101 Reasons Why You Have Not Truly Lived, Until You’ve Lived in NYC

“Everyone should live in London at least once,” says a listicleImage published by London-based organization studentbeans.com, which serves up a great list of must-sees and dos that are tailored to make a tourist out of every well meaning graduate.

As a loyal New Yorker, I found myself wondering how London, with its terrible weather, strictly demarcated neighborhoods based on ethnic contexts, could possibly find itself at par with New York. Granted, the food is better than it’s given credit for, and there are niche neighborhoods in London that are phenomenal, as is the city’s architecture and green spaces.

However, with all due respect to all three of my siblings, who have lived or currently live in London, as well as scores of friends, I had to make a stance for the city I’ve called home for most of my adult life.

Let’s hear it for New York, folks.

Here are 101 reasons why everyone should live in NYC at least once in their life.

1. When you have NYC as a common denominator, I’ve realized it’s easy to bond with someone. It’s the city we love to love, love to hate, hate to love, hate to hate, and at the end of the day, it’s the city that’s molded those of us who’ve had the opportunity to call it home, for any amount of time, and made us who we are today.

Manhattan as seen from the North-facing side o...

2. New York teaches you to be tolerant of tourists, and graduate from being one: Note the difference between tourists who go to places to see things, and travelers, who enjoy simply being, wherever they are.

3. You learn that the subway system (note Uptown/downtown distinctions) is quite simple. In fact, you will become a pro at deciphering maps.

4. Mamoun’s after a night on MacDougal. Enough said.

5. The gyros from Halal Guys after a long night of clubbing? Yes, please.

6. The meatpacking district. Err, not just to go clubbing, but to note the warehouse chic culture.

7. The performers on the subway trains.

8. A live baseball game at the Yankees/Shea Stadium.

9. You learn that twenty blocks of walking is not really very much.

10. You have a renewed love of open spaces.

11. Central Park’s awesome architecture, especially at the end of the mall.

12. Prospect Park’s landscaping.

13. I could list all the gardens, from the New York Botanical Garden (a must see during azalea season in April), or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (a great spot for sakura matsuri season), but that is cheating. Needless to say, just go.

14. The architectural styles of brutalism meets minimalist chic that are apparent on every block.

15. Finding a new shop or a new restaurant, is never a problem.

16. New York teaches you the difference between fabulous and ghetto fabulous. A must-know, for all fashionistas and style gurus.

17. You will soon realize that there is a real undercurrent to living, and this undercurrent is ruled by etiquette that favours supplying free food for millionnaires. This is a crucial discovery. If you play your game well, you will never have to pay for another day in your life, even if you’re nowhere close to being a tycoon.

15. Grand Central Station. No, really, once you’ve spent about half an hour standing in the middle with people getting married and taking wedding pictures on the side and commuters rushing to catch their trains to Connecticut or up the Hudson, you’ll have a completely different vision of what it is to stand still.

16. Farmer’s markets, because farmer’s markets have the best tarts, and they’re a place that makes you seek out the best ways to sustain yourself nutritionally.

17. The constantly shifting art galleries in Chelsea.

18. Taking a walk along Roosevelt Island makes you realize how much the city’s past is riddled with getting rid of anyone who doesn’t fit the status quo (this tiny island between Queens and Manhattan was home to prisoners back in the day).

Empire State Building as seen from Top of the Rock

19. Names like Spuyten Duyvil for a neighborhood in the Bronx is really cool, especially when you find out it means Spiting Devil.

20. You will bump into your friends, if nowhere else, then definitely on the L train.

21. Speaking of the L train, if you’re unfortunate enough to live on this line, you will learn the true virtue of patience. Only the G train will provide you enough competition against the L in inciting this virtue.

22. You can escape to a beach ANY time. If you’re like me, you’ll wake up after missing your stop by half an hour and end up in Coney Island, but hey, life is filled with adventures.

23. The food. I know I mentioned specialties, but the food, oh the food. Nowhere else can you wake up to Tunisian cuisine for breakfast, Polish pierogis for lunch, and end up the day with a good and hearty bowl of spaghetti carbonara, only to start the next day shifting continents to Asia, and the following to Latino nations. And you’ll never run out of restaurants to try, I promise you that much.

24. New York will teach you that you don’t really need that much sleep.

English: new york city and new jersey from emp...

25. And you also don’t need to tolerate idiots.

26. There is nothing very wrong with running to catch the train at all costs.

27. There is joy in walking through certain bridges.

28. Wall Street is not reserved just for bankers, but going on a walk along Stone Street can be a fun and definitely unparalleled haven for spotting eye candy.

29. The long walks over the Brooklyn Bridge will awaken your love for panoramic skylines and epic sunsets.

30. Lychee martinis for $4.

31. NYC will make you resilient to loss and pain.

32. And build up a veneer of courage and compassion, regardless of mistakes made, or things not going the way we want them to. It makes the good times that much better.

