I arrived to New York City on a blistering hot day in August. Twenty-seven, ten bags and one roller coaster of a journey ahead of me. You see, I never lived anywhere but London, the city that raised me; its grit, harshness and fast pace made the perfect precursor for my new home or so I thought…nothing prepares you for the move to New York.
I had moved for a new job but really it was a lot more than that. I was bored of the safety of London. I loved everyone but I knew everyone, I relived nights out at the same clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants week after week and desperately needed a change. I caught an Uber to my temporary accommodation; an apartment in Chinatown where I had arranged a TaskRabbit to help me with my bags. A little excessive but it brings me to…
NY lesson no. 1. What really seemed like a light, airy and spacious apartment on the corner of Henry and Catherine really was a box room in a six flight walk-up in a building whose questionable smells were only heightened by the summer heat.
But it was only temporary, I had scheduled a month to get on my feet and the plan was to get an apartment of my own, sign a lease and be on my way to picturesque brownstone living. WRONG.
NY lesson no. 2. When trying to secure an apartment in NYC, be prepared to come to every viewing with your medical records, a king’s ransom and a deed for your first born. I was rejected so many times due to a lack of credit (despite me living in every pocket of London by myself since I was 18), or just being pipped to the post by extremely aggressive NY dwelling seekers. After so many years of being an ideal tenant, all of a sudden I was an ‘undesirable.’ When I finally visited Bed Stuy on the advice of my friend Elaine, I knew I had found the area I liked and after many tears, tantrums and sleepless nights, I found a lovely apartment in a quiet street a walk away from the neighborhood bar and restaurants and pounced. (I had been trying to avoid a brokers fee, 15% for them to press print on their pre-written contacts, no thank you!) I ponied up for the broker and moved in.
So with accommodation sorted, I focused on a social life. I had been coming to New York a number of years and thought it best to start with the network I had built over that time. Which brings me to ….
NY lesson no. 3. When scheduling social engagements in New York, “let’s meet up soon” means in a month minimum, with little or no regard to canceling last minute if something better comes up. I believe everyone had the best of intentions when they penciled me in for a half-hour coffee in the third Wednesday in November but I couldn’t help think that this was a city of the most socially fickle people I had ever met. Still, I persevered and made a friendship circle who have now become my rock in the city.
Just note, (or lesson 3 and a half), if you want friends, be prepared to dine out a LOT. Because NOBODY cooks. Deals are made, friendships are cemented, lost and bitched about over an 8 pm table at Fat Radish and promises of good faith are made real in shadowy parts of the cities speakeasies. I had always loved dining out but this was on 2.0. Everything I do is centered around dining and my bank account has taken a hit which brings me to…
NY lesson no 4. Everything here costs an exorbitant amount of money! I’m not talking about the usuals, the rent, your bills, things that go along with living in a thriving metropolis, oh no, I’m talking the ridiculous costs, the $6 dollar coffee, your $30 dollar exercise, oh and your Uber bills. A necessary evil when you live in Brooklyn, a notoriously terribly connected borough.
And on the subject of transport, the subway! A veritable playground of bad smells, delayed service, unsolicited entertainment and a place where it’s completely socially acceptable to blare out bad 80’s music on speakers instead of headphones.
NY Lesson no. 5 New Yorkers pay $131 dollars for a monthly travel-card to be bitterly disappointed 365 days out of the year. And not all lines are created equal. While I’m convinced the A/C has got to stand for ‘awfully crappy,’ I find the 6 and the F the most reliable service but it’s too early to tell.
NY Lesson no. 6… is about the elitism around job recommendations and hiring. Let me preface this by saying, I had earned my job in NY. I had held the title at previous publications, had sterling contacts and relative experience. All reasonable prerequisites for a job. But want to know what I have found in NY, what’s better than all of the above you ask? Is being in proximity to someone other people think are cool. It’s weighted but serious claim, but 75,000 spent on a Masters and 75,000 Instagram followers, somehow amount to the same amount of professional competence in some circles.
But alas, a mere eight months in and I am appreciating the good things… I don’t get lost in midtown anymore, I have (almost) made it through weather that makes a February snowfall in Moscow seem like a breeze. I have a laundromat I can count on and have christened New York dating life with a whiskey on the rocks in a Bushwick bar with a photographer who talked solely about himself and I lived to tell the tale. A clear (neon-style bodega) sign that things are on the up…
Lynette Nylander is the VP of Content at Alexander Wang and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. And I’m sure you can see why, she’s crazy talented. Follow her on Instagram, here!