May is a big month for me.
In May 2004, I graduated high school at 17.
In May 2007, I graduated from college at 20.
In May 2010, I moved to New York City by myself.
In much the same way as I look at every January 1st as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one, May is a month for me to think about my life’s progress and reflect on things I’ve learned and the trajectory I’m on.
2020 is also a banner year for me in two other ways:
- August 2020 marks the 20-year anniversary of friendship with my best friends. We met freshman year of high school and have stayed besties 4 life ever since. We’ve stayed close despite not living in the same city since 2004 and even the same state since 2010.
- September 2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of meeting and starting to date my now-husband. I love him times infinity and welcome the next decade together.
What have I learned in 10 years in New York City? Here are 25 off the top of my head.
- The Holland Tunnel is THE WORST.
- Unless they work there, New Yorkers avoid Times Square at all costs. The only times we go there are to see a Broadway show or when people come to visit for the first time. (And the people who work there know how to get as close as possible to their work without going aboveground.)
- There is ALWAYS weird stuff/people on the train. Honestly, unless it’s something truly bizarre or gross, we ignore it entirely and go about our days.
- Native New Yorkers are some of the kindest people in the world. They will give you directions and answer questions nicely. But they are also busy and will not linger after doing so. I’ve literally never met a rude or mean “stereotypical” New Yorker.
- New Yorkers are their own subculture. I’ve been told after 10 years that I can consider myself a New Yorker now, but only mostly.
- Most people in New York don’t know their neighbors all that well. I know mine by sight and we nod or say hi, but we aren’t friends.
- Every New Yorker knows where to get “the BEST” Chinese food and bagels.
- Speaking of, New York bagels are 100% the best bagels in the world. We swear it’s because of the water.
- NYC tap water is delicious.
- Brooklyn is actually part of Long Island.
- Every New Yorker has a preferred airport, bar, train line, and neighborhood.
- You can do quite a bit of sightseeing around NYC basically for free with things like the Staten Island ferry and the Roosevelt Island cable car (both just the price of a subway ride).
- We all call the subway “the train.”
- No one likes the LIRR, especially the people who live on Long Island.
- Most of the people I’ve met do not have the stereotypical New York accent.
- There are hundreds of parks and green spaces littered around NYC.
- Walking into Central Park feels like entering another world. The noise of the city falls away and the treeline quickly covers the skyline. It’s huge and beautiful and peaceful.
- In the summers, there are places to borrow rowboats, take out paddleboats, kayak, and go fishing for free in various parks.
- You can find any international cuisine in the world at every price point in NYC.
- Manhattan is “the city” and all other boroughs are referred to by name.
- Parking is atrocious. One of the must-haves, when my husband and I bought our first home (an apartment), was having a dedicated parking spot. And it has been life-changing in a great way.
- At 12 years old, NY kids get their own train card to ride the train to school alone. Teenagers here don’t seem to care much about getting their driver’s license. Teens and kids ride their bikes everywhere.
- The standards for a great apartment in NYC are different than anywhere else in the U.S. For example, having laundry in the building is a high priority, proximity to the right train is a top priority, storage and closet space is limited and not a big deal, and if it comes with A/C units, even better.
- Going to IKEA is basically a day trip/vacation. Pretty much everyone has at least a few IKEA pieces. (They are marketed and made for smaller spaces and to be apartment-friendly, affordable, and versatile.)
- There are hundreds of amazing day trip locations within about an hour of NYC that are cool to explore and see entirely new and different areas and towns.
Moving to NYC at 23 years old was definitely the right choice for me. It was somewhat of a culture shock to go from suburban Florida to NYC, but it has been amazing. I’ve met wonderful friends, experienced awesome things, seen parts of New York state I never knew about, and even met and married my husband. I’ve had jobs I’ve hated and ones I’ve loved. I became a writer and fulfilled a lifelong dream of being a published author.
I’ve been broken up with, cried, loved, explored, and fallen in love with NYC. Will I live here forever? Who knows. But the last 10 years have been great! Here’s to the next decade and what it will bring.
Check out my book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!
Sign up for my mailing list for writing and freelancing news and information.
Other stories you may like:
How to Get Sh*t Done When You Just Don’t Feel Like Writing (or Working)
We’ve all been there