Meeting so many people new and old to the city is great because not only do I make lots of new friends, but I also get the chance to learn from legends who have done it all before. So here, I’ve compiled the best tips personally, and the best things to carry around at all times to survive and thrive in New York City.
On this page
Here we go… some of these are going to blow your mind, I promise.
1. Carry an umbrella, always
Sunshine. Unbearable heat. Overwhelming rainstorm. Or as we like to call it: Tuesday.
Check the weather (I recommend the AccuWeather app by the way) for the percentage chance of rain and use this simple method to work out whether it’s going to rain that day:
- 0% chance of rain: Probably won’t rain
- 20% chance of rain: Probably will rain
- 40% chance of rain: It’s going to rain
- 60% chance of rain: If I’m honest, it’s probably already raining
- 80% chance of rain: Sorry, you’ll have to speak up, I can’t hear you over the rain
- 100% chance of rain: Unsure, flooding is preventing my use of a weather app
You can get a good quality one that won’t break the first time it pops open on Amazon. It repels water, pops open with a press, and collapses with another press. I have a gray one (even though I secretly want the yellow one). That’s an Amazon affiliate link by the way. I get a little kickback if you use it – I really do own the umbrella myself though.
2. Have $10 in $1 notes in your back pocket (+ extra cash)
First, the $10 in $1 notes or “singles”.
Here’s my tip: take $10 in singles and keep them separate from the rest of your wallet or purse. I’m not suggesting this because it’s unsafe to pull your money out in public (this is America Josh, not Smartraveller.gov.au) but instead because singles serve a purpose in all sorts of places where you might want to quickly grab one. Tipping for a wine or beer when sitting at a bar ($1/drink), walking past an especially good musician in Union Square (if you stop to record or take a picture, leave a tip, it’s a nice thing to do and clearly you think they’re worth it), or just making up the extra $1 you need for your extra double mocha frappuccino.
It’ll be much easier if you know you have a small stack ready for access. I keep mine in the opposite back pocket from my wallet.
As a side note, carrying cash in New York is somewhat important too. You’ll find an equal array of cash only, cash and credit with a minimum spend (~$10 most of the time), and credit only places, so it’s good to be ready for all possible variations. Don’t be caught out!
3. Take a deep breath
This city will carry you away, sometimes consensually, some times not. You will have 10 things you’re meant to have done at work by yesterday, 9 people who want to see you, 8 tasks around the home, and 3 family members who are staying at overlapping times in the next 3 weeks, two of who don’t talk to each other.
Just be sure to take a sit down sometimes and enjoy being here (while you eat a bagel).
Not kidding about the breathing thing by the way. I’m not really into things like this normally but learning to take a few big breaths, and pausing for a few minutes can make a HUGE difference to your life. Breathe in, counting to 4 while you do, hold your breath for the count of 7, and then breathe out while counting again to 8. Do that 4 times. It takes literally 1 minute and 16 seconds and you will feel SO much better.
4. Get a Metro Card (or use your credit card)
You can now use your credit card to get onto trains and buses across NYC. Do not try to skip out of this, as you will get caught out by random checks and fined.
If you don’t have a credit card yet, then get yourself a metro card!
5. Get your NY State license
Unlike many other places, New York City will check your ID at bars whether you look 12, 21, 48 or 92. You won’t get away with “I left it at home” at bars here, they will simply refuse you entry and that will be that.
It’s also much easier for automatic check-ins at some places that scan your ID if you have a New York State one (with a barcode on the back). Head to the DMV and get yourself a shiny new piece of plastic with your US address and you’ll be one step ahead of the rest applying for things and getting into venues.
Please note that the IDNYC (or “NYCID”) is a fantastic card that gets you free library and museum entrance, but it will not get you into bars.
6. Treat yo’ self to noise-canceling headphones
I know this one is a bit cost prohibitive but I honestly believe it’s a pro-tip for living in New York City (or any other big and busy city). Combine this with #3 and you’ve got yourself a winner though.
It’s loud here. All the time. Whether it’s traffic noise, screeching brakes on the subway, sirens, horns, or people screaming, you will at some point become completely oblivious to the fact that you haven’t heard nothing for some time now.
A good pair of noise-canceling headphones are a God-send. They will let you listen to your podcast, or your music, in complete and utter silence. You can keep the volume low and let it wash over you, as opposed to crash into your eardrums like someone who enters the train before everyone has exited.
Here’s my recommendation, Bose QC35s. Another Amazon referral, but another item I actually own. Bose are the leaders in noise-canceling and nothing comes close.
7. Do nothing on a weekend
Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Just like #3, it’s important to mix your work, play, and rest equally. You’ve moved to a big city, and you’ll feel like you, therefore, owe it to yourself to be active at all times and I promise you, at some point, you will feel guilty for planning a night in.
Don’t feel guilty, embrace it.
You aren’t on holiday, you aren’t visiting New York temporarily, you live here now. Just like wherever you came from, a weekend in with a good tv show is valuable.
It will talk some self-control but it’s very important for your continued sanity.
8. Be good (or at least better) to your body
If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself going out much more than you ever have before. So take care of yourself and make sure that body of yours doesn’t feel regret too often.
I can recommend Blue Apron if you’re not really into cooking but want to try it out in the easiest possible way (to get a discount on your first boxes, click here).
Alternatively, just be sure to chew on a carrot or something while walking to the bar.
9. Buy snow boots, stop telling yourself you don’t need them
You don’t have to buy really fancy ones but they’re worth every single penny. You’ll feel magical when you walk across a sludgy path and don’t fall on your butt. I’ve written another whole post about how to prepare for winter here.
10. If you’re lonely, tell me!
No point being lonely alone! Especially when I want to meet you so much!
I run events all the time, and you’re ALWAYS welcome. Come along!
11. Remind yourself of home, but don’t dwell on it
It’s never good to completely forget where you came from, but it’s also equally not as good to dwell on what you miss.
Sure, this sounds like an impossible task when you’re overwhelmed but just be sure to check yourself if you’re getting lost in either direction completely.
Being sad and missing your former life is COMPLETELY NORMAL. Embrace it and be happy about it. You’re allowed to feel, just like Butters!
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