Do I Even Want to Be a Part of It (New York, New York)?
May 26, 2016 1:36 PM   Subscribe

What do you wish you'd known about moving to and living in New York City before taking the plunge?

I am in the process of interviewing for a job I may or may not get, but am advancing in the process, so want to have as much information as possible. If I get it, it may require a move to New York, though there is also a possibility of working out of a satellite office in the city where I currently live. I'm gathering as much info as possible so if it comes to potentially talking relocation, I have a sense of which way I'm leaning going into that discussion. The job would be located near Rector Street Station/in the Financial District (though is not a finance job). I'd have a budget of around $3,000/month for rent.

Part of me is really excited -- I've been feeling stagnated and restless in my current city for at least a year and thinking about relocating (though was looking more to my home state, not just a general move). The idea of a fresh start in a new place is definitely attractive. Another part of me is kind of terrified -- NY is many orders of magnitude larger than my current city (though cost of living is not dissimilar), and I've heard that it can be hard to make friends and so am worried about ending up incredibly lonely.

Bottom Line: Love it or hate it, what information do you wish you'd known about moving/living in New York City before you made the decision? (Bonus: Given what you can glean from the below, where would you think about living?)

I've seen this about the mechanics of finding places; I'm interested in additional insight there, but also more general insights about the good and the bad of going about your day to day life in NYC.

Additional info if helpful:

Living situation: Assuming all systems go, I am able to budget somewhere around $3K (up to about $3300 or so) incl. heat/ac/utilities, though less is better. Dog-friendly, minimum one bedroom, ideally two bedroom or a one bedroom with den -- something that can be a home office and serve as guest quarters as needed. Right now looking at Brooklyn -- Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, etc. Maybe Battery Park City in Manhattan? Feel most places within an easy 20ish minute commute in Manhattan are out of my price range.

Concerns: Making friends/meeting people/having a social safety network, short commute (like 20-30ish minutes using public transit), walkable neighborhood with access to groceries/cafes/etc., good environment for my dog with access to a good doggie daycare where she can run around and play during my workday.

Not-as-big-concerns right now: Dating. I'm kind of used to not dating and know the scene is beyond tough in New York. It would be NICE, but not a huge priority in my decision-making. Being in a super trendy neighborhood. Happy to live in one if the shoe fits, but don't need the absolute latest restaurant/bar/coolest thing I didn't even know existed, though also don't want to be in a place that turns into a ghost town after 6pm.

Basic info about me: Female, late 30s, meh credit (650-690 depending on report pulled) and long rental history in same apartment, have a dog, quite overweight, a couple of friends/acquaintances in various parts of the city but no major pre-existing network, no car/don't plan on getting one, utilities currently included in my rent so I have no earthly idea how much they cost/impact my budget. I am very self-sufficient, comfortable navigating cities/like exploring my environs. I've been to New York many times, but only for a couple days at a stretch visiting people, attending conferences, etc. I have some familiarity, but not a ton, I walk pretty much everywhere/am very comfortable walking a lot (though don't want to schlep groceries 20 blocks).
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (64 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I lived in NYC from age 22-28 and am glad I did it that young. I would not move back now as a woman in my 40s although I enjoyed it while I was there. I think what would make it a go or no go for me would be one question: are you looking for somewhere to put down roots? If you've already visited New York a few times you probably already have a fairly good feeling for what it would be like to live there. The people I know who put down roots there really always felt like they couldn't imagine living anyplace else. The people who COULD imagine living someplace else always eventually left for somewhere with a less insane cost of living after a few years. If you're not looking to put down roots right now and just want a few years in a cool place, then definitely do it. If you're starting to feel the pull of wanting to be near family and/or making friends now that you'll have for decades... you're probably not going to find what you want there.
posted by MsMolly at 1:48 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh, and it will be VERY tempting to use your large salary on a fancier place to live, more meals out, etc. If I could tell NYC-living Past Me one thing it would be save some of that money and don't move to a nicer place every time your salary goes up. I would have saved myself so much grad school debt if I had had that advice.
posted by MsMolly at 1:51 PM on May 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

If you are using public transportation, there are stairs. A lot of stairs.
Are you going to live in a third floor walk-up? There are stairs.
This may not matter if you are young and well-kneed.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:51 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Battery Park City isn't exactly a ghost town at 6pm, but it isn't fun, either. The neighborhoods you mention in Brooklyn are much nicer, although for the rent you're willing to pay, you can get a cute place in Manhattan.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:03 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wish I'd known:

- that men would feel entirely free to feel me up whenever I was close enough that they could reach (thankfully NY is so spacious that was rarely a problem)

- that nasty liquids drip from buildings onto nice clothes (thankfully there are lots of clothing stores for replacing formerly nice clothes, and for replacing the shoes that get trashed by sidewalks that haven't been maintained since the Truman administration, muddy puddles at every crosswalk, and human waste left in random places like the doorway to Tiffany's)

- that the beautiful snow is beautiful for about 45 seconds and then becomes vile, crappy gray slush (thankfully I had to work all the time, so I really only had 45 seconds to get out in the snow anyway)

- where to buy things (I never did work that out -- everything's a boutique, or in New Jersey. Where do you buy a toilet plunger? Or a ballpeen hammer? I never saw anything like a hardware store or Target, but if I wanted jewelry from a store than was having a "going out of business" sale for about ten years, the very best bagels in the world no kidding, or men's tube socks there was no end of that.) (Oddly, men's white tube socks were everywhere the year I lived in NY)

- and especially how to buy things without owning a car (TV? dresser from Ikea? case of bubbly water? fish tank? I once saw a guy carrying a gigantic aquarium on the subway) (theoretically you can get a lot of this delivered, but you have to be home, it costs a lot, your building manager will be annoyed that you didn't reserve the service elevator despite the fact that it's not your fault because the furniture place doesn't give you a lot of warning when they can deliver and on and on).

I despised living in NYC. I lived on the southwest corner of Central Park, on the same floor as Al Pacino. I worked in walking distance from my awesome apartment, and I had good friends. And still I lasted only 11 months, 6 days, and 14 hours. I am not making that up.

This may not be you, and I was surprised it was me. I'd absolutely loved visiting NY before then, couldn't wait to live there, it was my dream since I was 12. But just getting through the day was such a pain. in. the. ass.

My sincere apologies to people who love NYC (and I know it has true fans, and I can see many of its upsides -- it is the center of the world in so many ways) but I just could not handle it.
posted by Capri at 2:15 PM on May 26, 2016 [16 favorites]

With that kind of a budget and a steady job, most of the stressors and difficulties that have driven friends of mine out of the city won't apply to you, so that's something!

Some bits and pieces I learned the hard way:

- Stairs stairs stairs stairs stairs
- If you don't have laundry in your apartment/building (many people in NYC don't) I'd definitely recommend paying for wash-and-fold. Nearly all laundromats offer it, and it's not that much more expensive than just doing the laundry yourself.
- For commuting, if you have a choice between a 30 minute commute with two or three transfers or a 45 minute commute with one or zero transfers, the latter is going to be way way nicer in the long run. Fewer opportunities for your commute to get messed up, more likely that you'll be able to sit down, less trudging up and down stairs and along underground corridors with tons of other grumpy people.
- New York City busses can be intimidating when you're first figuring out how to use them, but they are AMAZING, particularly if you need to get way across town in Manhattan, or if you want to travel short-ish distances within Brooklyn or Queens that are a little bit too far to walk.
- If you commute every day, it's always worth it to buy an unlimited metro card, even though they're insanely expensive. If you're lucky, though, your employer will have a transit check system that lets you buy your cards tax-free.
- Avoid first-floor apartments if you can, especially facing the street -- they're loud, and they get more pests.
- New Yorkers talk about work all of the time, even among friends -- I'm absolutely 100% guilty of this. And a lot of people do most of their socializing within their professional cohort. I work in comics, and met most of my current friends exhibiting at shows, attending "drink and draw" parties, going to life drawing sessions, etc. People can be a little standoffish at first, but if you keep showing up, you'll be welcomed into the fold by the other "regulars."
- That's a big thing, honestly -- there's so much stuff to do here that a ton of people dabble. Communities don't want to spent a ton of social resources on people who're flitting in and out of a lot of different hobbies/scenes/etc -- the reward for picking something and sticking with it is high, especially if you're friendly and easy to get along with.
- People who've lived here for more than a few years end up with a very different idea of how long of a walk counts as "long." Generally, your average able-bodied young-ish person in Brooklyn won't blink at a brisk ten minute walk. I personally won't bother with the bus or subway for anything that's closer than a 20 or 30 minute walk unless I'm feeling really tired. Most people have to walk five to ten minutes to get to their closest subway stop -- often the area immediately around the station isn't actually as nice as buildings a little further away.
- Year round, expect pretty serious temperature changes as you move from your apartment to the outdoors to the subway platform to the subway to your office. Unless you have a high tolerance for this, dress in layers, keep a cardigan in your purse.
- Unless your apartment is within two blocks of a nice supermarket AND on the first or second floor, I highly recommend using a grocery delivery service. Fresh Direct is very popular in NYC and I've had a good experience with them.
- Don't try and have a car unless you have a reserved parking space that isn't on the street. It's such an enormous pain in the ass and the insurance is crazy expensive. If you want to regularly use a car to go shopping or on weekend trips, get a ZipCar or Car2Go membership.
- A lot of public parks have dog runs; Prospect Park has off-leash hours.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:19 PM on May 26, 2016 [10 favorites]

Oh and: living in Manhattan is crap. Don't do it. Capri's bad experiences don't surprise me at all.

Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx have plenty of hardware stores.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:21 PM on May 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

AND: older buildings in Brooklyn generally have steam heat, and no thermostats inside the individual apartments. They get QUITE warm in the winter, enough so that folks sometimes end up leaving their windows open.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 2:22 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

The subways are less reliable than one thinks. I came from Philadelphia, where there is only two main transit lines, (which shut down at midnight.) I've lost count of how many times I was late to work, despite leaving early, because the trains are that messed up.

My current job is a 20 minute walk from home. Much nicer.

Also, outer boroughs are cheaper. I live in a part of Queens a 10 minute walk from the F and E trains, and I have a 1BR for $1275, all utilities. An insane deal, but it's far enough out that it's not the Hip Neighborhood yet, and won't be for a while.
posted by SansPoint at 2:29 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Know that having a dog will limit your apartment options. Some landlords don't allow dogs. Some allow only small dogs, under 25 pounds or so.
posted by the_blizz at 2:34 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

If Capri's concern about buying stuff without a car concerns you, just remember that Amazon Prime does exist here. I'd like to say I only use it for heavy, bulky stuff but I have a hardware store on my corner and a Kmart 4 blocks away and yet just yesterday I ordered a new toilet flusher from Amazon.

Ms. Mollys' first comment in this thread is really smart.
posted by lalex at 2:35 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh and: living in Manhattan is crap. Don't do it. Capri's bad experiences don't surprise me at all.

I want to really really emphasize this. Capri's difficulties with the basics of life in NYC were probably related to this: I lived on the southwest corner of Central Park, on the same floor as Al Pacino.

These areas exist for tourists, or for people who are SO RICH that the idea of going to a store to purchase a plunger would never need to occur to them. They are not for you and me. Now, Battery Park City is not quite on that level, but it's a ritzy area in a business district and it will be lacking in services, especially at night and on the weekend.

Your quality of life will be much higher in Brooklyn.
posted by breakin' the law at 2:36 PM on May 26, 2016 [20 favorites]

Whatever you give New York, it gives it back to you tenfold.

If you smile at people, are patient, say good morning to strangers, face each (sometimes exhausting day) with a positive outlook, NYC is the best place in the world. If you're having a bad day, you're sick, you're tired, you're grumpy or impatient, NYC can be your worst nightmare. This can change day by day. I've been gone nearly six years now but I still think New Yorkers are the best people in the world.

I loved living in New York. Definitely recommend Brooklyn if you'll be in the financial district -- Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, etc. I lived in Park Slope when my work stop was the Fulton Street Station, and that was about a 20-minute commute from 7th Ave. With your budget, you'll probably be able to get closer in.

- Walking is great! Walk lots!
- Try to become a regular somewhere. Anywhere. It's nice to be anonymous in a big city sometimes, but becoming a regular makes you grounded.
- Don't work all the time. I had a crazy 70-hour/week job and before that a 35-hour/week sinecure. The sinecure life was so much nicer, even with less money.
- You will make lots of friends with your dog, but remember that dog ownership is crazy expensive. Daycare can be 50/day and Brooklyn Heights groomers charged $85 for my 7-pound pup (back in 2010).
- Find a group, whether it's a softball team or a meetup. Mefi has meetups and everyone is really nice and interesting.
- Watch your money. NYC is like monopoly money, and it's easy to drop money quickly. I wish I had saved more while living there (mostly by curbing my habit of shopping and pricey lunches).
posted by mochapickle at 2:37 PM on May 26, 2016 [13 favorites]

Oh, and searching for and signing the lease for an apartment is... well, it's an ordeal.

If you go through a broker, there's a broker fee that's roughly a month's rent. With that, plus first and deposit, it's a simply tremendous outlay of cash to start. It helps if you use a bank that has local branches in NYC. There's also a ton of paperwork, etc. Every broker I met made me rabidly homicidal.

You'll be fine, but you may want to plan for a stiff drink after.
posted by mochapickle at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you wind up buying a place with a super, you may need to give him a bribe to let workmen come into your addition to tipping at Christmas. You will need to give all the staff $50-100 in a rental building too.
posted by brujita at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2016

Oh, and check out this map showing transit times.

You have more neighborhood options than you think, for a really short commute, and TONS of options for a slightly longer (but still excellent) one. Check out Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, the northern reaches of Park Slope. All of those will have good park access for your dog, btw.

Brooklyn Heights would be a ridiculously easy commute, though. You could even walk sometimes if you wanted to.
posted by the_blizz at 2:47 PM on May 26, 2016

Given your budget, get a place with a doorman or front desk that will take your packages. I hated the idea of living in a doorman building for years, but eventually wound up in one and it is a huge quality of life improvement. It's really awesome to have that 30lb bag of dog food that's not available at any local pet stores delivered while you're at work and know that it will still be there when you get home without having to collect it from the UPS depot two miles away.

And live near a park! Even a smallish one will likely have a dog run and a community of dog owners you can socialize with while you walk your dogs.

Think about if you'd prefer less space in your apartment to get yourself a walking commute. I've managed that 12 of the 13 years I've been in NYC and it's awesome. I get more exercise, can pop home quickly if I need to walk the dog or forgot about a meeting and need fancy clothes, etc. It's also super cheap to take a cab to work on the odd day that I'm feeling sick and have to drag myself in for some reason. I do find the crowds in the neighborhoods I've lived in tedious, but I've never had any trouble finding basic, normal people stuff (like hardware stores, affordable take out, groceries, etc).
posted by snaw at 2:50 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

How big is your dog? This may actually be a pretty real problem in NYC.
posted by corb at 2:50 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Unless you already have friends or family in NYC, it can be hard to make new friends here especially if you are not just out of school or also trying to date (which can turn into friendship).
In general, everyone is really busy with work and their social schedules so many people do not have room to incorporate new friends. I admit that I was uncharitably annoyed at a friend of mine for bringing along a new-to-the-city person over to my house because I don't have the capacity to add more people to the list I try to keep up with.
If you are part of a hobby group or can join meetups for some specific interest of yours, that will help.
Do not expect to make social friends at work, unless you are in an entry-level position.

In terms of apartments, you have a pretty good budget. Plan on spending about $100/month on gas+electric and then about another $100 on internet/cable if you like all of those things. You can of course be more frugal but that is an ok estimate.
Also plan on spending $130/month on your metrocard to get to and from work.

In order to rent, especially with not great credit, you will need to make at least 40x the monthly rent and be able to show paystubs that prove it. You will most likely also need to pay a pet deposit for your dog, which varies wildly.
Since you want to live alone, you will probably be looking at apts through brokers. Brokers usually get 15% of yearly rent, and to move in you often need 3 months rent in cash- first last and security. So be prepared to drop $12kish right away (yeah it sucks).

