* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Should I move to NYC?

I recently visited New York City (biz and pleasure) and fell in love with it!

Yes, I know, some hate it and can't see what I am talking about while others share the same feeling...

Anyway, I find myself walking with the feeling that I should move and live there for a while.

In theory as an [m]ISV I can work form anywhere (well, almost anywhere) so in theory nothing should stop me from moving.

However, there are many arrangements and difficulties. I currently live outside of the US, my [m]ISV I employ a few people for support and help with the development, I actually have a life in order and I am pretty happy with it, etc. - so as you can see it makes everything more complex...
But then again, something is telling me to make the change and move to NYC for a year or so.

I am also not that familiar with the software/ISV scene in NYC. I know this forum host is operating from NYC and I am wondering whether there are others, whether there is some kind of software/misv community there etc.

I would love to hear your thoughts!
annon for now
Sunday, December 09, 2007
One thing to definitely keep in mind is the cost of living in NYC. I'm not sure if that is an issue for you, but you should  evaluate the city on every aspect before moving.

Best of Luck!
Sunday, December 09, 2007
It depends on how much money does your [m]ISV makes.  Our cost of living is astronomical.  If part of your strategy for self-employment is reducing your overhead, the city will crush you.

I estimate you need to earn at least 28k a year if student loans are a part of your 'just getting by' budget.

On the other hand, if you're good on the $$$ or don't mind poverty, this place rocks.
Cody Hess Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007

One of the benefits of a micro-ISV is to let you live the life you want. So if you fall in love with New York, then why not?

On the other hand, watch for your monthly cash expenses: New York is on the top for cost of living. Make sure you can take it. The only problem is that it's usually very hard for someone who doesn't live there yet to really understand how serious the problem is. It's not just rent. Whatever research you do ahead of time, add a good buffer to that, because you'll be surprised once you move. Things that you didn't ever think of start costing real money and it all adds up very quickly.
The FairSoftware Guy Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I disagree with previous poster ... if you can handle the rent, you'll find it's not that bad (*). No car needed will save you, what $300-500 per month? Food is pretty cheap -- not particularly more than anywhere else in the country. Perhaps people spend more on food in NYC, but besides milk & eggs (which are around 30% more than suburbs), it's a choice not a necessity. Movie tickets are going to be more expensive, but then again, don't move to NYC to watch mainstream movies (and what's wrong with paying a $2 premium on non-mainstream/non-cineplex movies?). Anyhow there's lots of affordable entertainment and services.

(*) Now the rent. Overheard on the subway yesterday: "She pays more for her apartment than my father earns in a year".

If you have no need to be in the middle of Manhattan every day, you can find affordable housing in the boroughs. Lots of new immigrants do.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Do it.  If you love New York you should try and live there at least once in your life, preferably when you're young enough to endure the long hours (stuff stays open all the time).

Sure, rents are high, but live in Queens or Brooklyn with a roommate instead of alone in Manhattan, and you'll find it quite affordable, especially if you don't own a car.  And you don't NEED a car there, and keeping one is expensive and inconvenient anyway.  People rent cars occasionally on weekends if they want to go somewhere not accessible by public transportation.

I had my young single years in NY, and they were the most fun I've ever had.
Prisoner of corporate America
Sunday, December 09, 2007
You say you live outside the US, but are you a US citizen? If you're not, you can't just move to the US and start working. It's very difficult to move to the US and work legally.
sloop Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007
No one can tell you what you should do, but if you're asking if it's possible to run a small software company in New York City, the answer is yes.

I've lived in NYC since the late '80s, and support my family here with my small software company (myself, my wife, and 2-4 outsourced resources).

Here are some office/city photos from one of my morning routine drives some time last year:

Andrey Butov Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Hey Andrey, can't get to your blog. You still blogging?

Sunday, December 09, 2007
Keep in mind the high cost of rent. As an mISV I am sure your income can change quite a bit month to month. I would not do it without at a minimum, six months complete living expenses and more likely a year's worth.

I have been in Dubai for the past three years on a long term contract and the rent here is driving us out... we might just move to New York to cut our monthly rent.  ;-)
Trygve Inda Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007
>> Hey Andrey, can't get to your blog. You still blogging?

I'm at http://www.antair.com/blog/
Andrey Butov Send private email
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Although I've been to NYC often, I've never lived there. But if I were to move to the US, it would be NYC or Los Gatos CA. I'd have to trip to Cuba from time to time, it's hard to get good cigars in the US. Or beer, but there are some local exceptions.

Hang about, Nat Sherman is in NYC ... but I digress.

In a general sense, if it appeals to you, by all means do your sums then pack up and move.

I've lived in several countries, and each one has been full of rich and rewarding experiences. My wife and I both consider how dull our lives would seem had we not done so.

I have had friends to whom overseas opportunities have arisen and they've declined because of absolutely stupid reasons. Their kids' schooling, perceived language difficulties, just bought a new house/car/whatever. And in each case, I think they're not as fulfilled as a result, and in each case I believe they know it.

Go for it ...
Craig Welch Send private email
Monday, December 10, 2007
I beleive the ban on travel to Cuba applies not only to US citizens, but US residents as well... might need to rethink your cigar situation.
Trygve Inda Send private email
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thanks to everyone for the great feedback and inspiring comments and pictures. I now have a lot of points to think about!

From reading the posts I see that the common concern to think about when moving to NYC.
Can anyone share the typical costs for NYC? For example, how much is a decent (not fancy but reasonable) Manhattan apartment with one living room, one bad room and another room to act as my misv-office?

