Our year in NYC is already over! I can’t believe how fast it went. As I write this, I’m currently staring out my window soaking up one of the last beautiful sunsets I’ll see over the city
For the past 5 years, we’ve explored a new city every year, and moving to each city has felt a little like dating. We’re originally from Atlanta, and so far the cities we deep dived into were LA, Vegas, San Diego, Portland, and NYC.
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Last Updated: Mar 22, 2019
Pros and Cons of Living in New York
Each city had its pros and cons. Ultimately, we haven’t felt like we could settle down in any of these cities. Maybe we’re commitment-phobes and afraid to lay down deep roots in one place or maybe we just want to pave our own path that just might not look like everyone else’s.
It always feels bittersweet to leave because there will always be parts of each city that made our stay worthwhile and also parts that made it a living hell. I’m going to mix up the pros and cons since each one with a different perspective or taken to the extreme can go either way.
The Weather Perpetually Sucks / All the Seasons
You get all the seasons, and it’s beautiful. However, the fall and spring are fleeting, and winter seems to last forever. There are many places that get colder temperatures, but what’s most brutal is the length of winter. You can assume it will go well into April. If not, you have a nice surprise. Summers are also not ideal since it gets hot and humid.
Overall, after the gloomiest and rainiest year in Portland (they had in decades), my body felt much happier having sun in NYC. I will admit that I didn’t spend much time outside during the winter.
It’s One of the Most Expensive Cities to Live In
We’ve all heard this before, so this is no surprise. Or maybe it still is, because it’s still common to hear visitors exclaiming how crazy the prices are.
You’re paying double or maybe even triple for everything. Right now we live in an apartment that’s triple the size and half the price of our NYC studio. Get ready to say goodbye to savings, because your income is going straight to rent, and you can pretty much forget trying to buy a place.
We’re not just talking about rent. It’s also the eating out, drinking, and entertainment. Yes, there are some cheap eats in the city, but if you’re comparing it to the rest of the US, you’re paying a lot more for the same quality. For example, dinner and a movie can set you back $100 compared to $30-50 in other cities.
PRO – Every other place will feel cheap to you!
No one cares about you
This could be either a pro or a con depending on how you look at it. What I absolutely loved about New York is that you could roll out of bed or act completely batshit crazy, and people will just go on with their own busy lives. No one is judging you for how you look.
On the flip side, if you’re in trouble, everyone might pass you by thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility. Our friend saw someone have a seizure, and they were the only ones that stopped to help out.
We did have one incident that contradicts this. When Jacob passed out on the 7 train, there were several guys who stepped up and helped me carry him out.
Everyone Hustles Hard
Because everything cost more, we hustled more. We saw that many of our friends also hustled hard simply to be able to live here. I loved the working energy, but I could see it wearing me down if I had to do it for more than 3 years. It’s a great city if money ain’t a thing, but for the rest of us, it will be a city we pass through.
It’s a Concrete Jungle
It has some great urban parks and green spaces, but overall it’s much harder to get outdoors and connect with nature. The busyness can sometimes feel overwhelming if you don’t have ways to “find your zen” or have inner peace.
Local Tip: Bring earbuds or head phones. Not only will it help you blend in with the locals, but it really helps you stay calm in the chaos. Sometimes my meditation app helps and sometimes having a great playlist feels like you have a soundtrack to your life while walking around the city.
There’s Always a Wait and It’s Crowded Everywhere
You can almost always expect a wait if you’re going out to eat during peak meal hours.
I overheard a visitor saying how New Yorkers love to wait. No one loves to wait, but New Yorkers accept that it’s the reality of New York. Not only do you live on top of each other, but you also get a ridiculous number of visitors that clog up the regular flow of the city. It’s impossible to escape if you leave your home, which is why it’s nice not to have the pressure to go out and see everything in the city. Staying home can feel like a luxury too. Is that why people are going from place to place to get out of the crowd as fast as possible?
Yet a Lot of People feel very lonely
Although you’re always surrounded by people, it can be a lonely place. It’s already difficult to meet people and make friends the older you get, but New Yorkers are busy people. We got lucky since we already had a few friends living here, and since we climbed a lot, we met friends at our climbing gym.
SEE RELATED: 7 BEST CLIMBING GYMS IN NEW YORK CITY
New Yorkers aren’t Friendly / They Don’t Fake It
I hear a lot of people say how New Yorkers are rude or cold. Maybe it was my expectations coming in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of New Yorkers that were friendly. No, it’s not Mr Rogers neighborhood where everyone is saying hello to each other, but when we needed it, strangers took the time to help us out or chat with us.
I also don’t need people to be fake nice to me. I like people being a little more rough around the edges and honest.
It’s truly a melting pot
It is the most linguistically diverse city in the US. Over 800 languages are represented here. On our apartment floor alone, we represented 11 countries.
You See it First
Since it’s a city that starts trends, you get to experience a lot of things like food trends, fashion trends, etc before it arrives anywhere else in the states. Companies often build flagship stores, pop ups always come through, and you’ll get huge music acts visiting the city.
You Never Run Out of Things to Do
There are tons of museums, shows, restaurants, bars, and more. It has a
little bit LOT of everything for anyone.
It’s the city that never sleeps
There’s always something to do or eat any time of day. It was perfect for night owls like me who always have a midnight craving.
The food is hard to top and the food options are endless. We started with a big list when we arrived and every time we checked one off, we learned about another 3. Our list never got smaller. Out of all the great options, they did have a shortage of amazing Korean food, Vietnamese food, and tacos (yes, even in the outer boroughs, but I will always take more recommendations in hopes to prove myself wrong).
It’s Not Great for Big Groups
If you’re going out with a big group, you don’t have as many options for places to hang out or eat. A lot of places are compact and have limited seating.
Amazing Public Transportation / It’s Hard to Own a Car
You can practically get anywhere via subway and bus. If not, there’s always Uber. Regardless, you can find ways to get around having a car. The hardest thing for us was not being able to do a large grocery haul. Instead, we would buy things here and there when we’re out, which can be more time consuming.
If you want a car, the challenge is finding parking and paying for parking. Parking can be the cost of rent in other cities.
You Can Get Screwed by Public Transportation
We’ve been lucky, but a lot of locals have been screwed by public transportation. You’re at the mercy of their schedule if it goes down.
You’re also exposed to the elements when you have to use public transportation to get everywhere. Subways aren’t heated or cooled.
You Walk a Lot (And Fast)
I miss the walking city. You learn to walk fast and be conscious of the people around you, so that you’re not in their way. I felt healthier not being in a seated position most of the day from desk to car back to desk.
NYC used to be known as a dangerous place, but nowadays, you can walk around most of the city at any hour without having to worry about your safety.
Sometimes people get freaked out that there are tons of homeless people. For the most part, they are harmless.
Local Tip: Don’t be the tourist that wears your backpack in front of you. Yes, be aware of any shady happenings, but personally, I think that makes you more of a target.
Direct Flights and the Airports
Since we still travel quite a bit for work, it’s important for us to have direct flights. We have plenty of airports and flights to choose from, but they’re all a cluster.
Local Tip: We preferred flying into LGA whenever possible.
There isn’t any other city like it. I actually surprised myself how much I fell in love with the city, since I had a love/hate relationship whenever I visited. It turns out, I just needed to take on New York at a slower pace.
Tell me… could you move to a city like NYC? What are some dealbreakers when you decide where to live?
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Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.
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