Are you planning to move to New York City? Or ever wondered what it is like to live in NYC?
As one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the USA, NYC’s charm is undeniable. But as an outsider looking in, the pasture is always greener on the other side. From the diverse culture to the rats in the subways, there are definitely pros and cons when you are living in “the Big Apple”.
As someone that has moved to New York City and lived there for 15+ years, NYC has treated me fairly in some cases and beat me up in others.
That is why I am writing this post on the pros and cons of living in New York City. Enjoy!
Pros of Living In NYC
Living in New York City comes with lots of pros. You are at the heart of one of the most advanced cities in the entire world. So let’s jump in and see what are the pros of living in New York City!
No Car? No Worries.
With an efficient transportation system that covers all five boroughs of NYC, you don’t need to worry about having a car. In fact, having a car in NYC is incredibly expensive, as street parking is hard to come by (and have alternate-side parking rules) and private garages can cost a few hundred dollars a month.
With the subway system, buses, and ferries, you can get anywhere you want with very little walking. And when you do need to walk, the grid system of Manhattan makes it very easy to navigate.
When I am in NYC, I love to walk everywhere because you are always discovering something new on every corner!
There Is Always a Community For You
One of the biggest worries when moving to New York City is whether you would fit in. Luckily, NYC is so big and diverse that there is always a community to you. Whether you are into photography, slack-lining, or even Quidditch, you will find a group that you can join and be a part of.
If you are coming from a small town, you’ll be relieved to know that your quirky hobby is loved in NYC.
It is the same for heritage. It doesn’t matter if you are an Asian, African, or Hispanic, you will find thriving communities where you can connect with other similar people.
You are never alone in NYC.
Every Type of Cuisine At Your Fingertips
The cultural diversity of NYC has created a unique culinary scene with flavors from all around the world. Where else can you have traditional American food for breakfast, French cuisine for lunch, Peruvian food for dinner, and a Mexican Mezcal cocktail for the night?
But the restaurants in NYC aren’t just any restaurants, they are some of the best in the world. NYC actually has 3 of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Let’s not forget the cool cocktail bars serving quirky drinks with exotic flavors!
Your belly will certainly thank you when you are living in NYC, but your wallet definitely won’t!
As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, NYC is what they call a melting pot of culture. Its opportunities have attracted people from all around the world to settle in its 5 boroughs. In New York City, we have a saying that either no one is a New Yorker or everyone is a New Yorker, because most of the people there have immigrated there at some point in time.
The melting pot culture is one of the biggest strengths of NYC. It combines the different aspects of various cultures to create its own identity that is unique but all-encompassing. It takes the best of each culture and combines them to make a new breed.
There are many different neighborhoods in NYC. In Manhattan, you’ll find areas such as Chinatown, Little Italy, Koreatown, Little Dominican Republic, and much more. In Brooklyn, you’ll find little Poland, little Odessa, and more. In Queens, you’ll find little Guyana, little India, and more.
When you live in New York, you’ll always fit in because you are just like everyone else that has moved there to seize the opportunity. It is a pretty liberating feeling to know that you are all equal in the city.
NYC Has Plenty of Money-Making Opportunities
Perhaps one of the best reasons for moving to New York City is its money-making opportunities. “The Land of Opportunity” is no joke regarding how many ways you can make money.
In the past, I’ve made money with photography, food delivery, buying and reselling, and just small jobs off Craigslist (which is totally normal in NYC). If there is a hustle in you, you can always find ways to make money. Many New Yorkers also take up side gigs on top of their regular full-time job. The opportunity is endless.
NYC is Truly Beautiful
Even after living in NYC for over 15+ years, there has never been a day when I look at the cityscape and not be amazed.
NYC is a city that has it all in terms of architecture – from the charming old brownstone houses in Brooklyn to the modern skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan. Along with the numerous green spaces such as Central Park, they all create a harmonious balance that just makes NYC so beautiful.
It is even more beautiful when you see it from afar where you can truly appreciate the engineering feat that NYC is all about. As a photographer, I often go down to DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge to take in the epic views of the NYC skyline with the Financial District and epic One World Trade Center.
They are some of the most Instagrammable places in NYC for sure!
NYC is Safe
In the late 80s and 90s, NYC was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. But nowadays, NYC is very safe (minus a bit in the Bronx that no one really goes to) for both males and females of any ethnicity.
It doesn’t matter if you are walking by yourself in the middle of the night, you’ll be left alone. The only time where I ever felt unsafe in the city was when homeless people approached me and started shouting incoherently. But for those, you can smell them from a mile away (literally).
