Living in New York

Living in New York

Concerns about Safety and Security

Popular misconceptions of New York City are that it is a dangerous city. In reality, New York has among the lowest crime rates among major metropolitan cities in the United States.  As in any large metropolitan area, however, common sense and awareness can help you avoid problems and difficulties. Students are advised to visit the TC Prepardness and the CDC sites for the latest COVID-19 guidance. 

It is advisable to take certain precautions when you arrive and during your stay in New York:

Arrival Safety Tips

  • You may wish to plan your trip so that you arrive in New York during business hours (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.). This will make it much easier for you to receive assistance should you need it.
  • Use good judgment. Do not leave your luggage or personal property unattended or with strangers, however courteous.
  • Take "yellow" taxis from official taxi stands and use official, authorized means of transportation. Do not let strangers take your bags or escort you to taxi / car services.

Travel and Street Safety Tips

  • If taking the subway at night, stay in designated 'yellow' waiting areas near the subway entrance or toll booths.  Likewise, ride in the subway car near the middle of the train, which is closer to the conductor.
  • Walk in well-lit and well-trafficked areas; crimes are more likely to take place in darkly-lit or isolated places.
  • Do not flash large amounts of cash; take traveler's checks and keep your money in different locations when traveling.
  • Beware of 'con' games in which strangers solicit you for help or assistance with promises to repay you.
  • If you plan to ride a bike, buy a good lock and use it even at any time you plan to be away from your bike.

 Campus Safety Tips

  • Do not leave your laptop computer, iPod or MP3 player, or other valuable items unattended in the library, dormitory, or other places - even for short periods of time.
  • Lock your dorm room when leaving.
  • Report any missing personal property to the TC Security Office in Whittier Hall immediately.
  • Carry and show your TC ID card at all times around the TC campus.
  • Keep valuable official documents, such as your passport, in a safe place in your dorm room - do not carry official documents with you unless you have to.
  • Do not reveal personal information, such as your name, address, and date of birth and/or Social Security number or other personal identifying information to strangers

By keeping to these points of advice and by using common sense, you should be able to avoid any difficulties while studying at Teachers College.

TC Safety and Security Office

Teachers College maintains a Safety and Security Office that works closely with the New York City Police Department to maintain public safety and security in the TC neighborhood. If you have any concerns during your stay, please report them to the OISS and to the TC Security Office.

Housing Options

Housing in New York City is extremely expensive - perhaps as a high as anywhere else in the world. On-campus housing is the least expensive and most convenient alternative. However, because TC has only a limited housing supply, acceptance to Teachers College does not guarantee that you will be given on-campus housing. This section addresses three frequently asked questions about housing.

    Where can I live on-campus while I am a Teachers College student?
    How can I find an off-campus apartment?
    Are there places I can stay while I'm looking for an apartment?
Where can I live on-campus while I am a Teachers College student?

Teachers College owns residence halls in the Columbia University neighborhood, but not in sufficient numbers to provide housing for all students who would like to live in the area. College-owned housing is assigned through the Office of Residential Services. You can apply for housing up to one year in advance of the semester you plan to begin enrollment at Teachers College, even before admission is actually granted. Because housing space is limited and decisions must be made quickly, it is important to apply early and to notify Residential Services if your address changes. When you are offered a room assignment and you wish to accept it, you should notify Residential Services immediately and send the required deposit.

A signed contract and a security deposit equivalent to one month's rent are required for all types of on-campus housing. Deposits are refunded with interest when you leave the residence without damage. Rent is billed on a semester-by-semester basis by Student Accounts.

On-campus housing options, prices and eligibility requirements are described in the Application for Residence Halls which can be found on the Office of Residential Services web site. You must mail your application directly to:

Residence Halls Office,
Teachers College Box 312
New York, NY 10027

Phone: (212) 678-3235
Fax: (212) 678-3222
Office of Residential Services

Send it as early as possible, as housing is limited and in very high demand.

International House.  Another option for Teachers College students is living at International House (I-House). I-House, only a ten minute walk from Teachers College, is a private residence hall for international and domestic students attending educational institutions in New York City. It accommodates over 750 single students, approximately 450 from other countries and 300 from the United States. Most rooms do not have cooking facilities. A meal plan is offered at additional cost. Information may be obtained by writing directly to:

International House
500 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027, USA

Phone: (212) 316-8434
Fax: (212) 316-1827
How can I find an off-campus apartment?

Off-Campus Housing Assistance (OCHA), which lists non-Columbia owned apartments and rooms, is located at 419 West 119th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive. You will need to present your Teachers College ID card or your letter of admission to the OCHA in order to use this service. Once you have an OCHA ID and password, you can view the housing listings on-line. 

In New York, apartments are sometimes difficult to find, and rents are high. In most cases, you will be asked to pay one month's rent in advance and a security deposit before moving in. An additional fee is paid to a rental agent, if one is used. Many students try to find roommates to share apartments. The OISS has copies of a useful housing-search booklet and guide, Help Yourself to Housing, published by Metro International.  Please stop by to pick up a copy. Many students also use on-line commercial bulletin boards and posting services, such as Craigslist, to find housing in the city or with persons who are looking for roommates.  

Are there places I can stay while I'm looking for an apartment?

If you cannot secure housing before you arrive in New York, there are several temporary arrangements you can make while you are looking for more permanent housing. Listed below are several sources of temporary housing in the city which students have used in the past. We strongly recommend that you contact these facilities at least one month in advance. Please contact each facility to determine space availability and rates.

