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10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to New York

New York City Lifestyle
by Natasha Holly Feb 14, 2018

I moved to New York from Los Angeles about 8 months ago on a whim, not knowing much about the city besides the things I’ve seen from Sex and the City and Christmas movies.

Nine months later, I’ve found out the hard way that living in the New York is wildly different than visiting New York. As much as I love this city, here are 10 things I wish people would have told me about before moving here:

1. You will gain the New York 15.

You’ve heard that New York has the best pizza and bagels in the world. That, my friend, is no joke. What you don’t hear about is where all those pizzas and bagels go. I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person. I work out 3 times a week and have been a vegetarian for 8 years. But even with all the walking you do in the city, you can’t escape a good dollar slice on a night out or a bagel in the morning at least once in a while. Not to mention the fact that there are Halal carts on every corner and boy, sometimes you just need a good gyro after a long night out.

2. You’ll end up using delivery apps for basically everything.

If you’re used to transporting your household goods and groceries in your nice and spacious car, then you’ll discover just how heavy 2 or 3 bags of detergent, milk, and eggs becomes after walking a mile back to your apartment and up 4 flights of stairs, not to mention having to squeeze it into the subway without annoying everyone around you. Luckily for New Yorkers, you can get anything and everything delivered straight to your door though apps like Postmates, Seamless, Fresh Direct, Instacart, and of course, Amazon.

3. You can’t make right turns on red lights.

This one caught me by surprise since it’s perfectly legal to make right turns on red lights in California. It’s definitely NOT legal to do so in New York, and doing so will the result in a penalty of a $238 ticket (if you get caught).

4. Doing laundry is ridiculously expensive in this city.

It is genuinely a luxury to have a washer and dryer in your building, let alone inside your apartment here. I got lucky and found an apartment with a washer and dryer in our building (which still cost me $5 per load to wash and dry), but I had a friend who wasn’t quite as lucky and had to haul her laundry across the street to a place that charged her $7 to wash and dry one load! She eventually switched to a laundry service that she pays $20 per month to wash, dry, fold and deliver her clothes.

5. You’ll probably move at least 3 times while living here.

You’ll think you like one area like Brooklyn, but then decide to move into the city (or vice versa). And even when you think you’ve nabbed an amazing apartment, sometimes you’ll find out that the walls are really thin, the heating isn’t great, or maybe stairs really aren’t your thing. My first apartment was 20 minutes away from the nearest subway line, which I too soon discovered was 15 minutes too long.

6. And it will be anxiety-attack inducing every time.

Moving to New York is aggressive. Finding housing in New York is more than aggressive, it is an absolute nightmare. With rent so high, and the fact that you will be competing with literally hundreds of other transplants, sublets, and locals looking for a great deal on a room, it’s a jungle. Don’t be afraid to AirB&B or sublet a place because, often times, you’ll be searching listings on Craigslist and Facebook every day for months, and when you finally get a chance to view your potential new home, you better come ready with your papers in hand like credit history and income. You could, of course, hire a broker, but just be prepared to pay broker fees in addition to your deposit.

7. There are opening and closing times for the beach.

Back when we first moved to New York the summer, we foolish Californians went down to Rockaway Beach in the afternoon. Well, we left at 3 pm, got there at 4 pm, and by the time we actually got settled ON the beach, we lay down for only an hour an half before all the lifeguards started whistling and telling people to get out of the water. At first, I thought it was a bizarre East Coast shark attack, but as people calmly gathered their things and started leaving, I knew that wasn’t the case. Turns out the beaches have curfews, and that day, Rockaway beach closed at 6 PM and the lifeguards were giving the swimmers a 30-minute warning to get out. In the winters, beaches are closed down completely.

8. If you have a car, you have to pay tolls to use the “freeways.”

I guess I never really understood the term “freeway” until moving to the east coast where those don’t exist. Here, we have pikes, bridge tolls, tunnel tolls, expressways, and parkways. It can cost you anywhere from $1.75 to $20.00 to use a freeway to get basically anywhere out of New York City. If you’re making the decision to bring your car to the east coast, invest in an E-Z Pass. You’re gonna need it! And the bigger the car, the higher the toll. For example, going from New Jersey to Manhattan, it costs $15 to cross the Holland tunnel in a sedan. However, in a bigger vehicle, it can cost up to $45 one way!

9. You’ll still have a commute to get to get practically anywhere.

As amazing at the New York Metro is, you’ll still have a commute, 15 minutes on the subway to meet a friend or 30 minutes uptown to get to work. Be prepared to keep yourself busy with a book or pre-downloaded music and podcasts, because you won’t have service underground.

10. You will drink… a lot.

New Yorkers work hard. This is true. But I’ve never known people who play just as hard as they work, and that’s one of the many reasons I love this city. There is no shortage of bars in New York, and almost every bar will have some kind of Happy Hour. Since there’s no need to drive home, drinking with co-workers and friends is a ritual — it’s a borderline religion. I have a friend who calls Sunday Brunch/day-drinking “church.” There are always drinks to be had at lunches, dinners, happy hours, weekend brunches, post-social league drinks, meet-and-greet drinks, date night drinks, trivia night drinks, $1 shots, free pizza with a purchase of a drink (@crocodilelounge FTW), and with no DUI to worry about, a drink won’t hurt you much!

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