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Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City, Updated for 2015!

23rd Edition Now Available

Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City, 23rd Ed.The twenty-third edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in New York City: Including Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Northern New Jersey, about 415 pages long, contains detailed information on neighborhoods, getting settled, helpful services, child care and education, cultural life, green living, and much more. Updated by Julie Schwietert Collazo, who has lived in New York City since 1999, this book, designed especially for individuals who are planning to move to New York City or for those who have just arrived in the Big Apple is the essential guide to the New York boroughs and the surrounding communities.

In detailing New York City neighborhoods from Inwood to Battery Park, or Riverdale to Bayside to DUMBO to Grymes Hill, this volume delineates the character and features of each area as well as the types and availability of housing, plus a list of convenient addresses and web sites. It then goes further afield to describe suburbs in New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester, and Connecticut. This edition also includes photographs illustrating what the neighborhoods and communities actually look like.

Updates to the twenty-third edition include amended neighborhood maps, new and updated website addresses for quick access to additional information, and new sections, including Pregnancy, Labor & Delivery, and Postpartum Services in the Helpful Services chapter and Charter Schools in the Childcare and Education chapter.

Here is an excerpt from our Cultural Life chapter:

The incredible diversity and depth of the city’s cultural, intellectual, and artistic life is a magnet for many of the people who move here. Nowhere else can such an enormous range of interests and avocations be accommodated on so many levels. While it is impossible to cover all the opportunities New York offers, we can help the newcomer, young and old alike, access this cultural variety by providing a compilation of ticket, subscription, and membership information for leading opera companies, symphony orchestras, dance companies, theatrical repertory groups, and museums. We’ve also included cultural opportunities for children, as well as a section called Literary Life that focuses on libraries and bookstores. Addresses provided are in Manhattan unless otherwise noted. For more cultural life and opportunities, see the community resources listed at the end of each neighborhood profile at the beginning of the book. And while it’s easy to forget that New York is a college town, don’t forget to check out the many offerings of colleges and universities around the city,
including Columbia, CUNY, and NYU (see Higher Education at the end of the Childcare and Education chapter).

Harry Potter Film Locations in London

LondonIt has been an exciting month for Harry Potter fans. On July 8th, J.K. Rowling released a short story narrated by Rita Skeeter, the gossip-crazed character that readers first meet in The Goblet of Fire. The 1,500 word story is entitled “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final,” which has Rita gossiping over Dumbledore’s Army and their family. In addition, the spin-off movie based on one of Harry Potter’s school books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be in theaters on November 18, 2016. Furthermore, July 8th marked the opening of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Such incredible buzz surrounding the book series— even three years after the last movie— makes fans want to re-embrace the wizarding world. While most people can visit Universal Studios, that experience does not easily compare to visiting some of the actual set locations in London.

Here are a few:


  • King’s Cross station services north-east England and the east coast of Scotland. However, in the book series, this station can take you to the entirely different realm of Hogwarts, that is if you can find Platform 9 ¾ hidden between the walls. Since the books and films’ success, the wall between platform 9 and 10 has now been labeled as 9 ¾. To illustrate the landmark, a half cart is attached to the wall, so that fans can take photos as though they are entering the platform. King’s Cross is where all the station-based scenes have been filmed, including the scene in the last film where Dumbledore and Harry talk for the last time in the middle of the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • Diagon Alley, the major shopping center for all wizards that appears in many of the movies, was shot in two different locations. The outside of Diagon Alley, or the “muggle” side, was filmed in Borough Market. The market features Dickensian cobbled streets and has now become a mecca for foodies as well as the secret entrance to Diagon Alley (which can be entered through the Leaky Cauldron). The shopping scenes within Diagon Alley were filmed in Leadenhall Market, across from the London Bridge.
  • In the first film, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry discovers he can talk to snakes and accidentally traps Dudley in the snake’s tank at the London Zoo.  This scene was filmed at the actual London Zoo, located in Regent’s Park, which now has a sign to mark the tank that housed the python in the movie (though it is now home to a black mamba).
  • Harrow School is where Professor Flitwick’s classes were filmed in the first movie. The school was founded in the 16th century and other than appearing in Harry Potter, it has become famous for educating seven prime ministers. The Harrow District resides just north of London Center and currently operates as an all-boy boarding school.

Newcomer's Handbook for London

Those are a few scenes filmed in London if you happen to be visiting there, or if you’re moving to the area, check out our Newcomer’s Handbook for moving to and living in London.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Newcomer’s Handbooks Explores its LGBT Communities – Part 2

Minnesota, Illinois, Washington DC, Massachusetts, and New York

ID-100256432In celebration of LGBT Month, Newcomer’s Handbooks can help you find out which states support marriage equality and help you move with the assistance of our relocation books, all of which include a section on LGBT life in the city. Last week we looked at LGBT-friendly cities on the west coast.

Newcomer's Handbook for Minneapolis–St. PaulThis week, we start in Minnesota with Minneapolis and St. Paul, two very LGBT-community friendly cities. The Twin Cities’ neighborhood of Loring Park is considered the center of gay life and is home to many gay bars. The neighborhood of East Hennepin also has more than a few gay-owned pubs. There is an info line called OutFront Minnesota which helps to find LGBT centers and other information as well as publishing a biweekly magazine called Lavender.

