planning a visit to the new place if you are moving out of your area!

If you have recently moved to Queens and have any ideas or advice for me, let me know in the comments!


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Benjamin Hawes is a recent college graduate from San Francisco that just made his life long dream of moving to New York come true in the beginning of 2015. While in college, Ben served as a resident assistant for three years, and has a lot to say about how to get along with roommates! He recently found an apartment in Bushwick, Brookyn. He is having fun making his way through New York as he starts to decorate his apartment and pay his bills!

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Comments (2)

  1. Avatar Eve

    Hey Ben! I literlaly stumbled on your post. I dont even know how I got to this website! I live in queens. I have for 14 years. I was born and raised there then left for college, vet school, etc and returned. Astoria is a great place. I just want let you know about where I live. I live in Kew gardens. Kew gardens itself has a little village for shopping but it is very local- a couple of restaurants- AUstin Ale house! an artsy movie theather, great pizza!! I also live within walking distance ( 3 blocks) to the E and F train (25min to manhattan), the Long Island Railroad – which is 27 min straight to penn station-and 4 major highways (Long island expressway, Van wyk, Grand central, Jackie robinson- yet they dont intrude on the beauty of the neighborhood. I live next to forest park- you mentioned that you like parks/public places- its a 500 acre park with hiking trails, horse trails, track, carousel and golf course plus playgrounds and tennis courts. This neighborhood is also walking distance to Forest Hills- shopping ( victoria secret, barnes and noble, gap, plus local boutiques), movie theaters, restaurants/bars( chains and local), and a gym as well as with a very quaint style with cobblestone streets. The rent is still expensive but less than Astoria. Its right off queens boulevard as well. I had a friend from australia visit me and he couldnt believe that he was in NYC. Just a thought to check out! I live in a 1000 sq ft apartment that I pay about $1400/month.

    • Ben Ben

      Hi Eve! Thanks for all of the really good advice. I have heard nothing but good things about queens so I’m really excited! Thanks for reading!