Tag Archives: moving

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).

Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland, Updated for 2015!

New year, new Portland handbook.

Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Portland, 3rd EditionThe third edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Portland: Including Vancouver, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Tigard, and Wilsonville, about 560 pages long, contains detailed information on neighborhoods, getting settled, helpful services, child care and education, cultural life, green living, and much more. Written by Bryan Geon, who has spent over a decade exploring Portland and the surrounding region, both as a long-time resident and serial newcomer, this book, designed especially for individuals who are planning to move to Portland, Oregon, or for those who have just arrived in the Rose City, is the essential guide to Portland and the surrounding communities.

In detailing Portland neighborhoods from Kenton to Multnomah Village and the Pearl District to Montavilla, 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 East Multnomah County, Clackamas, Washington, and even Yamhill counties, plus Vancouver and its suburbs in Washington state. This edition also includes photographs illustrating what the neighborhoods and communities actually look like.

Updates to the third edition include the latest on changes in Oregon law (legalized recreational marijuana, phased in starting in mid-2015; reinstatement of legalized same-sex marriage), new sports venue names (Moda Center, Providence Park, Ron Tonkin Stadium), transportation updates (in particular the Tilikum Crossing bridge, opening in the fall of 2015 and designed to serve mass transit, pedestrians and bicyclists, and emergency vehicles; and the new light-rail line to Milwaukie, also scheduled to begin operations in late 2015), and several references to Portlandia (as defined in the Local Lingo section: Portlandia: Popular IFC sketch-comedy show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that pokes fun at the city’s quirks and foibles; some people refer to it, only half-jokingly, as a documentary).

And best of all, this volume approaches Portland with a sensibility appropriate to the city with humor and a bit of delight in the quirkiness that exemplifies the Rose City. For example, a brief excerpt from the Weather and Natural Disasters chapter:

By now, you’ve probably heard a few not especially funny jokes about Oregon rain. One old saw holds that Oregonians don’t tan, they rust. Another states that Portland’s rainy season only runs from September 1 to August 31. Yet another asks, “What do you call two consecutive days of rain in Portland?” (Answer: the weekend.) Then there’s the story about the hapless fellow waiting to be admitted into hell. He watches anxiously as Satan throws almost every soul in line ahead of him into the fiery pit, but notices that every so often the devil chucks someone off to the side instead. Intrigued, he summons up the courage to peep, “Excuse me, Prince of Darkness, but I notice that you seem to be throwing some people off to the side instead of into the inferno.” “Oh, them,” the devil replies ruefully, “They’re from Portland. They’re too wet to burn.” Har har har. Endless rain. How very droll.

It does rain a lot in Oregon. Rumors of a nine-month deluge, however, are greatly exaggerated. The sun comes out sometimes, even in winter, and summers are typically glorious. And even if the weather’s often wet and gray, it’s somewhat comforting that the region’s best known climatic feature is its drizzle rather than, say, category 5 hurricanes, killer tornadoes, or paralyzing blizzards.

Which is not to say that Portland is not at risk from natural disasters. All that rain sometimes begets mudslides and floods, and the area is subject to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and the occasional ironic drought. It’s all part of the price you pay for living in a paradise—a soggy, geologically unstable paradise.

Want to read more? Order now

New Los Angeles Edition Now Available!

The 6th Edition of the Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Los Angeles is now available.

Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in Los Angeles, 6th EdBrand new, updated for 2014! First Books, publisher of the bestselling Newcomer’s Handbook® relocation series, is excited to announce publication of the sixth edition of the Newcomer’s Handbook® for Moving to and Living in Los Angeles: Including Santa Monica, Pasadena, Orange County, and the San Fernando Valley.

This 398-page volume will quickly orient newcomers to the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Southland. Highlights include:

  • Local Quirks & Lingo, in the Introduction, offers essentials for living here; unsurprisingly, many points are related to driving and parking. How does a “red flag day” alert affect parking? Does “going over the hill” have something to do with unavailability of plastic surgery?
  • Each community section in the Neighborhoods chapter now features a photosample of local housing in the area. Get an idea of what to expect before exploring neighborhoods for yourself.
  • A new section of Helpful Apps has been added to the Getting Settled chapter, offering even more ways to get connected in the area.

