Today’s post is a little different and I think it’s going to be quite long because I have a few thoughts I want to address.
A few weeks ago I read a post by someone who moved to NY and her thoughts on what it’s like living in New York City. I’m trying to sum it up without being shady because this post really isn’t meant to be shady. We all have our own experiences. Two years ago, I swore I wanted to move out of this city and never look back. I have had a ton of ups and downs here. But, what I struggled with when it came to this person’s post was that she lived in a luxury apartment alone, but complained about money. Complained that she couldn’t get her nails done or go to brunch, but then complained that brunch was the only thing to do in the city. I think the main theme of her living in New York City post was complaining and that’s what kind of rubbed me the wrong way.
Again, we all have our own experiences, so I don’t mean to discredit or judge anyone about theirs, live your life and do you. But, today I wanted to share my experience with living in New York City and this city. With the exception of college, I’ve lived here my whole life. So my hope for today’s post is that if you’re thinking about moving to New York, this will give you a different perspective.
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION IS THE BEST AND THE WORST THING
Some days I can get from uptown to downtown, more than 50 blocks, in 15 minutes. Smooth sailing. And other days, it could take me 45 minutes. And even on a good train day or a bad train day, I’m probably packed in like a sardine with people pushed up against every body part. Every single week, the train is delayed for some reason whether it be a signal failure, police activity or the weather.
But, at the end of the day there are pretty much 101 lines that can take you anywhere. Sure, it’s frustrating at times, but I would rather take the subway than sit in traffic. Even if you choose to take the buss, at least it’s only $2.75 rather than sitting in a cab or uber and watching that meter go up.
And honestly, you never know who you’re going to meet in your commute. I’ve run into old coworkers and friends which always makes me super happy and I’ve bonded with strangers because of our shared frustration.
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: YOU NEED TO HAVE A BUDGET TO SURVIVE
New York is expensive. It’s a fact.
But, so are many other cities and while budgeting sucks because you can’t have everything your heart desires, it is essential to survive. And honestly, not just to survive in New York, but to survive in life because it’s a great opportunity for personal growth and good for you and your wallet! New York just has a bigger hand in helping you budget.
When I moved back from college, I will admit that I was lucky because I already lived in New York and didn’t have to move here for my career. I will also admit, that I am lucky that my mom is more than happy to let me live at home so I don’t have to worry about rent. But, also keep in mind that for a majority of my life, my mom and I lived with a single income since she did it all by herself so it’s not like I lived a charmed and spoiled life.
So I made an effort to pack breakfast, lunch and snacks for work so I didn’t have to pay. I didn’t waste money on getting my nails done weekly, didn’t go out to brunch every single week and was not constantly shopping. I focused on trying to build up my savings account. This is not to say that I didn’t live my life, I just had to prioritize what was important to me and make smart decisions. I don’t need to get my nails done, in fact I prefer to do it myself and since mine chip so quickly, I always feel like it’s a waste of money. I love to shop, but I shop smart so I wait for sales and take time to look into budget friendly stores. And it has helped my style because I have to get creative to mix and match rather than buy new outfits every week.
Here’s a few tips… if you prefer work out classes, then don’t sign up for a gym. If you do want a gym membership, Blink is super affordable and budget friendly. If you have to pay rent, make sure you break down and write down how much it will cost you along with all your bills so that you don’t overdue it at brunch then realize you’re screwed for rent. Plus living with a roommate in New York, so get used to the idea.
And lastly, you need to make choices. I had a friend who raked up major credit card debt and asked me to help her budget. I noticed that she traveled, went to concerts, got her nails done, shopped, went out to eat, you name it, she did it. But, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to do leisure activities and treat yourself. It’s good for your mental health. But, you can’t do everything, you need to choose what is important to you. So if you want to get your nails done, then maybe don’t go to brunch for a month. Or if you wanna go to a summer concert then maybe don’t go shopping for a month. You can’t have everything you want so you have to prioritize!!
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: THIS CITY IS TOUGH – IT WILL BREAK YOU & IT WILL CHALLENGE YOU…
It’s funny because in a city with so many people, you can still feel so alone. And with so many people, you can sometimes feel as if you’re the only one not thriving.
