19 Mar 19
I moved to New York City in 2004 which was a dream come true! Prior to my move, I would spend as much time as I could in the city when not at work/school. I was drawn to the energy and excitement of it all. I quickly fell in love with this amazing city and am proud to call myself a New Yorker. As I was told by many native New Yorkers, you must live in the city for 7 years to consider yourself a New Yorker.
When I say I am a New Yorker, I mean Manhattan. There are actually 5 boroughs that make up New York City; Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens. The Bronx and Staten Island.
One of the things I love about this city is it is filled with different cultures, styles, languages spoken and types of people. It is so accepting of who you are and your own uniqueness. It is amazing to me that people just don’t care. The other day I saw a man walking down the street at 8 am in a tailored suit with a white full-length fur coat and purple fedora fur hat with a cane. He was walking along, singing a song and smiling and no one even thought anything of it. I loved it!
I think the diversity allows people to be open and accepting of others. I have learned so much from total strangers and I continue to connect with people I might not otherwise have ever known if it were not for New York.
I hope you enjoy this guide to the ins and outs of the beautiful city; whether you are here for a day, a week or you are calling New York City home!
Looking the part
If you want to look like a New Yorker, go with wearing all black. Yes, have your own unique style and flair but the all black look is an unwritten uniform in the city.
Before you know it you will be giving directions to tourists and getting around without even thinking about which subway to take.
Now that we have your attire down, some other tips for looking the part. Please, for the love of God, DO NOT stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a selfie, read a text or decide if you are going to go in to Starbucks for a coffee. You will certainly get body slammed by the flow of people walking behind you. Think of it like this; you wouldn’t stop your car in the middle of the highway to take a selfie, so don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk.
If you need to do any of the above, pull over. Move to the edge of the sidewalk or closer to the building and take care of what you need too.
There are many options for transportation; Subway, bus, taxi, Uber, Via, Lyft or my favorite, good old walking.
The subway is a preferred option and easy to maneuver. It’s $3 for a single ride but there are options for your Metro Card. You can get an weekly unlimited card for $32 or monthly unlimited card for $121.00. You can also add value to your card depending on how much you feel you will use the subway; $20, $40, etc. The same Metro Card can be used for the bus and the fee per ride fee is the same. You can download the MTA app for more information, schedules and map routes for the bus and subway.
The subway is a great mode of transportation to avoid traffic. It does get crowded so just be aware of your surroundings. I would also like to add please let the passengers off the subway before trying to get on. The subway runs frequently. During rush hour there could literally be one subway right behind the one in the station. There is no need to push and shove and be squished in like a sardine. Often times, I wait for the next subway and have more room and get a seat.
There are express and local subways. Make sure you are on the right one. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have people ask me for directions at least three times a week. To be honest, I have also asked for help if I am riding a subway line I haven’t been on in a while.
If it’s the weekend, allow more time to get to your destination. They usually work on the subway system over the weekends and it causes delays in the trains and/or less trains running.
If you are looking to get out of the city, there are trains available from Grand Central Station or Penn Station depending on your destination. These trains are different than the Subway.
Ride-sharing is a wonderful option; some even have the option of sharing your ride with other passengers to save money.
You cannot come to New York and not hail a taxi. I insist on it. You have seen it a million times on TV. Just stand slightly off the curb and raise your arm. I have not mastered the whistle but have seen it done with success. If the light on top of the cab is off, it is not in service. When giving the destination address, always give a cross street. For example, 555 Madison Avenue between 43rdand 44thStreet. You can easily determine this by putting the address in googlemaps. If the driver gives you two route options and asks which you prefer, respond with “the fastest route”.
This is my favorite options. It is the best way to see this gorgeous city. For the numbered streets, 20 blocks equal one mile (for example: 66thstreet – 86thStreet). For the Avenues, 6.5 blocks equal one mile (for example: 8thAvenue – Madison Avenue). The width of Manhattan is 2.3 miles wide; while the length is 13.4 miles. Grab a pair of comfortable shoes and get out there!
You definitely do not need a car living in Manhattan. You will spend a small fortune paying for parking. If you are able to have street parking in front of your apartment you will be juggling the times you are able to park there as well as alternate side of the street parking and the chore of trying to find a parking space when you do use the car. One of the benefits in living in NYC is the ability to walk almost anywhere. If you need to get on the open road for a weekend getaway, you can rent a car. It’s a huge cost savings not to have a car.
Things to do:
-There are endless activities to experience in New York. I will share some of my favorites with you.
-If you are an art fan, there are many museums to see. One of my favorites is The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
-If galleries are more your style, head to Chelsea. Thursday nights are a good night to visit the different galleries.
-Do you prefer a good book? Check out the NY Public Library. The building is located on Fifth Avenue and is absolutely gorgeous.
-Take a walk. You have options other than the city streets. There is The Highline, Hudson River and Central Park just to name a few. They are a nice change from the hustle and bustle.