Here is a short introduction to Los Angeles:

“At first glance, Los Angeles appears to be a sprawling metropolis with no clear demarcations from one municipality to the next, let alone distinct neighborhoods. It takes time and patience to navigate this d to understand the subtle qualities that make Santa Monica different from Venice, or Silver Lake from the Fairfax district, but after a while, you will find neighborhoods in Los Angeles have different characteristics. Exploring LA’s com- munities is easy and fun, and for newcomers especially, it’s encouraged—just expect to spend at least some of the time sitting in traffic.

While cruising through the city, you will no doubt encounter the “strip mall” phenomenon; that is, the appearance of one-to three-story mini-malls on every other block. While some consider these modern strip malls architectural eyesores, these neighborhood commerce centers usually provide a needed service or product.

Los Angeles’ problems of crime and violence may be notorious, but in reality, they reflect the nation’s urban woes and are certainly no better or worse here than in other major US cities. In fact, in the latest survey of FBI crime statistics, which ranked violent crime levels of the 300 largest metropolitan areas in the country, Los Angeles didn’t even make the top 100. As in any city, a good dose of street smarts and common sense will help steer you away from trouble, and as safety experts are fond of reminding us, always be aware of your surroundings. Certain high-crime neighborhoods, such as South Central and Watts, are not recommended for outsiders or newcomers, but there are plenty of safe and affordable areas in which to live, work, and play.

In terms of climate, the warmest temperatures and worst air pollution occur in the summer months, and in general, you can expect the climate and air quality to be hotter and smoggier the further east you go. The Los Angeles metropolitan area reliably ranks at or near the top of ozone pollution lists, so if smog-related illnesses are a particular concern, choose your location carefully. For detailed information on the air quality in the areas you are considering calling home, contact the South Coast Air Quality Management District at 909-396-2000, www.aqmd.gov.

The City of Los Angeles is the second most populous city, behind New York City, in the USA, with an estimated population of 3.8 million in 2012. Los Angeles County is comprised of 9.9 million residents and alone would rank as the eighth most populous state. LA is a multi-ethnic, multicultural society, as diverse as any city in the world. The ethnic breakdown of students enrolled at LA Unified School District (the largest district in the USA after New York) tells you just how diverse it is here: 73.7% Hispanic, 10.2 % Black, 8.8% White, 5.8% Asian, and the balance includes American Indian, Filipino, and Pacific Islander. People from more than 140 coun- tries live in Los Angeles County, including the largest population of Mexican, Armenian, Korean, Filipino, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan communities outside their respective home nations. The city is so large you can fit St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Manhattan all within the municipal boundaries!

For decades, people around the world have been attracted to Los Angeles for its promises of fame and fortune, and excellent year-round weather. While only a sliver of the population is famous and wealthy, the good weather here is no myth. Average temperatures range from 58 degrees Fahrenheit in December to 73 degrees in September, and it’s not uncommon to have an 80-degree day at the beach in February, while much of the rest of the country shivers under a layer of snow. Our annual precipitation is just under 15 inches, with an average of 291 sunny days a year.

Some fun facts you may want to know about LA…”

Buy now to read the rest of this excerpt and learn all you need to know about Los Angeles!

New York Pizza

Must Try Pizza Restaurants in New York

BuzzFeed’s recent article on 18 Pizza Joints You Must Try Before You Die, covers many pizza restaurants in the New York City area. Therefore, if you are moving to (or already live in) New York, we have a list of suggestions for your next pizza craving.

Di Farra PizzaOur first recommendation is Di Fara Pizza. Some people wait up to three hours to eat their delicious pizza; it is that good! Di Fara opened in 1964 by Domenico DeMarco, an Italian immigrant who came to the US in 1959. The pizzeria holds the number one spot for pizza in the New York Zagat for eight years straight and received excellent reviews and features in The New York Times and on the Food Network. Di Fara keeps its pizza authentic by importing tomatoes from Italy!

GoodfellasSecondly, Goodfellas in Staten Island is world renowned for their tequila pizza, made with coconut, mango, tomato, shrimp, lime, tequila, bacon, and white sauce; it won best pizza at the 2012 International Pizza Expo. Goodfellas was established in 1992 by Scot Cosentino. Cosentino only uses fresh ingredients for his pizzas and cooks them all at 800 degrees in traditional wood-fire brick ovens. The famous food has attracted famous actors such as Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz.

