Reflections on Living in NYC & NYC Guide

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It’s crazy to think that I’ve been living in NYC for about three-and-a-half years now. I remember how excited/nervous I was when I first announced it in this post. I’m certainly no expert and I still hesitate to call myself a New Yorker, but living in the city has definitely taught me a few things. For anyone who’s thinking about moving here, I thought you might like to hear my perspective and for those who already live here, perhaps you can relate.

NYC on television is very different from NYC in real life. This seems like an obvious one, but let me explain. I think before you move here you have a certain picture of life in the city. Maybe that picture came from Sex and the City or maybe you’ve visited once or twice before. I went to college in Connecticut and visited New York on several occasions while I was in school. When I graduated and knew that I was moving to Manhattan, I thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong. There are some things you won’t fully understand until you actually live here. Yes, there are the glamorous landmarks, but there’s also the smelly and crowded subways, the 6th floor walk-ups, and the muscles you’ll develop from carrying your heavy groceries for several blocks. This is not to discourage anyone, just to point out that the reality is a lot grittier than what they portray on the small/big screen.

– Apartment hunting is no joke. I thought writing my senior theses in college was stressful, but that almost seemed like a cake walk compared to hunting for my first apartment in the city. I think if you talk to anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I’m not easily stressed, but during that time period I was ready to gouge out my eyes and pull out my hair (pretty picture, no?). I’ve moved around in the city a couple of times now and I think I’ve picked up a few tips along the way, but that’s another conversation. I have not met one single person who enjoys moving in the city. If you are moving here, do tons of research and gird your loins.

– You can do a lot with a little. I think *80% of the population is the city is making just enough to get by (*this is not a real statistic, just a number that I totally made up!). You may not be making a ton of money, but it is possible to live here. You’ll start cooking meals at home or learn how to stretch that Seamless order into two meals. Chances are you’ll be living in a smaller space, so you’ll learn how to take advantage of every single storage opportunity (under the bed, on top of the shelf, the oven…). Items with multiple functions or devices that collapse for easy storage are your best friends. There are times when money is very tight and I ask myself if it’s really worth it to be paying an arm and a leg for rent. For me, the answer is yes.

Opportunity is everywhere. There’s so much to do and see in the city, it’s impossible to be bored. You all know that I’m a homebody, so I’m not always hitting up a new bar or sampling the latest restaurant. However, when I do want to venture outside, there’s a plethora of activities to choose from. Living in the city and writing this blog has given me access to some cool opportunities and I’m grateful. Every once in a while, I’ll have a perfect NYC moment where I feel so lucky to be living here. Those moments are the best because they allow me to fall in love with the city all over again.

Some days are the best, some days are the worst. I don’t think this is specific to NYC, but perhaps it’s a bit intensified here. Some days I am loving life here and other days I get my lease renewal or see my credit card bill and I’m in total despair. When you’re living here, you hustle, you bustle, and often you struggle. The city takes and it gives. There’s an amazing energy that comes from being surrounded by people of all different backgrounds, but there’s also utter exhaustion when it feels like you’ve given everything you got. When I first moved here, I was fresh out of college and I wasn’t sure I could hack it. Slowly I began to think of New York City as home and for the moment I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

All of these thoughts were swirling in my head because I was working on my NYC Guide. I’ve toyed with the idea for a long time now and I was hesitant because I didn’t think I had anything to offer. Occasionally people ask me for recommendations though, so I thought maybe at least a few people would like to know about the things/places I like in the city. Of course this is not a comprehensive list, just a few places that I would highly recommend. I’ll be updating this page as I discover new places and I hope you’ll find at least one good suggestion on my list.

Apparently reflecting makes me mushy because I am having some feels right now. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and my blog in general. It’s amazing when I think about how long some of you have been reading this little old blog! I shared some of my resolutions last week, but one resolution that wasn’t on that list was to try and write a few longer posts like this one. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but of course it’s always harder to hit publish when you’re getting more personal and putting your opinions out there. Depending on how this goes, I’d like to do longer posts like this on certain topics and hopefully they will spark a bit of discussion. How does that sound to you?

