Thinking of moving to New York City (NYC)? Our pros and cons...

 

New York City, NY

F. Scott Fitzgerald:  “The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty in the world.”

Both my wife and I had lived in New York City for over 20 years.  We went to school there, fell in love there, worked there, and lived there for a very long time.  Even if we no longer live in New York City these days, we still go there to visit our family.  We left there over 18 years ago, but it’s like we never really left...

In this post, I’d like to share our thoughts about New York City and our pros and cons.

I was 9 years old when my family immigrated from South Korea to New York City.  We settled initially in Astoria (Queens) on a third floor walk-up apartment building.  My first recollection of New York City from my vantage point in Astoria, would be the New York City skyline.

I would walk out a block or two, then I’d be able to see all those high rise buildings across the East River. I also remember seeing so many different fruits like bananas and mangos right there in the deli grocery store downstairs, which were very expensive back in South Korea.  Note:  I ate 53 bananas in 3 days!

When we lived in South Korea, up until our move to New York City, my dad would bring things like Hershey’s chocolates, Snickers bars, M&M chocolates, Spam, and other goodies from the United States.  Eating those goodies would rank high on my list of best childhood memories!

New York City and America, was a fantasyland for a little kid living in South Korea.  Imagine my excitement at moving to New York City!  I was bragging to my friends about my move and everyone was jealous...

I remember taking the Queensboro Bridge for the first time.  I was mesmerized by all those buildings!  There were so many of them...I couldn’t believe I was actually looking at buildings I had only seen in books!  Buildings like the Empire State Building, the United Nations Building, and the World Trade Center were right in front of my eyes.  It was and will always be one of my favorite things about New York City.

Growing up in NYC, we visited many world renowned museums like the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art, Intrepid Museum, etc.

Because we were students, we would pay next to nothing to visit these world class museums.  I thought that was super cool!  We also enjoyed world renowned music venues likes the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall to listen to the New York Philharmonic play.  

Anyone that loves culture will fit right in New York City!  

Because New York City is a melting pot, food was another one of my favorite things growing up.  I had some of the best pizzas and Italian food, some of the best Japanese food anywhere, and Korean food.

New York City is close to many natural attractions as well.  You can get to a beach (Jones Beach, the Rockaways) in under an hour, the mountains (Bear Mountain, the Catskills) within 2 hours, and many world famous parks (Central Park, Prospect Park, Bryant Park) right within the city.  

Niagara Falls, even if it’s a long drive from NYC (like 7-8 hour drive), is still within a day’s driving distance. Proximity to Canada is also a plus.  Closest major Canadian city, Montreal, is about 6-7 hour drive.  We took full advantage of this proximity to Canada, as we’ve visited Montreal (twice), Ottawa, Quebec City, and Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

NYC is within few driving hours to other famous cities.  Philadelphia is only 2 hours away, while Boston is about 5 hours away.  We used to drive down to Washington D.C. to view the cherry blossoms in the spring.  Location simply can’t be beat!

New York City is also convenient hub for travel via plane.  All the major airlines connect through NYC.  You can get to just about anywhere from NYC.  

Even though we would eventually move out of New York City in 2003, we feel like we never truly left.  We still marvel at the nighttime New York City skyline as we drive into the city from anywhere.  We still love eating all different cuisines from around the world.  

Now let’s get to our pros and cons of living in New York City.

Pros of living in NYC:

  • World famous attractions
Empire State Building, the Freedom Tower, Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Times Square, and museums mentioned above!!!

Don’t forget places like the Central Park, Rockefeller Center skate ring, Yankee Stadium, Brooklyn Bridge, etc., that were featured in movies, books, and music!
  • Food!
Every food you want is found in NYC.  Visit Korea Town (32nd Street, Manhattan), China Town (next to Little Italy in lower Manhattan), Astoria (Greek food), Little Italy, Glen Oaks/Richmond Hill (Indian food), and Flushing (Asian food cornucopia!).  