Also, what other major costs are there besides rental? How much do you think the monthly expense would be for two persons living reasonably well?

I would also love to hear about the software scene in NYC. Well, I am not expecting silicon valley standards but would still like to know/hear about more NYC [m]isv's,  conferences, exhibitions, events etc. The stuff that adds fun and excitement to our hobby/work...
annon for now
Monday, December 10, 2007
While you don't need to have a car in NY you may end up spending just as much for a subway pass every month.  Rent in  Manhattan is more than I used to pay for a house in SC or CT.  The apartment will also be much smaller than you are used to.  I have never gone grocery shopping in the city but expect lunch to run you between 10 and 20 a day.  (and if you eat McDonald's or Burger King shame on you.  There is always a better place open).  Obviously there is tons to do here but it does cost more than you would expect.  I spent a day doing tourist stuff with my kid and dropped over $300.  If you look at buying a condo or apartment there is also this concept called maintenance fees, which can exceed $800 a month on a 1000 sq ft dwelling.
Me2 the Sql Send private email
Monday, December 10, 2007
>>> how much is a decent (not fancy but reasonable) Manhattan apartment with one living room, one bad room and another room to act as my misv-office?

When we were moving the last time (about 2 years ago), a 1 bedroom apartment in the city (about 700 sq feet in all), went for around $2800 per month. You can find cheaper rates (but not by much) if you look around, and you can cut this by half if you live in Brooklyn or Queens (but then you're not REALLY living in NYC).

>>> what other major costs are there besides rental?

Rent and food will be your biggest expenses. This is probably true for any large city.

>>> I would also love to hear about the software scene in NYC.

There are some ad-hoc groups and clubs that people join, but they usually don't extend beyond the occasional meet-up at a Starbucks. The air is certainly isn't permeated with startup fever like on the west coast -- NYC is mostly about Wall Street when it comes to software.

Look at it this way -- you come to live in NYC because you want to live in NYC -- you just happen to make a living from software.
Andrey Butov Send private email
Monday, December 10, 2007
Andrey's last comment is the most best and most complete answer you can find. The west coast is definitely the place for start-up fever. If you're an aggressive persevering entrepreneur and you're constantly out there meeting, greeting and socializing you will succeed anywhere; in NYC it will take a bit longer to make the solid connections you might be looking for.

I'm a native born, bred here, though I was lucky enough to live in a number of contintents as an adult.  I'm back 6 yrs after having living in Asia for 5 yrs, so I understand your attraction for this place. It is like no other!

Like every New Yorker I have a love/frustrating relationship with this place. But if what you're looking for is excitement, adventure, a change, and something that will give you a sense of perspective and understanding about your life and the world in which you live, this is the place to live for awhile. 

I've lived in every borough/county in this city and can say that each neighborhood has its own particular feel.  I currently live in one of the most sought after  neighborhoods in Queens.  Here's what you can expect to pay for things (whole numbers only): 

A Two Bedroom Apt - $2,000/mo
Real Estate Broker (1 time fee) $3,500
Electricity/Gas - $150/mo
Cell (local/national and data svc) $100/mo         
Cable w/broadband internet service $120/mo
Food $120/wk or $480/mo
Tranportation (30 min. train ride to manhattan & 1 taxi ride/wk) $140/mo
Entertainment (eating out, movies, clubs, etc.) $400/mo
Clothing (you need to dress stylish to fit in) $180/mo
Gym - $50/mo
Health & Apt. Insurance - $2,950/mo

That brings your basic annual overhead costs to $78,840, which means you have to average a monthly income of at least $7,500/month. 

Why did I bother to share all of this with you?  Because the guy that said you could live in NYC for $28,000 either has a ton of room mates and no privacy or is mooching off his parents and/or the gov't. Since you're not a new yorker you would not be eligible for any type of assistance.  In other words, if you get sick you either pay cash or with a valid credit card or no one will even look at you and that's with insurance. My son recently had surgery with one of the top pediatric surgeons in NYC. She didn't take insurance so to help save his life I had to use my credit card to pay for her $7,500 surgeon's fees.

Why was I willing to pay for her in cash, instead of going to another doctor who accepts insurance? Because every specialist I consulted said she was the best in the country and her success rate was 97%.

The moral of NYC is if you want the best, you have to be willing to pay for it, because there's hundreds of people who are willing and able to pay when you can't or don't want to. 

One last thing, the city functions at the speed of light, if you're a mellow laid back person you will find yourself stressed out by the noise, the crowds, the rude behavior of the mobs and long time new yorkers that bristle at niceties such as "good morning".  If you can deal with all of that I say, get your short term life plan and gear and make it happen!  After all, you only live once.
Michele Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
@Andrey - Thanks for the great info. I like NYC exactly for what it is, I just like to know that among so many different industries out there there's a software scene in NYC as well... (doesn't it make it even better?)

@Michele - Very interesting feedback. Thanks. BTW, is health and apartment insurance are really that expensive: "Health & Apt. Insurance - $2,950/mo" ?
annon for now
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
>> the guy that said you could live in NYC for $28,000 either has a ton of room mates and no privacy or is mooching off his parents and/or the gov't.

@Michelle - Thank you for illuminating the precise costs of living in the city.  She's not exaggerating people, it's absurd.

When I say bare bones for 28k, I mean it - small room with roommate in it, no television, peanut butter diet.  Definitely no bars or restaurants.  It cannot be overemphasized how expensive it is to live in the city, especially Manhattan.
Cody Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz