Things I wish Someone had told me before Moving to New York

Things I wish someone had told me before moving to New York

When I first moved to New York, I was the girl, that watched too much Sex and the City and wanted to see the city with her own eyes.I had never been to the United States before and didn’t know anyone. Did not even have an apartment when I arrived. One might call me naive, but with lots of optimism and a little bit of luck, I figured it all out. Not only that, I started to love New York more than I could ever imagine.

Here are a few things I discovered one after another, when living in New York. Some of them, I had to learn the hard way, and I believe, I would have loved if someone had told me before moving to New York.

General Advice

  1. Air conditioners leak on you, when you walk too close to buildings.
  2. You are going to have countless of amazing conversation with complete strangers on the subway.
  3. You will get sick all the time. Probably due to too much contact with people on the subway, or the unhealthy eating habits.
  4. Always walk on the right side.
  5. Houston street is pronounced house-ton, not hews-ton. And god damn will people judge you, if you say it the wrong way.
  6. There is going to be this one night in the beginning of moving to NY: You will stand on an empty subway platform, your train is not running and as you do not know the city yet you will have absolutely no idea how to get home.
  7. Bedbugs are a huge problem in the city. So don’t sit on anyone’s bed and never touch a mattress that lies outside. Last but not least, check your bed to make sure you don’t have them. There are YouTube tutorials that explain how to detect them.
  8. Cart food is actually really good and you should not be afraid to become sick from it.
  9. Don’t wear Flip Flops. Never. If you don’t believe me, try it once and look at your feet. Yuck!
  10. People with umbrellas are dangerous. If you don’t take care, you will definitely get hit by one.
  11. Avoid times square unless you want to see a show. It is so busy that you can’t walk fast, the food is bad and it is full of tourists.
  12. You stand on line, not in line

 Things I wish someone had told me before moving to NY

The Subway

  1. When you come out of the subway, look at the SW-NW-SE-NE signs, so you know where you are and in which direction you have to go.
  2. Always look whether the subway station has an uptown and downtown entrance before you swipe your card.
  3. Never. I repeat. NEVER walk into an empty subway car.
  4. If someone is offering you a seat on the subway, they are trying to get you on a date.
  5. You can save a lot of time by walking to the correct end of the subway platform. For example the 23rd station of the A and E train station has entrances on 23rd, 24th, and 25th street. Depending on where you have to go, you are closer by standing at the correct spot in your current station.
  6. There is a good chance that you will see someone urinating in the subway.

 Things I wish someone had told me before moving to NY

Getting Around the City

  1. Avenue blocks are longer than street blocks.
  2. There are some exceptions, but usually the even numbered streets go east, and the odd numbered ones go west.
  3. There are express busses! You have to swipe your card at a machine while waiting and the bus will only stop if you did. And those really are so much faster (unless there is too much traffic).
  4. The Cab lightning system works like this: When the number on top is lit up – it’s empty, when it’s not – someone is in there, and when the whole thing is on – it’s off duty.
  5. It is illegal for a cab driver to say they won’t take you to Brooklyn.
  6. Black cabs aren’t necessarily cheaper than regular cabs.

Things I wish someone had told me before moving to NY


  1. It is absolutely okay to ask someone you met a second ago how much he / she is paying on rent.
  2. It does not matter where you lived before. Your old place will have the size of a castle after you lived in New York.
  3. Craigslist is full of scammers, and weird people. However, after going through all of that you can actually find apartments or rooms there. Just remember the saying, “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”.

 Things I wish someone had told me before moving to NY

Things that will become normal to you

  1. You will pay 5$ for a box of cereal and not even question it.
  2. Have you heard of people traffic? So that’s when many people are on the streets that you can make it in time to work.
  3. There are rats in the subways that are bigger than cats.
  4. You’ll wait on line in front of Trader Joe’s without even questioning it.
  5. You will always be broke. Always. Maybe because you pay 5$ for cereal without questioning it.
  6. When there is a Blizzard on the News you will see lots of people buying food which you can eat raw, candles, and lighters. You’ll be one of them.
  7. You will see so many weird things, that at one point, you won’t even blink when a homeless man shows you his dick.

But the most I wish, that someone had told me that…

…no other place will be good enough after living in New York…

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30 Comment

  1. t says: Reply

    This post is beautiful! i LOVE nyc and have contemplated moving there- when you said “cart food” i thought you said cat! xx

    How To Dress for a Fashion Interview

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Ahaha, you know what’s so funny? When I wrote it, I actually had a typo there and wrote cat food 😀 Luckily I found it when proofreading 😀

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, and I was nodding along most of the points! The one about Houston street *lol*, that pronunciation must have been invented as some kind of Tourist Test. I’ve walked into an empty subway car once, at it was gross. Really not recommended unless you want to see body fluids or other creepy stuff:)

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Oh gosh, that happened to me too. I was busy, listening to music and just stepped in. Luckily I noticed it right away and left again. Imagine you are stuck in such a car for one stop. Or even worse, one stop in an express train 😀

  3. I can’t tell you how much I laughed and reminisced reading your post. I had similar experiences although didn’t end up falling in love with NYC and left 🙂 I’d add: it’s totally ok for a perfect stranger to ask you how much money you make!!!

