I’ve spent just over a year in New York City up to this point. Moving here was a big deal for me. I’d lived in or around larger cities like Austin or Atlanta before, but when you’re a small town Texas kid that comes from a town of 400 people, moving to NYC is a pretty big deal.
Many people who are far better at stringing words into sentences than I am have written about New York City, so I won’t bother to write a love letter to the city. Though, I do feel it’s deserving of one. And at the same time, I feel that New York City is deserving of some of the most visceral hate mail imaginable.
That pretty well sums up my feelings on New York City. I love every single bit of it, and every single bit of it that I love I somehow also hate. Which I guess means my relationship with New York City could probably qualify as an emotionally abusive relationship.
An abusive relationship may not have been on my list of goals for 2017, but I’m comfortable in saying I’m better for it. I moved here for one job, and I’m starting the year in a different job. I’ve made new friends and new relationships, been humbled by my own screw-ups, and perfected the art of stopping by Two Bros Pizza for a road slice once a day. So, all of that being said, here are 31 things nobody tells you before moving to New York City.
Be prepared to be sweaty all the damn time.
I grew up in Texas and lived just outside of Austin in 2011, the year that we had over 90 days of 100+ degree weather, which was a Texas state record. I also lived in Atlanta, which is basically like living in a 90-degree swamp that really liked rap music. Dealing with high temperatures and humidity is something I’m used to.
Suffice to say that roughly around June of this year I was PISSED to feel like every time I walked out of my apartment I was dripping with sweat. The entire city becomes like an oven thanks to all that concrete. Factor that with being surrounded by water and having a decent bit of rainfall, and the city becomes like a big, hot, steaming oven.
During the summer the city smells like tons of garbage are being baked in a stone furnace.
Reference the big hot steaming oven effect mentioned above. Add in the entire city placing its garbage on the street.
The rain is the worst.
Life in NYC doesn’t stop just because of some rain. You still walk everywhere because you still need to get where you’re going.
(Note: this is also why winters are rough. You still walk everywhere, even when it’s frigid.)
People are nicer but also more self-involved than you’re ever warned.
I don’t think that people in NYC are assholes like the general sentiment goes. In fact, they’re often just as nice, or nicer, than people in the South. But where in the South you have to deal with false modesty and a sickening veneer of people pretending to like you, in NYC you have to deal with everyone is always actually looking out for their own best interests.
Not to say that’s bad, it’s just something to know.
It’s not as expensive as people like to say.
Rent is expensive. That’s the biggest thing by far. And cocktails. But after that it’s really not much different living in a big city anywhere in the country. At least not to the absurd degree that most people often claim it is. Even rent and cocktails can be comparable to being in most big cities.
The thing I think I’ve noticed about NYC is that when something has a high price ceiling you’re just likely going to find the top of that ceiling somewhere in this city.
Scooters are apparently cool again.
Like Razor scooters.
Nobody tells you that you walk 10 miles a day.
Get comfortable walking a bunch and never struggling to hit 10,000 steps again.
The ambition in this city is palpable.
You’ve probably heard about the ambition, hustle, grit, grind, or any other entrepreneur buzzword porn being used about New York City. They’re all true. They’re palpable and they’re infectious. You find yourself working harder and longer because of this city. Because that’s what people do.
Your friends may live in the same city, but a 30-minute subway ride is the biggest barrier ever.
You live in Manhattan and your best friend lives in Brooklyn? Good luck hanging out with that friend. Sure, you’re different. Everyone says that. But once you move to this city it’s like a 30-minute subway ride becomes the biggest barrier in the world.
Sure, you can say that driving around a big city to go see your friend is roughly the same, and I guess in theory it is. But in practice, it most certainly isn’t.
Nobody understands how big Manhattan actually is.
Seriously, dude. It’s both gigantic and a very small island all at the same time.
People rush everywhere just to go wait in a line.
Everyone is always walking as if they’re competing in Olympic Speedwalking only to show up at Starbucks to just wait in a line. There are lines everywhere.