33. You will learn that every time someone leaves, someone new will come to take their place.

34. The concerts at Radio City Hall and Madison Square Garden will have you humming and singing for days.

35. Even though New Yorkers love wearing a symbolic mask in public transportation, they’re also humble. That dude sitting next to you may be one of the biggest movers and shakers in the city. Why is he taking the subway? Well, because the transportation system is pretty damn tight.

36. When I say the subway is tight, I also mean it’s super cool and works 24 hours a day.

37. And bars stay open till 4 AM.

38. You might never have to watch the city lose power (if you don’t live in parts of Astoria or Bellerose, that is).

39. You will rub shoulders with celebrities, to the point where you will not even be that awed by them anymore, and realize they’re just like everyone else.

40. Sitting on a rooftop in NYC is an exceptional experience. Try 230 Fifth if you don’t have access to your own rooftop.

41. For that matter, Top of the Rock, and the Empire State Building, have some pretty spectacular views too.

42. It doesn’t cost you close to 200 US dollars for a metrocard, like it would for a monthly Oyster pass in London.

43. You will be able to tolerate strangers and learn how not to mask your disdain for their distasteful and obsessive photo taking, without batting your eyelashes.

44. Certainly, it does not rain anywhere near as much as in Canada, nor like London, on the other side of the pond.

45. The free concerts in Washington Square.

46. Street fairs are epic.

47. Others are looking at the Chrysler building and taking photos? You’re working in the building, so you’ve already got one up over everyone else.

48. You will realize that tall buildings are built to sway a little in the wind, so that they don’t just crack in half in strong winds.

49. You will also realize there are worse things than rats on the subway.

English: Grand Central terminal in New York, N...

50. You will learn to like landlords, and learn the meaning of gratitude once your rent is not increased by 1000% when your friends’ ones are.

51. The Boat Basin on the Upper West Side.

54. Finding your neighborhood bar and meeting tons of cool folks.

55. Neighborhoods that are increasingly mixed, and hence are not as xenophobic.

56. Bubble tea.

57. Authentic fruits and vegetables from all over the world.

58. Tons of single folks.

59. And motivated ones too. No one can stay in New York for too long unless they’re passionate about what they’re doing.

60. Century 21. Not the real estate place, but the bargain shopping haven.

61. Bloomingdale and Macy’s and Saks and all the other stores you’ve grown up hearing about.

62. Discovering the power of donning Manolo Blancs on Fifth Avenue is shockingly empowering.

63. And so is finding a food craving, like fresh portobello mushrooms in your local bodega at 5 AM.

64. If you are a transplant and you get homesick, chances are you will find a group of people who look, act, think and behave the way you do without judging you, and you can melt right in.

65. Speaking of melting right in, New York is a crucible, so even if you’re not an American, you’re immediately a New Yorker.

One of the many displays at the NYBG

66. Your heart swells with pride when you give complicated directions on the Lower East Side.

67. Upstate New York is a tiny train ride away if you miss the countryside and the mountains. Long Island is not far either, if you’re into beaches that don’t have toxic water.

68. Whether it’s business, fashion, arts, theater, visual media, human rights, or even breeding chihuahuas, you’re sure to find New Yorkers who are paving the way and defining the trends.

69. Let’s talk about sex, baby. You’ve got your pick of the creme de la creme of folks who look hot, act even hotter, and are driven to please, as much as they are driven to being pleased.

70. You can hop onto a bus up to Canada if you’re bored, or take one of the many flight deals into the Caribbean, or other parts of the States. NYC has enough flight destinations to choose from.

71. Hot chocolate at the Plaza Hotel after a blizzard.

72. Boutique stores off Broadway

73. Fashion Avenue.

74. Organic produce.

Photograph of a Workman on the Framework of th...

Photograph of a Workman on the Framework of the Empire State Building.

75. It’s a great place to be alone.

76. Or meet lots of people.

77. Or be in a relationship.

78. Comedy clubs central.

79. Most famous movies are set in NYC. Imagine walking through a neighborhood and realizing that it’s something you saw in your favorite film? Check.

80. The musicians who have paid tribute to the city make it come alive.

81. Experimental theater.

82. Carnegie Hall and the Met Opera, as well as Lincoln Plaza, once you get bored of being marginal.

83. Beacon’s Closet, for awesome bargains.

84. The Strand Bookstore’s 18 miles of books.

85. And B&H’s, if you love photography.

86. The antique stores in mid-town.

English: Panoramic View of Manhattan from the ...

87. Free museum entries on Friday.

88. The knowledge that the “suggested donation” box at the Met, or the MoMA, really only mean that it’s a suggestion. If you’re strapped for cash, a quarter will do.

