What to Know Before Moving to Long Island

If you live in New York City, when you hear Long Island, you probably think of the Hamptons or other famed high-end vacation spots. However, Long Island isn’t just for the rich and famous. With four counties, two Native American reservations, two airports, numerous hiking trails, and countless villages and towns, Long Island has a lot to offer for anyone who wants a combination of nature and arts and entertainment.

If you’re thinking about moving to Long Island, there are a few things you should know before you take the plunge. As diverse as the neighborhoods are in Long Island, finding movers in Long Island can be a bit more difficult than finding one in New York City as there aren’t as many options. Of course, you should first decide whether you want to actually live on Long Island or not before you start looking for movers or houses for that matter. While Long Island can be a great place to live, it also has downsides.

The Weather

Long Island lies in the transition zone between a humid subtropical and humid continental climate. That means that summers tend to be hot and humid with the occasional thunderstorms, spring and fall are mild, and winters are cod with a mix of snow and rain. As it is situated on the Atlantic Ocean, areas along the coast, such as South Shore, benefit from the cooling ocean breezes and tend to be significantly cooler than the rest of Long Island. It also tends to have milder winters than the rest of New York due to its coastal location.

While most storms major storms peter out thanks to the moderating effects of the Atlantic Ocean, it still is vulnerable to tropical cyclones. In fact, it has been affected by several tropical cyclones most recently Hurricane Sandy, which caused extensive damage to low lying areas. Flooding is also an issue in many of the coastal and low-lying areas of Long Island. Of course, these are rare occurrences and for the most part, Long Island offers excellent weather for people who enjoy all four seasons. During the summer you can relax and enjoy the beaches while in the winter you can enjoy cross country skiing thanks to the moderate amount of snowfall the area gets in the winter. Of course in the fall and spring, you get to enjoy the amazing bursts of colors from the leaves and flowers.

Transportation

Pretty much every type of transportation serves Long Island due to its close proximity to New York City. You can easily commute from Long Island to New York City via the Long Island Rail Road, and millions of people do every year. The LIRR is the second busiest commuter railroad in North America beaten out only by the Metro-North railroad. Since it’s so busy you do have to deal with crowded trains, especially during peak hours.

If you want to travel to more locations within Long Island, you can take one of three bus lines: the Nassau inter-country express that provides transportation throughout Nassau County and some areas of Suffolk County, the Suffolk County Transit that provides transportation throughout Suffolk County, and the Huntington Area Rapid Transit that serves the Town of Huntington.

Long Island is the location of three large airports – JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Long Island MacArthur Airport. That’s right, Queens is, in fact, part of Long Island. JFK is a major international airport servicing around 75 million passengers a year while LaGuardia averaged around 20 million. The smaller Long Island MacArthur Airport handles about 2 million passengers a year and is the only airport in Nassau or Suffolk County with regularly scheduled commercial flights. There are smaller general aviation airports on Long Island, but they do not have the same amount of passengers or scheduled flights as the other three.

If you want to go adventuring on the high seas, you can hop onto the various ferries dotted around the island that connects Long Island and Connecticut. Depending on what ferry you take, you might even be able to ride on with your car. There are also seasonal ferries that take you to the popular beach destination Fire Island as well as Block Island and Montauk.

If all else fails, you can always take your car and drive around the island as there are multiple expressways and parkways that will take you anywhere you want to go. While it might not be the fastest – Long Islanders call the Long Island Expressway the world’s longest parking lot – it does get you from point A to point B if there’s no other mode of transportation.

Long Island Taxes

One of the biggest things you should consider before you even look at movers in Long Island is whether you can afford to pay the taxes. While Long Island in general has high property taxes Nassau county has some of the highest property taxes in the country due to its good schools and proximity to New York City and the beaches.

Property taxes aren’t the only thing you have to worry about in Long Island. You also need to contend with the relatively high New York State income tax as well as the standard federal taxes. If you live in Long Island, but work in New York City you might also be subjected to the New York City income tax as well. However, if you live and work on Long Island you do not have to pay a county tax. While you might not have to pay a county income tax, you will have to pay a 4.625 percent sales tax – the highest percentage in New York State – in addition to the 4% state tax if you make purchases in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Overall, Long Island tends to have pretty high taxes in comparison to other areas in the state and even country. With that said, the area with the highest taxes also tends to have many amenities that you might want around you such as museums, parks, great schools, etc. If those are important to you, then regardless of where you move you will end up paying a bit more in taxes.

