Today I’m back for another interview. Thanks, Tracy, for agreeing to do these Q & A sessions. As you know, I find New York to be fascinating, as well as the people living in it. So, let’s chat again. Me, in my house in Nova Scotia. You, in your apartment on the Upper West Side.
Steph: I have New York City envy, I admit. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like living there. What do you think would be some of the biggest culture shocks someone from a small town would face if they got lucky enough to move to New York City?Tracy: The culture of life in New York is unlike that of any other American city, let alone a small town, so I think adjusting to the way in which New Yorkers live in general could be challenging. For instance, while some aspects of life here are convenient –– walking most anywhere, hopping on the subway, getting groceries delivered –– other sides to life in NYC can be frustrating and downright inconvenient. (Specifically, the costs and giving up conveniences such as a washer/dryer)
For those who are not accustomed to living in a smaller space, surrounded by a lot of people, or in an apartment, they might find the New York life daunting.
|Certain aspects of life in NYC are super convenient.|
A few months back, there was a gas leak somewhere in my building, so the entire building’s gas was shut down for at least six weeks. We had no ability to cook anything –– we couldn’t even boil water! Eating all meals out can get uber-expensive in a city like New York, so I ordered a hot plate (just like college!) and a countertop grill so I could cook. I found out that gas issues in NYC buildings are becoming more and more common due to the safety concerns and the gas explosions over the past few years. So it’s not that uncommon for gas to be turned off completely. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
I’ve heard of horror stories where an elevator needed to be replaced and tenants had to take the stairs in a 13-story building for an entire summer. That’s a lot of stairs. Luckily, my building has two elevators, which was high on our list when we purchased our apartment.
Another example –Most New Yorkers don’t own a car, so getting out of the city has to be planned in advance in a lot of cases. In summer, rental cars are hard to come by and can get pricey. ZipCar is great but makes sense for shorter distances and is not the best choice to escape for a long weekend. For people who are accustomed to walking out the door and going anywhere they please at any time, they might have a tough time adapting to life without wheels.
|Most New Yorkers live their lives on foot or by taking public transit, so not owning a car can be a big adjustment.|
Dealing with crowds is never easy, and in many areas of the city, you won’t have a choice. People can be abrupt, not rude, but everyone is busy and running somewhere! For some, that can be offputting.
NYC is a city of many types of people, many cultures, and many languages. As a New Yorker, you must be accepting, compassionate, and tolerant of the eight-plus million others that live here too, no matter how they look or speak, or what they believe.
Parents moving to the city could have a hard time shifting their lifestyle. Schlepping the stroller; navigating busy sidewalks; carving a baby’s room out of an 800-square-foot apartment, not to mention learning the ins and outs of the public or private system and securing a spot for your child in the best school.
I could go on and on. Living in NYC is very different from visiting, and until you experience it first hand, you won’t know if you can actually live here.
|Living in NYC is a far cry from the occasional weekend visit.|
Steph: I know that everything is more expensive in New York City, including groceries I have read. Can you give me some examples?
You can take a look at CNN Money’s calculator to get an idea how much more expensive it is to live in New York vs. any other area in the US.
For example, in Houston, TX, a salary of $75,000 would be equivalent to a salary of $168,370 in Manhattan. Groceries cost 60% more; housing 304% more; utilities 38% more; transportation 34% more; and healthcare 23% more in Manhattan. Brooklyn is less expensive than Manhattan with a comparable salary of $128,517, but housing is still 170% more than Houston.
|Based on square footage, real estate in New York is more expensive than any other area of the US.|
Steph: New Yorkers have crazy long work hours, 50 or 60 hours per week. With so much time working, how does one find time to enjoy the city?
For the most part, I think none of us enjoy the city enough. We’re on limited budgets and can’t see every single Broadway show or dine at every new restaurant. That”s not feasible for 99 percent of us. So, we do what we can and appreciate every second of it.
Personally, I can say that I do not see my friends enough. Weeks go by, and I realize I haven’t spoken to Scott or Heather. Time gets away from us because we all do work so much, but that’s the life here. People tend to be very driven, and if you’re not, then New York might not be the city for you. I guess I should’ve mentioned that point when I answered the first question!
|Sometimes, weeks go by and I realize I haven’t talked to my closest pals.|
Tracy: I think it depends on what a twentysomething is interested in. Brooklyn is the borough for the younger population these days, but I know some under-30 New Yorkers who wouldn’t live outside Manhattan. Others adore Astoria or Sunnyside. One of the most fantastic facets of life here is the distinction between neighborhoods. The city offers something for everyone. And when I say, everyone, I mean anyone who can adjust to the points I mentioned above in the first question. No one ever has to be afraid of not finding their place here at any age. Everyone fits in if they can hack the lifestyle.
|A lot of twentysomethings choose to live in Brooklyn.|
Steph: In small town Nova Scotia, it is a common thing to meet someone on the street and say, ” Hi, how are you today? It’s nice weather we are having,” etc. In NYC, what would be the common reaction a person would get?
Here’s another scenario. Let’s say you’ve gone to a deli to buy a coffee, bagel, or whatever. And you ask the cashier, “How are you today?” That is more the norm; I’d say, when there’s interaction between people for another reason, then chit chat can be common. But knowing that it’s not expected is fine too, and between New Yorkers, a nod, smile, or sincere look can go a long way.
|In New York, you probably won’t find a stranger asking, “How are you?” But a smile can go a long way.|
It’s always fun talking with you. I just wanted to say that Tracy’s New York Life is like an escape for me, seeing where I live in such a small town. I enjoy sitting at my computer with my coffee, reading and daydreaming of life in your amazing city. Thanks for sharing your stories!
Have a question for Tracy? Send an email to tracysnewyorklife at gmail dot com.