89. Outdoor swimming pools during the summer in Central Park!

90. Pre-parties, post-parties, after-parties, parties to counter the parties. You get the drift.

91. Everyone visits New York at least once. You’re never going to be bored or lonely, hence.

92. You will realize that it’s wise not to call Staten Island part of New York (who lives there, anyway?)

The Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

93. There are beautiful men everywhere. And beautiful women, if you’re a dude. Or both, if you can’t make up your mind.

94. People know how to get what they want in New York. As Frank Sinatra points out, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” The singer wasn’t lying. Working in NYC will sky rocket your career into unimagined directions.

95. There are no issues with stiff upper lips and overt politeness to make up for sugary hypocritical backbiting (let’s face it, we all know a Briton or two who are like this).

96. The Cloisters provide an unparalleled space for reflection.

97. You can always go yachting if you’re bored of being on mainland.

98. Jogging down Riverside Drive can be fun.

99. The police really work it in NYC. In other words, unless you’re a trouble maker, you’re going to be pretty well protected by the system.

100. Things are so fast paced that they’re constantly evolving and changing to make space for new knowledge.

101. People in New York love questions more than answers. More than that, they prefer you keep your questions to yourself and figure out the answers by thinking, instead of asking them for silly directions without consulting your map. It’s a city filled with individuality, and you need to learn to embrace yours, after all.

Viva New York.

Now get going, folks.

Move to the best city in the world. It’s been waiting for you long before you realized it was, and will be waiting for you long after you temporarily decide you are done with it, because no one can ever really be done with New York.

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269 thoughts on “101 Reasons Why You Have Not Truly Lived, Until You’ve Lived in NYC

  1. I really enjoyed this posts. A lot of these reasons i can relate to living just a 5 min train ride away. i spent most of my high school years hanging around the city. Great environment to meet cool new people with your friends. People all over the world know about New York City, The Big Apple, whatever you wish you to call it. It truly is an experience i was lucky enough to be able to go there everyday. Now i live in Buffalo and attend University at Buffalo, from my experiences it does not even come close to the City i know and love. The people just arent the same, and i must say i miss it. This post really brought me way back when times were good and easy

    Thank you, Good Post!

    • Nothing is the same after living in NYC. I keep wondering why people in Bangladesh and in India and Hungary just don’t seem to get it, and then I find I’m excusing their shoddy behaviour because they’re not from NY. Seems the city’s raised the bar for all of us, and indeed, the times are good and easy when we’re back in NY, so I hope you get to go back too!

  2. YESS!! A blog finally about NYC; the town I grew up in. I currently reside in Buffalo and reading this post made me miss NYC so much more. NYC has so many entertainment which makes everything unique and fascinating. Street performers in subways are always a great attraction for tourist and people. Like you said, NYC is a great opportunity to make new friends, meet new people, or perhaps even a great place to be online. I hope you enjoy your stay in NYC because it honestly is such a great place to settle in.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog about NY. I grew up in NJ and visited NYC occasionionally. Now I live in Phoenix, but go back to Jersey to visit family once a year. We always plan a day in the City and it is so enjoyable This past June, we rode the subways and visited the 911 Memorial, (it touched my heart and soul), enjoyed a pedal cab ride, sat a while in Battery Park after dark, had a great dinner and drinks and listened to my son play with the Jim Roberti Trio at a German Restaurant. We did lots and lots of walking and all in all had a wonderful day!

    • Ah, it sounds like a fabulous experience that you had. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on the article, and I agree, NYC always repays us with the most wonderful days imaginable!

  4. Absolutely loved reading this!

    I live in England, and even though I am blessed with beautiful landscapes and centuries of history, after reading this it would leave it all in a second for New York!

    I hope one day I will at least get to visit this amazing place!

    • I love England too… I now think I should have been less harsh on London… Your country is gorgeous (and I’m an eighth Scottish, so I may be biased to your northern neighbours too, hehehe).

      • Hehe an eighth Scottish! You’re practically British then haha. I live in England but haven’t even properly been to London. Maybe I should visit there before I hop across the pond!

  5. This post is amazing!

    I live in England, and even though I am blessed with beautiful landscapes and centuries of history, after reading this it would leave it all in a second for New York!

    Hopefully one day I will at least get to visit this incredible place!

  6. I love NYC!!!! And always will be my favorite city. Lived in NYC for about 15 years and had the best experiences, met some fantastic , fabulous and crazy people. 🙂 Loved it all!!!
    Great post!

  7. I love this: “Note the difference between tourists who go to places to see things, and travelers, who enjoy simply being, wherever they are.” I was a traveler in NYC for the first time this July and enjoyed being there, but I wouldn’t last more than a year living there.

