In today’s world, technology has made it easier than ever to maintain a network of friends and family all over the country, and even the world. With a few taps on our mobile devices we can text or call people anywhere. In addition, social media has made it possible to keep up with people we might rarely see.
It is also easier and more common than ever to move to another city to follow a career or relationship and not lose touch with loved ones. If that place is New York City, whether you're moving there for the first time or moving back from time away, you'll find that many people you've connected with in the past from all over the world will also make their way there for different personal or professional dreams.
But before you put down roots in the City, there are a few realities you should prepare for. Here are nine things you should know about New York before moving here, from the expertise of a native New Yorker:
- Yes, NYC is expensive.
- The living quarters are small.
- It's dirty.
- Usually the subway is the best way to get around town.
- You don't need a car (but you do need good shoes).
- Doing laundry can be a pain.
- There is so much to do, and you can't do it all.
- You might have to move more than once to get it right.
- New Yorkers are actually nice (just impatient).
Yes, NYC is Expensive
Sometimes it seems like everything is overpriced here in NYC, and a dollar just doesn’t go as far as in other places. New Yorkers pay higher rents than almost anywhere in the world, and the restaurants, groceries and various other services are also more expensive. It’s something New Yorkers often commiserate about when hanging together at world-class restaurants, events and shows.
The Living Quarters Are Small
Years ago, a couple from suburban Pittsburgh looking for a home in New York City were shocked to learn that a dark, one-bedroom apartment might be worth more than double their previous sprawling 5,000-square-foot home. Yes, NYC apartment living can be tight, but you get used to it. Renting storage units for items that don't fit in your home is one option, though New Yorkers are known to get creative with storage, keeping some out-of-season clothes in a never-used oven, for example.
[Read: How to Declutter Your Home]
Yes, it’s dirty, and it's tough to admit. Dirtier than you think it will be. We are working on becoming more green, but car exhausts, dog poop and many other disgusting pollutants are part of daily life. And since New Yorkers walk everywhere, we track it all everywhere we go as well. The local wildlife consisting of pigeons, squirrels, roaches and rats doesn’t help.
Usually the Subway Is the Best Way to Get Around Town
Years ago the subway was dangerous and graffiti-filled. Although it isn’t perfect, and delays and closures can seem common, the subway is still the fastest way to get around town. Though taxis or car services may be more comfortable, the subway is cheap, circumvents traffic and is usually pretty reliable. Now there are even apps tracking the subways so you can time when to walk down to the platform.
You Don’t Need a Car (But You Do Need Good Shoes)
New York has been touted as the most walkable city in the country, and any weekday stroll outside will include navigating sidewalk foot traffic. Car traffic is very real, street parking can be exasperating, and garage prices can rival the rent of a studio apartment in another city. Getting rid of your car quickly is a good idea because looking for parking spots is infuriating. You can also expect to lose weight without even trying because you'll be walking so much. Above all, invest in more comfortable shoes.
Doing Laundry Can Be a Pain
If you grew up in a house, chances are you had a washer and dryer in your home. Get ready to mourn that memory. Though many apartments now have in-home laundry machines, most don’t, especially in older buildings with limited plumbing. So be prepared to either go to a laundromat or the laundry room in the basement of your building, or to send your dirty clothes out for “wash-and-fold” along with the dry-cleaning.
There Is So Much to Do, and You Can’t Do It All
There’s something for everyone here, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t do it all. Whether you love art, sports, live entertainment or food, New York has it, and it’s top-notch.
Art in New York is legendarily famous. Not only does the city have world-class museums and galleries, but there are a lot of them. During the day, any art lover can happily get lost wandering the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and catching the latest edgy exhibit at the Whitney, Guggenheim or Modern Museum of Art. At night, they can enjoy some of the gallery openings in Chelsea.
While there's no guarantee of a win, any sports fan can enjoy a day (or evening) with the Yankees or Mets, Giants or Jets, Knicks or Nets, Rangers or Islanders, or even at the US Open. New York sports teams are storied and iconic, as are their venues.
When it comes to live entertainment, New York is unmatched. Indoor and outdoor venues showcase the work of some of the most talented musicians and actors in the world on Broadway at Lincoln Center, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in big venues like Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center or smaller ones like Brooklyn Steel and the Beacon Theatre.
New York has some of the best restaurants in the world, and adventurous foodies will travel to the far reaches of any borough to chase not only pizza, bagels, hotdogs or cheesecake, but blinis, arepas, souvlaki, falafel, dim sum, saag or the latest advances in molecular gastronomy. And a lot of these places deliver right to your door well into the night.
For time outdoors, Central Park and the Botanical Gardens provide a leafy escape from the concrete jungle, and beaches, mountains, fishing and hiking are just a car ride away.
You Might Have to Move More Than Once to Get It Right
In particularly densely populated areas of Manhattan, you can find a new neighborhood every few blocks. Many people who move to NYC realize that they might prefer a different neighborhood than the one they started in. One young woman says she’s lived in three different neighborhoods in five years, and now finally feels at home in the East Village. Moving can be stressful, but once you get it right, your immediate neighborhood will feel like a small town.
New Yorkers Are Actually Nice (Just Impatient)
New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude. They're often fighting for taxis, angling for a reservation at the hot new restaurant or even rushing to get paperwork submitted for a rental apartment before someone else. Many New Yorkers work in demanding jobs and sometimes everything can seem like a competition. But New Yorkers are proud of their city, and welcome people from all over the world to visit or to be neighbors. It's a true melting pot, and gloriously diverse. They might be impatient, but they are generally helpful, honest and decent. New Yorkers will even give you directions, but listen closely because they might not be willing to repeat themselves more than once.