I moved to Manhattan when I was 18. Although I’d grown up in California, my parents were born and raised in Queens, which is one of New York City’s boroughs. So growing up I made annual trips to visit family there. I thought I knew NYC due to all of my visits over the years, but living in New York City is quite different from visiting.
Here are seven things I learned over the decade I spent in New York City!
I had no idea how to read a subway map when I moved to New York. It took me a few months to really get down the different lines, connections and paths crisscrossing the city. I lived in Manhattan the entire time I lived there, but I soon learned all five boroughs mostly thanks to working as a journalist.
Knowing the subway will save you time and money. Walking is a big part of city living too. If you try different paths you can get creative with saving time.
acting like a local
One thing you don’t want to appear to be in any big city is a tourist. Tourists are targeted. You can get robbed, attacked or taken advantage of. Work on not looking like a tourist: have a plan before you head out. Always know where you’re going and walk with determination and purpose.
You can look at a map on your phone, but don’t stand still in the middle of the street turning in circles. Planning ahead will be a big help here. You want people to be asking you for directions, not the other way around.
You should be aware of your surroundings in any big city. Pay attention to where you’re walking, and avoid staring at your phone too long. Don’t walk alone on empty streets at night. Pay attention to your gut, and if it doesn’t feel safe take note of that and leave the area as soon as you can.
NYC is expensive! I saved money in a number of ways. I always had at least one roommate, and I found deals online for saving money, from groceries to activities.
The best part about New York City is the opportunity. There will always be odd (and safe) jobs you can pick up if you need some extra cash, from running errands for others to babysitting. There are a ton of sites and apps that have job postings you can explore.
exploring new spots
Don’t always go to the same restaurant, bar or museum. Try new things! See what’s trending and make sure to check it out. Some of my favorite memories are trying new things I found through friends, local magazines or on social media.
Central Park was such a haven for me during my decade in NYC. It’s easy to forget what nature sounds like when you’re surrounded by car engines and fire trucks. Make sure to take time to visit nature, whether it’s a park in the city or outside of the city. This will work wonders on our mental health.
living in a fast-paced environment
It’s all about go go go! That is city life. The key to sanity here is giving yourself balance. Shop for healthy food and find healthy restaurants. Although you’ll be walking a ton, make sure you get some actual exercise too. Find free yoga classes, go for a run in the park, take a boxing class or join a gym. Don’t skimp on sleep and practice meditation.
That’s my advice for living in New York City – take it or leave it. But if you’re living there I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! It’s not always easy, but it definitely builds character.