Tag Archives: relocation

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

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

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


A Beautiful City

We publish Newcomer’s Handbooks for many different cities– one of them being Portland, Oregon, our hometown. We love it here! This is our home for many reasons, and there are tons of lists out there that tell you why Portland is one of the greatest cities in the U.S.

Uncage the Soul Productions put together an amazing time lapse video of Portland, showing both the city and the nature that surrounds it.  There are so many things that Portland has to offer, and this video only captures a small portion of that. However, it does it so well that we wanted to share it with you. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a bit of what we call home:

Finding Portland from Uncage the Soul Productions on Vimeo.


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

Chicago Intro_Page_02Chicago Intro_Page_03Chicago Intro_Page_04


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!


Happy New Year – Resolutions for 2014

As the New Year approaches and the current year ends, it is usually a time of reflection and resolution for the coming year. We look back over the past year and reflect on the accomplishments, failures, tragedies, and small victories that we have encountered and surpassed. We also look forward to the future, with the main topic of conversation being our resolutions for the coming year. From losing weight, to reading more, we all have something that we hope we will improve upon or accomplish in the following year.

What are your resolutions for 2014?

Time magazine shared a list of “5 New Year’s Resolutions That Might Actually Work” with ideas that will help you to keep those commitments that we make to ourselves in January, but are long forgotten come February. Maybe this year you want to make a different resolution, such as “get some fresh air” or “step away from the screen.” CNN gives you a look at different New Year’s resolutions in their article “Make a new kind of New Year’s resolution.”

Here at Newcomer’s Handbooks we hope that in 2014 we can help more people in their move and relocation, that we can introduce more people to a new city and that you learn a little more about where you are living now.

Whatever your resolution, we look forward to sharing 2014 with you and wish you a Happy New Year!