  • Natural attractions
Whether you’re into hiking, boating, swimming, skiing, or bird watching, you’ll find it in NYC or within couple hours drive.  

West Point (United States Military Academy) and its surrounding Bear Mountains is a must for fans of history, as West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States.  Two presidents (Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ulysses S. Grant) are both graduates.

For skiing and snowboarding fans, plenty of options are available.  Hunter Mountain and Windham Mountain are about 2 1/2 hour drive from NYC.  

If you’re ambitious, more outdoor adventure awaits in upstate New York in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes Region.  

  • Job opportunities
My wife and I didn’t have issues finding jobs in NYC.  We highly recommend researching jobs and setting up job interviews prior to moving here.

  • Pride of living in NYC
There’s a reason why the New York State is called the ‘empire state’.  New York does everything big.  From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, to Rockefeller Center Christmas tree ceremony, New York is second to none.  

If you ever go to the ‘Canyon of Heroes’, when one of New York sports teams win a championship, you’ll know what it feels like to be a New Yorker.

There’s a pride of being a New Yorker.  Whether that comes from New York doing everything big and loud or the notoriety of New Yorkers being nonchalant and jaded, it follows you when traveling or living anywhere in the world.  

You know what they say, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere...”

Brooklyn Bridge and NYC skyline

Central Park, New York City 

Cons of living in NYC:
  • High cost of living
Expect to pay more for most things when living in NYC.  With the possible exception of few things, like gasoline these days, most things will cost more.  We went grocery shopping recently in Queens, and it was easily 20-30% more than what we would’ve paid in Pennsylvania or in North Carolina.

There’s an added cost to bring in food over the many tunnels and bridges of NYC, which cost more versus other places.  Unless you take certain routes in and out of the city, you’re bound to pay tolls whenever you’re going outside the city by car...These tolls add up in a hurry!

Housing costs are high.  Manhattan is always one of the most expensive areas in all of US.  Even if you go to outer boroughs, like Queens and Brooklyn these days, housing costs will still be higher than most cities.  One borough that may still be relatively cheap is parts of the Bronx.  

Add to that, the cost of insurance for cars, homes, health insurance are generally higher when compared to  most states.  

Expect to pay more for movies in the city, or for clothing.  Taxes in the city are also on the high side, with sales tax at 8.875%.   
  • Hustle & Bustle
When we were younger (before turning 30), NYC was a place we would enjoy for all the wonderful attractions and restaurants.  We didn’t realize how crazy the traffic was or how many people lived there as we were part of that.  

Once we moved away from there, we realized how crazy busy everything is in NYC.  There are too many cars and too many people.  Every time I drive into the city, I’m stressed out at all the drivers who honk then weave in and out of traffic on either side!  Driving is a combat sports in NYC!

At our stage in life, we prefer easy, quiet and laidback lifestyle.  This hustle and bustle may be a non-issue if you enjoy that, but some of you may come to your own realization sooner or later...
  • Manners can be better
New Yorkers’ notoriety for being rude and jaded is well earned.  New Yorkers I know cherish that description!  They wear that with a sense of pride.  

When we lived there we took the subways for work.  There were too many people who didn’t care about anyone but themselves.  I’ve seen people clip their nails, talk loudly on the phone, take up 3 seats during rush hour, eat a full meal during rush hour (and stinking up the area), etc...

When someone bumps into you, you expect an apology.  It doesn’t always happen in NYC...

Driving is even worse!  People will tailgate, change lanes dangerously, honk, and not let you in when lanes merge.  Like I said, stressful!

In conclusion:

We’re grateful that we lived in New York City.  It taught us the value of hard work, to hustle, to get things done.  We still pretend like New Yorkers these days.  There’s something of a self confidence thing going on, coming from New York.  

We still proudly say we grew up in New York when we’re talking to anyone.  We physically left New York, but we will always have some characteristics of a New Yorker in us.  

We thank you for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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