Newcomer's Chicago 6th EditionNow on to the Windy City– Newcomer’s has your guide to Chicago and its surrounding cities of Evanston, Oak Park, Schaumburg, Wheaton, and Naperville. No matter what you like to do, Chicago’s got it all, from the 600 parks to the theater district to the Magnificent Mile of designer outlets and mall. And it also has quite the night life, with Boys Town being the center of gay bars and Andersonville the center of lesbian bars. The Andersonville neighborhood also has Chicago’s largest LGBT population, while Edgewood has the largest community of gay couples. But whether or not you choose to live in one of these areas, you can still keep up to date with Windy City Queercast, a radio broadcast focused on LGBT news.

Newcomer's Handbook for the USANewcomer’s Handbooks offers a guide to our nations’ capital, Washington DC, and though the handbook includes Northern Virginia, you might want to wait as marriage equality is still in court there. However, the book also offers some advice for suburban LGBT-friendly Maryland as well. DC has the 6th largest LGBT city population, and most of the gay bars can be found in the Dupont Circle area along with other LGBT friendly neighborhoods, like Takoma Park and Shirlington. Along with public acceptance, DC’s police department also has a Gay and Lesbian Liaisons Unit in order to prevent and prosecute hate crimes. The “Metro Weekly” also provides lists of religious groups that are open to the LGBT community.

Newcomer's Handbook for BostonNext up is Boston and some of its surrounding areas, like Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville, in Massachusetts. Boston is very LGBT-friendly, especially the neighborhood of South End. From “Bay Windows,” New England’s leading gay and lesbian newspaper, to the Pink Pages the LGBT New England Yellow Pages–there is always a way to reach out and get connected to the community. There are multiple activist and support groups as well, like GLASS: Boston Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services Center and many more.

Newcomer's Handbook for New York CityLast but not least, we take a look at the Big Apple, New York City. The city that never sleeps certainly has its appeals. Between the shopping and Broadway, there’s never a dull moment. Rent may be daunting, so if you’re thinking of moving there and are looking for roommate, you can check out Rainbow Roommates. The LGBT community in New York has become so widespread that it becomes hard to limit it down, but there is one center that stands out. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Community Service Center provides a multitude of classes on subjects like HIV/AIDs and adopting. They also have welcome baskets full of guides to the city that specifically mark the LGBT community.

Hopefully these brief glimpses into the LGBT communities of some of our nation’s greatest cities were helpful, and of course, if you’ve decided to move to any of these cities or their surrounding areas, be sure to check out Newcomer’s Handbooks to get a more detailed look at your new home.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Portland – A Newcomer’s Perspective

Moving to and living in Portland, Oregon

Being a newcomer to a place is both exciting and frightening. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and didn’t even step foot on an airplane until my first year of college. After graduating, however, I knew that the comfortable stability of the Midwest would never be for me, and so I embarked on a 3-year journey that would take me across Asia and Europe and eventually back to the United States. It took me no time to decide that my new destination—and home– would be Portland, Oregon.  

Newcomer's Handbook for PortlandMy first goal upon arriving in the city was to visit the famous Powell’s City of Books, the largest independently-owned bookstore in the world. As luck would have it, there was a table stacked with “The Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland,” which I snatched up immediately and devoured. The book helped me understand the city and its history, but it was more valuable in helping me get settled. I used it to choose a neighborhood to live in, to get my car registered, to find parks, and to guide me to the best brewpubs and movie theaters in the city.

But the Newcomer’s book was only a starting point. I had to get out there and explore in order to find my favorite food carts, coffee roasters, and vintage clothing stores. And because Portland is so often named one of the best or most fun, nerdiest, or hippest cities in the U.S., there are always plenty of resources online for guidance. 

Portland is such a unique city with great food, style, people, and culture. It’s also a city filled with newcomers like me. Though I sometimes wish I had always been here, I know that if I had, I would take this amazing city for granted. And Portland deserves better than that.

Written by: Cayce Arnett

New Atlanta Handbook Now Available!

Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Atlanta, 5th EditionBrand new edition for 2014! First Books, publisher of the bestselling Newcomer’s Handbook® relocation series, is excited to announce publication of the fifth edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Atlanta: Including Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Cherokee Counties. This 370-page volume will quickly orient newcomers to the history, culture, and lifestyle of Atlanta and its surrounding counties, and may just show current residents what they’ve been missing!

Highlights include detailed looks at Atlanta’s neighborhoods, from Castleberry Hill to Buckhead, from Midtown to L5P, and from College Park to Kirkwood, with photographs to complement each community. Plus, other useful information about green living, child care options, transportation, local schools, recreation, housing, cultural life, day trips, shopping, an Atlanta year, and much more!

Here is an excerpt from the “Cultural Life” section:

Welcome to the arts! Whether it’s high-caliber performances in music, dance, or theater, or a tour of the visual arts you’re wanting, it’s all here. As the center for culture and arts in the Southeast, Atlanta is particularly proud of the Woodruff Arts Center, which houses several of the area’s fine arts institutions, including the internationally acclaimed Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Alliance Theatre Company, and the High Museum of Art. Theatrical performances, from touring Broadway shows and Shakespearean drama to traditional ballet performances and classical opera, are readily available in the metro region. And, if your taste is more suited toward student  lab productions, puppet shows, or off-the-beaten-path theater productions, such as Hamlet, The Musical, you will be certain to find a venue that suits you. Local museums exhibit a wide assortment of visual arts—African-American, ancient, folk, and high Renaissance, to name a few, and area galleries are a great place to browse for funky local talent. Local music establishments host a variety of touring and local acts, from jazz, blues, acoustic, and punk to big band and reggae. And, finally, Atlanta has a thriving literary and intellectual community, which hosts lecture series, author readings, and book signings. (p. 209)

Purchase the latest edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Atlanta: Including Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Cherokee Counties at NewcomersHandbooks.com