When I started writing my year review of New York I realized, what better way than to see what you guys want to know? You are the ones reading this, after all. If you’d like to, you can start with part 1. But you totally don’t have to. No pressure.
“Is it expensive to live in New York?”
Take whatever numbers are currently in your head (your idea of what rent costs, what a cup of coffee costs, a slice of pizza, a vodka soda, etc.) and multiply it by 3. That’s probably more accurate than whatever number you originally thought. My best advice would be to come visit, quite a few times, before pulling the trigger on moving here. Find out which neighborhoods you like (Manhattan may not even be the borough for you). Find out the cost of everything, including your habits. See if this is a realistic place for you to live, because your version of expensive may be different than mine. However, expect to spend at least $3,000/month on a 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. (And those are post-Covid prices.)
“Is it safe to live in New York?”
Yes. And no. The same way you should be on guard anywhere else is the same way you should be on guard here. You should always be cautious. The second you start to get comfortable is when something will happen. Pro tip: go with your gut. If it feels unsafe, it probably is. If you’re here visiting, don’t walk around with your phone in your hand and your head to the sky. You will be a prime target for someone wanting to cause trouble.
“What is it like during Christmas?”
Beautiful. Magical. Everything that you see in the movies. But, also very chaotic. The movies don’t show you having to shoulder check 168 people just to make it to Dunkin’ Donuts because everyone is here visiting from other states/countries and doesn’t know the proper sidewalk etiquette. Ever get behind someone on the express way that almost causes an accident and when you finally read their license plate and realize they’re from out of state you’re like “ohhhh that’s why”? Well, same thing here, only with walking.
“How is it to live in a place that everyone wants to visit?”
I get it. Part of me looks at these people and sees a reflection of my 17 year old self and I get it. The other part of me is (see above answer) shoulder checking people. Do. Not. Stop. In the middle of the sidewalk. Not for any reason. Not to tie your shoe. Not to sneeze. Not to check for a third degree burn after spilling coffee on yourself. I repeat, not for any reason.
“What was the hardest adjustment after moving to the city?”
Grocery shopping. 1000000000%. Here’s what I’ll say. You let the market (there are no ‘grocery stores’ here) decide what you’re eating for dinner. You will go there with a list. But so will 10 million other people. So if you think you’re having tacos, chances are, the market will be sold out of taco shells, or salsa, or ground beef (thanks, Covid). You no longer have the luxury of walking into a store with a list and coming out with everything crossed off. Everyone always asks if the subway system is the hardest adjustment and if it’s hard to navigate. Not at all. People make it out to be more than what it is. Once you have a certain line you take or a certain station you go to, it all becomes second nature.
“Is everything really small?”
Yes. And no. Like I said in the answer above, grocery stores aren’t really a thing here. Yes, we have Whole Foods. But it’s usually the size of your coat closet. So if you think it’s like a Publix or a good old fashioned midwestern Kroger, you’re wrong. But, New York real estate is different. The city is very small so everything has to be built up, not out. Most markets or stores are multi-level so they have escalators and elevators and (try to) have the same amount of stuff as a normal store in a different part of the world.
“What is your favorite part of the city?”
The feeling. The energy. There is nothing like it. There is no place on Earth that vibrates at this frequency, no drug that can get you this high. It is pure magic.
“What is your least favorite part of the city?”
The filth. The noise. The scaffolding. The homeless people. The trash. The traffic. The subway system. The cost. (Please read above answer again, though.)
“But I love the city in an emotional, irrational way, like loving your mother or your father even though they’re a drunk or a thief.” – Woody Allen
“Is it loud?”
Why do you think Central Park is the most visited park in the world? Ha. Most people might think it’s because of tourists but I really just think it’s New Yorkers going there to get away from all the constant noise. And when I say constant, I mean constant. I will say, though, you get used to it. It’s so hectic and chaotic and there are so many other things to pay attention to. Think about the first thing you hear when you wake up. For you, it might be the brakes of the garbage truck, birds chirping, or just pure silence. Here, it is construction, horns honking, and depending on how high up you are and how old your windows are, people yelling. Yes, really. Sometimes you’ve already heard a couple on the street argue, break up, and get back together by the time you’re walking out the door to go to work.
“In what way has it changed you the most?”
For the most part I believe I’ve always been pretty tough. In fact, I like to think I’m tougher than most. New York broke me down, little by little, and put me back together again in a different way. I feel like I’m still me, and in fact, more ‘me’ than I’ve ever been, but in a different way. Like the puzzle pieces fit together, but not exactly in the same order. Things that used to be important to me, are not, and things that were never important to me, are. I appreciate the little things more than I ever have. The first time I saw a bird (not a pigeon) in the city (not at the park) I was so happy to see it with a piece of a hoagie in its mouth hopping along down the street. I had just moved from a house that had so many birds it sounded like a birdhouse when you walked out onto the porch, but yet, it was so surprising to see that it made me smile.
You know that feeling you have as a kid when you see a magic trick for the first time? That confusion and awe, that wonder and excitement, that pure joy? That is New York. It has its lows, and if I’m being honest, probably more lows than any other place, but man, does it have its beauty. When I told my mom I was finally making the move to New York, I was just doing it, and ‘no, I don’t have a plan’, I said in the same breath, ‘but mom, this is going to change my life’. She responded with tears in her eyes but a smile on her face, ‘I know it will’. She knew that when I saw this place from that plane window 12 years ago, something changed in me. New York starts a fire in you. If you’ve lived here, you know what I’m talking about. Even if you left here bitter, that fire still burns, quiet and slow. This place will, in fact, change your life.