A lot of people in the city care about an image and coming across a certain way to other people. You know how on Instagram everyone’s life seems perfect, but we all know by now that you can’t be fooled by their perfectly edited photo and feed because deep down everything isn’t flowers and sunshines and happiness. That’s New York.
When I worked at Teen Vogue, I was honestly so proud and it was one of my favorite jobs, but it was also one of the most challenging job that I had. There would be days where I was out all day running around to different PR companies picking up editorial pulls, sometimes in the snow. And other days where I spent all day on the floor organizing shoes or socks. As a freelancer, I wasn’t invited to any meetings or had any say in pitching ideas. I was the low man on the totem pole. And while I loved the magazine and the people I worked with, it made me sad that I wasn’t really making a difference. I had friends who worked desk jobs and had meetings and an actual title and meanwhile I was on my feet all day long, barely had time for lunch, worked hard and didn’t even get my name in the magazine.But, I never put that on social media or admitted it to anyone. I always made it sound like the most glamorous life. When I had interns, I saw them do the same thing. Go on social media and brag to their friends about how fabulous life is.
So many people move here to make a name for themselves and they don’t want to admit if they’re not doing as great as they thought so everyone embellishes. And when you’re down, it’s hard to see through that. When I was unemployed for three months, it was such a low point in my life. I felt like everyone was thriving and succeeding, even people who had admitted to me weeks earlier they weren’t happy at work, now seemed to all of a sudden be thrilled with life. I would leave my house and feel so alone. Imagine that, sitting in a park with tons of people around and feeling like you’re invisible. When I started working at my last job, the first week in I knew I made a mistake, I remember waiting on the platform at Columbus Circle for the A train, pressed up against tons of people and full sobbing and asking my boyfriend if I made the wrong decision and not one person looking my way. Invisible.
I think in smaller cities or suburban settings, it’s easy to hide in a sense. Everyone is in their car and you have to make a point to make it out to social settings. In New York, it’s different. There are people everywhere, who just got off of work, meeting friends for dinner, heading to an event, you name it and if you’re not a part of it, you feel like your life is dull and failing in comparison to everyone else. This city can lift you up, but it can also knock you down when you’re already down.
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: IT WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER, MORE RESILIENT AND THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF
This city specializes in tough love. I’ve grown up here and had most of my ups and downs here. The city has seen me and contributed to me being at my lowest points and my highest points. I’ve been fighting my way on a train since I was a baby, thank you very much. And have had full melt downs, crying in the street and people pass by like you’re not even there.
As tough as it is, I guarantee you, it will make you stronger whether you like it or not. Everyone comes here to be successful. That’s just a fact. And like I mentioned, it’s easy for you to feel like you’re the only one not thriving. But, the city will instill a healthy sense of competition in you. I work in the fashion industry and when I was applying for jobs, I felt as if I was going up against the entire FIT class of 2014. So not to sound cheesy, but I really had to sit down with myself and think about what makes me unique and how I can stand out from the crowd. It’s not enough to have a clean resume or cover letter, you have to take it up a step and love the sense of competition and go out and get what you want.
And that feeling of being alone, a lot of times, we do it to ourselves. When I was at my lowest points, I was a hermit crab. I was like Elsa from Frozen. Shut the blinds, turned off the lights, turned off the phone (she had an iPhone right?) and went into hiding. I’m not the most extroverted person out there. I’m super introverted, but I’ve also made an effort to rekindle old friendships, build new ones and keep in touch with my really close friends.
And I truly do believe that New York will make you the best version of yourself. You’ll get to know yourself especially with how you handle hardships and success and how it changes you. You may even need to take a step back to evaluate if you like the person you are. When I worked at a magazine, I was on a high horse and when I quit, although it was such a tough time in my life, it humbled me. When I was at my low point and shut everyone out, I had to be honest with myself and admit that sometimes I do it to myself. Since navigating being an adult in the city, I’ve learned so much about myself and I’ve made some changes in my life for the better and I’m still not perfect and I have a lot to learn and a lot of opportunity to grow, but for the most part I’m happy with who I fought to become.
