I have quite a few friends who are preparing to move to NYC (myself included) and have been asking me for advice on where to move and what to do.

Since it has been so long since I have been home, I really had to sit and think about this one. What do people need to know when trying to live in NYC? Even though I grew up in NYC, leaving some place for almost 5 years and trying to re-enter is still difficult. I occupy an outsider-insider relationship with NYC: I love it and am comfortable yet still feel like I don’t have a grasp on everything in the city and am still learning. In any case here are some things that I have learned over time since leaving and I think people will find useful.

Anything youd like to add to the list?


1. You will get sick. And dirty.

I came across this great quote: “NYC is the only city that when it rains it makes its own gravy.” That’s how dirty the city is. Be prepared to have the sniffles when you first move here because of the dirt and smog in the air, to buy a humidifier, and to have any light colored clothes turn yellow.

2. Wash your hands when you get home. PLEASE.

3. If it is not an emergency, you will not be helped so learn to deal with pain or get yourself some fly ass health insurance so you can see a doctor when necessary.


1. NYC = 5 BOROUGHS! Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. No, Long Island doesn’t count, neither does Yonkers. And go play tag with a bus if you think any place in Jersey counts.

2. Learn the lingo: Bodega (corner store); “Can I Get A…” (instead of “May I Please Have A…); “A Slice” (instead of plain pizza slice).

3. Do not confuse being firm with being mean. This will take a while to get used to. Just because people are straight to the point does not mean that they are mean—they simply want to get their point across with as little confusion as possible. So grow a thick skin and be prepared hold your ground. It’ll make you stronger in the end.



2. Know the driving directions to where you need to go BEFORE you get in a cab. If you let the cabbie decide, you will get screwed.

3. Subway lines are recognized by their NUMBERS/LETTERS not colors. If you say you want the green line you will have 4 options: 4, 5, 6, and G.

4. Train exits are labeled SW-NW-SE-NE so you can find your way around. If you find that directions want you to come to a building located on the “Northeast side of 34th street” there you have it.

5. Subways SUCK on the weekends. Learn the bus routes

6. If it is less than 3 subway stops away WALK.


1. You will be surrounded by people better than you. Anyone who is anyone wants to move to NYC to make it big. Therefore competition even for the smallest things is fierce.

2. That being said: bring your A-Game. Don’t come here if you’re looking for an easy escape. One of the reasons I stayed in Philly was because I wanted more experience before heading back home since I KNOW how competitive it can be. I wanted to build myself up intellectually and professionally before pursuing my passions.

3. As a result, the city will make you more ambitious. People who aren’t get lost in the shuffle.

4. Look good. Not everything looks good on everybody but please take pride in your appearance. People will notice if you don’t.

5. Outside of NYC, people will find your ambition and intelligence odd and abrasive. (I learned this Cape Town and see it now in Philly).


1. The carts that sell fruits and veggies are great. Don’t be afraid of them. Same for the guys that sell bacon and eggs on the corner.

2. Only tourists go to the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and the Circle Line. Well, tourists and elementary schools for field trips.

3. However, go to museums and galleries whenever you can. The difference between museums and the points of interests mentioned above is that museums and galleries can change their focus and bring you things about the city (and country) that you may never find out any place else. You go to the Statue of Liberty once, you’re pretty much done. But at a museum, one week you can be learning about African-Americans in government and the next week about pop music. Seriously. It’s quite wonderful.

Living/ Buying

1. Cheap is there if you look. But be prepared to become more materialistic. I have never in my life seen so many COACH or Louis Vuitton, and other name brand bags in my life. However, most of them are knock offs from Canal Street…

2. Find your favorite spots. There is so much emphasis on trying everything all the time. However, I have my places that I go to and am quite comfortable with that. The best fried chicken wings and pizza are at this pizza place and Chinese restaurant near my grandmom’s house in bed-stuy where I grew up. I love shopping in Union Square. The Promenade is where I like to take walks and relax. I love the Schomburg. I go to the UA in Brooklyn Heights. That’s all. Im pretty happy with this.

3. You’ll appreciate your friends and family much much more. It can get lonely in this city and the competition and drive to be the best can get overwhelming. That’s when you find yourself wanting the love and comfort of friends. So make sure that in between work and stress you develop those relationships…they will get you through hell.

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