Moving to New York City is a dream for many and it is romanticized by many movies and tv shows. However, the reality is different and can be a shock if you are not ready for it. Here are some of the things I wish I knew before moving here. If you are coming here on an internship, check out my posts about the J-1 Visa and everything you need to know here.
You will be working a lot
New York City is the city that never sleeps. This is not just true for shopping and entertainment but also work. You will be expected to give your best and work long hours to reach goals. The last two weeks I feel like I worked so much that after I just want to go home and relax. You will need your weekends to recover and do all the things you don't have the energy for during the week.
This also leads to many people making friends with their co-workers and if you are not one of them, you might feel excluded sometimes. You will be working long hours so maybe socializing with the same people after work is not what you want to do.
You will be spending a lot of time commuting
Everybody dreams of living in Manhattan, but while you will most likely work somewhere lower than 42nd Street, you will most likely live in Brooklyn or Queens. If you do manage to find a place in Manhattan it will most likely be north of 100th Street. This means you will need at least half an hour to get to work and the same time back. In New York, anything under one hour is considered a good commute. So you just have to accept it and find something to do during that time. My personal favorites are books for the subway and podcasts or audiobooks for buses.
You will spend way more money than you expect
In the beginning, when you are trying to make friends, you will try to go out and meet people. Once you have some friends you can call up and make plans with you will still go out a lot. If you happen to not live in the same neighborhood with friends it is easier to meet somewhere and go have dinner for example. This will save both of you time and lets you explore the city.
Furthermore, New York is the city that never sleeps. You can always find something to do. You can go to a poetry slam, a food event, and a party all in the same night if you want to. Even if all these events only cost a few dollars it can add up quickly. Also, some of the awesome things you want to do might cost more than expensive than expected, but you still want to do it, so you just end up spending more money.
If this is something you are currently fighting with, look out for my guide on free things to do in NYC coming soon.
You will wear sneakers with everything
As stated above, you will most likely have a long commute which will include rushing from your place to the bus or metro and then through metro stations. If you work in a place where heals are required, this seems highly inconvenient and something that will slow you down when you are in a rush.
The first few weeks you might laugh at the girls you see on the subway in business outfits and sneakers. Do not laugh too soon though, because you will be joining them shortly. I used to get to my internship in Europe in my heels, here I only put them on when I get to the office. It makes rushing through the metro station at Times Square in the morning faster and simpler.
You will know exactly two parts of the city
Before moving here you are excited about exploring the whole city and enjoying the different things it has to offer. However, due to the long work hours and the commute, you will only spend time around the place you work and the place you live. You will know every restaurant worth going to and supermarket where you can pick up things on your way home. It is very convenient, but if you get the chance over the weekend, go explore the other parts of the city to truly live in all of the city and enjoy all it has to offer.
Those are the five things I would have loved to know before moving to NYC. Hope these help you manage your expectations and set you up for success in this amazing city. If you have any other stories, feel free to share them in the comments below.
If this is your first time moving check out my post on groups to join in a new city to make friends here. For more tips coming from Europe and facing culture shock in the USA, I have put together a few things that I have come across.