The city is so dog-friendly
DOGGOS EVERYWHERE ALL DAY LONG.
There are beautiful people EVERYWHERE.
And most of the time they happen to be smart. I’m not the first person to point out that L.A. has all the most beautiful people from your high school or community while New York has the attractive and smart crowd, but that comparison does seem to hold true.
People never look up.
You’ll have to either channel your inner Marshall Faulk or Mike Alstott to walk down these sidewalks.
How quickly a neighborhood can change.
There’s just construction going on all day long everywhere you look. I feel like in the time since I moved here the Upper East Side has transformed from a boring hellhole for people my age to a slightly more desirable locale.
Bikers are badasses.
For real, man. They just zip and zoom all over the road with reckless (but not wreckless) abandon.
Nobody tells you that you CAN’T do a big grocery shopping trip.
But you can do big grocery deliveries. And that’s honestly even better.
The cooler the neighborhood the smaller the bar.
Personal space is far less of a thing here. Especially when you’re 6 drinks deep.
Nobody tells you that bars look small on the outside and then wind up being expansive.
For real, sometimes it’s like bars defy the laws of physics and seem to expand on and on. They go down, up, back, forward, and seem to find space from nothing. Basically what I’m saying is that bars become black holes of bad decisions where space and time make no sense.
You can tell how close someone is to their place by what they’re wearing.
Because do you really need to put on regular pants when you’re just going to your bodega?
The good coffee shops all open at 7 am.
Seriously, what the hell is that?
The city that never sleeps is incredibly quiet in the morning before 8 am.
It’s eerily peaceful to be up and out in the city before 8 am. It’s definitely one of the few times you can be in the city and feel like you’re not surrounded by people.
Also, it feels like everyone starts their day at like 10 am.
When I first moved here I was blown away by how it felt like everyone was starting their day and going to work at 10 am or later.
Water towers are still a thing?
The old wooden ones. They’re actually everywhere.
Nobody tells you how long it takes to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Especially on the weekends after 10 pm. And God forbid you find yourself stuck in Brooklyn having to get back to Manhattan. Nobody ever prepares you for feeling like you’re trapped on some Martian colony with lots of diners.
There actually aren’t any superheroes.
You can’t grill.
I get why you can’t grill. But I think it’s dumb. Grilling is the best. This is more a commentary on Manhattan than the city as a whole. In other parts of the city you can grill with a bit more ease. But it’s still nothing like people in most other parts of the country experience.
You don’t see the stars.
This one is pretty depressing. It’s actually one of the first things I really look forward to when I leave the city, and that probably speaks to the fact that I just tend to feel more comfortable outside of a city. I need to see stars, trees that aren’t planted in sidewalks, and walk barefoot in grass. Preferably on my way to my grill.
When you leave you’ll sleep more deeply than you’ve ever known possible.
The city is full of lights, sounds, and runs on a cocktail of stimulants and depressants. You won’t even know it, but you’ll feel like you’re not actually breathing deeply until you leave. You’ll be a weird mix of tired and wired all the time and when you leave it’ll all catch up to you.
You’ll dare cars to hit you.
There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t walk across the street and hold up my hand like Obi-Wan using The Force to stop a cab.
Tennis shoes with dresses and suits are a thing
I’m not hating. I get why they’re a thing. Just look out for that fashion choice.
You can’t buy wine in grocery stores.
But you can get it delivered. So that’s pretty awesome.
You’ll turn into a monster in large crowds.
On more than one occasion I have transformed into a Cerberus type beast and ripped the heads off of people who walked too slowly in a large crowd. You can think that won’t happen to you if you move here. You’re wrong.
That’s all, folks. On the surface, it probably seems like most of this list is me bitching about New York City, and that really couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve fallen in love with everything that this city has to offer, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve certainly screwed up my fair share of things since moving here, but I’m happy I made this choice. For every little thing that it takes from you, it gives right back.