Wow, I'm getting deja vu from your post! I'm an ER nurse with 3 years experience (BSN & CEN) that moved to NYC in March. Needless to say, I have lots of advice to offer you.
Where to start, how about this: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=zy2ijQQdGumc.k9TnaW0Zygn4
I applied everywhere in Manhattan, reading stats on US News Best Hospitals regarding ER visits, beds, admissions, etc. I interviewed with 4 hospitals and had my pick of the litter. The NYC hospitals are split up into hospital networks & you also need to consider nursing unions.
NSLIJ: Lenox Hill Hospital & Lenox Hill Healthplex (free-standing)
Mount Sinai: Mount Sinai, St. Lukes, Beth Israel, Roosevelt, & Mount Sinai Queens
New York Presbyterian: Columbia, Cornell, & Lower Manhattan
HHC Hospitals (NY State): Bellevue, Harlem, Metropolitan, Jacobi, Lincoln, NY Downstate
Montefiore: North, Weller-Einstein, & Moses
NYU: NYU Langone & NYU Cobble Hill
Here's my experience touring the ERs during interviews (and ratios): Columbia was an absolute nightmare (12+:1), Mount Sinai had some admission boarding problems (8-10:1), Beth Israel was professional and manageable (7-8:1), NYU was phenomenal (4:1).
I accepted an offer so I never had a chance to interview with Bellevue, Lenox Hill, Lenox Hill Healthplex, St Luke's, Roosevelt, and Cornell. Ratios are roughly 8-12 patients per nurse. The hospitals I missed on the long list above I didn't strongly consider after researching them or d/t location (Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem).
As far as pay, my lowest (with NOC shift differentials) was 82,000; my highest was 89,000. The NY state hospitals pay less than this but have a pension. Your offers will be a little less since I have a year up on you. My NYC budget looks like this:
Gross Salary 89000 = 7167/month (34% Taxes)
401k (3%)= 2670= 222/month
Insurance/Benefits= 1500= 125/month
Net Pay= 54570= 4547/month
Rent= 25200= 2100/month (split a one-bedroom with my gf on the UWS for $3500)
Roth IRA= 5400= 450/month
Utilities/Cable/Cell= 2400= 200/month
Subway Pass= 1440= 120/month
Groceries= 4800= 400/month
Extra= 14910=1242/month=287/week (Eating Out, Movies/Shows, Vacation)
I wanted to start off with a travel assignment & went through the whole process talking to recruiters, BUT the offers flat-out sucked. I would make the same as staff nurses (even after considering housing stipends), have to deal with all the tax BS, get no orientation, sign a contract that restricted my permanent job offers, and get stuck at a miserable hospital like Metropolitan. FYI, you're stuck with AmericanMobile, CrossCountry, or Fastaff (Montefiore) who have exclusive contracts with the NYC hospitals.
As far as getting interviews, you're at the mercy of the online application process. Fortunately, when you apply to a hospital network you can submit a few applications at once. There are a couple 'experienced RN interview days' if you want to look into it. Turn around on phone calls was roughly 3-4 weeks for me. Hospitals tend to do the most hiring 1st quarter (Jan-Mar) and in September after management gets back from summer/Labor Day vacations.
Questions? Hope I helped.