Lessons learned from moving to New York City

My faithful blog followers (all five of you!) know that I posted an entry last month on the big lessons I’ve learned from relocating to NYC. If you’ve ever tasted (or been force fed) humble pie, you acknowledged at a young age that you never truly have a right to cockiness because there will always be more for you to learn. With that, I’ve acquired a little more knowledge since I last updated you on my NYC awakening, so here are some more things I’ve picked up from living in the concrete jungle:

1. You never have to DIY again

I’m the youngest of four siblings, skeletal, and so horrendous at sports that I was actually banned from my second grade P.E. course for infuriating the novice teacher one too many times with my poor athletic skills (at the beginning of class, the instructor would send me to the principal’s office, where I happily read books and wrote stories). In other words, I am useless when it comes to pretty much anything physical. Luckily, there exists a place for incapable (and admittedly lazy) folks like me: New York City. You can outsource everything here. You don’t have to drive anywhere. Cabs fly through the city 24 hours a day, the subway system is always open, and even the sketchball gypsy towncars can get you where you need to go anytime. If you need help assembling your new furniture or bed frame, you can order a TaskRabbit to come by and take care of it for a reasonable price. Pretty much anything you purchase from IKEA, Sleepy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target can be delivered to you. For less than $10, you can pay someone to do four loads of laundry for you (I know because I’m guilty of this frivolity). Why waste a second of your weekend at the laundromat when you can just drop off your dirty clothes at the beginning of the work day and pick up your bag before heading home at the end of the day? Why throw out your back lifting large boxes when a burly, willing guy (or at least the TaskRabbit is a man in my fantasy) can take care of your needs for a decent price?

2. But that doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to DIY

My ridiculously low (and bragworthy, obviously) Brooklyn rent comes with several glaring downsides: I live by the G train, which, as many sources have said, is the absolute worst train on the MTA subway system. There’s also the breathtaking view of a junkyard from my bedroom window (one of my roommates worries the mess outside will inevitably result in disgusting rodents and diseases entering our home). As soon as I moved in, I knew I needed to buy a curtain before anything else for the room. It took me a while to drill the curtain rod above my windowsill, as I nearly fell from the stool several times and accidentally pounded my finger with a hammer (and felt the pain in my tongue, for some reason), but I eventually nailed it to the wall. I’m not ashamed to admit that I almost deferred to TaskRabbit for this chore (I was also worried about slipping off the chair), but gave it the old college try. There’s nothing wrong with doing things yourself every once in a while. It shocks me to hear that so many of my NYC born-and-bred buddies have no clue how to operate a vehicle. I’m all for simplifying life, but I also don’t want to get too spoiled here. It’s just too easy to fall into that trap.

3. You have to be in exceptional shape to live here

Carrie Bradsaw in "Sex and the City"

New York may be the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of,” but it’s unfortunately not so magical for disabled folks. I find this rather unfortunate, as NYC is such an amazing part of the world and should absolutely be accessible to all. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t make it here if I weren’t in decent shape (not saying I’m fit or anything, but I’m in good enough health to run around here all the time). Having relocated from DC, I came from a subway system equipped with escalators and elevators. NYC subway stops just have stairs, and a lot of them. Sometimes, it seems all I do is walk and climb stairs. It looks and feels a lot like the Paris metro, which I liked a great deal when I resided in France one summer.

4. I will never chase a train


Living in the NYC area, I’m exhausted much of the time. The last thing I want to do is run after a subway train I am clearly going to miss. If I’m navigating the underground subway, chances are I’m annoyed, and I refuse to further tire myself by sprinting towards a train and end up panting on my fellow passengers seconds later. Another train will arrive within minutes. Commuting does not have to be a race. Does this make me a fair-weather Type A? I sure hope so.

5. Everyone has an iPhone

With the exception of me. I’m still in BlackBerry Land and eager to complain about my phone freezing. As much as I’d love to join the NYC iPhone Society (especially since the phone has two specific apps I really need: Instagram and HopStop), I refuse to spend $300 on a cellular device.

6. The subway system isn’t as intimidating as it appears, but isn’t as amazing as I anticipated

At first, the NYC subway map overwhelmed me! Now, I get it...Kind of.

Coming from DC, where the metro shuts down far too early for active bar hoppers to actually benefit from it, I was jaded by MTA, which runs 24 hours a day. There’s no phone service in the NYC subway areas. This is potentially dangerous and inconvenient. What am I supposed to do if my train gets stuck in the middle of a tunnel and I can’t call work to notify my employers that I’ll be late? Another First World Problem, I know, but if DC can do it, NYC should find a way to get with the program and accommodate its consumers some more. Something also has to be done about that whole lack of escalator thing.

7. Dressing well is crucial, but doesn’t have to be expensive

When I came to the east coast after graduating college, I made fun of the snooty high maintenance gals who only cared about impressing others with their new Michael Kors outfits. Though I refuse to spend my free time shopping online, I realize I need to carry myself well to be taken seriously here. I have improved my style considerably and allow an extra half hour to get ready every morning, but avoid designers. I do, however, make frequent visits to Forever 21 in Union Square, so if you ever want to ask where I got my “killer tights” (in my dreams) or “head-turning black dress” (getting carried away here…), march on over to 14th Street and we can browse the two-story shop together.

Don't lie, you want my dress!

8. Pretentious elitists make me want to do the headdesk gesture

That’s about all I’ll say on the matter.

9. There are more families and dogs here than I expected

Lily in "Sex and the City"
Lily's room in NYC

At least in the Lower East Side and West Village. It’s nice, but that may not be enough for me to have children here. As much as I’d love to raise a family outside of suburbia and away from busybody PTA moms (now that I’m an adult, I am SO GLAD my mother worked throughout my schooling and never associated with the parent cliques at my schools), I think there’s something to be said about the value of growing up in a tamer part of the country. I’m inspired by all the beaming stroller-pushing couples in NYC, but can’t decide whether this is a good place to spend one’s formative years.


3 thoughts on “Lessons learned from moving to New York City

  1. For what it’s worth, I think you should get the iPhone, and I think it’ll be cost-effective! $300 sounds like a lot, but if you’re eligible for an upgrade, you can actually get the iPhone 4 for as low as $100 and the 4S for as low as $200. Beyond that, it’s just my opinion, but I still think paying that for an iPhone is more value than paying anything for a BlackBerry, and it would probably increase your productivity.

    Alright, I’m biased. But perhaps more importantly…

    Resale value of iPhones is HUGE. This is because your $200 subsidized iPhone is actually $600 out of contract, and there are people in contracts who will happily buy one used on eBay for $300. You’re earning money, they’re saving money. Sounds bizarre, but trust me, I’ve bought every iPhone version, and each time a new one has come out, I have sold the previous on eBay or Craigslist for roughly the same – and sometimes more – than the cost of upgrading to the new one.

    So although you’ll have to justify paying for the first one, you may not have to pay very much for future upgrades!

  2. Hi Dan,

    As always, you never fail to wow me with your product research skills! Thanks for informing me of my iPhone options. The BB has been good to me but always needs to be updated and freezes. Above all, I need the directions apps to get around here. I spend way too long Googling my destinations and would rather just use an app! We’ll see what I end up doing.

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