This past September marked my 8-year anniversary of moving to NYC (sans a brief dark period when I had to move home after graduation), and let me tell you I have learned a LOT. As Frank Sinatra wisely said “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Maybe it’s because I spent some pretty formative years here, but I’ve experienced the best and worst times of my life in this beautifully disgusting city, and wouldn’t have it any other way. So, what better way to celebrate this anniversary than by sharing all that I’ve learned.
1. It is possible to have no-spend or very low-spend days here.
Especially for those times (we’ve all had them) when you look at your bank and are taken aback at the amount you see, and I don’t mean in a good way. Several times I’ve been unable to withdraw money because there’s just that little in my checking account; surviving on $3.47 is a real skill, and I’ve truly learned to make it stretch in what many people call “the most expensive city in America.”
Now you could always stay in and cook, but if you’re a super extroverted adventurous type and just have to explore, there are plenty of spots around the city to get some cheap eats. Two Bros has $1 slices, Papaya Dog offers a variety of hot dogs, sausages and pizza for under $5, and if you wanna drink and eat, 169 Bar has $3 dumplings, $7 mac & cheese and $3 beer and shot combos (you’ll thank me later).
2. You will eventually get used to walking everywhere.
When I first moved here, I was young, energetic and optimistic. Walking 15 blocks didn’t bother me! In fact, I looked forward to it. However, one weekend (after I moved home for a brief period of time) I came to visit and could not believe how sore I was after just two days in the city. Whether you go to the gym or not, you will realize after living here that you’re in better shape than you think.
3. When in doubt, take the bus.
I’m not exactly sure what it is about the subway, but I think it is the dirtiest most disgusting place on earth. Things I’ve seen on the subway include: poop, someone barfing, many homeless people, people who sneeze then touch the pole, people coughing directly on the pole — all while people casually eat, like, chicken sandwiches and french fries. This is why I prefer to take the bus. If I feel a cold coming on, I know for sure it’s from the germ vessel we New Yorkers call the subway.
4. Unless you have a free evening, don’t eat the street meat.
For obvious reasons, you never know how you’ll react to good old New York street meat.
5. Get good shoes.
Seriously, you can buy and wear heels if you want, just make sure they’re not from Payless. You will get used to walking everywhere, and you will be able to wear cute boots, flats or whatever, but just make sure they’re well made. The city and it’s mean streets have no mercy for you and your footwear.
6. There is never a good time to just ‘stay in and not go out.’
Obviously when it’s disgusting and gross outside you don’t want to leave your apartment, but then again…maybe you do? Snowstorm Jonas was one of those times I thought to myself, ‘no way I’ll leave, I’ll just stay in and save money.’ Clearly this was not the case as I trekked all over the East Village with friends in search of food, warmth and the cheapest bar. During that lovely heat wave this summer, did I stay in and watch TV? Nope, I hit up all the bars I could in search of the perfect tropical drink. The point is, in New York there is always an excuse to stay in, but then again there is always one to go out too.
7. Happy hour starts the moment you wake up, and ends the moment you hit your pillow.
Since we live in a city where I would say 99.9% of its residents don’t drive, it’s much easier to drink all day, every day, wherever you want and whenever you want.
8. And most importantly, this city is not for everyone.
Some love it, some hate it, some can visit for a weeks at a time and others for only a few hours (my brother). But, I’ve been here for 8 years now and I definitely don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.