Frankly, I didn't see anything in your post that talks about what things you might actually like in NYC, other than that it is a change, and you kind of really need to want to be here to make all the crappy things worth it. I don't think I would make this move unless you know some people here who can ease your transition because it can be pretty tough and lonely. If I didn't know anyone and had never lived in NYC before and I was in my late 30s, I would probably not do it.
posted by rmless at 2:50 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

How big is your dog? this will make a big difference with regard to mobility - technically you cant take dogs over 20lbs on the subway (though some/many people flaunt this rule i have seen people getting talked-to or ticketed over it so its worth considering). No one will weigh your pooch but the general rule is that they need to be contained in a bag/carrier, so you probably dont have too much wiggle room there (there are 30 lb "carryable" dogs im sure but it would depend). As mentioned doggy daycare is expensive and may not be incredibly close to home, being able to bring your pooch on the train to work and drop her at a nearby pet spot might be easier if you are able.

we would love to have a dog in the city but the expense of daily walking combined with the length of time we are not at home make it seem both unwise financially and unkind emotionally to our would-be petfriend.

seconding the_blizz's notion that you have a fairly wide range of options available all with reasonable access to your work - be wary that most new yorkers underestimate subway travel times by at least 15 minutes or 10% whichever is less.

you're much much better positioned to do this than many people (with a job, even one that pays well, not needing to live in manhattan). give it a shot. in the seven years we have been here ive seen friends wash out and leave and they are happier after leaving, we have stayed and been happy to - if it wont cost you a ton and you think you might want to, go for it.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:52 PM on May 26, 2016

If you're working downtown and a shortish commute is desired, you do not want to live in Queens. You want to live in Brooklyn. With your budget you really have your pick of neighborhoods, but I would look for places off the 2/3/4/5 trains just to make your life easier (Avoid the R train like the plague.) Could also do the A/C but after doing the G to A/C at Hoyt commute for years, I feel like the A/C is going downhill. Of course, I haven't lived in New York in over a year.

I don't know if I'd recommend Park Slope because it's not on a subway line that dumps you out near work, although you've got the transfer at Atlantic, although that's kind of a pain in the ass. Prospect Heights could be good though!
posted by Automocar at 2:52 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Car horns. All the time. Everywhere. Unavoidable. Sounds like a minor point, but turned out to be surprisingly unnerving (and this is coming from someone who lived, without issue, at the foot of the LAX runway for a few years). Noise is noise, but car horns in New York are a loud, unavoidable, expressive language with infinite variation and persistence.

I say this as a way of bringing up noise issues generally. If you're sensitive to sudden sharp noises, or loud background roar, or infrasonic subway rumbling (and so on), Manhattan might unnerve you more than the other boroughs.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:59 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

A quick note about living proximate to public transport: I lived on a street that was a bus route for several years. It had no air conditioning, so the windows were open a lot. Every time the bus rumbled by, you'd have thought it was a freight train. Best to get a place at least a block away from a bus route.
posted by Liesl at 3:12 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Avoid the R train like the plague.

True, the R isn't the greatest. But it's worth keeping in mind that even the crappier lines are pretty reliable during rush hour. (I say this as someone who relies on the F and the G, also no one's favorites.) And if you're working in the Financial District, you'll have backup options.
posted by the_blizz at 3:18 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Although every single line, even the best ones, will occasionally do something that will MASSIVELY PISS YOU OFF. But...people sort of shrug and accept it. (While still getting pissed.)
posted by the_blizz at 3:20 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Similarly on the noise front, don't live on a lower floor near where a restaurant or other business has its trash pickup. The commercial trash trucks often pick up late at night and they are seriously loud. Glass recycling is particularly awful since it often shatters as it's tossed into the truck.

There are a lot of sources of annoying noise in the city, so if you're at all sensitive, think very strategically about where in a building your apartment is and what it overlooks.
posted by snaw at 3:22 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try to live near (within 5 blocks of, not over) a subway station, and if possible a park. If you can get a place with a good grocery store near your subway station, that's the trifecta. Buses are generally reliable, but you don't want to have to rely on them.

There are very livable parts of Manhattan, which you can afford on your budget - I agree that Central Park South isn't one of them, and I would steer clear of SoHo / TriBeCa, but I don't think the only way to live well here is to choose an outer borough (I've been on the Upper West Side for years and I love it here - and we do have hardware stores).

If you can, I would really highly suggest subletting for a few weeks/months before moving your stuff (or putting your stuff into storage at first) - getting a feel for different neighborhoods takes time, and moving in New York is one of the circles of hell.
posted by Mchelly at 3:24 PM on May 26, 2016

Just putting in a plug for Riverdale. It's a sweet spot regarding low(er) cost of housing and excellent transportation: Metro-North (which includes shuttle buses), #1 subway, multiple highways all around, and at least one ZipCar station. I can't go point-by-point regarding all your criteria right now, there may be some disadvantages, but it's close-in to Manhattan and relatively peaceful. When you're looking for neighborhoods, look at some Riverdale apartments if you can.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:56 PM on May 26, 2016

I would push back against those who are saying don't live in Manhattan. I live here, and it's great. The neighborhoods on the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Washington Heights and Harlem are actually really great, and very diverse. I live a half mile from Central Park, and can't imagine ever moving.

Something I had wished that I'd known before coming here: it's not worth your time or money to do your own laundry. Ever.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:57 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

roomthreeseventeen: I respectfully disagree on the laundry. It takes me maybe two hours on a weekend to do my laundry in my building's laundry room, and it's honestly easier than lugging it 10 minutes to the nearest laundry place and then lugging it back, and way cheaper than getting it picked up and delivered.
posted by SansPoint at 4:18 PM on May 26, 2016


Being polite on this topic will do you no favors, so I will be blunt - in case dating is or becomes an important part of your life in NYC. I will assume you are hetero. Correct me if otherwise.

NYC has tons of single, attractive, women. The city draws the best and the brightest from everywhere. Men know this and it can be incredibly challenging to stand out and meet someone because of the sheer amount of choice and clutter in the dating pool. As a result, many many women leave NY for smaller cities specifically to improve their chances of being properly noticed and given a solid shot at a decent dating life. If you're used to small city dating, NY will be a shock. To give yourself the best shot, use all avenues of meeting men, relax your strict requirements if you have them, and be direct and initiate.
posted by Tanzanite at 4:29 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's expensive, but you knew that. Nothing other than that. Oh, don't bring a car unless you have a free parking space. (ie, if you live in Nassau or something)

I lived there for a dozen years. I'd never move back, because I like my yard and comfy suburban life, but it was fun.

I guess I'm trying to write a meh comment to get across that it's not as radical a change as moving anywhere else (if you're the sort that adapts easily, as I am)
posted by jpe at 4:33 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't live in Riverdale.

It blatantly violates your 20-30 min commute restrictions: it is half an hour on Metro North alone from the Riverdale station to Grand Central, and then you have to deal with the 4/5 downtown and walk in the morning which will add at minimum 15 minutes to your commute, so you're looking at close to an hour (given that you're unlikely to live right next to the Riverdale Metro North), not to mention the fact that Metro North is much less flexible than the subway in terms of scheduling.
posted by andrewesque at 4:39 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

I love New York, but I wouldn't live there unless I won the lottery.

Husbunny lived in a flat in Queens when we were dating and getting the bus to Main Street, then the 7 into the city was a nightmare. I can't imagine doing it daily. I loved his neighborhood though.

You will do a lot of your commute standing because the subway is crowded.

You should have groceries, laundry service and Amazon Prime bring things to your door.

Window unit A/C.

Uber is everywhere and most of them are TLC cars.

Everything is smaller, more expensive and harder than anywhere else.

There's a Kmart across from Grand Central Station.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:49 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

There's a Kmart across from Grand Central Station.

Across from Penn Station, not Grand Central.
posted by Tanzanite at 4:51 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Jesus, people make my town sound dire. My 2 cents. Yes Brooklyn. Manhattan if hordes of people energize you rather than unnerve you. So many people in Manhattan these days. Your job location makes Queens a much less attractive option. Whatever you do don't move anywhere on the L train given it's pending doom. FWIW I live on the Hel"L" train and I'm hardly ever late for work. Just figure out how to budget your time. Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill - great neighborhoods with vibrant communities.

I have a car, I've had multiple cars, all parked on the streets of Brooklyn for 10 odd years and for me it's not that big of a deal. People sure love to bitch about cars until you drive those people to PTown for vacation or they need to "borrow" it to move some books or drive the kids to Pennsylvania. But if you don't want to deal with a car - don't have a car. Uber, cabs, Citibike, buses - there is no shortage of public transportation as close to the city as you have the option to move.

I have friends who recently moved here with two largeish bulldogs and they've in short order lived in three apartments in Brooklyn that allow dogs (due to a divorce - not because of problems with the dogs). They haven't really indicated that it's been a problem. One of the apartments is not very close to a park - so that's not been great. If you have a dog - it's worth it to try to find a place near some kind of green space.