It is very unlikely that you’ll encounter any form of violent crime in the city, but you do need to be aware of pickpockets and thieves, just like in any other big city. This is especially important if you are in a bar or club. I know many people that have gotten their phone and wallets taken in those venues.
There is Always Something To Do
One of the biggest advantages of living in NYC is that there is always something to do. With events and activities happening every day, it is nearly impossible to be bored when you live in New York City.
When you are just walking around the city, you’ll always find something that catches your attention. I used the official NYC gov website to see what’s happening around the city. The best thing is most of these events are free and they are an excellent way to meet new people if you are new to the city.
Even without the events, there is always something new popping up in the city, whether that is a new restaurant to try, a new pop-up museum, or a new exhibit in a museum. There is just so much to do in the city.
Super Cheap and Easy to Fly From Any of the Airports in NYC
Living in NYC is known to be expensive, but getting there certainly isn’t. NYC is home to three major airports (Newark, JKF International Airport, and Laguardia) and all of them are so cheap to fly into.
With those three airports, you are almost guaranteed to have a direct flight to anywhere you want to go. Thanks to this, I’m able to visit a new city almost every weekend. My proudest moment was a $100 round flight trip to Mexico City!
That is a privilege you cannot take for granted when living in New York City.
New Yorkers Are Open-Minded
Because of NYC’s diversity, New York City residents are very open-minded. It doesn’t matter if you are LGBTQ, BIPOC, AAPI, or any other affiliation. If you live in NYC long enough, you’ll see plenty of crazy stuff that the usual things no longer bother you. Is that a dude peeing off the subway platform? Eh, it’s Monday, why not?
New Yorkers have little to no judgment, partly because they have seen tons of things and partly because we are just too busy. We go about our day, minding our own business and not worrying a thing about what other people are doing.
It is a city where you can be whatever you want to be without fear of judgment.
NYC Has Some of the Best Museums in the World
Without a doubt, one of the best things about living in New York City is the plethora of superb museums at your fingertips. In fact, there are over hundreds of museums in NYC covering all sorts of different topics.
You have the classics such as American Museum of Natural History in Upper West Side, MoMa (Museum of Modern Art), the MET (Metropolitan Museum) in Upper East Side, the Guggenheim Museum, and more. Then you have some quirky NYC museums such as SPYSCAPE, Mmuseumm, and Museum of Ice Cream.
Growing up, I was never a fan of museums because I hated how boring they were, going from one exhibit to another and staring at pictures on the wall. But NYC made me truly enjoy museums because it showed me that not all museums have to be boring.
Some like the Morgan Library & Museum are just outright gorgeous and make you feel like you are in a palace.
You Can Explore Your Interests Easily
One night I was lying in bed in my tiny apartment, scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match. I knew nothing about it but it looked so cool. The next day, I was already in a Jiujitsu school, getting put in a chokehold and nearly passing out.
The point is – no matter what interest you might have, you can pursue that in NYC easily. There are plenty of schools, instructors, and professors for whatever hobby or interest you want to give a try.
You can be your best self in NYC, do the things you want, and not be limited by the opportunities available.
There are World-Class Attractions in NYC
I don’t think we need to mention how visiting “The Big Apple” is many people’s dream. Watching a Broadway Show, admiring the legendary Empire State Building, and just being at the heart of everything that is happening, New York City is home to some of the world’s best attractions.
It is easy to take for granted if you have lived in NYC for a long time. But when you first move there, your whole world just expanded. You are at the edge of tomorrow’s biggest innovation, whether that is in terms of entertainment, art, technology, and etc.
It is a privilege that cannot be compared to anything else really.
You’ll Be Inspired
When you live in NYC, you’ll naturally meet a lot of very talented people that inspire you.
You’ll meet people that have sacrificed it all to chase their dreams, persisted through the hardships, and finally achieve what they wanted.
You’ll meet people that defy all societal expectations of them to do what they truly love, despite the backlash they get from not just society, but friends and families.
You’ll hear the stories of a single mom who work three jobs just so she can raise her kid.
NYC is a land of inspiration. It is a place where no dream is ever too ridiculous and no passion is ever too much. NYC will inspire you to believe like it has inspired me to write this travel blog. It is a place where someone’s wildest dreams are not just a fantasy, but a reality.
It is magical, believe me.
There Are Surprising A Lot of Parks In NYC
For a city that is known for being a concrete jungle, NYC surprisingly has many green spaces. Matter of fact, the government of NYC has plans to have every New York City resident to be within a 10-minute walk from a park by 2030. Even nowadays, the majority of the residents are a short walk from some sort of green space.