Both Men and Women

    International House, 500 Riverside Dr., NY, NY
    (212) 316-8434
    International Student Center, 38 West 88th St., NY, NY
    (212) 787-7706
    New York International American Youth Hostel, 891 Amsterdam Ave., at 103rd St., NY, NY
    (212) 932-2300
    Vanderbilt YMCA, 224 East 47th St., NY, NY
    (212) 756-9600
    Westside YMCA, 5 West 63rd St., NY, NY
    (212) 875-4100.

Students with Children

Teachers College appreciates the fact that many of its students have family members, including children. The Office of Residential Services has limited family housing available, and TC provides information and services for parents with school-age children. 


Tips and Advice

When preparing to bring any dependent minor children, please keep in mind the following tips and advice:

  • If you have preschool or school-age children, be sure to bring their birth certificates (with an official English translation), and medical/immunization records with you to the U.S., as they are required for school enrollment.
  • The school year for elementary and high school is usually similar to Teachers College school year. Classes can begin in September and can end in May or June.  There is usually a winter vacation for approximately one month between mid-December and mid-January.

Childcare Resources:

New York Public schools

NYC Department of Education Website 

Prekindergarten: Acceptance is based on standardized admissions profiles.   Applications are not accepted by mail.

Kindergarten:  The admission’s period is school based. Families must submit an application to the school even if it is their zoned school.  Bring the child’s birth certificate or passport and proof of U.S. address. Check the website for acceptable documents. Children receding in their school zone will be given priority.

Elementary School: Grades 1-8. Register at the zoned school. You must bring the child with you. There is also a list of documents. Check the website for acceptable documents. If you are planning to move to New York City you do not need to apply for non-residence enrollment, you can register the child when you have proof of a U.S. address. 

Middle School: Grades 6-8. Most schools range from grade 1 to grade 8. But there are some schools where the child will need to change to a different school after grade 5. The enrollment for middle school is similar to the enrollment for elementary school.  

High School: Grade 9-12. New students must register at the Borough Enrollment Office of the borough in which they reside.  The student has the option to apply for specialized high schools in which there is a specialized high school admissions test.  The student is not eligible for this test until they are a New York resident. There are videos and publications that can help students and parents choose a high school. There are also summer workshops. 

Gifted and Talented:  All grades. Testing takes place in the beginning of the calendar year for following school year (September).  Children from all boroughs are welcome to apply. Note that you have to be a New York resident to apply.  For more information you can download the handbook and check the school calendars.  You can also contact Gifted and Talented Admissions via the New York City Department of Education at (718)-935-2009.

Charter Schools:  All grades. Charter schools are open to all students in New York City. They are governed by non-profit organizations that may also design the educational programs of the charter schools.  Charter schools were founded to provide high-quality school choices. If applications exceed available seats, an admissions lottery takes place to decide acceptance.

Public School Resources:
•    For application deadlines and registration requirements for all grades and schools, please visit   
•    To search for schools in your area visit the New York City Department of Education 
•    You can research Clara Hemphill’s books: New York City’s Best Public Elementary Schools, New York City’s Best Public Middle Schools, New York City’s Best Public High Schools. 


New York Private Schools

Private schools are independent.  They each have their own educational philosophy in which they are free to follow.  Private schools choose their students through an application process. They are non-profit organizations and get their funding through tuition, fees and contributions. Private schools can either be religious or non-religious.  The member organization, New York State Association of Independent School’s (NYSAIS) can provide more information.

NYSAIS does not recommend schools.  You can choose between public schools, religious schools, proprietary schools, home instruction, and independent schools (either day or boarding).

The First step is to do your research and narrow down your school options.  You can do your research online, attend the school’s open house, walk around the school’s neighborhood, talk to people that attend or work at the school and ask other parents questions.  Standard questions to ask include but are not limited to:

  • Location
  • Facilities
  • Philosophy
  • Achievement
  • Faculty
  • Community
  • Atmosphere
  • Parent Involvement
  • Standards
  • Support

Each private school has its own application process, deadlines, test requirements, financial aid, and age cut off dates.  Private schools generally state their tuition.  Private school tuition can range from $15,000 to $30,000 and can sometimes cost even more.  

Many school deadlines are in January or February for the next academic year. Standardized admissions tests are generally used. It is always good to abide by their deadlines and to communicate with the school of your choice. 

Private schools will choose whether they want to accept an applicant or not.  Many different factors are considered for a private school application.  New York private schools are often very competitive and it can be difficult to gain acceptance, so it is always good to apply to multiple schools.

Private School Resources:
•    To see reviews on certain private schools you can visit Private School Review 
•    For more information for parents you can visit The Parents League of New York  
•    For a guide to independent private schools you can visit the National Association of Independent Schools 
•    New York State Association of Independent Schools 
•    You can research Victoria Goldman’s book: The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools and Selective Public Schools
•    For Catholic education you can visit Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New York 

New York Weather

The climate in New York is moderate and has four seasonal changes. The temperature exceeds 90F (30C) in July and August and falls to 10F (-12C) in January and February. It is hot and humid in the summer (June to late September) and cold and damp in the winter (late October to March). Rainfall is intermittent throughout the year, and it frequently snows between November and March.

Students need to have a variety of clothing, from heavy boots and a warm coat, to light cotton shirts and open shoes. When you pack, remember that you will be carrying your luggage, so pack lightly. Also, it may be cheaper to buy certain items in New York than to ship them or bring them with you.

For information about New York's weather, go to the Weather Channel at and enter 'New York City' in the search field.

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