  8. Great post… When I moved to the greater NY area (I live in Jersey 15 mins from NYC and work in NYC)..Never ever in my life I thought would like NYC… When I had to move for work it was like a punishment… I had been to NYC twice before and all I had was a memory of garbage, heavy traffic, just a pic of a dirty place… And then I started living in the area…. OMG, now I cant think of living anywhere else… the life, the character of this city is incomparable.. ..food.. from carts to high end restaurants… Theater – Broadway and off Broadway (which is my fav)… markets, comedies, long walks, divers cultures and above all the beautiful energetic people… When I get off from the train and walk in the morning to work, the level of energy I feel is awesome… I absolutely love this city…

    • Off Broadway totally rocks… I know exactly how you feel. The city can be intimidating, grimy, and appear unfriendly, but once you settle in, it pays off in great dividends, doesn’t it?

      I wish I had realized too, that I shouldn’t have moved off. That realization, unfortunately, came a little late for me, but I dream of being back again soon! Beautiful observations, and thanks so much for the comment!

  9. I’ve never been to NY, so I have no clue what you’re talking about, most of the time. Still, a great and entertaining post.
    I actually kinda live in London.
    Your post made me feel, oddly, free and NewYorkian without leaving my room ( which won’t happen anyway since I broke my foot.)
    Awesome post, thanks!

  10. New York is my second favourite city! For me, London is the world greatest city and the weather is absolutely fine. IT rained pretty heavily at our Buttonwood gathering in New York and I quipped to the delegates that London has less in the way of average annual rainfall than the big apple. The panellists had their doubts and challenged me to prove it. The answer is slightly ambiguous; London’s average annual rainfall is 601mm, less than, for example, Rome’s at 834mm. New York’s annual precipitation is at 1145mm but around three-fifths of that is snow.
    It is often cloudy in London but it doesn’t rain as much as tourists think. This site shows average annual precipitation in lots of cities; London is drier than a lot of places including Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and Buenos Aires.

    • Ah, British weather always amazed me with its consistent rain. That said, it didn’t rain for a good two weeks during my first visit, so what do you know? There’s space to be amazed, every single time.

  11. Na,Na Na, you’re all missing the point entirely. Belfast is the centre of the universe. It’s clever disguise is that it thinks it’s a city when actually its a large town.It loves tourists but the inhabitants just don’t like each other. You’ll just love it! That’s a 24 carat guarantee but please don’t all come at the same time.

  12. Interesting post. I’m Scottish but currently living about 20 miles from London. I love New York City but not sure if I could live somewhere so busy. In saying that, during my last visit I spent the day at Coney Island beach, which was surprisingly quiet. Maybe I could try living there!

  13. I never your question…….here are some of my changes although yours are great!!!!!!!!
    1. The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center a yearly event.
    2. The 1st time you turn the corner during holiday season and see The Rock tree. You know it’s there but still a WOW
    3. Buying a book at The Strand
    4. Sipping an Old Fashion at the Campbell Apartment
    5. Alvin Alley in December
    6. Walking through the Christmass tree stands….the smell
    7. Sharing a cab from Grand Central to the UWS, a gamble but seems to work out at rush hour
    8. In and out of stores with my dog.
    9. Being able to go to the deli across the street for everything you could possibly need 24/7
    10. First daffodils in Central Park…perfection

    • Thank you! I am glad you do. Also, I wonder if you were at Ara’s halloween party now. I was there for about an hour hanging out with Tom and Kate and all. Anyway, cheers, and thanks for the shout out!

  14. Reblogged this on oxyplus2 and commented:
    is 88 plus one o one reason just go to NYC and let me know how is life over there . you are not alone feel happy to see all tourist from everywhere.

  15. You made me miss home. Thank you so much for penning this. I’m currently living in Hawaii (been here since 2008) with my husband who was born and raised on Oahu and has never experienced a city–our City, more importantly. He asked me once when we were driving through Honolulu’s downtown if the buildings we drove past were like the ones in NYC and all I could do was laugh and say–no not at all. One of our first dates actually, I urged him to go to a museum out here, Bishop Museum because I had heard that they were having an exhibit on a life-sized model of the Megalodon Shark, and he stared at me quizzically wondering why I was so excited about going to a museum. Suffice to say when we arrived at the exhibit, disappointment was the only word that came to mind being that the model was a lacking metal skeleton of how big a Megalodon might be. And there I was waiting for a life-sized replica of the shark like the Blue Whale at my beloved Museum of Natural History. When we got home later that day I showed him photos of the exhibits at the Museum of Natural History and it finally clicked in his head why I was so giddy about visiting a museum. And he just shrugged and said, well this is Hawaii. Although I will say the Bishop Museum definitely has its charms, it just does not compare to the Museums back home. I cannot wait until the day I can bring my Hawaiian boy home and show him all the wonders New York City has to offer–until then, I will definitely share this beautifully written piece with him. Thank you again for the fond memories and longing. 🙂

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