Some of the most famous parks in NYC include Central Park, Washington Square Park, Bryant Park, Prospect Park, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Cons of Living In NYC
In a big metropolitan city like NYC, it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. There are plenty of cons when you are living in New York City. At first, you might not see it, but after moving to NYC for a few years, these things will start to bother you.
NYC is Noisy, Busy, and Just Chaotic
One of my least favorite things about NYC is how noisy it is at all times of the day. Yes, it gets a little bit better if you are living in boroughs like Staten Island, Brooklyn or Queens, but it is always noisy when you go into Manhattan.
It is understandable why a lot of people find New Yorkers very irritable. How can you not be when you are constantly surrounded by noise and chaos, plus a super stressful job?
The traffic in NYC is some of the worst in the world. I’ve personally driven in NYC and spoken with other drivers about the issue. We call driving in NYC “organized chaos”. It works to a certain degree but damn is it insanely hectic.
NYC Slangs Are Hard to Understand
I remember meeting one of my “proper” New Yorker friends one day. We met up somewhere near Chinatown and were deciding what we wanted to do.
I asked, “Do you want to grab a coffee?
Me: “No, do you want to get a coffee?”
Me: “What we betting?”
I ended up just assuming that was a yes (because I didn’t want to admit I didn’t understand him and not look like a New Yorker). I went home that night and found out that “bet” essentially means you bet. Kinda like a “heck yeah.”
New York slangs are notoriously difficult to understand, especially if you just moved to NYC. It might cause a lot of confusion and uncomfortable situations at first, but they will grow on you. And sooner or later, you will be saying “bet” to all your friends.
It is Absolutely Frigid in the Winter
Winter in NYC is brick (another NYC slang for super cold). There is no other way of describing it.
Temperatures usually go below freezing in the winter months and heavy snow isn’t uncommon. But if you have spent a winter in New York, you’ll know that it isn’t just the weather that is cold. Something about the air just amplifies the cold it actually feels. I’m talking about bone-chilling cold.
Even after spending 15 years in NYC, I still have not gotten used to the cold in NYC. Maybe it is the wind chill, maybe it is the humidity, maybe it is just a NYC thing. Who knows?
The Subway System Can Be Unpredictable
The subway system is one of the biggest pros and cons of living in New York City. At times, it can take you only 20 minutes to go from Manhattan to Brooklyn. But if you are unlucky and there is subway maintenance or if you are traveling on the weekend, that 20 minutes can become 45 minutes or an hour.
Some subway trains also skip stops on the weekends, and unless you are a subway expert (who is?), you probably won’t know until it’s too late.
That is also why we New Yorkers have a “New York Time”, which is usually 30 minutes later than the actual time. If all your New Yorker friends are all late, now you know why!
It is Easy to be Overwhelmed in Such a Big City, Especially at First
When moving to New York City, many people expect a fun and positive experience, but that is not usually the case. Most people actually feel anxious and some even feel slightly depressed after moving to New York City. After all, it is a big city and people get lost in it (mentally).
There have been times when I felt like I was truly alone in the city. And even though it is a city that is so easy to meet other people, the abundance makes it somewhat intimidating and overwhelming. You just don’t know where to start.
But when it happens, it does get better as you meet more people and develop your circle of friends!
The Cost of Living in NYC is Crazy High
Perhaps the biggest con of living in New York City is the high cost of living, a number that is much higher than the national average. To start, the monthly rent for a 1-bedroom in Manhattan is at least $2,500 dollars, and that usually does not include utilities and internet.
In boroughs such as Queens and Brooklyn, real estate is usually cheaper but you would still pay about $2000 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. Still, the housing costs are much higher than the rest of the country.
To live in NYC without a roommate is almost a pipe dream, unless you are in a super high-paying job or don’t mind spending 50% of your paycheck on rent.
Besides rent, another big expense in NYC is dining. A meal with an appetizer, entree and dessert for one person at a decent restaurant cost around $75 dollars including the usual 20% tip. With a drink, that meal could cost up to $90 to $100 dollars!
Groceries are also pricey, but I learned the hard way. Always shop at Trader Joe’s instead of Whole Foods. The prices at Whole Foods are nearly extortionist.
Space is Limited
The idea of personal space is a foreign concept in NYC, especially on public transportation during rush hours. Everyone is crammed inside like sardines in a can, and you must pray that the person next to you did not forget to shower last night.
The width of the sidewalks in NYC is small, especially compared to the number of people on them. So there might be times when you need to shove someone out of the way (*cough* tourists).
It might not be an issue at first at when you move to NYC because the closer everything is, the more exciting it is. But the lack of personal space will slowly wear you down. Trust me.