As for noise tolerance - I cannot stand to hear people stomping around above me - so I live on the top floor. I will probably never move again. If there's something you suspect you won't tolerate well - you might feel it to be amplified here.

FWIW - I haven't done my own laundry for maybe 20 years. If you don't have a doorman to take your packages get stuff delivered to the office. Everyone does it. I get my cat's food delivered there, wine - almost anything. Ask your co-workers for advice - they will love to give it. We just had to figure out how to get my co-worker home on Amtrak after that MetroNorth fire. Trader Joe's is a goddamn nightmare in this town. Meal delivery services like Blue Apron make a ton of sense once you start to stare down your Seamless spending. Get some headphones for the subway. I'm sure dating is no good horrible and very bad. I try not to do it. You might be lonely for a while until you make more friends - but you'll find your niche. The first year - you'll do so much stuff you'll look back on it with amazement.

One thing I absolutely recommend is finding a doctor affiliated with a hospital in which you would want to have surgery. My doctors were all affiliated with Beth Israel - not in love with what that's going to mean for me now that the hospital is shutting down.
posted by rdnnyc at 4:57 PM on May 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Don't write off Manhattan based on the no-mans-land that is Columbus Circle. I live in a not-ultra-fancy part of Manhattan and walk by a hardware store (and a 24-hour drug store, a pet store, a 24-hour grocery, a diner...) on my quarter-mile trip to the subway every day. Neighborhoods really can vary dramatically within even a few blocks, so, as you're hunting, Google Maps and "nearby" are your friends. With your work location, you can live near almost any line in Manhattan and have a reasonably convenient commute. With your budget (assuming that your salary is in fact at or equal to $120K), you can get a decent 1-bed in a less exciting neighborhood, or probably a tolerable one in one of the better ones. If you're willing to consider north of 110th St. (and there's no reason you shouldn't be, though obviously the commute is longer), you might even get to a decent 2-bedroom on that.

If you're considering Brooklyn, be aware that there are plans to shut down the L line for a year or more starting in 2017 to repair the seriously damaged tunnel. This will make a commute from the L catchment area, and on subway lines near enough to pick up some of the refugees, hellish.

Jersey City and environs will also be a relatively easy commute due to the 24-hour PATH train under the river. I always say I didn't fight my way to NYC just to live in Jersey, but that area is certainly livelier than it used to be (though with the rents to match), and some folks find not having to pay the higher taxes a compelling argument in favor.

Seconding the doorman. They always seemed like a useless luxury to me until I ended up in a building with one, but if you're not home a lot during the day, having someone to take packages, let repairmen or cleaners in, etc., is invaluable.

Keeping a dog is freaking expensive in the city. In Manhattan, having a weekday walker just to let your buddy do his business during the day will run you $300+, no lie, and of course doggie day care is more. But a dog is certainly a great icebreaker.

One thing (and I say this as someone who used to be heavier): there is a fair amount of implicit pressure, at least among women middle class and up, to maintain a certain standard of appearance, one that's higher than in most of the rest of the U.S. That bit from 30 Rock about "average" Liz Lemon going to the Midwest and getting told she looks like a model? At least based in reality. Which is not to say that people are any more likely to be jerks about your weight here than they are anywhere else. But it's something I think a lot of women do feel, just looking around them every day, which you may or may not be particularly sensitive to. Just something to keep in mind.
posted by praemunire at 5:07 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

The main thing I wished I'd known about New York before I moved there is that everything you've heard is cool is already gone. This was the case when I moved there in 2000 (I went to the West Village looking for thrift stores, LOL!), and is even more true now.

I've been out of New York for long enough that I can't make good recommendations about rents and neighborhoods and all that, but here's what I can say:

Making friends/meeting people/having a social safety network

You can do this! My best advice is to plunge yourself into some kind of hobby or scene. Not like "after work rec flag football league" but something where people socialize regularly outside of the organized activities. Work can also provide a bit of this, if you really love what you do and strongly identify with it, and that's not weird in your field. (For example I made good friends working in the film industry, but if you work in insurance that may be less likely.)

short commute (like 20-30ish minutes using public transit)

Probably not, but on the plus side commuting by subway gives you plenty of time to read. It's much better than a shorter driving commute, in my opinion.

walkable neighborhood with access to groceries/cafes/etc.

Every neighborhood is like this, you'll be fine. Just don't move to... maybe Red Hook?

Re dating, I actually found it kind of easy in New York because nobody presumes that dating is going to happen naturally. Everyone goes online or does some hobby with an eye to meeting people or the like. Also people get married later and date around more. I was shocked when I moved to Los Angeles at 31 and everyone my age was married or long since paired off. Also, the bar scene is more a thing because nobody has to drive. In my 30s in L.A. it feels frankly a little transgressive to drink in bars a lot. Whereas in New York I had my local spot right on my block that I was at multiple times per week including weeknights. On the other hand, all of these things make it easy to find people to date, and harder to find love. If that makes sense?

If you don't want to be in a ghost town after 6, don't live in the Financial District. But maybe this has changed over the 4 years I've been gone?
posted by Sara C. at 5:33 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Living in NYC since 1976. If you ask me, I'll tell ya...New York, New's so nice, ya gotta say it twice!

Sounds crazy and if you would have told me to move to Staten Island in my teens, I would have told you that you were nuts. I was engaged to someone when I was in my 20s and after living in Brooklyn mostly my entire life, I reluctantly moved to Staten Island (where he lived) and purchased a house. It was hard for me because I was accustomed to walking everywhere and getting anything at any moment.

It actually is very easy to commute to the financial district because it is a 20 min ferry ride from Staten Island. My sister and her fiancé recently moved there and they say that the commute is way better than when they were in Brooklyn. They get on the Staten Island train (which is free unless you exit at the ferry terminal-this comes in handy when you are just going to a bar and don't want to drive home) where the last stop is the ferry terminal. There are several trains (they all travel in the same direction) where there is a local which stops at every stop and various expresses which skips different parts of the line. The ferry is free. Rush hour is a shorter time between boats than off peak, but it's a nice ride. My sister and her fiancé both walk to work from the ferry terminal on the Manhattan side.

On Staten Island, you will have a much larger apartment for a lot less, parking, and even though there is a hefty toll for the Verrazano Bridge, you get a 50% toll discount for cars with fewer than 3 occupants and I think the car pool tickets are now $3.50. You pay the toll only when you enter Staten Island, not leaving it. You can enter also through NJ where there are various discounts for frequent travelers.

Dogs...It's like the country in SI, everyone loves dogs and cats so even if you rent an apartment in a building, you will find lots of pet friendly places.

At $3,000.00 per month, you may find yourself a place in Manhattan or in Brooklyn. In Staten Island, you will find something for a fraction of that!!

There are pros and cons to all of the neighborhoods in regards to living, but it is hard to advise because I don't know what your lifestyle is and what you are accustomed to.

If you like, I can send you some contacts of reputable agents who can help you find the right place.

Dating, night life, friends...I have found that most NYers (including myself) are fascinated by the experience of coming from elsewhere. You'll have lots to share and you will make friends quickly!
posted by Yellow at 5:36 PM on May 26, 2016

Re hardware stores, Home Depot et al are in Manhattan now, but the reason you don't see that stuff in nicer neighborhoods is that, in Manhattan* people prefer to pay other people to do that for them.

Apartment buildings have superintendents. There's a service you can pay to do absolutely anything for you. You will often hear people at parties or around the water cooler say that they "have a guy". The ethics of New York are such that you pay people to do things for you. Whether that's folding your laundry, making your coffee, delivering** your dinner, or ball-peening whatever needs to be ball-peened. The micro-economy of NYC neighborhoods depends on this "guy" phenomenon, so don't be too quick to knock it.

*And to an extent the nicer parts of the other boroughs

**The Thai place across the street from my L.A. apartment delivers, but my fiance refuses to use their delivery service because he "doesn't want to be a bother". That's NY vs. LA in a nutshell.
posted by Sara C. at 5:42 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

You can afford to get a broker to find you an apartment. Do that.

They might tell you that the 2nd avenue subway line will be finished soon, and that living on the upper east side is gr8. That is a lie, construction will be ongoing til minimum 2025. Don't live on the upper east side.
posted by poffin boffin at 5:59 PM on May 26, 2016 [4 favorites]

There's a service you can pay to do absolutely anything for you.

