October 9, 2009

Pros and Cons of Living in NYC

I was talking to a friend recently who lives in New Jersey and is trying to find an apartment in Manhattan. So far it's been 3 months and he's no closer to becoming a New York resident. He's dealt with countless sleazy brokers, apartments promised to him that were given to others, and endless hours viewing misrepresented properties. He asked, "Is living in New York really worth all this?" Yes, yes it is. And here's why: for all the agida New York gives you, it also rewards you with people, activities, and opportunities that are hard to find elsewhere. Of course agida and rewards are relative so, to each his/her own. But I've compiled a pros and cons list based on my 9 1/2 years as a New York resident. Perhaps it will help you decide: is New York really worth it?

1) Diversity of people. When my sister visited she said, "You can't walk 2 blocks without hearing a different language." It's a global culture lesson everyday.
2) Diversity of food. Due to the melting pot-ness of NYC, you can find just about any kind of food you want. From the cheap kind to the one-month mortgage kind.
3) Culture. Museums, galleries, concerts, readings, theater, dance, independent film...
4) History. New York has a unique history of immigrants, music, art, literary legends, politics, architecture, finance...
5) Walking. We are a pedestrian city. This allows you to see the sights and interact with others daily. You also stumble upon things you wouldn't in a car. And, you have a built-in gym.
6) European-ish. Outdoor cafes, pedestrian-centric, public transportation, specialty food shops, food and coffee carts, boutiques, delis, appreciation of the arts and travel.
7) Career opportunities. Many headquarters are located here and you always seem to meet someone who knows someone.
8) Fashion. NYC is one of the 4 host cities of Fashion Week. You can find anything you want here. And fun fact: even the comfortable, casual clothes and shoes are stylish.
9) Delivery. My mom thought I was kidding when i said, "I'm waiting for my breakfast to be delivered." We get everything delivered: meals, dry cleaning, pet supplies, groceries. We're spoiled.
10) Opinions. New Yorkers are extremely opinionated and not afraid to vocalize. What's great is that you can call someone an idiot, agree to disagree, and then go for a beer together.

1) It's expensive. $2300 a month for a 450-square-foot apartment - to rent. $15 for a hamburger, without fries. $100+ a month gym memberships. $igh...
2) It's loud. Screeching subway wheels, screaming subway car announcements, jackhammers, fire trucks, ambulances, car horns, trash and other loud trucks barreling down your quaint street at night, noisy neighbors, car stereos. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
3) It's abusive. Most of us don't have cars so our bodies take quite a beating. We carry lots of bags, climb lots of subway stairs, and basically tire ourselves out daily being our own car.
4) It's constantly changing. Just when you've found your favorite little wine bar, it closes. Because here it's all about what's hot now, so good luck to your little wine bar.
5) It makes you entitled and impatient. NYers are taught to ask for what we want, how we want it and when we want it. That usually turns out to be: everything, perfect and now.
6) It requires major scheduling. We're known to have 3 places to be in one night, so plans are often made 2 months in advance - just to have a drink.
7) It's overload. We pride ourselves on keeping current with everything under the sun. Weekly magazines, blogs, email blasts from friends. There's always something to do (good!), a new artist to know (fun!), but it can be information overload (exhausting!).
8) It's career centric. We are career obsessed and work insane hours. One of the first questions people ask upon meeting is "What do you do?" and often you're judged from that answer.
9) The 35-hour day. We try to cram as much as possible into every day. A workout at 5am, followed by a 8am-7pm workday, then drinks, dinner, a band, and bedtime at 1am. Even crazier? We wear our schedules like a badge of honor.
10) Public transportation. Actually a pro and a con. Pros: no car worries, lots of reading time. Cons: having to hear what normally would go on in 100 people's cars. Loud music, loud talking, loud children. People begging for money, people playing bad music for money. Train delays, construction, rerouting, sweltering platforms due to no a/c in the summer, packed-like-sardines train cars in the winter.

A friend of mine who used to live here says New York is a set of scales. Sometimes it tips to the good and sometimes to the bad, you just have to figure out which way it tips more often. Which is like any place, really, but New York is so in-your-face that the good and bad are more amplified.
So in the end, is New York really worth it? Well, 8.2 million of us say a resounding "YES!" (Yeah, that was us on the train, while you were trying to relax, after a 20 hour day...)