I have to preface this by saying, I only know how to survive here for a year so far, so take this how you will.
It’s crazy as hell to think I’ve been living here for a whole year. Can I make it anywhere now? Just kidding, I have not “made it.” I do think I could probably live anywhere now. I’ve said it before, but this has been a long year, but also a very short year. So much is different, including myself. Not to sound fake deep and corny, but moving here has really changed me and tested me. Sometimes when I really didn’t want to change or be tested (the city really be testing me a lot).
It didn’t start out all rainbows and kisses, though. This also marks the day I missed my 6 am flight (never again), had a 4 hour layover, broke down because I couldn’t figure out how to get into the Airbnb I had rented and finally collapsing into sleep at 2 am after realizing I was trying to open the wrong door. Some of my experiences here have been just like that: a mess.
Obviously, not everything about NYC is messy. Cool things happen here all the time, like Christmas, full bands in the middle of the subway station, going to very fancy places when you are not fancy. Sometimes, just walking around is my favorite thing I did all day.
Anyway, these are the things I’ve learned since living here. Also, a few tips if you move here.
Unlimited subway passes are not for “rich people”
First of all, rich people aren’t taking the subway. Second, if you don’t get the unlimited and you have to commute for work everyday, you’re gonna be spending more money for no reason. This is generic, but I did it for like two months and would choose between walking somewhere and taking the train.
Figure out the easiest way to get home at night and at normal times
Okay, so the trains are ridiculous after like 9pm on a weekday and weekends. Sometimes they run late night, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they tell you, and sometimes they don’t. If you only know one train home, you’re gonna be screwed. Figure it out now, or freak out when its dark and scary. Your choice ladies. My advice, always know how to get home from Union Square. Almost every train passes through there, so it’s a very easy spot to get to.
Always charge your phone. I repeat. ALWAYS CHARGE YOUR PHONE
Or keep one of those dorky battery packs with you. I choose to charge because that doesn’t fit in my cute, small, purse. I say this because there may come a night when your phone dies, you have no idea where you are and you decided to keep talking to a guy who has now ditched you. This will be very terrifying at 4 am. Charge your phone, or cry because you don’t know how to get to the L from where you are. (also, before someone calls me out, I was in the west village so the streets were not numbered!!!).
All pizza basically tastes the same. Don’t believe the hype.
Lemme tell you, I’ve had a lot of pizza in my time here and I still like the dollar slices. Maybe that makes me a cheap date, but I will accept this title with pride. Everyone here acts like a pizza snob because some people put some noodles on it or an extra blob of cheese. Also, Joe’s pizza sucks. Catch me standing in a horrendous line for burnt pizza, I have lost my mind.
Just take the Uber to the Airport, unless you want to spend all day trying to get there.
If you have all day to kill and want to be cheap, go for it. If you wanna go to work half-day and then fly, DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THE TRAIN OR BUS. It’s just not worth the inevitable “hi can I skip you? my flight is leaving in 10 minutes and if I don’t make it I may cry right here in front of you and that is awkward for everyone involved.”
Don’t live in New Jersey
Just don’t. There’s only one train and it’s slow. You’ll never convince me otherwise
Times Square is horrifying
I thought so when I moved here and it has only been solidified since I had to work near it. No where else will you run into people just standing around looking up or a creepy dude in an Iron Man costume saying “oh my god you look so good hello beautiful.” Why broadway shows are there, I will never know.
Bodegas are legit. Not everything there is super cheap, though.
I can get asparagus for a dollar, but Cheerios are 5 bucks. Rx bars are maybe 50 cents more and almond butter is like 4 dollars more. I’d say, get most produce there, but the extra stuff you’re gonna wanna go to the real store(more than likely whole foods).
Buying too much at the grocery store isn’t a cute lil meme, its actually the WORST THING YOU CAN DO
Lemme tell you right now, buying groceries is a horrible experience. If you get too much stuff and tragically have to get two bags instead of one, you are about to be very uncomfortable on the train, off the train and walking your dumb butt home. Shopping online was 100% invented by a New Yorker because absolutely no one wants to drag a bunch of bags home. My only advice is that you buy gloves for the winter and get an apartment close to the train (you won’t think thats a big deal at first because you can walk but some day you may have a ripped whole foods bag and will be cursing yourself for that mistake), or by some miracle have a whole foods right by your house.
New Yorkers aren’t mean, they just mind their business and maybe are in a constant irritated state
If anyone in the South sits down and starts chatting with you, it’s weird, but kinda fine. If anyone does that in New York, the person is homeless, insane, or both. Most of the time, New Yorkers are just trying to get wherever they need to go n one piece and quickly. I think this HuffPost article sums it up the best:
Wake up in a small room.
Leave the apartment to grab a coffee. Wait in line.
Get honked at by a cab driver while trying to cross the street (you didn’t cross fast enough).
Get to the subway. Five people push you into the train car because EVERYONE is in a rush.
You’re smushed, and way too close to a stranger for comfort.
Get out of the train, get bumped into by five people trying to cut in front of you to get to the stairs.
Walk into your office building. Wait in line for the elevator.
Try to squeeze into the elevator, but too many people. Wait for the next one.
Get to your desk.
We have a reason to be irritated. You try doing this every single day.
New York during Christmas is a magical experience
Everyone should come here in December at least once. New York probably spend an unholy amount of money to make itself the place to be during Christmas and it shows. There’s so much to do and so little December (and also too many people).
I promise you this, everyone is hustling just as much as you are and also feel like they’re failing
New York can make you feel like you are never doing enough. It costs an extreme amount of money just to exist in this place, so it can feel like you can never catch up. You’re over worked and get paid what can feel like nothing just to live. Sometimes, it feels like everyone else makes more, lives better, has more etc. In reality, whatever person you’re looking at is probably older, has worked for years longer than you or is struggling as well and just looks like they’re better off. No one is posting their failures.
Making friends is hard. You’re gonna have to look like weirdo to make them, but its worth it.
Being blasé about making friends will get you absolutely no where. You’re gonna have to put yourself out there, feel stupid, meet people you don’t necessarily vibe with and even do some stuff by your damn self. You’ll come out on the other side, but the loneliness can be stifling if you let it. Don’t.
Believe what people say, it’s HARD to live here. (It’s worth it)
In case you can’t tell, it is hard to live here. It costs a lot for very little space. There’s a billion people. It smells. You feel FOMO all the time. The winter is death. Sometimes you get up and just wanna go back to sleep for a month because you’re really tired of “rise and grind.” Something that always makes me feel a little better is that, eventually, I won’t live here. I will have done (hopefully) all of the things I wanted to do, and will be tired of all this hustle and bustle and move my butt out of here. The doe-eyed look you get when you first move here is going to fade with the “rat race” of everyday life, but the city still has some tricks up its sleeve if you really want to see it. You have all of your life to experience being slower-paced and settling yourself down. Living here is not for the weak or the slow. Do it now, because the story later is the best to tell. Whether its 1 year or 10, it’s a great career move. You really can make it anywhere if this is where you start. Also it’s really fun to vacation other places and tell people where you live (people automatically think you’re living your best life whether that’s actually true or not).