I’ve been meaning to write a post about the things that I’ve come to realize since moving to New York. It was a huge culture shock for sure, having never actually been to visit the city prior to my moving day.
New York is very, very wonderful, but it’s also very, very weird. You’ve got all walks of life living in this concrete jungle, and I guess that’s what makes it so amazing.
In the short six months that I have lived in this metropolis, I have documented each and every one of them, which you can catch up on here. But below are five things that I’ve grown to realize about the city from walking around the streets and avenues every day.
1. It’s bloody expensive
I’m sure you expected this. I expected this, only not to the extent that it really is. $5 for a bag of lettuce. $12 for a bottle of dry shampoo. $6 for deodorant. $10 for fresh meat. Is it any wonder New Yorkers live on takeaways?
Living here on a very low intern salary is not ideal in the slightest. I’m basically on a diet of porridge and noodles since I want to spend my money on experiences, trips and social events. This isn’t great for my immune system or the impending Coronavirus that is likely to be contracted.
Happy hours in New York will be your best friend. $5 beers, $5 wines and even sometimes, $5 cocktails. If you think $5 beers is expensive, then think again. Yes, I know you’re used to £3-4 for a beer back home (during normal hours), but here in New York you can be charged $10 and upwards for just a pint of Coors – and well, is it really worth it?
I’ve attempted going off alcohol for Lent to give my liver a detox and my bank balance a shock and as it turns out, if you ask for a Diet Coke in a bar, they usually don’t charge you for it. This has happened quite a few times, so I’m half tempted to stick to the Diet Coke life from now on.
But yeah, if you’re planning on visiting New York any time soon, do be aware that it is insanely expensive. My brunch outings have taken a lull since I can’t be forking out $50 for eggs and avocado every weekend.
2. It’s Crazyville around here
New York has a lot of characters, I’ll give it that. You’ll come across all walks of life on the Subway, on the streets, in Duane Reade – but mostly on the Subway.
Most people here don’t really care who’s around them or who’s listening as they’ll walk down the street, earphones in and singing at the top of their lungs. Yes, even on the commute to work at 8am. Either that, or you’ll see people having very heated arguments in the middle of the street while pedestrians weave in and out of their way.
Like most cities around the world, New York has its fair share of homelessness. You’ll find a lot of people will walk through the Subway carriages asking for change, or on the streets in Midtown. It’s horrible to see, especially when you’re on your commute home to your nice, warm apartment.
Just note when you come to New York, don’t be startled if people start randomly shouting or singing, or even doing acrobatics on a moving Subway train.
3. The city never stops
They call it the city that never sleeps, but it’s really the city that never stops. Everywhere you go, there are crowds of people. Tourists weaving their way through Times Square, queuing in line for a photo with the bull on Wall Street, walking dragging themselves across Brooklyn Bridge.
No matter where you go in New York, you won’t be on your own. Sure there are quieter parts of the city like the West Village, Lower East Side (not at night time) or further into suburbs in Brooklyn or Queens. But for the most part, the New York streets are never empty.
In London, I used to try my best to avoid Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus, Regent Street etc. because no matter what day it was or even time of day, they were always crowded with tourists. This is why my favourite parts of London were Chelsea, Clapham and Portabello Road. Still a little touristy, but never as bad as Central London.
I have a very similar approach to life here in New York. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve been to Times Square and Central Park. I can count on two fingers the number of times I’ve walked across Brooklyn Bridge. We tend to keep to the West Village and Lower East Side of the city where the streets are quieter and prices cheaper.
4. It’s not as ‘hustle’ as the movies make out
Most movies centered around life in New York make out that everyone here works all day and all night, with no social life whatsoever. Perhaps for those that work in Law or on the Stock Exchange it may be true. But for the most part, everyone in New York has a healthy work-life balance.
Where I work, the 9-5 work life is very much adhered to. The 9am start is quite relaxed but I wouldn’t walk in the door later than 9.30am. I could be totally off the mark here and it could be just those of us on the lower rank of the career ladder that spend our evenings outside of the office, but from what I’ve seen, a lot of the higher positions do seem to clock off on time to go and spend time with their family and friends.
So no, I don’t think that if you came to New York to work, that you would have to sell your soul to the company that employed you. We can all work hard and also play hard.
Maybe I’ve taken a relaxed approach to work-life in New York, but if it means I’m able to do all the fun stuff outside of work and spend time with my friends, then that’s good enough for me.
5. There’s nowhere quite like it to live
There is always something happening in this city. Always. There is no excuse to be bored or have nothing to do in New York. If you’re bored of this city, then you’re definitely doing it wrong and should really Get Out of New York (or GOONY as a few of us have labelled it).
Any artists on tour will come here to perform, which is great for me as I’ve been to quite a few concerts here already. Movie premiers happen here, TV shows are filmed here, celebrities flock in for the Met Gala and world leaders come in their droves for summits.
I live in the best city in the world and I’ve really come to realize that this past while. There’s so much to see and do in the city itself, but it also gives you a lot of opportunities to fly to other cities in the US.
I’ve already ticked off Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C, Nashville, The Hamptons and a trip up to Yale vs Harvard in Connecticut. I’ve also got Vermont lined up this month and hopefully trips to New Orleans and Puerto Rico in the next few months.
New York is a gateway for travel as everyone flies into New York and also flies out of it. It’s a great base to have if you want to see more of America.