New Yorkers Are Straightforward
New Yorkers have a reputation for being some of the rudest people in the world. But after traveling extensively around the world and doing some investigations myself, I found that New Yorkers aren’t exactly rude, they are just straightforward.
And if you are moving to New York City from somewhere where being polite (such as the UK) is a vital part of societal values, then it will be a big culture shock for you. A part of that straightforwardness comes from the fast-paced culture of NYC. We don’t have time to beat around the bush.
We say what is on our minds in the most direct and quickest way possible. It is definitely a con when you first arrive in NYC, but you’ll eventually start to love it.
Homeless People Are Abundant
Arguably my least favorite thing about NYC is the homeless people. It is estimated that there are 48,524 homeless people in NYC in March 2022, and that is a staggering number considering the size of NYC.
A good portion of the homeless people hang out in or near the subway station (because it is nice and toasty in the winter and cool in the winter). Many of them get on a late night subway train and sleep in the train, which sometimes ends up with them urinating on the subway and making the whole cart smell like hell.
Working in NYC is Stressful
The work culture in NYC is super stressful and usually involves long hours and overtime. Depending on the job you have, it might need you to work weekends, sometimes without much advance notice.
Working 8-hour days and 40-hour weeks might be normal in most countries, but in NYC, it is almost a bare minimum. It isn’t uncommon for people to work 50 to 60 hours a week. The terrible work-life balance in NYC is one of the biggest disadvantages of living in New York City.
NYC Is Dirty
New Yorkers hate to admit it, but NYC is a dirty city. Though there are trashcans literally at every corner, there is somehow still an abundance of trash on the ground. And in my 15+ years of living in New York, I don’t think I’ve seen the street being cleaned more than a dozen times.
The sidewalks are thick with grime and often filled with old gum. But that isn’t even the worse part, the subway stations and subway carts are just outright dirty and sometimes smelly. And it is almost impossible to not spot a rat in the subway station every day.
In fact, NYC is ranked No.1 for being the dirtiest city in the United States thanks to a combination of litter, pollution, and pests. Funny enough, when you are living in New York City for a bit of time, all of that just seems normal to you.
Indoor Spaces Are Too Hot in The Winter
Winter in NYC is cold, so you naturally bundle up to stay warm. But when you enter indoor spaces in NYC, the heater is cranked up so high that you have to immediately strip down.
When I lived in New York City, I would come home with about 20 pounds worth of clothes. But the moment I step inside my flat and close that door, I take everything off but my underwear. It is that hot. And oftentimes, a lot of buildings have central heating so you can’t really adjust the temperature.
This is the worst when you are in a subway station. Subway stations are so hot in the summer that you can literally cook an egg (okay maybe a bit of exaggeration). But there is a reason why all the homeless gather in the subway station in the winter, because they are so warm. It is so annoying when you can take off 4 layers of clothes every time you enter an indoor space.
There is Always Construction Everywhere
New York City is a city that never sleeps. It is constantly evolving – new restaurants, new museums, new buildings and just new everything. As a result, construction is the necessary devil in NYC. It is nearly impossible to walk more than 10 blocks in Manhattan without seeing at least some sort of construction, especially in Midtown or Lower Manhattan.
With construction comes a lot of noise, traffic, and dirt. And if you work from home, the noise could seriously disrupt your workflow and interrupt your meetings. Not only that, constant noise just makes you stressed out.
Dating Sucks (For The Most Part)
Dating sucks in NYC, and there is a good reason for that. NYC is home for workaholics. People in NYC work such long hours that they don’t have the time to put good efforts into dating.
NYC is also the land of “I want it all.” And when you meet someone that doesn’t have everything you want immediately (aka the perfect person), you ghost them and never speak to them again. Why? Because in a city of 8 million people, there is always more fish in the sea.
So you end up jumping from one date to another, trying to find the perfect one. And when you think you have found the perfect one, you either want a “more perfect” person or are fearful of your partner leaving for the same reason.
In the end, it becomes a vicious cycle where no one seems to be satisfied with what they have.
Living in NYC FAQs
Is NYC worth living in?
NYC is one of those cities that you must experience once in your life, and there is no better way to do so than living in it! Just be warned, there are plenty of pros and cons when you live in this crazy city!
How does living in NYC change you?
Living in NYC is an experience unlike any other. Because of its chaotic environment, most people come out of NYC better at handling stress, problem-solving, being independent, and being resourceful.
Moving to New York City is a dream come true for many people. Hopefully, my experience living in NYC offered you a little bit of what it is like to live there!
Any questions? Leave a comment!
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