Ah New York! The home of crushed dreams and empty wallets. The Big Apple really can be a remarkable city at times, but it can also be a major downer. The decision to enter into a relationship with NYC is a big one. It requires stamina, perseverance, and LOTS of money. You get lured in by its beauty-the history, the culture, the acceptance. But then it slaps you in the face, takes all your money, and makes you question why you ever committed in the first place. Yet, for some reason, New Yorkers tend to tough it out and call this place home for quite some time because the rewards are far greater than the sacrifices. You be the judge.
Cohabitation with Rats
I don’t understand how so many people could be lured to a city overrun by rats. They are literally everywhere. Just last week, I was relaxing at The Highline during some downtime, and my experience was ruined because a little friend kept running back and forth across the walkway. I even recently ate a restaurant where the staff was in a turf war with the rodents. One particularly brave rat was dashing in between our feet and under tables in hopes of finding scraps. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the damn thing jumped up on the table.
Most of these rats aren’t so little. They’re actually closer in size to cats but have the gall and determination of people. They call subway tracks (and some platforms) home. They’ve declared the nights before trash pickup a citywide party. I will not walk down a dark street at night if bags of trash have been set out. Who knows how many of them could jump out at any moment?!
The decision to live in New York is a decision to live amongst these new friends. They’re not quite the friends you were hoping for. They won’t join you at Happy Hour for a drink after a tough day of work…or depending on where you go, maybe they will.
Mass Transit Roulette
One thing you can always count on in NYC is that the MTA will continually raise its subway fare while only instituting useless noticeable changes. Fare increases should be associated with improved service-more frequent trains, less weekend interruptions, shorter construction periods, etc. But no. The only improvement I’ve seen is the addition of new, fun touch screens that I can use to plan my trip through the city. Because I can’t do that with the Maps app on my phone? Because there isn’t already a digital display that tells me when the next train is coming?
Whether or not you’ll be able to get to your destination on time is up in the air on a daily basis. If your commute takes 30 minutes, leave 45 minutes early to be safe. There could be a sick passenger on your train that forces everyone to evacuate during the “investigation” or you could be stuck on the train behind this one. Sometimes you could just be stuck at a station for ten minutes with no explanation. Or your express train could start to run local with no prior notification.
Not to mention that the train could be so crowded you might have to squish your face and entire body against someone else’s face and entire body just to get in. Intimacy takes on a whole new meaning on the subway.
Having a mass public transit option is definitely a penny saver compared to the perils of having a car in NYC, with its crazy insurance rates and gridlocked traffic. But maybe that’s a premium I’m willing to pay if I can accurately predict what time I’ll be getting to my destination.
Less For Your Rent Money
Anywhere else, $1600 can buy you a slice of paradise. In Chicago, you could be living in a luxury building complete with a lakefront view, doorman, gym and spa. Down south, you could have a four-bedroom mini-mansion. In New York, it can buy you a shoebox with a kitchenette and a broom closet. Unless you’re willing to move an hour away from Manhattan.
The city is filthy. The mass transit system is unreliable. But the prospect of success and the promise of the freedom to chase your dreams is strong enough to justify the lack of value in your monthly rent. Just about everything is more expensive in New York, but it’s the rent that really empties your pockets. When you’re new to the city, that first rent statement from your landlord can really deliver a tough blow. You’re spending almost all of your money on your home, but it’s so small that you never want to stay there. Quite the conundrum.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love this city, and I’ve overcome these obstacles to call NYC home for the past 8 years. But every once in awhile, when I’m running late for work because I’m stuck on the 2 train for 20 minutes for no apparent reason, a few of these less than savory New York thoughts cross my mind.
Some days, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy words it best: “New York I love you, but you’re bringing me down.”