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Ohh yes, true. That’s a good one too!

  4. This is absolutely amazing! I would love to move to NY so if I get my ‘dream’ then I will have to keep coming back to this 😉 xx

  5. Maddy says: Reply

    Haha! I love all of these! My boyfriend lives in New York, so I’m a frequent visitor. And the ones I haven’t actually figured out on my own, I’ve heard through his stories… New York might be a struggle, but it’s a beautiful one! In my opinion, it’s the greatest city on the planet! Thanks for sharing. This was a great read.

    – Maddy @

  6. Kathi says: Reply

    Da sind wirklich witzige Sachen dabei, die man wohl nur versteht, wenn man schon mal in New York gewesen ist (das ja noch auf meiner Bucket List steht 🙂 ). Ich bin ja echt am Überlegen, ob ich so was auch mal für Kapstadt machen sollte 😉
    Das mit der Wohnung find ich übrigens sehr witzig – alles andere ist dann wie ein Schloss 😀 Und das mit dem U-Bahn fahren ist ja einfach nur abgefahren – dass man da gleich am richtigen Sign stehen sollte und dass es für die Himmelsrichtungen Ausgänge gibt, weil alles so riesig ist. Verrückt….!
    Liebe Grüße,

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Naja, man muss nicht an der richtigen Stelle stehen, aber das spart wirklich Zeit!
      Und ja mach das! Ich hab schon den nächsten Artikel dieser Art fast fertig, nur mit Bali 🙂 Das wäre auch ein cooler Gast-Post überleg ich gerade. Also falls Du Lust hättest. Ich schreib Dir mal bei Dir 😉

  7. very interesting post! You just reminded me bedbugs…

  8. Saria says: Reply

    Hahaha! I laughed so hard! The funny part is that a cheap cereal box in My country is like… *mental conversion* a minimum of $ 7!!!! lol

    SJay // The Chronic Dreamer | A Lifestyle Blog

  9. Farrah says: Reply

    hahaha, I really love this list! 😛 I’ve never lived in NYC (and probabbbly never will because I’ll never be able to afford it), but these are really good tips for the next time I visit! I love the food diversity there!

  10. Raqda says: Reply

    Very interesting post, we only learn from experiencing things ourself! Love this!

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Thank you so much 🙂

  11. Ich habe mich über deine Fakten wirklich amüsiert. Ich hätte Houston street definitiv auch falsch ausgesprochen 🙂 Danke, dass du mich/uns aufgeklärt hast.

    Liebe Grüße

    1. Kia says: Reply

      Danke Alexandra 🙂 Jetzt weißt Du es und kannst verheimlichen, dass Du ein Tourist bist 😉

  12. So true, especially the one about never stepping into an empty subway car! Once you learn to navigate NYC’s idiosyncrasies it becomes one of the lovers of your life. It never gets easy, but if you can hack it, the experience is worth it.

  13. Rachel says: Reply

    You’ve got it wrong. The STREET blocks are long and the AVENUE blocks are short. Example. You’re walking across town on 42nd street. The blocks are LONG. You are walking uptown on 8th Avenue. The blocks are SHORT.

    Also, no one does N-S-E-W in the city. It’s “uptown” (north), “downtown” (south), “eastside” (east), “westside” (west).

    1. Asmaa says: Reply

      Actually she’s right. The avenues are long – so if you’re on 42nd street, you might be walking from 5th avenue to 6th Avenue. That one block is one Avenue (since you walked to the next one) but you’re just walking along one street. So that’s why everyone says the Avenues are long.

      I’m a little confused about the odd and even number streets though. We have 42nd st then 43rd st on both sides. What does she mean?

    2. Kia says: Reply

      But Rachel, if you get out of a station, which you do not know yet. How do you know where up and downtown is if you don’t use the N-S-E-W signs?

  14. Daniel Berry, NYC says: Reply

    I always tell people that the very worst things you’ve always heard about New York are perfectly true–the worse. And the very best things you’ve heard are also true–and even better than you can imagine until after you’ve lived here awhile. It’s not for everybody, but a lot of people who move away are just marking time till their next visit.

    1. Kia says: Reply

      You are so so right. The negative things are just true, but the good things are so beyond true – you cannot imagine them before living in New York yourself.

  15. Plinia says: Reply

    Yes absolutely you were right and another points is about the Laundry. Experience. In my case is one o the things. I definitely not love it .

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  17. Autumn says: Reply

    This is such an awesome list! All true things. I wish I would have read it a year ago as I was moving to the city. But maybe I wouldn’t have come and I’m really glad I did!

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  19. Arzo says: Reply

    Especially your last sentece…. Such a love letter to wonderful New York ?

  20. This is a very interesting and informative blog which I read with great pleasure. I’m glad that you share your experiences and valuable tips to those who are planning to move to New York.

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