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The 11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Moving to New York

New York City
by Yulia Denisyuk Feb 26, 2016

1. Do you have storage for your car?

You do not need a car to live in this city. Plenty of cars crowd the roads of New York, but most of them belong to competing camps of yellow taxis and Uber Toyota Priuses. You will not be needing your car anytime soon, especially if you live in Manhattan. Instead, get to know the MTA system intimately, because your happiness will be directly correlated to a convenience factor, which is, in turn, a function of walking distance to a subway station.

2. Are you a morning person?

Morning does not start before 9am. I caught on to this quite quickly, but my first few weeks in New York I would arrive to work bright and early by 8am, only to find a locked door and an empty office. Because we are ahead of the rest of the country, or perhaps because we did not finish working until 8pm the night prior, we do not start our mornings before we have had our first Stumptown Coffee Roasters flat white at 9am.

3. Do you have serious coin for rent?

Great apartments are a hot commodity. Unless you are a millionaire, your New York living arrangements are going to be sub-par to the rest of the country. During my New York apartment hunt, I had to scale down my needs quite quickly. I used to pay $900 for a new two-­bedroom apartment in the Midwest and could neither afford nor bring myself to rent a studio in Chelsea for $4,000. If you are lucky, you will have a separation between your bathroom, kitchen, living, and sleeping areas. And if your place is bigger than a 10×10 box, has a washing machine in the apartment, and does not face a brick wall, congratulate yourself because you have arrived.

4. Are you looking for a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend?

Serious dating in New York is difficult to come by. My single friends, if your plan is to move to New York to increase your chances of finding a mate, I have bad news for you. You will meet many people in New York, but it is unlikely these encounters will lead anywhere serious. We have been spoiled by Tinder, and Bumble, and Hinge, and that handsome guy we met at Plunge last weekend. We all have too many options and behave like hungry gluttons at an all­-you-­can-­eat buffet. We are also incredibly busy building careers, and if your date lives in Bushwick and you do on Upper West Side, then…

5. Is your knowledge of subway etiquette up to scratch?

Subway etiquette is a real thing. Please remember this when you move to New York. Eye contact is rude. Out in public, we avoid interaction at all costs. We do not want you to look at us, talk to us, and interrupt our ‘in-­transit listening time’ in any way. The worst offenders (unfortunately these will often be locals) disregard your physical space completely and will step on you, breathe in your face, and spread their legs, bags, and whatever else they have onto the fellow subway passengers. Please don’t be a jerk and don’t do that.

6. And can you handle complex subway systems?

Subway lines do not always stop when they are supposed to. You will get used to paying attention to the loudspeaker announcements warning you that the train will change to express by the 34th. I’ve missed many a stop by not listening and going as far as Columbia when I needed to get off at 72nd Street. On weekends, some trains have limited service or don’t run at all. The R, the M, and the C are the most notorious, but you should check all services with the MTA because the trains will be running. Unless they won’t.

7. Is your software up-to-date on your smart phone?

Yelp and OpenTable apps will become your best friends. If you want to get into a restaurant, you have to make a reservation. That is if a restaurant accepts reservations at all. Many do not, be prepared to wait more than an hour to get a table at the West Village darling, The Spotted Pig, or try your luck at the nearby Aria. If you do end up scoring a reservation, your friends should better be there on time because you will not get seated until the whole party arrives.

8. Are you ready to leave behind the New York portrayed in the movies?

Times Square is not real New York. Contrary to what Hollywood portrays, Times Square is not real New York. If you meekly suggest to your hip New Yorker friends to go see the damn thing, they will either scoff at you or will disown you forever. The only time you will catch a New Yorker anywhere near Times Square is when there is a concert playing at the Manhattan Center or when their out­-of­town friends are visiting.

9. Do you need routine?

Grocery shopping on weekends will be a thing of the past. You can forget your routine shop at Krogers and loading your cart with 50 gallons of milk and 25 cartons of eggs. New Yorkers have a just-­in-­time mentality and pick up groceries at night on the way from work. Also, everything can be delivered. Same day. In a mood for Ayurveda Cafe’s Menu du Jour at 10pm on a Tuesday? No problem. Ran out of wine to go along with your “Making a Murderer” binge­-watching? Check. Swapping out mattresses on the weekend? You got it. Hungry for Republic noodles at lunch? The Seamless delivery is on its way.

10. Do you find enjoyment in household chores?

It is cheaper to outsource laundry than to do it yourself. New Yorkers are a busy folk and there is no time for common household chores such as cleaning or laundry. There is a new play on Broadway, the Met has Pavarotti conducting again, and the Combina in SoHo has just opened its doors. When you do the math, giving your laundry away to be washed, dried, pressed, and folded is cheaper than doing a (much worse) job yourself. You learn to value your time in New York and invest it in the things that matter. The rest can be outsourced.

11. Do you have a little fight in you?

You will become a New Yorker in time, but it’s no picnic. Give it a few months/years, and this city will embrace you, or rather will swallow you like it swallowed 8.4 million people before you. You will know the ins-and-outs of the subway system. You will lunge fearlessly into a human mass on a crowded 8:30 1 train. You will have a favorite Chelsea coffee shop and your grocery store clerk will finally learn to pronounce your name. You will know at what time you should order an Uber if you’re catching a flight from LaGuardia at rush hour. You will come to expect great food experiences everywhere you go. You will feel underwhelmed in other amazing cities our country has to offer (sorry Chicago!). You will get hooked on New York with its gritty, dirty, crowded streets and I am quite certain New York will be hooked on you.

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