Should I move to New York? you ask yourself. Should I risk it all and leave everything I know, love, and cherish, to come here?
Well, that’s a question only you can answer. But as someone who’s lived in New York for much of his life, I can help. It’s important to remember that New York, because of its yuuuge population and diversity of people, offers many different things. Indeed, it’s more like a pack of different wolves, each with a distinct personality, than one beast with a single temperament and disposition.
So read on. As you’ve no doubt guessed, Part 2 will cover the cons of living in such a teeming, massive city; for now, enjoy this glimpse of the weird and wonderful upsides of living in New York.
When the temperature is too high to be registered as a real number, and the sidewalk is hot enough to cook an egg, head to the beach.
True, compared to the turquoise-blue Caribbean or the translucent, shimmering waters of Southeast Asia, New York’s beaches are no white-sand beauties. But they are undeniably delightful, with hot, coarse sand battered endlessly by the cold North Atlantic–a perfect combination. Pair that with ice-cold drinks and concession stands offering Bolivian platters to Uzbek kebabs, and you have the making of the ultimate, lazy Sunday.
Closest to the city is Rockaway Beach, accessible by subway and an easy drive through Queens; next easiest is probably Jones Beach State Park, a bit crowded but still charming. Otherwise, if you have a friend with a car (or enough determination to figure out ferry schedules, and the time to actually ride them), head to Robert Moses State Park.
Insider’s Tip: The best beaches are all on the south shore of Long Island, of which Rockaway is technically a part of. However, I would advise beachgoers to skip Long Beach; while it is accessible by the Long Island Rail Road, admission is a whopping $12 a person. Even if you drive to Robert Moses or Jones Beach, admission is $10–per car.
You think I’m joking, but among the cities of the northeastern United States, New York ranks number one for taste and quality. Even among avowed cynics and haters of the big, rotten apple, they have to admit that the water is fantastic, with a capital F.
The reason for this quality? Essentially, New York obtains top quality water from a series of upstate watersheds and aquifers, as chronicled by this New York Times feature. According to the very same article, New York’s water is also the main reason for its delicious, one-of-a-kind bagels and pizza crust.
Makes sense when you think about it.
From the twice-yearly, Restaurant Week (it’s actually three weeks long) to the retro Jazz Age Lawn Party, where partygoers don fedoras, flappers, and suspenders, there’s nothing more New York than the special, one-of-a kind events you can’t find anywhere else. Whatever else people may say, the city is very unique–not because it has the best infrastructure (see: MTA), the best value for money ($9 for hipster-made Bone Broth), or the best standard of living (you pay like a king to live like a rat)–but because of the vibrant, creative energy on display. Yes, there are plenty of other artsy and dynamic cities out there (Tokyo and Austin come to mind), but there is something special
Broadway musicals. Opera. Classical orchestra.
You can’t throw a rock in this damn city without hitting a theater. But the sheer variety of what’s on display means that you won’t spend much time looking for what you want, be it a musical about an all-American hero and Founding Father to dramatic, old-school opera.
Like theater, it’s really hard to go wrong with nightlife, simply because of the diversity of choice here. Admire the concrete jungle from a glowing rooftop lounge, rock out at a dive bar, or salsa the night away.
Insider’s tip: Get to most rooftop lounges or clubs early, before 9pm. Afterwards, most places have a cover charge, or if you’re especially unlucky, ask you to pay for bottle service. Don’t oblige the bouncers; they’re just flexing their power. At that point, it’s better to just go somewhere else.
Too much choice can be a bad thing, but not when it comes to food. Next to traveling, food is the best way to experience another culture–and I don’t mean bastardized Taco Bell or soggy General Tso’s. Because of the high standards, most restaurants that survive in the city are top-notch, particularly ethnic ones: low profit margins and high costs (overhead, supplies, pesky permits) mean that only the strong survive. See a line snaking out the door? It’s probably pretty good.
Insider’s Tip: Often, immigrant neighborhoods in Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn have better, cheaper food than their Manhattan counterparts. For instance, skip Murray Hill, popularly known as Curry Hill for its numerous Indian restaurants. Instead, head to Jackson Heights, home to a thriving south Asian and Himalayan enclave, and the sweetest gulab jamuns and juiciest momos that you’ve ever had.
Don’t know what either of them are? Go find out.
Jobs and Opportunities
While this may not have been true during the recession, this is the case now that the economy has (supposedly) improved. A number of industries and sectors make their home here, including media, publishing, and yes, even tech. Hearst Publishing, New York Times, and the list goes on.
But startups? Actually, there is a small, burgeoning start-up scene, located mostly near Flatiron (around 28th Street), and in Brooklyn. Perhaps as a direct challenge to Silicon Valley, New York’s tech sector is called Silicon Alley. Surprisingly, Silicon Alley is also home to quite a few powerhouses, from Yelp to Google.
Fine, just fall and spring.
Summer is a sauna and winter feels like Siberia, so you’ll have to look to fall and spring for your salvation. Cool, breezy, and comfortable, you’ll save tons and tons of money on reduced heat/air conditioning. You’ll also be able to feast on wonderful seasonal fruits and vegetables, from apple cider in fall, or fresh, luscious chives in spring.
Honorable Mention: 24/7 Metro
When I lived in Houston, we always needed a designated driver, or cab money. Granted, this was before the time of Uber, Lyft, and Gett, so things have probably changed.
Still, for those of you who are short on money, this deal is hard to beat. For the price of a train ride (or a swipe of your magical, unlimited Metrocard), you can head home after a hard night of partying. No need to put $20 (or more) on a cab, especially if you live in the outer boroughs.
Insider’s Tip: The MTA’s 24 hour service is actually one of the impediments to maintenance and infrastructure. Because New York’s tracks are so old, they require constant upkeep–usually carried out late at night. Be sure to check the MTA’s website, or consult your (un)friendly, local station manager on any service changes.