I meant to say--this situation is quite handy for a single woman who may lack the arm strength to install an air conditioner or something. You can hire help for almost anything.
posted by praemunire at 6:02 PM on May 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

-you can hire help for anything but also lots of people will be ready to rip you off.
-get ready to ruin shoes because we walk an average of 5 mi/day, and always wear shoes you can walk/run, and climb stairs in, so you can navigate the train stations and the grates on the street without stressing.
-get ready to buy outerwear that works really good instead of just looks good. you will be walking outside in all kinds of shitty weather. you need an umbrella that won't snap in the wind, a really good winter coat and hat and boots and gloves, rainboots, possibly a raincoat.
-men will follow you home from the train station, flash you and grope you on the subway, look up your dress when you climb the stairs, say gross things to you in passing, whistle, stare, etc. learn to ignore this and/or navigate it with an eye to your safety. if you take a train home late at night after going out it's very likely safe but also you will be one of maybe a handful of women in the train car unless you are going to a place with open bars.
-under no circumstances should you own a car in nyc unless you also have your own parking spot for it.
-people drink a lot, since they rarely have to drive home.
-the seasons are extreme, and climate change is only making them more so. in 2015 we had a blizzard on April 1.
-if you live in a building with strong steam heat you will probably need a humidifier unless you want to wake up with a bloody nose from time to time.
-to make friends, join a club/gym/sports league/volunteer group/church/art collective whatever floats your boat. most of the men who talk to you at the thing will be hitting on you and will not be interested in being friends, though.
-saving money in nyc is hard but you have to do it.
-don't forget to budget for tips when you hire people to help you do stuff and drink and eat. i had a hard time remembering to do this consistently and generously enough and always seemed to be spending more than i thought i would on things.
-dog daycare and dogwalking is expensive here. be prepared to pay a lot esp. if you live in a fancy area.
-you will probably have a window AC and not central air.
-unless you are very conventionally attractive already, you will always feel kind of fat, kind of ugly, and kind of poorly dressed in comparison to the many many GORGEOUS and svelte people around, esp. in manhattan/tribeca/soho. this grates after a while, i remember feeling relieved when i would go out of town and be reminded that is not the actual baseline everywhere. also, if you work in a white collar setting/high paying private sector, people really dress up, and that can be a tough standard to meet at times while not blowing a lot of money on clothes and feminine beauty labor.
-sublet at first and don't rush to rent, make sure you find what you need, it will take a while and will be exhausting and expensive to find a proper rental. leave stuff in storage in the meantime.
-delivery drugs of any kind you might like! awesome
-also any kind of delivery food and alcohol, sometimes all night! awesome
-literally any type of cuisine from any part of the world! and great bars with great wine and cocktails!
-tons of amazing books to read, plays and movies to see, musicians to check out, artwork to look at! lots of good art communities, even now with gentrification - just gotta seek them out!
-lots of free events in the warmer months, especially music and theater in parks!
-brooklyn and NYC library systems are amazing!
-if you're a runner, running around nyc is amazing and engaging and challenging. if you're a walker, walking long winding routes through different neighborhoods is also a lot of fun.
-get accustomed to waiting for everything (lines in stores, for trains, for buses) and for normal errands to sometimes take a while, longer than you think they should. i stood in long lines to buy food every week at trader joe's and then schlepped it 40 min on a train home. do not be me.

i lived in nyc for about nine years and some things i loved, some things i still miss. but ultimately i came to a point where i wanted most of my day to day routine to be fairly simple and quick without having to shell out a ton of money for services/deliveries/the help of others. and i had a really hard time with the winters and the 4:30pm sunsets and digging my car out of three feet of snow, and then i got a job in hawaii that paid more, so. YMMV. if you can handle expensive and stressful with a zen attitude, and you have the kind of energy that thrives in crowds, you will be ok there.
posted by zdravo at 6:39 PM on May 26, 2016 [5 favorites]

Ms Molly above had it right on the money. NYC is amazing and awesome and exhausting - if you want an adventure then definitely go with the expectation that at some point your stamina will run out and you'll be ready to move somewhere less intense with a slower pace, ie, almost any other place in the US.
I lasted two years, having come from Toronto, and it was great. In terms of work experience, the competitiveness made me way better at my job. Social-life wise, I was in a long distance relationship with my guy who stayed in Toronto. I'm decent looking, but had no trouble "resisting temptation" because I don't think I was ever hit on (other than easy to ignore skeezebags).
I spent a lot of time by myself when I was there, which didn't bother me at all. There's so freaking much to do, I was happy to dive in solo.
posted by dotparker at 7:11 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Living in New York is awesome. You should do it. You have plenty of money if your upper budget is $3k in rent, but I advise looking further into Brooklyn (which still gives you a 20-30 min commute) and scratching that idea of a guest room / den right out of your fantasies, like, right NOW.

Life is so much better if you don't spend all your money (i.e., >30%) on rent. Then you can spend it on other fun conveniences.

If you need a car, take a taxi. Minivan taxis can haul a lot of stuff from Ikea. If you need it for longer, rent a CarToGo or ZipCar. Use lyft, use uber. Call a black cab to take you to the airport for cheap. Not having a car is not a problem, unless your dog is too heavy to carry on the subway - then you have to rent your own ZipCar and be careful not to leave any hairs behind on the seat. All dogs have to be in a bag on the subway, but people break that rule plenty.

There's no way you won't be a 5-10 min walk from a supermarket in brownstone Brooklyn. There's always a corner store even closer, and there are tons of small hardware stores, dollar stores, etc., that have conveniences - they're just not your regular chains.

It's not that hard to live here. People aren't rude or cold in social settings, you just act that way on the street -- and acting that way on the street is crucial because if you get that right you get way less street harassment.
posted by hyperion at 8:18 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Twenty-plus Manhattan resident here. I love it, but Christ, NYC can be a huge pain in the ass. The expense, the noise, the garbage, the assholes! But really, I love it despite all these things.

Your preferred commute time sounds rather optimistic. If you don't want to be married to the subway, consider bicycling as a commute option. It's a great way to get to know the city. The subways are fine as a backup, especially in the depths of winter or summer, but it's so much better to get out on the bike and come home feeling exhilarated, instead of pissed off from yet another train nightmare.

Your stated rent amount is probably going to get you only a one bedroom. Two bedrooms and larger are highly desirable by families, and are priced accordingly. A studio can be even cheaper if you don't mind not having a separate room for sleeping. Walkups are fine until you have to carry groceries up three times a week, not to mention laundry and any other heavy items. Walkups tend to sharpen the mind about the necessity of a trip out, and how much you are going to be carrying.

When you are shopping around for a place, make sure that you vet the basics: grocery store, mass transit, coffee shops, restaurants. If the closest store is a C-Town, run the other way. If the closest store is a Whole Foods, realize that your food budget will double. The grocery-delivery options that people above are recommending are ok if you have tons of money to spend and don't mind contributing to the huge box waste that these services generate. Also, I believe you have to be home when delivery happens. Do you expect to be working crazy hours? (But then you have a dog, so probably not?)

The car thing. Yeah, I get it: New Yorkers like to brag how they don't need a car. Until you realize that renting a car is almost as a huge pain in the tuchus as owning. I went almost twenty years without a car, but now that I have one, it's the best. We drive upstate every week, and I shop at Trader Joe's in Westchester because TJ's on 72nd Street is a circle of hell. Certainly, there are times when no way in hell am I going to drive (Hell's Kitchen, I'm looking at you), but if I am going to visit friends in Forest Hills, I'm driving. Just don't expect a nice car to look nice for very long.

My experience has been that making friends here is easier. If you don't cotton to any co-workers, that's cool because you're going to join the club for your chosen hobby. There's a group for EVERYTHING and a bunch of totally devoted people who will love to talk to you about the minutiae about it all the time.

For dating, I never got into it as a competitive endeavor the way some of my single friends have. I was on OKCupid for a few years, met some nice guys, one asshole, and now I'm with my current beau, who I met at a [drum roll] Metafilter meetup! Really!

And Metafilter meetups are fun! We are a cool bunch and really, we only stare at our phones part of the time.

Seriously, don't move to Staten Island.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:33 PM on May 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, don't move to Staten Island or Riverdale as a 30-something looking to make friends and possibly date. Your new friends will visit you exactly once as a sacrifice to the friendship gods and never return.
posted by lalex at 8:51 PM on May 26, 2016 [12 favorites]

-get ready to buy outerwear that works really good instead of just looks good. you will be walking outside in all kinds of shitty weather. you need an umbrella that won't snap in the wind, a really good winter coat and hat and boots and gloves, rainboots, possibly a raincoat.

