I moved to New York City in January 2017 and I've been here for almost 17 months now, so I'm pretty sure I'm a pro at living in New York City and any New Yorker would tell you that I'm basically one of them now.
Well ok, maybe not, but I DO think that my combination of being a little fresh combined with my meeting lots of new and old New Yorkers gives me a bit of an insight into the tips of living here. So here are my five tips for staying safe and happy in New York City:
#1 Look both ways so you don't get hit by a bike (or a bus)
You've been crossing roads your whole life, and you don't need anybody to hold your hand, I get it! Listen though.
Once you get a bit comfortable walking through the city, you'll find yourself instinctively looking for the “One Way” signs as you approach roads. You will turn your head toward the oncoming traffic and if nothing is coming, you'll start to stride across. Same goes for when you're approaching a road where you see that you have right of way (the walk signal is showing) and you've always known that to be the safe time to cross. There are however two things you're forgetting:
- Buses, cars, and trucks who are in a hurry and will skip through the lights, especially when turning corners; and
- Bikes (and electric bikes) will be traveling the wrong way down these streets and regularly disregard the rules.
So be careful out there! When you see a bike path, like on 1st Avenue, be sure to look both ways before you walk towards the island. Glance both ways at every opportunity and save yourself having to learn about health insurance.
#2 Ask how long the cookies have been on the counter (BEFORE you buy them)
Delis and bodegas are the best. They'll make you a sandwich or a salad in the blink of an eye, and they generally have an array of baked goods on the table when you get to the cashier.
Ask the question “Are these fresh today?” and look for the reaction. If you get this:
Keep moving. Those cookies or cakes have been there for weeks, waiting for some rookie to take them away.
#3 Wash your hands (after high-fiving everyone on the subway)
Wow, I'm really starting to sound like your Mom (Mum) now, aren't I!? There are all sorts of characters on the subway, and that's part of the fun of living here. The subway also rocks around like nobody's business so you're no doubt going to be holding onto something (or someone) for most of your trip… right?
So this one seems like a no-brainer but the amount of times I see people wiping their faces is SCARY. Don't put that hand near your mouth or face. I've met so many people here who seem to be constantly sick and who blame the air… I disagree.
Side note: When you sneeze, be sure to sneeze like Dracula. Keep your germs away from hands so you don't infect everyone else!
#4 Check the weather (even if it looks nice outside)
Again, I know, you've been a grown-up for years so why am I telling you this? Because if yesterday (May 16 2018) is anything to go by, the weather can change at the drop of a hat.
This morning it was destined to be 88 degrees (32*c in old money) with a 30% of showers. By 3pm, it looked like the end of days and I didn't have an umbrella.
Check the weather, and ALWAYS pack an umbrella, you never know what's coming. Even if you just use your umbrella to shield yourself from people sneezing on you on the train.
#5 Don't install any app that alerts you to the dangers of the city (disclaimer included)
There are quite a number of apps circulating like “Citizen” where you can report crimes that you see, turn on your camera, and become an “engaged crime-fighting citizen”. For those who aren't reporting, you get alerted to these supposed crimes happening in your area with the idea being that you'll safely avoid them…
Don't install them.
New York City, like any city, can be dangerous at times and in particular areas. You should ALWAYS use your spidey senses to keep yourself safe, but I don't think these apps are the way of the future. They will alert you to crimes that aren't happening anywhere near you, and they will be CONSTANTLY alerting you to things that will put you on edge. In 12 months since I moved here, I hadn't felt more unsafe living in New York than when I installed Citizen.
Keep your wits about you, be safe, and don't buy into the madness.
#6 (Bonus) Happy Hour isn't an hour
Never. It's never an hour. It may as well be called “Happy Day” or “Happy Week” at some places. Don't be fooled.