Joe's PizzaAnd last but not least is Joe’s Pizza, which was opened in 1975 by Joe Pozzuoli, another Italian-born chef. Joe’s pizza is called “the quintessential New York slice” by New York Magazine and GQ listed it as one of the “Best 25 Pizzas on Earth.” The restaurant was also featured in Spider Man 2; Toby McGuire, as Peter Parker, worked as a delivery boy for Joe’s. This Hollywood highlight inspired other celebrities to stop on by and try a piece, including big names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Anne Hathaway, and more. Even Kevin Bacon said to Maxim Magazine that “for his last meal he’d want a slice of Joe’s Pizza.”

Newcomer's Handbook for New York CityThis is far from a complete list of the excellent pizza joints in New York, but these three should give you a good introduction to the New York pizza scene. And, as always, if you want to know more about what to do in the city after you have your slice of pizza, check out our Newcomer’s Handbook to Moving to and Living in New York City.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Bookstores to Visit

World's Coolest Bookstores

On July 24, 2014 CNN released their list of World’s Coolest Bookstores, and we can confirm the coolness of five that are located in cities we know well from our handbooks.

The Last Bookstore 1

To start, The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles started as an online store but is now located in an old bank, vaults included. On the top floor, there is a section called the Labyrinth with over 100,000 books all priced at a dollar. The Last Bookstore 2Along with their wide collection of books (making them the largest independent bookstore in California), Last Bookstore also sells records and holds book signings/readings. If that isn’t enticing enough, the book structures (such as the desk and tunnel to the Labyrinth) will make the visit worth your while.

StanfordsThe next couple of shops are Stanfords and Foyles Flagship, both of which are in London. Stanfords carries the world’s largest stock of maps and travel bFoyles Flagshipooks, which comes as no surprise since the store initially opened as a map shop in 1853. If you are traveling through London and need assistance with your next excursion, the attentive staff at Stanfords can help with your research. Foyles Flagship, on the other hand, originated in 1903 when brothers William and Gilbert Foyles started selling textbooks based on an exam they had failed. Now the store is thriving with five locations, one of which is where the Sex Pistols first performed.

The StrandAnother of CNN’s coolest bookstores is The Strand in New York City. The Strand was started by Ben Bass on 4th Avenue in book row amongst 48 other bookstores and is the only one left standing today. Currently on 12th and Broadway, The Strand carries over 2.5 million new, used, and rare books. According to their website, the store is still kept in the Bass family, and they expect to continue this tradition, not seeing online stores like Amazon as a threat.

PowellsAnd last, but certainly not least, is Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. It might be a little biased to say this, but Powell’s is a book-lover’s paradise. The store takes up a whole city block and is packed up to three levels with books. Powell’s carries 122 subjects and 3,500 subsections, making it hard to not find a book on their shelves. If you do find something they don’t carry (because it has been self-published), Powell’s can print it right in the store with their Espresso Book Maker.

Those are the bookstores from CNN’s list we know from our Newcomer’s Handbooks. And if you’re moving to any of these cities, we suggest checking these stores out.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Moving to College

Learning About Your New College Town

CollegeIt’s that time of year when all the high school graduates are starting to enjoy their final summer before college. However, before you even realize, it will be time to leave for college, and our Newcomer’s Handbooks are here to assist you!

Let’s begin with New York City, home to the prestigious New York University. The big city can be intimidating, especially to a freshman who does not know what to expect. However, our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City can be your guide to Manhattan, Queens, and more. It looks closely at various neighborhoods just in case you need (or want) to live off campus. Our handbooks also offer information on performing arts theaters such as the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, both of which sell tickets to students at a discounted rate.

Chicago houses many colleges, one of which being Chicago State University. Chicago State University offers 36 diverse undergraduate programs and 29 focused graduate programs. Our handbook explores the amazing activities the city has to offer: from Broadway shows to the Bean– a public sculpture in Millennium Park. Our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Chicago also includes a section for shopping, so that you know where to go to fill up the dorm room.

HarvardHarvard, located in Boston, is one of America’s most beloved universities. America’s first university is surrounded with history and pubs. Our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Boston takes a brief look at some of the local lingo as well as how to navigate the busy streets and take advantage of public transportation. We also include a section regarding where to become involved in the community, from places to volunteer, like Pine Street Inn— a homeless shelter— to places of worship, using the National Council of Churches. Our handbook will surely make any college student in Boston feel like a part of the city.

The University of California, Los Angeles is the largest of the nine UC campuses. Whether it’s the promise of fame in the big city or the fabulously warm weather, this University has grown to educate more than 35,000 students, which has also increased the difficulty of being accepted. UCLA may be known for its college football and basketball team, but if you’re also a fan of professional sports, our books offer a list of stadiums and arenas, such as the Staples Center and Dodger Stadium, so you can watch your favorite game.

