Thursday, July 2, 2015

What it's REALLY like to live in New York City

I was never the girl who dreamed of one day living in a cozy Upper West Side apartment in New York City. Whenever my friends shared their dreams of ending up in the Big Apple, I told them they were nuts for wanting to go somewhere where they'd be living paycheck to paycheck in a tiny apartment. It seemed silly to give up a comfortable life with parking lots and central air conditioning to stand on crowded subways and carry heavy bags around all day. I guess the joke is on me now because it's been 6 years in NYC and I’m renewing my lease this month. If I told you what I pay to live in my Harlem apartment, with a roommate, you wouldn't believe it. 

New York is so different. People are always shuffling and hustling. If it rains, men seemingly teleport to street corners with 5 dollar umbrellas. Young kids hop on trains to do flips and head stands to boom box beats and almost kick you in the face before they ask for donations. The MAC man walks around 125th street selling fake lipstick (I fell for it once, never again, WHO makes fake lipstick?!) When you're almost over all of the craziness, you'll find yourself on a boat eating a lobster roll at a restaurant that takes a free cruise every 30 minutes so you can admire the city from the Hudson. Or maybe you'll be running errands and you'll stumble upon a street festival and end up spending a fun day eating local food and shopping for jewelry before going home and  wondering if you should've bought all of that because you remember how much your rent costs.
Ran into this on a regular Sunday afternoon.

This is the cycle. New York tricks you. I still find myself wondering if it's worth it. I’m in education and as far as I know, I can do my type of work anywhere in the country. I will admit that New York has made me grow up. You cannot slack here or you will fail miserably. I’m more assertive and direct which has helped me in every aspect of my life, especially with my career and in relationships. I know how to take care of myself and I am certain that living here has given me a huge boost of confidence in my abilities. People in New York just keep going. Even the homeless have figured out how to build the most incredible sleeping conditions I have ever seen. The grind never stops.

People from New York are in a different category. I find that many of them stay here and have no desire to be anywhere else. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. I get it though. It’s like no other place in America. It you are not from New York and wondering if you’d like to live here, here is my biased list of the biggest pros and cons:


You will grow personally and professionally. Whether you learn from mistakes or learn amongst some of the best and brightest “you gon’ learn” something.

Dating isn’t too bad. The only complaint I hear is that men (and sometimes women) want to settle down later in life here because they’re focused on their careers. As far as ratios go, there have been plenty of times when there were way more guys than girls at a party (take that Atlanta!)

The summer is insanely awesome. There is so much to do and you will never, ever get bored. If you do, it’s your fault. Rooftops and parks are usually the move.
Summer fun in Central Park

You are forced to become more open-minded. Even if you live on the Upper East Side, you are exposed to so much that you can’t help but to think about other people’s circumstances. *Warning: One may get jaded and desensitized over time

Lots of restaurants for the foodies.
Root & Bone. Yummm!

People say NY is convenient because you can walk out of your door and eat, shop and go to restaurants without a car. Some (by “some” I mean me) would argue that they’d rather have a car, a trunk and parking. This pro also depends on your neighborhood.

Lots of healthy people. You walk a lot and it’s cool to be healthy here so there are lots of food options (like turkey bacon and chicken sausage) and gluten-free items. I really like this because every time I go down south I feel like I get gluttonous from all of the yummy, gluten goodness.

It’s cheap to travel to a lot of international destinations. Huge bonus for my fellow travelers!


Rent. I could own a really nice house down south for what I pay.

The Winter Comes (hehe). Every winter I find myself saying “This is SO much worse than last year!” I don’t know if it’s actually true. Also, since many people don’t have cars, there’s gross slush everywhere and mounds of dirty old snow. It is just icky and cold. Ugh! The same goes for a really hot summer day. You can’t escape because you are walking so you just sweat off all of your make up :-(

Before it gets ugly

I really do not like shopping or carrying my groceries in NYC. I’ve worked out a system where I just pick up a few things at a time on the way home during the week. As far as shopping, I shop online a lot because who is going to carry my Target purchases home for me? I need a car and a trunk except…

Parking is a beast. Whenever I rent a Zipcar, I ride around for 15-30 minutes looking for a spot. Also, you have to move your car every other day for “street cleaning” so you can’t simply keep your spot all week. If you’re driving to an event, you have to leave at least 30 minutes early so you can find parking, especially downtown. Therefore, most people, especially transplants, don’t have cars here.

It’s hard to relax. Even when I’m home I can sometimes hear loud music outside of my window or sirens and honks. I’ve become accustomed to it now so it’s not as bad. Also, as you’re walking down the street, you’re exposed to everything and everyone so a quiet stroll can easily become a catcalling session or you may step in poop. It’s the little things that add up and make it stressful.

Rats and mice. They are REAL and they own the streets y’all. You’ll see them in subway tracks, on the streets…it’s pretty horrifying. I still scream and run like a madwoman every time I see one. As for mice, SO many people have had at least one in their apartment or at work. Again, H-O-R-R-I-F-Y-I-N-G! Bed bugs also seem more common here. Thankfully this has not happened to me. I pray about it.

So there you have it. Feel free to comment and cosign or debate with me in the comment section.



  1. thanks for sharing i am 51 (hehe) and also dreamt of living in NY ... never had the courage or opportunity ..but i love the city, just not sure i have what it takes lol ... thanks for sharing

  2. From NY, love it, miss it every other week....BUT...the DMV has my heart now.

    1. I totally understand why! I love the DMV <3