Cost of Living

Just because you’re not in Manhattan proper doesn’t mean that things are cheaper. In fact, Long Island is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States beating out New York City. It costs a family of four around $140,000 just to get by comfortably. Taxes, of course, are what make the bulk of expenses, followed by housing, transportation, and health care. As you would imagine, many low-wage workers simply don’t make enough to adequately meet their family’s needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, there is no way for the minimum wage workers to survive on Long Island and forget about buying a house. The median house price is around $500,000. Even if you don’t buy, apartments aren’t cheap either. The median one-bedroom is around $1,750 while two bedrooms go for around $2,500.

Food prices are also higher on Long Island when compared to the rest of the United States. In general, most people spend an average of $875 a month for a family of four, which includes groceries and dining out. When compared to other major cities, food costs on Long Island are significantly higher than most cities except San Franciso, San Diego, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Honolulu.

Job Market

Although it might not have as many jobs as New York City, the Long Island job market has grown steadily over the years. Some sectors such as manufacturing, which have been losing jobs nationally, have actually seen growth on Long Island due to the retirement of baby boomers and the decreasing amount of skilled workers who are willing to work in manufacturing.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Long Island. Companies with under 20 employees account for 90 percent of Long Island’s companies with child-care, banks, law firms, doctors’ offices, etc. all play a key role in the local economy. Of course, small delis and clothing stores also help employ workers, and these also dot the local economy, though they don’t necessarily pay well. There’s also a growing demand for construction workers due to the increase in multifamily residential and mixed-use development near the Long Island Rail Road stations.

While Long Island’s job growth is strong, unfortunately, top-paying jobs are decreasing. The fastest-growing sectors include health care, which pays an average of $58,676, and hospitality, which averages $23,894. Jobs in finance, operations managers, etc. all had their job market decrease or stagnate year-over-year. Considering the cost of living in Long Island is so high, it’s no surprise that most people who live on Long Island commute to New York City for more lucrative opportunities.

Entertainment

There’s no shortage of activities and fun things to do on Long Island. If you’re someone who enjoys the arts, you’ll be happy to know there are several museums, performing arts centers, and art galleries dotted around the island. If you’re more into the music scene, there are many music venues you can visit from bars to actual concert halls. Different locations will play different types of music and some are able to get well-known musicians and bands to play.

If you’re more interested in nature, then you’re in luck as Long Island has plenty of natural beauty. Of course, there are beaches and with that comes surfing and sailing classes. Can’t swim? That’s okay! Long Island also offers some beautiful hiking trails along the shore or through a beautiful forest. Some will even take you through both environments!

Long Island is also a foodie’s paradise with hundreds of fine dining restaurants and several Michelin star rated ones as well. You can get a variety of cuisines from Japanese to Mexican to French. Of course, there are also plenty of tasty local hole-in-the-wall restaurants that won’t break the bank. Whatever you want, you’ll be able to find it easily in Long Island.

Conclusion

As with any place you move, Long Island has its pros and cons. If you want to have a bit more space than a cramped 200 square foot apartment in New York City, but don’t want to be too far away from everything it has to offer, then it might be a great choice. Plus, Long Island has plenty of its own amenities with the added bonus of beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and generally mild weather throughout the year.

Of course, it’s not without its downsides. You’ll have to deal with incredibly high property and sales taxes. The cost of living is also higher than in New York City itself. Plus, while the weather tends to be mild, there is the possibility of it getting hit by severe weather such as tropical storms, blizzards, and flooding. Then, of course, there’s the traffic and commute. If you work in the city, like the thousands of others, you’ll have to deal with crowded trains, horrible road traffic, and more.

If Long Island sounds like the perfect place for you, try to find local Long Island movers to help you into your new home. They’ll know the area and have experience with your specific type of move whether you’re moving from New York City or New Jersey.