If you’re already packing your boxes for college, be sure to refer to one of our handbooks to best prepare for your move!

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

Newcomer’s Handbooks Explores its LGBT Communities

California, Oregon, and Washington

Does your state prohibit you from marrying the one you love? Lesbian Marriage

In 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.

As of May 21st, 2014, the following states support marriage equality: DC, MD, DE, NJ, PA, CT, NY, RI, MA, NH, VT, ME, IL, IA, MN, NM, WA, OR, CA, and HI (freedomtomarry.org).

Newcomer's Handbook for Los AngelesStarting in California, we offer two guides to help you out. The first book focuses on Los Angeles and its neighboring cities: Santa Monica, Pasadena, Orange County, and the San Fernando Valley. Though LA is crowded with strip malls and traffic, it is a big and diverse community. West Hollywood, known for its openly gay community, hosts the Pride Parade every June. Our other California guidebook explores the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, and Palo Alto. San Francisco, home of Apple and Google, is just as big and diverse as LA, although slightly more expensive. Among its landmarks are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual Center of San Francisco. This community center, along with the San Francisco Bay Times: The Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans Newspaper, can keep you up-to-date and connected with the community as well as provide parenting classes, HIV support groups, and a variety of other activities and presentations.

Newcomer's Handbook for PortlandMoving north to Oregon— a state that just made the move from domestic partnerships to full equal-marriage rights— our handbook describes the city of Portland and its surrounding areas, like Vancouver, Gresham, Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Wilsonville. Portland is a beautiful city with the Columbia River and five snowcapped, dormant volcanos all within view. Besides its beauty, Portland also has had one of the first openly gay mayors in a major US city, Sam Adams, who was elected into office from 2005 to 2009. Along with its former gay mayor, the urban city of Portland publishes a PDX Gay Yellow Pages where you can find support centers like the Q Center, which includes a youth resource center.

Newcomer's Handbook for SeattleFurther north in Washington, we have our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Seattle: Including Bellevue, Redmond, Everett, and Tacoma. Seattle is popularly home to Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon as well as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, from which you can see Mt. Rainier on a clear day. As for the gay community, there is plenty. There is an abundance of organizations geared towards helping the Seattle LGBT community, such as Dignity Seattle for LGBT Catholics, the Lambert House Gay Youth Center, and the Gay Fathers Association of Seattle.

As equality is finally progressing into our cities, even just a brief look at a few of our guidebook’s cities becomes arduous for our readers! Next week, look for Part 2 in which we will cover Illinois and Minnesota, specifically Chicago and Minneapolis- St. Paul.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Moving to Chicago


Thinking about making the move to Chicago? Have you already made the decision? Our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in Chicago can help make your transition smoother and give you the information needed to settle into your neighborhood quicker.

Here is a sample from our Newcomer’s Handbook for Chicago and a quick overview of what the great city of Chicago has to offer:

Chicago Intro_Page_01

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We could keep going, but we don’t want to give away all of our secrets! There are a lot of great things about Chicago, but you will have to buy our book to find out all about the great neighborhoods and greenspaces the city has to offer. 

Our Newcomer’s guide includes six geographic maps delineating each section of the city and suburbs as well as photographs of typical housing in each community. With detailed profiles on dozens of neighborhoods and communities, this comprehensive and detailed book includes helpful chapters on Neighborhoods, Finding a Place to Live, Moving and Storage, Money Matters, Getting Settled, Helpful Services, Childcare and Education, Green Living, Shopping for the Home, Cultural Life, Higher Education, Sports and Recreation, Greenspace and Beaches, Weather, Getting Involved (which includes volunteering, places of worship, and meeting people), Transportation, Temporary Lodgings, Quick Getaways, A Chicago Year, Chicago Reading List, and Useful Phone Numbers and Web Sites.

We hope to help make your move and relocation to Chicago as easy as possible!


Super Bowl 2014

Heading to MetLife Stadium

It is that time of year, when the football season is coming to a close and the excitement of the Super Bowl looms. This year the game will be held at the famous MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets.

For those that have never been to New York City before and may be moving to or visiting during the coming months, you may be curious as to where to go and what to do while visiting the Big Apple. Here is an excerpt from our “Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City,” that lists the yearly festivals and holidays in the coming months:

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Pages from NCHB_NYC22_bookblock_Page_2For more information about New York City, be sure to check out our Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to and Living in New York City.