50 Things You Do When You’re New To New York


We were all new to New York at some point. Plenty of you no doubt took your first gulp of air in the maternity ward at Bellevue Hospital. But this list isn’t for you. Many of us, including most here at the Voice, emigrated from elsewhere. We came in droves from the West Coast and the heartland. From overseas. From New Jersey. But despite this diversity, there is one thread that unites us all: each of us had to survive those first tricky few weeks in the city. We all made many of the same mistakes, succumbed to the same tricks and lived the same cliches.

As spring begins to turn into summer (it was 80 degrees yesterday!) we are entering the city’s heaviest intake season. Come September, there will be more of us here than there are today. Here are 50 things that these newbies will probably do, say and think before they feel like natives. And there should be no shame in that. We’ve done a lot of these ourselves.

50. Think, on the subway, “It’s showtime? Awesome! Let’s watch!”

49. Make living in Brooklyn more expensive for the rest of us.

Make living in Manhattan cheaper for the rest of us.

47. Refuse to live in the other three boroughs under any circumstances.

46. Order a slice other than “plain” or “pepperoni.”

45. Curse the lack of central AC in your apartment.

43. Instagram every rooftop view.

42. Wonder if your local bodega actually has a name.

41. Believe “Excuse me,” spoken on the train, does not actually mean “Fuck you!”

40. Think “I’m doing it! I’m living my dream in the greatest city on the planet!” while eating a sad Hale and Hearty soup in your cubicle.

See also: 50 Reasons to Be Pretty Damn Euphoric You Live in New York City

39. Pay the “suggested donation” at the Met

38. Refer to subway lines by color instead of number.

37. Look at the subway map on the train out of the corner of your eye, so no one will know you’re lost, instead of just doing the full lean over the person sitting in front of it.

36. Adopt too quickly your “I’m sooo over New York” tone. This will become your default for the duration of your time in the city. Whether it’s true or not.

35. Marvel at the fact that in the summertime, there’s a Mr. Softee truck on every corner, but that finding real ice cream actually demands a Google search.

34. Field concerned phone calls from back home checking to see if you’re safe when there’s a news-making fire two boroughs over from you.

33. Check the real estate listings for the town you just moved from and imagine the palace you could live in there for the rent you’re paying here.

32. Marvel at hyper-specialized restaurants (e.g. “this place only serves oatmeal?!”).

31. Actually get excited when you see film crews and stay to watch even though it’s probably just some shitty commercial.

30. Tell everyone not from New York how expensive everything is in New York – usually with an odd sort of pride.

See also: 55 of the Rudest Things Rude New Yorkers Do
Stay out until the bars close at 4 a.m., because they wouldn’t be open that late if it weren’t a great idea.

28. Refer to neighborhoods by their broker-given name (“I live in East Williamsburg”).

27. Ride the G for 20 stops in the wrong direction because you couldn’t remember if you were supposed to go towards Church Avenue or Court Square.

26. Ride the G trying to get to Manhattan because you’re an idiot.

25. Eat pizza for every meal expecting it to be much better than it actually is.

24. Eat bagels for every meal expecting them to be much better than they are.

23. Keep looking for a good Mexican restaurant (Also, if you find one, tell us. Seriously.).

22. Wait until you get home to cry.

21. Wonder if it’s okay to want to go to a taping of SNL/Daily Show/The Tonight Show.

20. Visit the top of the Empire State Building, 30 Rock and other tourist-only landmarks. Tell no one.

19. Walk like you know where you’re going when emerging from the subway and then, once realizing you’re heading the wrong direction, playact that you forgot something before turning around. (Note: you will probably knock someone over. They will hate you.)

18. Start every conversation with, “In New York…” when talking to friends and family back home. For the best of us this lasts about a year. For many, it never goes away.

17. Say “7th and 23rd” (think about it).

16. Sprint into the street to hail a taxi with its roof light off.

15. Eat at Pret A Manger a few times before realizing it’s basically just 7-Eleven with a better design team.

14. Buy an expensive umbrella because you’ll be outside a lot more and it rains in New York. And because there’s no way you’re going to leave it in a taxi.

13. Take your headphones off when people talk to you on the train.

12. Walk through Times Square while trying to hold hands.

11. Make eye contact with the amateur rappers selling CDs in Times Square.

10. Go to Times Square.

9. Say things like, “ONLY IN NEW YORK!

8. See a roach/mouse/crazy bug in your apartment and LOSE YOUR MIND. This will continue, but the first time is … emotional.

7. Think, “This train is jam-packed. There’s no way this guy’s going to try to cram in here.” Then, “Ok, he’s trying. But there’s no way he’s going to fit in here.” Then, “I miss driving to work.”

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6. Feel bad for the St. Marks gutter punks before you realize they’re jerks/not really homeless

5. Google “Where in Brooklyn is it safe to count my money?”

4. Fuck up pronouncing “Houston Street.” This usually only happens once. At least it should.

3. Go to a bar adopted by your team’s fanbase and surround yourself with people who only talk about the city from which you moved.

2. Operate under the assumption that anyone around you ever gives a shit about what you’re doing.

1. Say yes to everything because everything is new and amazing and you live in New York, how lucky are you?

List compiled by Heather Baysa, Jack Buehrer, Araceli Cruz, Meave Gallagher, Nick Lucchesi, Brian McManus, Anna Merlan, Albert Samaha, Alan Scherstuhl, Brittany Spanos, Tessa Stuart, and Stephanie Zacharek.