7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to New York

Moving to New York is definitely one of the most amazing decisions I’ve ever made, but there are quite a few things I learned to appreciate about my California lifestyle that I just can’t do in NYC. Everyone thinking of moving here knows the basics: keep your eyes peeled, have your wits about you, and be prepared to walk everywhere you go. Here are 7 things that aren’t frequently mentioned that I never thought about before I moved here.

+ shopping for groceries sucks

I will never again take for granted driving a car to get groceries. Shopping in Manhattan is a pain if you hate grocery shopping (like me). I really do love the convenience of the subway, but it definitely doesn’t feel as convenient when you’re trying to transport things. I always wait until I’m out of pretty much everything, and have to lug my six bags of groceries up and down the subway stairs. Bonus points for grocery shopping during rush hour. 

Another thing that sucks about grocery shopping in Manhattan is the selection. Amazon and ordering online have become my best friends because, if you want deodorant, the most convenient places to get it only have two options. 

+ shipping might suck too

Even though amazon and shopping online have become good friends of mine, I have also had a million problems with packages. Right before I moved, I mailed myself a few giant boxes full of necessities. One of the boxes got completely lost for a few weeks and when it finally came back, the box was in another box, completely busted and broken, and everything in the box had been broken and got super dirty. I learned to always insure my packages for what it’s worth (before I always just put $50), and order with the fact that you might never get it. It might just be because of the area in which I live in Brooklyn, but nonetheless proceed with caution. 

With that being said, always drop letters in the blue mailboxes! I made the mistake of sending my mom a birthday card and dropped it in the outgoing mail at my apartment. Two months had gone by and she still hadn’t received it. I finally got a hold of one of my mail people and asked them to open it up… mail came FLYING out and it was literally stuffed to the brim. She went through, found my card, gave it back to me, and shoved everything back in! They obviously never pick up the outgoing mail and I can’t even imagine how many late bills and important letters were in there.

+ if someone is visiting, even for 3 days, get a 7 day unlimited metro card 

This isn’t really a secret, but being from the West Coast, I never really thought about public transportation and how to get the most of out it. Every time someone comes to visit, I always tell them to get the 7 day unlimited metrocard. It’s $33, but if you’re doing a lot of exploring in a short amount of time (see what to do when you have three days in NYC), it’s SO worth it and saves you a lot of money in the meantime. A one-way subway card is $2.75 right now, plus $1 if you don’t have an existing card.

+ COMFORT IS KEY (comfy shoes and longer skirts)

It’s frequently said that New Yorkers walk a lot, but you really don’t understand until you go there. One of the last times I visited New York before making my move, I made the mistake of wearing a brand new pair of sneakers that I swore felt comfortable. The first day there, my mom and I decided to walk eleven miles of sightseeing… I don’t think I put the sneakers back on for the rest of the trip and the blisters that came with my cute new shoes made everything else terrible too. If you have to wear your new shoes, always keep a bunch of band-aids in your purse- doesn’t solve the problem, but definitely will help you get to where you need to go.

Another thing I never thought of is skirt/dress length. Never in my life had I REALLY had to think of this before moving to New York. Not that I wear teeny tiny dresses and skirts, but when you’re walking up stairs all day to get in/out of the subway, not necessarily ideal to be flashing everyone. I also don’t love the feeling of my bare legs on the subway seats, especially in the summertime, so longer really is better. 

+ beaches are nicer than I thought

I guess super arrogant of me, but being from California I guess I just thought that the beaches in New York suck. Turns out they don’t and it’s honestly pretty cool that you can take the subway to some of them. They’re not too far and relatively easy to get to.

+ read the signs

I totally get that the subway can be super intimidating, but it’s really not! All you need to do is read the signs. If you know what line you’re going on, the subway is usually split into two sides: uptown and downtown. If you know your final destination, and know where it is on a map (uptown or downtown from where you are), hop on the subway going towards it. Google maps/maps are great apps for the subways, they break everything down and even list the stops that you’ll pass on your way. This helps a lot because if you get on a subway and are unsure if you’re going the right way, you can look at the app and follow the stops step-by-step. Also, inside the train, there is usually a list of stops with a light below or next to the next stop. If you’re going to 23rd street, for example, you can step into the M and see a line that says, “23rd street.” If you’re going the wrong way in a hurry, get off, and hop on the train going the other way, but don’t forget to switch sides! It usually involves going up/downstairs depending on the station. 

+ give up the germaphobe life

Another thing I was just fully accustomed to growing up in California is cleanliness. If you use a public restroom in California, there is almost always a trash can next to the door so you don’t have to touch the door handle after you wash your hands. In New York, this is nonexistent and you probably share your sidewalk with a family of rats. Some parts of it are straight up disgusting, but every time, the good outweighs the gross.

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