Last week Josh and I celebrated — and by celebrated, I mean we were both working so nothing really happened — our very first New York-iversary! We’re glad we’re still here and we consider ourselves lucky to still be able to schlep ourselves about this city every day, but there have definitely been some ups and downs: personal victories and parking tickets, great people and jerkface people, months of work followed by months of sickness, et al.
During these past twelve months we’ve learned a great deal. And most of it has been through our own experiences, not so much things we knew going into this big life change. We certainly did more than enough research and were prepared for the big differences, but the little things are what surprised us.
And I have to admit, these things are what I wish I had known more about when I asked people who had lived or do live here for help. Instead, I got a lot of advice bordering on or either pretentiousness or Captain Obvious-ness. I found myself constantly responding to tips given to me with “Yeah, of course NYC is expensive” — (doesn’t everyone know that?), “Yes, I know there will be a lot of walking,” “Yes, I know things will not be as nice or as spacious as they are in Atlanta,” “Yes, I know it’s not all safe” — (though NYC is far safer than most of the city of Atlanta, so if anything, we upgraded in that department).
And maybe if I lived in a corn field in Iowa, this would all come as a news flash to me… But it didn’t. Atlanta isn’t exactly a small, podunk town.
So, for better or worse, and at the risk of sounding naive to NYC lifers, here are a few things we have learned throughout our time here (hoping they help someone out there that’s thinking of taking the plunge and moving to NYC!). I have abstained from taking the “actor/singer in New York” angle, as I know this isn’t as helpful to the majority of my readers, but if you are wanting some tips in that department, I have some knowledge that I’ve acquired over the past year that I’d love to share (I have to admit I learned a lot about this the hard way because I was told conflicting things from different friends before moving here ).
- The NYC subway system is amazing, intricate, and endlessly useful. Coming from Atlanta where we have Marta as the only mass transit system — it’s very limited and you run the risk of getting stabbed — the MTA was like a breath of fresh air. This part wasn’t news to me, as I visited a few times before moving. What I didn’t take into account was that with a subway system as intricate as NYC’s, there is constant maintenance, thus trains are constantly re-routing and/or not in operation. Most maintenance is scheduled during midday, late night, and on weekends, and a lot of it is done during the summer months. This means that checking the MTA app on your phone is VITAL before leaving for the day (and constantly checking throughout the day isn’t a bad idea either). There have been countless times where I’ve swiped my card and waited on the train platform for twenty minutes, only to find out the train wasn’t coming.
- The cheapest place to get a water (or Diet Coke, in my case) is at a bodega. Newsstands are the second cheapest, and the most expensive by far are drug stores. Don’t go to drugstores.
- Duane Reade, an NYC based drug store chain, is the most expensive drugstore EVER. Admittedly, their locations are very nice and their name brand stuff is pretty cool, but practically everything there has a twenty cent up charge, if not more. Shaaaaame Duane Reade.
- If you live in a fourth floor walk-up, you will never be cold, even if it’s ten degrees below zero. Science don’t play: Heat rises (and with a vengeance). My hand to God: we had all of our windows open for most of the winter season.
- Never underestimate the power of a good umbrella and a pair of rain boots.
- Remember how I said you should check the MTA website/app before you leave your home? Yeah, check the weather, too.
- If you’re living in New York City, you must have a smartphone. It’s not an electronic snobbery thing, it’s just a necessity with the lifestyle.
- You don’t want “a piece of cheese pizza,” you want “a plain slice.” And don’t you dare take the oregano and red pepper flakes with you to your table, that stuff stays at the counter.
- You may not think Snapple is that special, but New Yorkers do. They really do.
- I already knew this, but it’s worth sharing anyway: jaywalking is not illegal. If there are no cars coming, go! (This goes double if you are in Midtown.)
- So many stereotypes are true: people tend to be very curt (if not rude), people really are all in a hurry (thus the curtness/rudeness), and it smells bad like, everywhere (which could also be a contributing factor to the curtness/rudeness).
- You think you’re so clever showing up early for an audition or a free museum night or a really awesome sale? Yeah, everyone else had that idea, too.
And finally …
- Punch rat is an endlessly fun game to play on the subway platform. It’s a lot like punch bug, in case you were wondering…
Any other NYC newbies out there? Or native New Yorkers? Please feel free to share your first impressions or any tips and tricks you’ve learned!