-Take a tour of Lincoln Center. You can watch the practice sessions of the Symphony Orchestra or NY Ballet for free!
-See a Broadway Show
-Take in a NY Knicks, NY Rangers, NY Giants, NY Jets, Yankees or Mets game depending on the time of year.
-There is always shopping! Soho has great boutique stores, 5thAvenue has your high end retailers and 57thStreet has Bergdorf’s.
-You must hit all the tourist spots. Will they be crowded? Of course, but they are what make New York, New York. Go early in the morning or later in the evening, but go! Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, Time Square, Central Park, Washington Square Park, The World Trade Center, Wall Street and Grand Central Station.
If you like to cook, fear not, there are plenty of ways to grocery shop in the city. I shop online for groceries; using Fresh Direct or Peapod. There are actual grocery stores in the city; Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Gristedes, Morton Williams and Fairway just to name a few. When ordering heavier or bulk items like laundry detergent, it’s easier to order online. This way you don’t have to carry them home from the store. There is also insta cart and most of the grocery stores have delivery options.
Depending on the food you are craving, the best restaurants can vary. There are restaurants that serve entrees from almost any country. For the more traditional foods, I love 11 Madison Park, Tribeca Grill and ABC Kitchen for your dining pleasure. Fun fact, you can eat out for breakfast lunch and dinner, 365 days a year and never eat at the same restaurant twice in NYC. By the time you have eaten at every restaurant, some have closed and new ones popped open.
You must have a bagel and a slice of pizza. They really are the best. I also recommend grabbing a bag of nuts from the Nuts 4 Nutsstreet vendor. They are delicious.
Moving to the Big City
If you are planning on moving here, I would recommend coming to visit as often as possible before your move to familiarize yourself with the city. If that is not possible, I would suggest renting an AirBNB or short term furnished apartment until you get familiar with the city.
There are so many different areas to experience before you decide which part of the city you want to live. When I first moved here I lived downtown because it was close to my work and convenient to the subway line I would take. While I loved the area, as I got to know the city more I fell in love with the Upper West Side and have lived there since 2006.
In my opinion, the Upper West Side has a more casual vibe, the Upper East Side is more fancy, the Lower East Side has an artsy vibe, Tribeca for its elegance, Soho for that “old New York” feel and downtown because it’s near the water.
Finding an affordable apartment can be challenging. There are things to factor in:
-do you want a doorman?
-do you want amenities in your building (roof deck, gym, pool)?
-do you want an elevator or walk up?
-do you want laundry in the building?
-do you want to live in a high-rise building, low-rise building, brownstone or loft?
All these items factor into the scope of your apartment search. I recommend using Streeteasy.com. You can put the criteria you need as well as outline an area on a map of where you want to live and viola, you have choices to go through.
Please be careful of the real estate brokers. Some can be very shady. They will tell you the apartment will go quickly so you have to decide immediately if you want it. This is not the case. Don’t feel pressure. Most brokers charge a fee. If the listing doesn’t state “no fee”, assume you must pay a broker fee. Always ask if there is a fee to be 100% sure. The broker fees average 10%-15%; however, sometimes they can be negotiated.
Usually, the less expensive apartment rentals are not centrally located. For example, apartments from 9thAvenue and west or 3rdAvenue and east are less expensive than an apartment located at 57th Street and 8thAvenue . If you look above 96th street, rents go down. If your building does not have a doorman, laundry or any other amenities, it is cheaper than a luxury building.
I would recommend living in a doorman building if you can afford it. It makes receiving packages much easier and provides a feeling of security. The cheapest months to move regardless of location in the city are November – March. The rents are slightly lower because no one wants to move in the winter.
You don’t need to be paranoid but use common sense. Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear ear buds or have your head in your phone. Keep your wallet/money in your pocket/purse and don’t be going through your cash on the street.
If you wear a backpack, make sure it is always closed. I tell people at least three times a week their backpack is open and they have no idea. Thankfully, I have never had anything stolen but I know plenty of people that have had items lifted out of their backpacks/purses without even noticing.
If it’s 3 am and you are out and about, take a taxi vs walking. While most people are harmless, you never know. Again, be aware of your surroundings. If you see someone acting crazy or sketchy, simply cross the street to avoid them in a casual manner.
If something unforeseen happens, ask people for help. You will be surprised how many people jump to your aid. Better yet, call 911 immediately.
The list of things to do and see in New York City is endless. The good news is you have all the time in the world to enjoy the city. If you move here, you can do a little at a time. If you are visiting, whatever you don’t see this trip is just an excuse to come back again.
Contrary to the stereotype, all New Yorkers are not rude! I help people all the time and vice versa. Yes, there is an occasional bad experience or your question is met with ambivalence and the person walks on by but that is rare. I promise.
New York is one of the greatest cities in the world. I am so grateful to call it home. The energy and vibe are like nowhere else. Whether you experience it for a day, a period of time or the rest of your life, it’s something you won’t soon forget.
Donna M McGovern, email@example.com, awaywithdonna.com