New York City is the Big Apple, America’s most populous city. There are upwards of 8 million people living there, though the exact number is hard to pin down because some individuals try to avoid the census takers. There is certainly no place like it, and if you spend some time there, you will probably agree.
If you are thinking about moving there for any reason, there are a few things about the city you should know. These notions are inescapable, and you’re going to run into them if you want to try out the New York lifestyle as a resident.
There’s a Lot of Traffic
If you live in New York, prepare yourself for traffic. You can hardly have a city that big and that old with more than 8 million people living in it without having tons of traffic at virtually all times of the day. It’s true that if it’s the dead of night in some of the neighborhoods that are less popular with tourists, the streets might not be quite as bad, but many parts of the city remain crowded and active at all times.
During rush hour, traveling from one side of the city to the other can take a couple of hours if there’s gridlock. There are Ubers and taxis everywhere, especially in Manhattan, which can feel like the universe’s center, with so many people hurrying to get to and from work and trying to complete all kinds of errands.
It follows that pedestrian fatalities have been on the rise lately. If you’re a pedestrian and you’re trying to get somewhere in New York, be very careful. The drivers there are not likely to slow down for you if you happen to try crossing against the light at an intersection.
It Is Very Expensive
Another inescapable fact about the New York lifestyle is that nearly everything there is expensive. You can easily pay $2,000 per month for a tiny, one-room apartment, and it goes up from there, depending on the neighborhood. You might get a place for twice that much in one of the outer boroughs, necessitating you getting some roommates to help cover rent and utilities.
Eating out is expensive, yet there are many “food deserts,” as the locals sometimes refer to them. This is a neighborhood section that does not have a convenient grocery store, so you have to do your food shopping at the bodegas as best you can.
You can go further afield and find a better-stocked grocery store, but then you have to figure out a way to get your purchases back to your home. That can be challenging since not many people in New York drive. Car ownership makes little sense if you have to try and find street parking every day.
The Grind Can Wear You Down
If you have plenty of money, living in New York is entirely different from someone who is trying to make things work financially. If you have no financial limitations, then you can stay in a luxurious apartment or even buy a house in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods. You can stay in a hotel suite permanently and enjoy room service every day.
The fact is, though, most people don’t have that experience. They must work to make money, most of which goes toward the very high rents, utility bills, and food bills. There are arts and cultural experiences in New York that you will not find anywhere else in the world, but if you have to work nearly every moment to make ends meet, you may not ever find the time to enjoy them.
The result is that if you live in New York for years, many people experience ever-increasing angst and malaise. They want to enjoy living there, and they may find infrequent moments to do so, but they may also find that train traffic delaying their subway from arriving at their job on time makes them frantic. New York can feel magical sometimes, but it can also feel positively designed to break down your spirit.
You Can Sometimes Find Blissful Moments There
Despite all the difficulties we’ve mentioned, New York can provide nearly transcendent moments as well, and you never know when you’re going to experience one. You might feel exhausted going over the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn into lower Manhattan on an early fall day, knowing that you’ve got a long shift at work ahead of you. The sun may break through the clouds as the train picks up speed, and you might spot the glorious sight of Lady Liberty holding up her torch that takes your breath away.
New York City is a place where you can struggle and toil, but you can also walk through Central Park during the summer and see strangers smiling at you, giddy with the simple knowledge that you’re both there and alive. You might purchase a ticket to the Museum of Modern Art and spend hours gazing at works by the old masters, or you can buy a ticket to Yankee Stadium and experience pennant race baseball in the Bronx on a cool September evening.
New York is a city that gives and takes away, and you never know what each day will bring. The encounters you have with strangers and the zest for life that seems to bubble out of every restaurant and bar sometimes make it all seem worth it.
It would be an understatement to say that this city is not for everyone. On the contrary, many individuals try it and find that they can’t stand the dizzying highs and lows. One moment you might find that your rent is going up, and you’re racking your brain trying to devise ways to pay it. The next, you might see a celebrity walk right past you.
You may never know if you should be a New Yorker unless you go there and try it for yourself.