OMG, this! My winters in NYC improved dramatically after I got a proper warm winter coat instead of the cute, thin peacoat I'd been wearing.
posted by mochapickle at 8:59 PM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are a million New Yorks. Where you live, what you like to do, how much money you are willing to spend and what you want to spend it on, how enterprising you are, and how much time you have all play into which one you'll live in.

I moved to New York in my mid-40's and I've been here a few years now. I idly wonder what it would have been like if I'd moved here in my 20's, but I'm mostly glad I didn't. I'm not tracking now in the way I was then. I'm confident now in a way I wasn't then. I can take what New York has to offer without getting too caught up in the rat race, though for sure just being here means I've had to really think that through. But after thinking it through, and after having lived in major cities all across the world, I can definitely say I fit in better here than any place else I've ever lived. The funny thing is, NY wasn't my first choice, it was my last choice. Several times over the years I contemplated coming here, and I always thought I'd simply go broke, not because I'm a big spender but because I've never been a big earner. But, no, not really. If you can figure out rent in this town, everything else is very doable; and a remarkable amount of arts and culture is cheap or even free! Even rent, in some circumstances isn't a killer--though if you do get stuck with a bad landlord, everyone in town has a story.

My experience doesn't agree with those that commented on feeling less than lovely because of all the female competition here, either. To my immense surprise, I've found New York liberating. One in three people is foreign born. I am fair, slim, youthful looking, used to living in places with lots of others like me, and worrying about the way their hair flipped compared to mine, whether my clothes matched up, my features being just so or not. Here, everyone I come in contact with looks so radically different, I can simply be me. It's kind of amazing, really. As for dress code, yes, people do dress better here. It stands to reason with so much less "house" to decorate. But there's a big culture of used clothing here. I buy everything I wear very cheaply, and yet I've found fun ways to buy several levels up, before it was all run-of-the-mill good mall clothes, now the majority of what I own is designer--and not even for designer's sake, just because it does tend to be better made, to fall better, to look better on. I've found, too, much freedom with clothing here. I do work in an office, but there's room for me to finally figure out how I like to dress, rather than worry about narrow trends predominating.

As for the male gaze, yeah, I heard the meme about men here before I came, and since I've been here I've yet to spend two minutes alone with a woman between the ages of 25, say, to 55, without hearing the horrors of NYC manhood. For sure, it's harder. I've heard and read less discussion about competition with models than I have about percentage of educated men to women, with the strong majority falling into the latter camp--which a lot of my experience on OKCupid confirms. But ... a lot of folks are coupled here, which is to say there are men who do couple here, and I do meet people from time to time, it's not hopeless.

As for all else, for me, I'll gladly trade a sense of roominess to have fascinating streets to meander. I love the buildings, the way people use space, the endless immense diversity and ingenuity I see outside. My interactions with people on the street are often fascinating too. I have the most amazing conversations with people in elevators, in cars, walking just in front of me, completely unlike anyplace else I have ever lived. Despite reputation, I'd say New Yorkers are plain spoken but very human, fun, quick to appreciate a smile or a polite manner. I've also met some of the smartest people I've ever known here, as well as folks with absolutely extraordinary jobs. What I've yet to hear is a single instance of one person calling another "weird," and that, too, I find liberating.

As for the naysayers above, I only agree on a few points. The amount of walking here is phenomenal, though it mostly only bothers me on a couple of subway lines/stops. The weather is rough, but I've learned more about dressing for it here than anyplace else: two or three pairs of leggings make the cold down-right refreshing, nothing else need be overly thick if you've got your legs really well covered. I do hate the commute to work, and I'd advise you to consider asking to work remotely one or two days a week. That's what I'm doing increasingly, and it makes all the difference; a vigorous walk in inclement weather day after day *is* rough.

Apart from that, I'd say that NY has allowed me to figure out what I like in a more detailed accepting way than anyplace else I've ever lived. It *is* hard to make friends, but I've had to really think about who I wanted to seek out, and slowly that is panning out.

So consider who you are and what you really like. Life in the Upper East Side is radically different than the Lower East Side. There are many, many different kinds of Brooklyns. Chelsea, to me, is not just heavily gay culturally speaking, but also very yuppie. You can find what you want here if you look hard enough. And, no, I wasn't expecting to feel this way, not at all. But I'm so glad I do.
posted by Puppetry for Privacy at 1:59 AM on May 27, 2016 [9 favorites]

I've lived in New York for almost 20 years now, in the same apartment the whole time. This is because of rent stabilization, a term the brokers never even mentioned to me, but I lucked into getting a stabilized apartment. Stabilization not only keeps the rent from going up quite so fast (it still goes up), but also makes it somewhat harder for the landlord to force you out for someone with more money. Ask your broker about it.

I have a little dog in Park Slope, and many of my neighbors have very big dogs. Finding a dog-friendly building limited my options, but it's definitely possible.
posted by moonmilk at 5:44 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm a born and raised new yorker and I never, ever thought of leaving... but I might eventually do to several factors. It's with heart-break that I agree with others it is not a place to put down roots anymore. During the time I've grown up here the city has become less of a place people call "home" and more of a tourist stop. I can't help but take some offense when people say things like "NYC is a place everyone should go live in for a year or two" or "I always wanted to live there for a bit" because to me it's not some tourist destination that you just fancy living in for a bit, but an actual HOME where people lived in neighborhoods and raised their families. Not some amusement park to spend for a time. People used to be born here, grow up here, build lives here. Now it's considered a rare treat to actually bump into anyone who is actually from here. :( The old New York accent is hardly anywhere to be found anymore. I hear it when a teacher from one of my classes speaks- he's over 45 and was born, raised and still resides in brooklyn. Hearing him speak takes me back. There's no such thing as a NY accent anymore because basically no one is from here anymore. My entire family used to live here, but they've all been priced out over the past 15 years and forced to leave and spread out to other parts of the US and even overseas as foreigners and rich transients were willing to pay higher rents to temporarily live their fantasy idea of "Sex in the City". Everytime I find a neighborhood that I like and move to it, it no longer stays the same for longer than 3-4 years because transients start to like it too and then move in and turn it into a completely different neighborhood to the one I had originally liked. When you compare this to other large cities where neighborhoods can stay mostly the same for 15 years or more (some parts of brooklyn still have this actually) it's really very fast and barely gives you time to settle into the neighborhood. 3 years ago I was able to walk down my neighborhood fine, but starting about 18 months ago I can't walk down the street without being blocked by tourists taking photos and large tour groups. Same thing happened with my last neighborhood and it was why I moved. Now it's happening in the new spot. (sighs). I know that places change over time and that it's only natural. But these changes are ones of constant flux and not so natural. and NO offense at all meant to the transients as I know they don't mean harm, but a place can't have a sense of it's own culture or history without people to put down roots in it. It can't be a HOME when everyone is just passing through. I can't imagine this city having any REAL residents of it's own left in 20 years. As a result NYC is a very difficult place to make lasting or substantial friendships in. It's become a disneyland of sorts. You stop by for a bit and then leave and barely get to know any of the characters you encountered while there. Just something I've had to come to accept, but something to be realistic about if you plan to move here.
posted by rancher at 6:26 AM on May 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

My take:

- Humidity. Might be surprising if you're not used to it. I'd definitely recommend getting a place that has good heat/ac.
- Density. Having a laundromat, grocery store, hardware store, etc. within a block of your place is great. Not having to get into a car and drive 15 mins to each of these places (and then 15 mins back) might be my favorite part of the city.
- Noise. Yes, it exists: sirens, car horns, above-ground subways... the noisiest, in my opinion, are the medium sized trucks that go over a bump and then have their cargo slam down. You'll need earplugs, blackout curtains, thick windows, etc.

I love it here!
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:06 AM on May 27, 2016


- Pests. You're likely going to encounter some of them, eventually: ants, mice, rats, cockroaches, bed bugs. They suck.
- Weather. It varies a lot over the year. You'll need a diversity of clothes to keep up.
- Wear and tear. Speaking of clothes, your day to day clothes are basically a shell to prevent the slime of the city from getting on you.

Generally, I find people more social in NYC since everyone wants to get out of their shoebox apartment. Very easy to walk/subway somewhere and meet people at a park, bar, etc.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:21 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's uncomfortably conservative here. In all of NorCal, it was about twice a year that white strangers felt safe expressing something racist to me, because I'm white and they assume I agree. On transit and in line at the post office or for coffee or something, it's easily once a week as a conversation starter and it's awful.

