Synergy's Guide to
New York City
The Five Boroughs of NYC
New York City is known for having the largest and busiest public transportation system in North America. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which consists of trains and buses, stands as the primary form of transportation. Even so, New Yorkers often find themselves walking from place to place in this highly accessible city.
The subway costs $2.75 per trip. There are kiosks where you can purchase a physical MetroCard, or you can use tap-to-pay on your phone at the turnstile. Uber, Lyft and yellow cabs are other transportation options if you'd rather avoid public transit, with Ubers and Lyfts typically having lower fares than taxis. As a general rule, never get into an unmarked cab, and look for a medallion affixed to the hood of the car to ensure it’s an official NYC Yellow Cab.
To feel like a local in NYC, abide by subway rules and etiquette, such as letting others exit before entering, offering your seat to those in need, and being mindful of space and backpack placement.
Money & Tipping
The United States has a different tipping culture than Europe and most countries around the world. It’s discretionary, but very much expected. For service workers – restaurant and hotel staff, taxi drivers, tour guides, etc. – tips are an essential part of their earnings. Always aim to tip between 15 and 20%, or even more if the service was excellent. For purchases over the counter, like takeaway food or coffee, tipping isn’t necessary but will be warmly appreciated.
Haggling is uncommon in restaurants and shops, but not unheard of in certain venues like open-air markets or street vendors. Be aware that sales tax is not included in shop prices, so the price you pay is often higher than advertised.
Prepare for scarce public bathrooms in NYC. It's advisable to use facilities in shops or restaurants you visit, but be aware that not all places have them or may restrict access. Try to plan ahead for a hassle-free experience.
Weather & Climate
New York City has four fairly distinct seasons: a hot summer and a cold winter, shouldered with a mild spring and autumn. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from about 70°F to 95°F (21°C - 35°C) – just be aware that high humidity can make the “feels like” temperature much higher.
Winters vary in severity from year to year, but temperatures can dip to as low as 20°F (-6°C). Snowfall averages about 25 inches per winter, and severe snowstorms may occur.
Autumn (or fall) produces crisp temperatures, not to mention stunning fall foliage colors across the city. Spring also offers mild temperatures, as well as beautiful cherry blossoms. Rain is common throughout all seasons, so it’s a good idea to carry an umbrella year-round.
Phones & Electricals
An electric plug in America has two pins. Search for a Type A plug adaptor, which you’ll be able to purchase in most electronics stores or large stores like Target.
Mobile data reception is excellent and SIM cards are available in most grocery stores and electronics stores. Free WiFi will also be included in your serviced accommodations.
Safety & Security
With any large city, it’s important you follow some general rules. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially in crowded places. Check your pockets frequently. Don’t travel to secluded areas, and stay local. Don’t roam around the city alone at night.
When walking in New York City, show consideration for others, including locals, by maintaining a reasonable pace and moving aside if you need to slow down or stop, allowing others to pass by.
Buying food in supermarkets
Grocery stores can be found all over the city, and range from small to mid-size markets to full supermarkets. Because the majority of New Yorkers don’t have cars, it’s common to grocery shop frequently and buy fewer groceries at a time. The reason behind this is so they can be easily carried home without the use of a vehicle
High-quality, high-price: Small local chains such as th eAmish Market, Citarella and Westside Market offer high-end groceries and prepared foods at prices to match. Other gourmet purveyors include specialty stores like Eataly and Zabar’s.
Mid-range: You’ll notice many small markets, known as “bodegas,” that sell a limited selection of groceries, snacks, drinks, conveniences, alcohol, coffee, and hot and cold deli foods like sandwiches. Beloved by locals, bodegas can be found close to your furnished apartment in NYC and on nearly every block. Although their prices tend to be higher, many find the convenience to be worth paying a little extra. Other moderately priced options include Gristedes, Morton Williams, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.