Things No One Tells you about Living in NYC
BY CLARISSA MAUER
This summer Korey and I celebrated our 3rd year of living in New York City.
In our 7 ½ years of marriage, we have moved around quite a bit, from grad school days in Kalamazoo, MI, to figuring out next steps in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, to job opportunities in our nation’s capital, the DMV area, to chasing dreams here in the “Big Apple.”
Each move has been a growing experience for us, as we have discovered more about our lifestyle preferences and ultimately more about ourselves as a whole. And so far, NYC has been the best match; we’ve truly been able to call this great big city our home. We love all the city has to offer: its diversity, its amenities (literally any type of food or shop is at your fingertips), its walkability (this is a big plus for us!), and of course its famous NYC energy. Truly anything feels possible here.
Taking the plunge to move was honestly the hardest part. And that may not surprise you, as NYC is kind of a beast of its own. It’s completely different from all the other places Korey and I had lived before. There were so many things we did not expect and had to learn from experience.
So, if you’re unfamiliar with the city and are considering moving (or even just visiting), here’s a list of things that surprised us about New York City.
1. It’s not all like Times Square
Yes, there are very busy areas, but if you go beyond Midtown you can find a little bit of anything and everything. It’s even possible to feel like you’re not in a city of 8 ½ million people. When you’re in the middle of “the Ramble” in Central Park, you can’t see any buildings and it’s quiet. Also, fun fact, Central Park is not the largest park in NYC (despite it being 840 acres), it’s the 3rd largest. Also, once you’re out of Manhattan, in any of the other four boroughs, you’ll find a little more space, fewer crowds, and a less daunting drive.
Can you believe both of these pictures are in NYC?
2. Finding apartments is a truly challenging process
In our three years, we’ve lived in three different apartments, each a learning experience of its own. In contrast to most other cities, New York City apartments often are rented out via brokers, who charge a broker fee (which is often a whole month’s rent). That’s in addition to paying your building a deposit (also one month’s rent) and your first month’s rent upfront. To avoid this fee, you can opt for a no-fee filter when searching apartments online. Also, management companies and landlords can be a major pain. We’ve had maintenance issues that took months to resolve or were never even addressed. Also, some landlords are so old-school they don’t have online payment portals, so you have to pay with a physical mail-in check! To avoid headaches, consider larger management companies who are reviewed online. Larger buildings with 24hr doormen (no more stolen packages), in-building washers and dryers (because, no, these do not come standard), and ones that have a maintenance team on staff! That is a HUGE lifesaver. We just moved to one of these and, even with these added benefits, our current building is cheaper than the one before (the one with the mail-in rent checks!).
View from our very first apartment. We rented it sight unseen before we arrived! Would not recommend doing that, but when you first move to NYC, you’re willing to live anywhere, because it’s NYC!
3. NYC is famous for its pizza but the NYC pizza world is not as simple as you think
There are different categories of pizza. Once you’ve tried a few, you will develop strong opinions. Are you a Neapolitan style lover like me, or do you love a good hearty pizza? Maybe instead you prefer just a quick 99c slice?
For me, there is nothing better than Table 87. This Neapolitan style pie exhibits flavors that are all so rich and the ingredients are *chef’s kiss.* For a hearty style, Mama’s Too is probably the best I’ve had: crispy in all the right places, and interesting toppings. For a cheap slice, there are a million 99c pizza shops around and they’re not all equally good. I’m partial to the one outside of Grand Central on E 43rd st.
4. It may be expensive, but there are some local cheats!
The city has the reputation of being incredibly expensive, which is true, but it also can be cheap if you know your way around. For example, if you’re in a touristy part of the town, bodega’s are often going to charge higher prices for their sandwiches. However, if you are in a more local, neighborhoody part, like Washington Heights, sandwiches can be as cheap as $2.75. Further, many restaurants are cash-only, which often means that their prices are quite affordable. Another example to show the price difference is boat tours. You can take the $2.75 commuter ferry or you can opt to take a $1k hot tub ferry.
Here’s one of the commuter ferries, one of our favorite ways to get around.
5. There are 3 MET locations
You may be familiar with the iconic MET Museum, but did you know there are three locations? All beautiful and all worth visiting!
6. The subway system is not hard to learn but it’s often not timely or predictable
I can’t count the number of times a train that typically runs locally (more frequent stops) is running express, where we’ve found ourselves watching our stop pass by, and not be able to get off for another 50 blocks. To avoid these occurrences, the City Mapper app will help keep you updated on the train’s estimated time of arrival and of any track changes for the day.
7. You too will become a fast walker
New Yorkers are famous for walking fast and for getting very annoyed at tourists for walking slowly. But after living in the city for three years, I get it. The sidewalks become your road, and “walk rage” is real.
Was there anything that surprised you about living in New York City? Feel free to leave a note in the comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts and, if you’re familiar with the city, what you discovered when visiting and moving here!