Women dress very conservatively here compared to California (pantyhose? are we being punked?) which has been an adjustment for my sister. If you follow fashion at all, you will see people wearing stuff on the subway that you know costs multiple thousands of dollars and which you'd never see in real life elsewhere-- which will make you feel either inadequate or amused, depending on your attitude that day. My sister has no trouble finding dates immediately online, but she does have trouble finding quality dates who get a repeat appearance, largely because straight men are more sexist and I guess have more women available to choose from. I don't know how to quantify it, but compared to San Francisco, there is a LOT more gender essentialism and sexism in conversation and in how people treat the both of us.

Columbus Day is celebrated widely, but Cesar Chavez Day is not. It's still weird and uncomfortable to me, because I don't view Columbus as worth celebrating, but it's an Italian heritage deal to a lot of people, and again, it's very conservative here.

Cops are everywhere (how are there so many cops?!) and really "twitchy," and I don't think you'll have a problem necessarily, but my sister is brown and I am not, and this has made a lot of difference in our experiences. If I still got stopped all the time like I did when I was younger, or if I didn't have deescalation skills, I would think twice about moving here.

The Long Island Rail Road costs between $4 and 6 dollars one way, but it goes from my house in Kew Gardens to Penn Station in 19 minutes, and alcohol is allowed on board. If your choice is "driving" or "railroad," pick railroad. Car insurance is much more expensive, easily $200-300 a month for one car. The roads are in very poor condition-- think no lane markers and surprise chunks of debris and potholes. I commute about an hour a day to elsewhere in Queens on the subway that takes about 20 minutes to drive, and I am more likely than coworkers who drive to be on time, because I don't have to find parking. If driving is important to your mental health or lifestyle, don't move here.

I have credit in your range and I did fine getting a place. It took us two weeks to find an apartment, and it was suspiciously cheap and easy compared to SF. It's easier to find a place if you have a broker, but you have to budget first+last+deposit+broker if you do that, and it's expensive. If you can get a place where utilities are included, it will probably be an illegal basement unit, but you may wish to do so, because electricity can run you a $200-400 a month if you use it to heat or cool your place, and you will need to do that consistently because the weather is uniformly horrible. Check your Hurricane Evacuation Zone before you rent a basement.

The pizza being better than anywhere is not true, and yes, I've tried pizza all over the place. It might have been true at some point, but it's not now. Bagels being better is true. If you like European-Jewish food, you're in the best place for it. Produce is poor quality, especially in the winter, with the exception of apples, which are better, cheaper, and available in more varieties than in CA. It is hard to find a decent burrito and avocados are much more hit-or-miss. There are weird rules about liquor sales and grocery stores can only have wine and beer if they have booze at all, which many don't.

Customer service is uniformly poor-- by California standards, most people would make a formal complaint over the basic level of service that is normal here. I think tourists get the impression that New Yorkers are rude because they mostly interact with clerks and waiters, who are just astoundingly rude everywhere you go.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:56 AM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think the most important thing to know before moving to NYC is that is it not the magical city you see on movies and TV. It's an amazing city full of endless opportunities, but it can also be cruel and suck up every last bit of money and time and love you give it. The people I know who didn't last long were very unprepared for the realities of living here.

When it comes to rent, just because you can spend $3000/month doesn't mean you should. I know someone with a large income and an expensive apartment to match and while said apartment is amazing, it eats up a huge portion of their take home income and leaves them with relatively little left after other expenses.

Housing is going to involve a lot of compromise. Brooklyn Heights/Downtown Brooklyn will get you an awesome commute but high prices for less room and pickier landlords, and honestly while there are a fair amount of things to do around their those neighborhoods are pretty sleepy nights and weekends. You could look into North Park Slope/Prospect Heights along the 2/3, your commute would still be under a half hour and prices would be a little more reasonable. You would get a lot more bang for your buck if you look at neighborhoods a little farther out, like Prospect Lefferts Garden and Sunset Park, but said neighborhoods have less amenities and are a little more run down comparatively. Ditmas Park and Midwood are a little further out and would require a transfer for your commute (switch from the B/Q to the R at DeKalb) but have a nice suburban feel and more greenery.

All these neighborhoods contain basic amenities, but depending on your personal preference you may want or need to go elsewhere to get what you need. I schlep groceries home from Trader Joe's (c'mon, the Brooklyn one isn't that bad) and Costco despite needing to take one or two trains home rather than shop at the grocery stores near me, but that's just my preference.

New Yorkers get an unfair rap for being unfriendly. You need to be the one to make an effort to get out there, but once you do there are so many events and meetups and other opportunities to meet new people. Dating is a whole other story; the demographics are definitely in men's favor. Meeting people while out or through friends is easier than online dating in my experience.
posted by fox problems at 8:09 AM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Some more points...

-You can definitely live in Manhattan north of, say, 60th St. or so, and have all of the services you need. My comment about Capri's experience was very specific to the particular area where she was living. Just avoid Manhattan south of Central Park. There are pockets of livability, but most of it is a) business district, b) party central, or c) both. I prefer Brooklyn or Queens, but this is really a matter of personal taste.

-I grew up in Staten Island. I think Staten Island is underrated. Do not live in Staten Island. People do not move to New York to live in Staten Island (it's worth a visit, though).

-I've owned a car in Brooklyn for nearly seven years, parked on the street, and it's been completely and totally fine - although I have been lucky to live in neighborhoods where street parking is relatively easy. I wouldn't own a car in Manhattan without a dedicated parking space. That said, owning a car in NYC - especially outside Manhattan - is actually very useful. That said, it's certainly not necessary and I would generally not recommend it to newcomers.

-Nthing drop-off laundry service - though it can still be kind of annoying.

-People don't, like, chat with you, except maybe in bars. The guy behind the counter at the convenience storie is not going to ask how your day is going or comment on your purchases. But people will generally be happy to help if you ask them politely. New Yorkers aren't rude, we're businesslike.

-The R train is actually fine for commuting to the Financial District, so long as you don't live south of Park Slope (which, at your budget, you don't have to). It suuuuucks for commuting to Midtown, however.

-Brokers are helpful but often shady. Be careful.

-I see this first/last/security thing thrown around a lot on AskMeFi NYC threads, but I've never been asked for last. Just first and security is pretty standard.

-Even the quiet parts of Brooklyn and Queens are likely to be noisier than you're used to. Get a white noise machine and/or earplugs if you are a light sleeper.

-The humidity is fucking awful. You'll need air conditioning.

-NYC pizza is awesome, but there are actually a lot of crappy pizza places. Lots of people think you can just walk into any rando "Famous Sal's" or whatever and grab a slice and that's your "real NY pizza," and then they are disappointed when it's rubbery and oily and the dough is too chewy. No. You are Doing It Wrong. If you want to get good NY pizza, do your homework. It's pretty easy, just look online.

-I think a lot of what happens in NYC depends on your social circle. It's like, there a lot of micro-cities within the city. I'm in my early 30s and married, and most people I know are married or paired off, for instance. I see these svelte, model-like people on the subway and walking around sometimes, but their existence has zero impact on my day-to-day life because the people I am interacting with do not look or act like them. What may shock you is that there are a lot of people who are really very normal in NYC - people in relationships, with normal jobs and families and normal social lives. They're hiding in plain sight on the subway, wearing normal clothes. They can't tell you how to get into the hottest club in the Meatpacking District; they can tell you where to get the best pizza or how to find a good plumber or the best route out of town on a summer weekend. My best advice for your social life is: find these people. Join groups based on shared interests, chat with them at your local watering hole. Many will be happy to make friends with you, and some will be happy to date you, just like anywhere else.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:24 AM on May 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

Produce is poor quality, especially in the winter, with the exception of apples, which are better, cheaper, and available in more varieties than in CA.

As someone who has lived in LA, Boston, Chicago, DC and NY, and an avid cook here in NYC, I'd somewhat disagree in that I think the produce here is actually good *by northeast US standards* -- hence why apples are good here and avocados are bad.

I'd actually argue that the variety of produce here is better than anywhere else on the Eastern Seaboard, given how diverse the city is -- when I lived in Boston, I regularly had trouble finding water spinach, galangal, green papayas, and kaffir lime leaves (to pick a random selection of relatively obscure fresh Asian items), all of which I can find easily in NYC, albeit largely in Queens. It's in fact one of my favorite things about NYC (a city which I don't totally love), the fact that I can find nearly anything for my cooking.

