One of the first questions I’m asked whenever I go back home is something to the tune of, “You still liking New York? Think you’ll be there long-term?” If you grew up in suburbia, I doubt you can really comprehend what it’s like to live in a big city. Not for lack of imagination, but because it’s one of those things you don’t fully understand until you’re doing it yourself.
When I moved to New York City, I had a set view of what I thought my life would be like. Almost everything I had imagined ended up not panning out (out every Friday night with friends? Heck no, I’m wiped at the end of a work week!), but I love how life in the Big Apple has worked out for me.
For those of you thinking of moving to New York (or any major city) or for any of you who are just curious about what it’s like to live in NYC, here are some of the pros and cons of living in a big city that you should consider before making the move.
Always something to do
NYC is truly the city that never sleeps. On any given day, there are dozens of museum exhibits, art gallery openings, coffee shops, and farmers markets to explore. Time Out New York is a good resource for anyone who’s just moved to the city, as it has lists of activities and openings going on each week.
Neighborhoods are constantly being revived
There’s always a cool new neighborhood to explore in the city. I have a few friends who live in Harlem now and love it, which would have been a terrible idea just a few years ago. The drawback to this is that an area’s revival usually means increased rent prices, so people are constantly having to move in response to whichever area is now “in.”
Popular musicians always perform in NYC
Musicians, artists, musicals—they always have something going on in New York. Indianapolis just had Broadway Across America shows, so it’s nice to live somewhere that draws major talent.
No need to have a car
One of my favorite things about living in New York is its public transportation (minus the times the subway has major delays—that sucks). I don’t have to worry about parking my car on the street or insurance payments. All I do is buy my monthly bus pass, and the city is my oyster.
Your legs look mighty fine
If you’re planning on living in New York, get ready for a lot of walking. Even if you take the subway everywhere, you’ll still be on your feet all day. In no time, your calves are going to look hella fab.
The brunch scene is hopping
There needs to be a pamphlet given to all NYC transplants that explains the unspoken rules of brunch. I had no clue brunch was such a thing until I moved here. Sunday is the most popular day for brunch, and meeting at a normal lunchtime (i.e. noon) is practically illegal. You always meet up at 1pm or later, order mimosas, and stay for 90+ minutes. It takes practice, but anyone can master this art.
You’re the friend everyone wants to visit
I’ve had more people visit me in the eight months I’ve been in NYC than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. It’s nice to be the friend everyone wants to visit, but that also means you’ll need a spare pillow and such on hand to accommodate your pseudo AirBNB.
Lots of jobs in the city
The number one reason I moved to New York was to get a job. There are tons of jobs here, but there’s also a lot of competition. If you’re moving here for a job, bring your best interview attire and be prepared to hoof it across the city to get to your interviews on time.
The east coast is easy to travel
I’m so excited to travel along the east coast this summer. I’ll be going to Boston over Memorial Day and am already planning a trip to Philly near the end of the summer. The east coast is so easy to get around, and between the busses and trains you’ll be able to go anywhere you’d like without a car.
Let’s knock the most obvious thing out of the way first. New York City is incredibly expensive, so don’t move here without a job unless you have some money saved up. There are regions of the city that are less expensive to live in, but you’ll likely have a longer commute to work every day if you live where it’s cheaper.
It’s easy to feel burned out
It’s tough figuring out what you want to do each weekend in the city. There’s always so much happening, lots of friends to see, and between work and play you sometimes feel like you never get a moment to park it on the couch and relax. And when you do take a weekend to decompress, all your friends are out having fun, which can lead to serious FOMO (fear of missing out, for all my acronym-hating friends).
“Normal” things aren’t always available
Big grocery stores aren’t readily available in the city, nor are pools, public parks, and other “normal” things you find in the suburbs. One thing I love about my current apartment is that it’s a five-minute walk away from a big grocery store—a must for me since I love cooking so much. While NYC is packed with lots of amazing stuff, you might have to take the subway to larger stores or open spaces.
It takes forever to get anywhere
The Indiana girl in me can’t get over the fact that the 2.5-mile trek to Brooklyn takes an hour. That’s 60 minutes of my life wasted in transit when that same distance would take me less than 10 minutes in the Midwest by car. And no, the irritation you feel when you first see the commute time on Google maps never goes away.
It’s tough to make new friends
I’ve been super lucky in this department since my roommate was kind enough to invite me to outings with her friends from the first day we moved in together. Not all my friends in the city were this lucky though. If you don’t get a good roommate, you’ll have to find friends through apps or hope that your coworkers are willing to hang out. It’s tough, but once you find your group it’ll be worth it.
There’s basically zero nature
Having grown up in Indiana, I was ready to escape the cornfields for something a touch more industrial. Once I moved here though, I realized that living far away from any semblance of nature was not in the cards for me. My first week of apartment hunting was pretty depressing, and that’s when I realized that living in Manhattan wasn’t for me (I live in New Jersey now, which is slightly more nature-friendly).
Would I move to NYC all over again if I knew these pros and cons of living in a big city ahead of time? Absolutely. I’ve been extremely lucky with how my life has panned out, and I’ve made some great friends in the few months I’ve lived here. Knowing all of this would have made the transition to city life a bit easier, but at lest now I can help those of you who are considering moving to New York or another major city.
Do you think you could live in New York City? Why or why not?