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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Free kayaking on the Hudson – fantastic family outing

Another New York bucket list item ticked off today – kayaking on the Hudson River. One of our favourite weekend activities is a long walk up the west edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River Park, as the views are fantastic, you don’t have to constantly cross roads, and there are so many family friendly activities (warranting another blog post later this summer). We’ve often stopped to watch the colourful kayaks paddling about on the river. Today we decided to give it a go.

On Pier 26, near the corner of West and North Moore Streets in Tribeca, lives the Downtown Boathouse. Completely free and run by suntanned, friendly volunteers, you can introduce your kids to kayaking with a stunning urban backdrop. The Downtown Boathouse rules are simple – ‘Everything is free. The only thing that we ask for is that you kayak safely.’ Everything is provided, from child size life jackets, sunscreen and ice popsicles afterwards. All you need is to bring a change of clothes and sunglasses, as it can get v dazzling on the water.
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How British expats cure homesickness in New York

My homesickness  – when I get it – manifests itself in two ways. Family and food. Sometimes one or the other, but usually both. C’s mother is staying with us at the moment, the extra pair of hands with the kids is so appreciated after all these months out here just the four of us.

Yesterday I took advantage of the childcare during Spring Break (that’s Easter holidays to us Brits), and nipped out for an afternoon’s English nostalgia with my v. pregnant friend from University and fellow New Yorker, H.

We met at my old favourite, Tea & Sympathy, and gloated over the menu. Welsh Rarebit with bacon and baked beans. Bangers and mash made with actual, real English sausages. (Have to agree with T; American sausages do taste weird). A pot of leaf Earl Grey tea and a sticky toffee and pudding with custard later, my craving for English food was sated. I’ve blogged before about this cafe, and can’t recommend it enough, with the one caveat that it’s not big enough to handle small children. Once they’re old enough to appreciate a full English afternoon tea, then you’d be able to enjoy it with kids.
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