Certainly the produce here is more expensive, but I just think that given the four-season climate, relative distance to growing areas it's unrealistic to expect California-quality produce in many places well, outside of California. Compared to the rest of the Northeast I'm actually very happy with the produce in NYC.
posted by andrewesque at 9:13 AM on May 27, 2016 [6 favorites]

Yes, pretty much anywhere in the US is going to suffer in comparison to California when it comes to produce. That's a function of geography. You can still get very nice fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods or the farmer's market, but the peak seasons will be shorter. I could not find a place in Boston that sold fresh Thai chiles (H-Mart had these package of random chiles sometimes that looked somewhat similar, but I wasn't sure if they were), whereas they are in Whole Foods here. Etc.

I think it's safe to say that the grocery situation in NYC is unique and suboptimal. Fifteen years ago, unless you lived right near Fairway, your major choices were these hideous and depressing 5-aisle places like D'Agostino or Gristedes. What you did not have in Manhattan was the equivalent of your average suburban grocery store in terms of size or even reliable mediocrity of offerings. It's a lot better now, because of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's and the spread of Westside Market, but you still don't have anything like a Star Market in Boston, where you can buy normal brands for normal prices. I would be depressed if Star were my highest-end option, but, damn, sometimes you just want 5 for $5 national-brand yogurts.
posted by praemunire at 9:42 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm a native New Yorker who expects to live here all my life - it's home, and it's hard to imagine ever wanting to leave.

In general, my advice is:

1. Ignore the hype. I'm short, fat, dress casual, no pantyhose, and I feel like I fit in perfectly around here! It's a city full of regular people, not just fashionistas. Don't stress yourself out about it. Wear practical shoes; you'll be walking a lot. Get a really warm coat for winter, and skimpy little tank tops for summer. No one really cares what you do here, so you're free to do whatever works for you!

2. Ditch the inevitable FOMO. On any given night, you're missing out on a lot of fantastic experiences - and that's okay! You're in the city now, there'll be a billion more tomorrow, and the day after that! I think newcomers often start off with this scarcity mentality and that's how they burn themselves out.
posted by 168 at 10:27 AM on May 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

Great stuff here: my wife and I (33/29) moved to Cobble Hill just 3 weeks ago. It's a great neighborhood for convenience, attractiveness (maybe one of the most beautiful , bars and restaurants. it's also super white, and folks are on-the-street friendly as they are in Manhattan (parts of Queens and Brooklyn are much more amicable). It

- Folks in bars are incredibly friendly and chatty, especially neighborhood places. I have had more free drinks from strangers in two weeks than my last two years. Two guys wrote out a list of their fave sushi, italian and laundry place, unasked

- For furniture, don't be afraid to buy from craigslist. I've used taskrabbit and craigslist to buy things for a fraction of the cost (I bought a media console from a family living in a 5 million apartment)
posted by sandmanwv at 11:08 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I used a broker because my company was paying for it as a part of my relocation package, but I don't think it's really necessary. Most of the apartments we viewed were Streeteasy listings... I ended up moving into a place I'd found by myself (but I looped in the broker anyway so he could collect his fee - I didn't want him to have taken me around for two weeks for nothing, and hey, it wasn't my money). It was nice to have someone to answer my occasional questions, but I don't think it was worth thousands of dollars.
posted by airmail at 1:44 PM on May 27, 2016

Most of the apartments we viewed were Streeteasy listings

Most Streeteasy listings are by brokers, though there are some by-owner. I think they must charge a fairly significant fee to cut down on the scammers that have overrun Craigslist.
posted by praemunire at 2:06 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Most Streeteasy listings are by brokers, though there are some by-owner.

Yes. This just jogged my memory, so I should clarify my answer:
There can be brokers on both sides: renter and owner. If both sides have a broker, then the fee will be split between them. So many listings will specify they don't work with other brokers because they don't want to split the fee. If the owner doesn't use a broker (e.g. large luxury buildings, owner listings) then your broker gets the entire fee. But it's possible to find these listings on your own.

So except for the case where you find a truly no-fee listing, hiring a broker doesn't change the amount you're responsible for. A responsible broker should tell you if this is the case but, well. If you rely on your broker entirely, you'll also miss out on the "no other brokers" listings. My friends currently rent one of these and the transaction went pretty smoothly.

There are fewer listings in the winter, but they tend to be sightly cheaper.
posted by airmail at 4:05 PM on May 27, 2016

1. Use googlemaps! Many cities with public transit don't have transit info available on googlemaps. NYC does. Use it. It gives you your train options and tells you what time they're coming. It tells you which exit to leave the subway from, or which bus to take, and how much you'll walk from there. Use googlemaps when deciding where you'll live as well. I never lived more than a 5 min walk from my subway stop. You don't want to lug heavy crap several blocks in the rain or in the dark just to walk three flights of stairs once you reach your building.

2. It's easy to get sucked into the pace. Take a time out. Do things you always wanted to do, like go to Macy's (worth it) or Bloomingdale's or Central Park. Whatever "New York" means to you. Be a tourist sometimes. Have some fricken fun. I waited til I was about to leave to go to Coney Island, the aquarium, Brighton Beach, Prospect Park, and tons more. Don't wait!

3. Nthing don't move "far" away- your friends won't visit you.

4. You'll probably need more than one grocery store, and that's okay. I got my produce, nuts, and cheap dairy from a Middle Eastern shop, bread and hummus from an Israeli shop, and everything else (meats, crackers, cat food, familiar brands) from a regular American supermarket type. This was best for me because I wasn't making anywhere near 3k /month including rent. I comparison shopped by price but expanded my horizons at the same time. I lived in Kensington, BK but if I was ever downtown in Manhattan, I stopped by the Chinese market under the bridge near Canal Street. Cheap produce but it was ripe and only lasted a few days max.

5. I was never grabbed or groped, but was accosted a fair bit. I learned either to not make eye contact and keep walking, or say "I have a boyfriend" and it worked all right for me. Men talked to me less after I developed a bitchy resting face.

6. Nthing pests as well. One building I lived in was exterminated monthly (he came into each unit and sprayed, too) and needed it. I always bagged open food (flour, sugar, cereal) or put it in a ceramic canister. Bags will keep out bugs but not mice, but will alert you to a problem. Keep an eye out. If you have pests, it's likely your landlord will pay for extermination services.

7. Find places to get some quiet. Churches, parks, random quiet neighborhoods. I used something like this or this but I can't quite find it now. It had St. Bart's and Paley Park on it, though, which I especially enjoyed.

8. Find cheap (or free) places to do something fun, like Timeoutny

9. Use groupon!

10. Follow food blogs, like seriouseats New York, and discover the city that way.

11. Be as paranoid as you need to be. I never got robbed or saw anyone get robbed. Most robberies that I heard of were crimes of opportunity- pickpocketing or snatching someone's iPhone out of their hand when they weren't paying attention. Sometimes people were followed out of subway stations- and they were wearing earbuds. Pay attention to your surroundings and lock your windows. Know your neighborhood.

I was in grad school at NYU so I mostly made friends through clubs at school, and reconnected with friends who'd already moved there. I'd recommend trying meetups or classes at the gym or continuing ed centers. I was at a bar with a friend from home before classes even started and made a couple of friends there. Lots of people are from out of town, and I think they're more likely to be friendly- trade tips and suggestions, restaurant recommendations, "new in New York" horror stories, etc. I met a lot of Californians! The native New Yorkers I met already had it figured out and were no less friendly, but perhaps couldn't offer much to a newcomer. Many I met were, well, kind of insular, and I heard several people say that New York was the best city in the world, why would they live anywhere else, and met people that had attained astounding ages that had never left the city and liked it that way. Alicia Keys' anthem came out around that time and probably didn't help matters. Which isn't to say that they weren't lovely people. I had a lovely time and would have stayed if I had found a permanent job.

For apartments, I just did craigslist. I lived in Brooklyn and loved it. My commutes into Manhattan were about 35-40 minutes and I never minded. It kept the rent down and I never get motion sick on the train, so I just read and took me-time. You might have to figure out which stops to get on at which times. For instance if the train fills up at your nearest stop and it's impossible to get a seat, you might leave the house earlier and walk 5 extra minutes in order to be able to get a seat. Depends on what your day is like/ how long your ride is.
posted by serenity_now at 12:35 PM on May 28, 2016

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