This post is coming at you thanks to a reader request!
It’s been on my mind to write this since I shared a related post shortly after Skyler was born called Thoughts On Raising a Baby in New York City. (Spoiler alert: we’re enjoying our time here while we have it. As annoying as it can be to bring a baby up in our modest space, it’s pretty freaking cool, too.)
In that post, I mentioned that I could go on about the pros and cons of living in a big city and the lifestyle that we do, so today I’m here to deliver.
Here we go!
Let’s start with the pros.
I think that there are amazing things about living in a place like New York City that go without saying. Just for fun, let’s chat about them.
- Opportunities. You can pursue almost anything here from freelancing to careers in finance, fashion, advertising, modeling, acting, performing On Broadway, and more.
- Things To Do. There’s always something new to see. Shows, seasonal pop-ups, markets, restaurants, shops, it all changes all the time. And there’s always something open somewhere near you at most times. Want to grab sushi at 2 a.m.? Done. It’s wild.
- Great Food. Just when you think that you’ve tried all of the spots in your neighborhood, they turn into new restaurants. And they’re all within walking distance.
- Culture. There’s so much history, a ton of museums and art galleries, and the City has been named the cultural capital of the world.
- Public Transit. You literally never have to drive, if you don’t want to. Most don’t own cars, and you can hop on a subway ride or call an Uber at the drop of a hat. You can also rent a car, moped, or bike by the hour. You’re also pretty great at knowing what train to take where and where else to go if that one is down, which seems like a foreign concept to friends who visit.
- You Keep Fit. If you aren’t driving everywhere, you’re taking the subways and walking miles at a time. You’re also taking several flights of stairs every day and lugging extra weight around without realizing it. The boutique fitness scene is also worth noting … you can take just about any type of workout you’re looking for.
- Free Entertainment. While you could drop some serious cash on shows, experiences, and to-dos, there are always things to see and do in the City that are free. Think Central Park, walking Fifth Avenue for window shopping, festivals, concerts and more. There is also an abundance of street and subway performers, and some pleasantly surprise you. Check out my Tips For Living in New York City post for more ideas in this category!
- The Holiday Season Is Magical. While New York is a fun place to visit and even cooler place to live, I highly recommend everyone come to see the city around the holidays at least once. (Check out my Holiday To-Dos post for more peeks.)
- Rooftop and Skyline views. They’re unlike any other. And I can see the skyline from my apartment, which still feels surreal almost four years later.
- Conveniences. There’s almost everything you need within blocks. We have plenty of restaurants, shops, markets, a vet, a few convenience stores, a doctor’s office, a bank, and even a hospital within a two minute walk of our apartment. That never gets old!
- Celebrity sightings. I’ve only seen a couple, but Scott saw celebrities on the regular while working at a nice restaurant near Times Square. Maggie Gyllenhall and Michelle Williams live in my neighborhood, which is pretty neat.
And here are the cons.
- It’s Loud. We live in a quiet and very family-friendly neighborhood in Brooklyn. While it is less noisy than a lot of other areas, there are always sirens wailing, horns honking, and things happening at all times.
- Rent. What we pay for rent for our 2 bedroom, 1,000 square foot apartment (which I realize is a great space, by the way), we could put towards a large house with a yard, garage, and pool for less of a mortgage cost per month in most other cities. That’s hard to swallow.
- High Cost of Living. Housing isn’t the only thing that is expensive. A cocktail can easily run you $20, babysitting averages between $18-$20 per hour, and everyday necessities like utilities, groceries, and services are generally higher than most places.
- It’s Fast-Paced. Punctuality is huge. While some may put this on their pros list, I get annoyed by the impatience. Everyone is “too” busy and always has to be somewhere in a hurry. And they don’t always excuse themselves for running into you to get there.