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  1. sartorialsidelines says

    The things you describe are really similar to the experiences of basically all my grad school friends who relocated to New York after we graduated – but they wouldn’t change anything about the experiences!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  2. heather says

    O New York. I love hearing stories of those who move to NYC, since I’m a born and raise New York and a little jaded to most of these facts. It stinks here in summer and the winter when it snows it’s pretty for about the 1st hour. As I’ve gotten older I realized how much living in New York is a struggle sometimes…whether its been bumped out by soaring rent prices or your trains just stop running. Then there are times that the City just looks so beautiful and you just think “I live here!”


    • says

      I was hoping you’d weigh in since you’re a native New Yorker! :) I think the longer you live here, the more you get used to these things. It makes sense that these are things you really think of because you were raised here and that’s just how it was. I like talking to my friends from here and comparing how different it was to grow up in the city vs. growing up in the ‘burbs. I *love* those moments when you’re struck by how wonderful and exciting it is to live in the city!

    • says

      Thank you Natalie! I’m so glad this was interesting to you. I’d love to hear more about your experiences living in DC. I’ve only been to DC once but I thought it was a beautiful city.

  3. says

    aw I really enjoyed this post. Since I was a kid, there was an appeal I had for NY that has never left me. I always thought I would move there one day but alas, life happens and that particular event didn’t happen. But, I’m lucky to have visited twice and each time, I fell in love. I’m a city girl so the bustle of the city life doesn’t bother me.

    It’s funny that what you write about NY can definitely apply to SF. I grew up in SF so I definitely see the city a lot differently compared to a person who moved here but, so many things you write is true here, too! SF is changing A LOT and for a “native” like me, it can sometimes be hard to swallow but, life changes and so do the environments.

    Oh and as far as you writing more posts like this. I’m all for it. I think about doing that myself, too. =)


    • says

      Thank you Nancy :) It’s funny, I never really dreamed of living in NYC when I was a kid. I knew I wanted to get out my small city and travel and see the world, but I had no particular ideas of living here. Now I’ve been here for a few years and I can’t imagine living anywhere else at this point in my life.

      I think it must be so interesting to grow up/live in the same place. I feel like you’d really have a sense of how things have changed over time. I moved around a bunch when I was a kid, so I didn’t really have that continuous experience until my family moved back to CA.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment Nancy :) I think I might have another longer post like this coming later this week!

  4. SHE Jenmarie says

    I really love that you took the time to write this. I seriously wish everyone who is thinking or even planning on moving to NY could read this because it’s that informative AND honest. I am curious about one thing, is too much of a hassle to drive to the grocery store and back? I wondered because you said you carry them.

    • says

      Thanks so much Jenmarie! I’m really happy that you felt it was informative. To answer your question, I think the majority of people here don’t have cars. That probably means that you’ll go somewhere within walking distance, or you can take your groceries on the subway, but that can also be a hassle.

  5. says

    This is 100% percent accurate! I don’t live IN the city, but I’ve lived 30 minutes outside of it my whole life and the reality is much grittier than in movies. The city can be gross, scary, and just plain weird sometimes, but of course also lovely and awesome!

  6. says

    New York is something I’ve thought about a lot. Given my reasonably close proximity, I’ve visited countless times. I’ve had those joyful moments, and those upsetting ones. I’ve tried to imagine myself living there – wondering if I could really do it, thinking about all the events and culture and things to do…I’m not sure I could give up my dream of my own kitchen. I don’t think my mug collection could fit in 90% of NYC apartments, but I still wonder, maybe just for a couple years, while I’m still clinging to the last of my 20s.

    You’ve made it three and a half years, I think you are a New Yorker.

    Chic on the Cheap

    • says

      I’m glad you can relate Lydia. So often I daydream about what it would be like to have a big kitchen or the space to nice, large bookshelves in my room. Down the line, I may get tired of living here, but for now I’m really glad I’m here :)

  7. says

    I’ve been living here almost 8 years and I still don’t feel like a New Yorker lol

    Agreed with all your points! That’s the beauty of NYC… an awesome day is just around the corner :)

  8. Jessica says

    I absolutely love visiting New York. I visit whenever I have the chance (and love all of the amazing things that are there) but I do not think I could ever live in NYC. Now that I have more than a few visits under my belt I am convinced that living in New York would be way too tough for me. At three and a half years though I definitely consider you a New Yorker.

    • says

      My mom feels the exact same way. She really enjoys visiting but she’s said outright that she wouldn’t be able to live here. I do agree that it’s not for everyone!