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: NEW YORKERS ARE LIKE SHREK. THEY’RE ONIONS THAT HAVE LAYERS
Not sure if you’ve heard, but apparently New Yorkers have a reputation of being rude and angry. (lol)
And while I do admit that there are a lot of strong personalities on this tiny island and hell hath no fury like a New Yorker with a slow person in their way, I do also think it’s more complex than that. I think New Yorkers are some the nicest people I’ve ever met.
Okay, before you roll your eyes, hear me out. If you fall going up or down the subway steps, pretty much everyone will stop to pick you up and ask you if you’re okay. If you drop $5 on the sidewalk, 99.9% of the time, people will stop you to tell you, you dropped it. If you ask for directions, no one is gonna snub you. And on a more serious note, I’ve just been amazed at how this city comes together in moments of need, like a blackout or someone falling in the subway track and especially during 9/11.
The city comes together to help one another and it’s a beautiful thing. So while living here will make you have tougher skin, a short temper and make you a little rough around the edges, at the end of the day, it’s a city filled with good people.
IF YOU LIVE IN MANHATTAN, YOU’LL BE RUNNING LATER THAN IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE IN MANHATTAN
Random, but I wanted to throw it in.
A few weeks back, I slept over my boyfriend’s place in the lower east side because it was a pretty busy week at work and I didn’t want to commute home. I was late every single day, thank you very much. I remember the alarm clock going off and thinking, well I don’t really need to get up this early or rush because it’s not that far. Famous last words before I rolled into work after 9am.
And in the history of my career, most of my coworkers that live in Manhattan always stroll in late. And it’s not like they walk in with makeup, hair blown out and breakfast either, they literally just woke up, hair wet and just came in to drop their bag off before running out for Starbucks. So if you’re lucky enough to live in Manhattan, just beware!
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: MOST PEOPLE YOU MEET IN NEW YORK AREN’T ACTUALLY FROM NEW YORK
Which is a good and a bad thing.
Growing up in this city, I was exposed to all different kinds of cultures and people and food. It’s shaped my view of the world and taught me to accept everyone and I appreciate someone with a rich and diverse background. And now as an adult, it’s interesting to meet all kinds of people who grew up in California, in the south or in the midwest. It’s interesting to hear their take on New York and to hear how they grew up. You can learn a lot about and from people if you just take the time to listen to them.
But, on the other hand, I find that a lot of people who aren’t from New York, put themselves on this pedestal and make the city something exclusive. If you don’t have a fancy apartment in the city, then you’re not as cool as them or if you don’t go to this restaurant or this club then you really don’t know the city. And frankly, I think it’s bull. This city welcomes everyone, from immigrants to people from other states and this city welcomed you with open arms so don’t make it exclusive to yourself and your friends and your way of life.
I prefer pizza from a small mom and pop place that offers two slices and a coke for $5 with no seating than a fancy restaurant any day. I prefer a neighborhood Chinese place that is family run than a fancy popular restaurant in midtown. You don’t have to constantly throw it in everyone’s face that you live here or try to prove something. What makes us different is what makes this city so great.
LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY: AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S AN EXPERIENCE
Do I see myself retired in some chic retirement community in Florida? For sure. Or living it up in California? Definitely. But, right now, this city is perfect for me and I truly do think it is the greatest city. But, that’s also my opinion, it may not be everyone’s. And whether it’s your cup of tea or not, I think living here is a great experience and one that will make you grow and get to know yourself one way or another.
I look back at my old jobs where I was running all around this city doing intern errands and getting lost in Brooklyn to changing in weird bathrooms to get my blog work done on the weekend to accidentally going to Queens when I was trying to get to the upper east side and while I was dramatic and distraught in that moment, I really wouldn’t take it back.
And even if you hate it here and move somewhere else, I like to think New York had a part in helping you figure out what you really want in life. I am who I am because I grew up here and learned how to be an adult here and right now I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.
I hope you guys enjoyed today’s living in New York City post. I really struggled writing it and putting my thoughts into words hence the small blog break. If you have any thoughts or even disagree with me, I would love to hear.
Thank you so much for reading and have a great week everyone!