- “New York Attitude.” Piggy-backing off of the above, there is definitely an overwhelming amount of RBFs here. (If you’re not sure what I’m referencing, a quick Google search will help!) Most can be seen while commuting, along with earbuds to really give off the “don’t talk to me” vibe. Also, people often talk like they’re complaining … it’s just how New Yorkers converse. And that’s normal.
- The Lack of Public Restrooms. This one got me as we explored shortly after moving here, but it really set me off once I had a baby to tow around. It’s a treat to even have access to a restroom, much less a clean one without a line.
- Can Be Challenging With Babies. I’m not saying it’s impossible, or not worth it, but I am fully admitting that it’s a challenge to navigate the city with a stroller. Stores are tight, stairs are everywhere, and elevators are rare. And it’s not like you can just hop in a cab if you have bags from running errands, a stroller, and no car seat while traveling solo. At that point, it’s easier to walk. Also, highchairs don’t always exist, and having access to a changing table is like finding a diamond in the rough. It definitely isn’t for everyone.
- It’s Exhausting. Mentally and physically. Sometimes I just want to be the only person on the street, drive a country road with my windows down, look at all of the trees, and remember what the ‘burbs are like, okay?
- It Can Lose its Luster. Once you realize how expensive it is, you’ll most likely be working really hard to make rent and pay for everyday necessities. It seems like everyone works multiple jobs or has side hustles, so much that you don’t have time or energy to enjoy everything you have access to. I talk with people about this all the time!
- Rats and Trash. This is a real thing, y’all. You will most likely see a rat if you take the subways, and you will almost always see trash bags on the sidewalks, as it’s always trash day. It took me a long time to get used to seeing both on the regular!
- You Might Get Mistaken For a Tourist. I’m not knocking tourists, as I travel often and I am the tourist who wants to do all the things. But, it is annoying to have to walk through Midtown and feel bombarded to sight-see, buy tickets to a comedy show, and take a photo with a character who doesn’t even have their head on. Every time. I’m just trying to meet my friend who is visiting and insists on staying near Times Square, am I right?
- Inconveniences. Taking the subway is great, until it’s not. There are delays. There are a ton of stairs. It’s hot. There is air conditioning on the cars, but not at the stations — so you could be waiting for twenty minutes while heavily sweating. You have to pack your bag for your entire day of activities and lug it around. (Remember, most don’t have cars to throw their extras in.) And then you just got groceries … now how do you get it all home?
- There’s a lot of crazies. I generally feel very safe walking around the City, so that’s not what this is about. There is, however, an abundance of homeless folks, people who talk to themselves, and what people refer to as “subway creatures” lurking around.
If you’re keeping count, then you’ll notice that I listed more cons that pros. I didn’t plan it like that, and also note that I didn’t mention the weather. While that could have gone on the cons list, I kept it off. As a Florida Native, the winters are harsher than I’d like, but this one has been pretty mild with only a few snowstorms so far. And they can be beautiful.
It’s also cool to experience the seasons, and the view of brownstones with cherry blossoms in front in the spring or fluffy white snow during the winter is stunning.
Something else that I didn’t categorize is dating. The City is a great place to meet new people, but a lot of the single people that I’ve talked to don’t have time to put effort into dating. The amount of people who reside here, however, are at an obvious advantage.
There are days where I think living in New York City is incredible, and other days where I want to live anywhere else. And I think this is a very normal thing.
If you’re considering living here, I think it’s important to know that the city living you saw on Friends isn’t necessarily reality. None of the six would have the time to just hang in a coffee shop every day or afford that huge two bedroom apartment in Manhattan. Also, I still don’t understand how freelance writer Carrie from Sex and the City afforded any of those designer shoes, not to mention the constant and expensive nights out with her girlfriends. It’s just not reality!
And those are my pros and cons in a nutshell.
I’d love to hear from those of you who live in a bigger city!
What are the biggest pros and cons for you?
Please share in the comments below and also – to my follow NYC locals – feel free to chime in, too!