This summer, a former boss moved from NYC to the South after more than two decades in the city, and she described her new home as a safe haven following a long “war”: “Manhattanites are so proud of the tribulations we endure, we wear it like a badge, like having served a tour of duty. And now the war is over and I am enjoying the peace.”
I felt the same when I abandoned New York for California in late September, but now that I’ve had some time to adapt to my sunnier, far less dramatic lifestyle on the West Coast, I can see what worked and didn’t work for me back East. Here are 13 things I miss (and don’t miss) about living in New York.
What I Miss
1. The subway
I’m not interested in chatting up strangers during my commute, so driving everywhere in LA gives me solitude and time to think when I’d like some space. It’s also environmentally unfriendly and a pain during traffic, so I miss NYC’s amazing public transit system, which took me everywhere at a significantly cheaper cost.
2. The Bagels
I don’t want to talk about it.
3. Dunkin’ Donuts
DD lives up to its slogan more than any other business: America runs on Dunkin’. DD was open throughout Hurricane Sandy (for better or worse), the employees have always been friendly to me, and the drinks are fun and indulgent when you want a little more sugar in your coffee than Starbucks is willing to provide. This sounds nerdy, but Dunkin’ was a huge part of my life on the Upper East Side, and I do miss the sense of community it gave me every weekend. When I went to DD for the first time in a month since purchasing my own coffee pot, one of the employees screamed and gave me a hug. Not even my friends are that stoked to see me after ample time apart. Will I get my community back when the East Coast treasure makes it out to LA? Maybe. But maybe not.
Even if you’re too busy to work out, you’re constantly running around the city trying to get from place to place. With all the LA driving I do, there’s not a whole lot of walking on my part anymore, and I worry I’ll eventually put on weight as a result.
NYC is humid in the summer and freezing in the winter, but fall is pleasant and comfortable, and I feel lucky I got to experience it this year.
I know I knocked on it in a previous post, but Seamless is a life saver every once in a while, especially when you come home after a tiring day at the office and have no interest in cooking.
7. The creative street and subway artists
I once spent a half hour watching break dancers in the Union Square subway station. The quality performers always attract a large crowd, and last I checked, so does this super cool guy who hangs out on the L train platform. Go hang out with him sometime — he’s fun!
8. Being the Californian
There are plenty of West Coast natives in NYC, but it’s still neat to be the out-of-towner. When LA people ask me where I’m from, I forget that I don’t have to start with “California” as I did in New York. I’m just another girl from the Bay Area trying to fight my way into the screenwriting world.
9. 24-Hour CVS and Duane Reade
Because where else could I get Cheez-Its at 3 a.m. after bar hopping the night away (pizza wasn’t an option for me, remember?)?
10. Cute buildings with character and brownstones
Because they make for gorgeous Instagrams if nothing else:
11. Coffee trucks
I could always turn to these when Starbucks and Dunkin’ lines were long enough to make me late to work and I’d run out of Keurig K-cups at home.
12. Getting to wear black so much
I bask in the warmth of LA, but when I want to wear black tights and a black dress, I overheat and look out of place.
What I Don’t Miss
1. The subway
Crowded subways are claustrophobic and irritating, delays are frustrating, and inexplicable stops due to “train traffic ahead” can be terrifying. If you’re stuck underground, you can’t call your boss to say there’s train congestion, as the tunnels don’t have phone service. I’m not even going to get into the theft, aggressive panhandling, and sexual assault that occurs on the subway. It’s all kinds of awful.
2. The lack of good burritos
After nights out with friends, I never craved pizza, a well-known New York specialty. There was always Dos Toros, which was founded by California boys who wanted good burritos in NYC, but that of course wasn’t open late. Burritos should be there for you when you need them most.
3. Cat callers
Maybe I’ve just gotten lucky in LA, but I haven’t experienced street harassment here like I did in NYC. On the Upper East Side, I couldn’t walk down the street to Dunkin’ without being dubbed a “sexy bitch” at least three times by 2nd Avenue construction workers or random creepos lurking around. Street harassment is a global issue, but it felt especially problematic in NYC, perhaps because everything is close together and city life requires lots of walking.
4. The high cost of living
Big cities are expensive, but does this tiny Harry Potter room look like it should cost more than $1,000 a month? I was in a decent neighborhood with many surrounding restaurants, but come the hell on:
When nothing else in LA is going in my favor, at least I always have this forecast:
Unlike NYC, seasons mean nothing in LA. November, December, January, and February aren’t dreadful or stormy here.
6. Tiny restaurants
NYC is known for its incredible cuisine, but going to a restaurant should feel relaxing — not like you’re paying tons of money to eat in a packed subway car.
7. The loud religious proselytizers on the subway
I took the 6 train to work, and at least once a week, a guy would scream bible verses during my morning commute. Most people were either too tired or jaded from the city itself to tell him to shut up, but boy, would he have deserved it. There are so many oddballs in NYC that condemning one in particular might seem like a waste of time and energy, but who wants to be told they’re doomed for an eternity in hell right before a long, stressful work day?
8. The finance guys
Yes, it’s nice to be wined and dined by dudes who have grown-up jobs, but there are only so many Patrick Bateman wannabes I can take before I look for someone who doesn’t think money is everything and that working 80 hours a week justifies reckless and inconsiderate habits.
9. The piles of garbage on sidewalks
New York is charming and beautiful — after the trash men have collected the mounds of garbage off the sidewalks and you don’t have to plug your nose getting from A to B. If your street doesn’t smell terrible, it sure looks terrible with rows of waste lining the edges.
Mayor Bloomberg protected us during Hurricane Sandy and Irene, but some of his other ventures — the soda initiative and taxi bill that discriminated against prostitutes — once again thrust NYC into the national spotlight, and not necessarily in a good way.
11. Inaccessibility for the elderly and kids
I felt for every mom I caught shouting at her husband to carry a stroller up the subway steps. I babysat between jobs once, and the mother warned me that NYC can be very unforgiving toward people with kids. She’d get dirty looks for having the nerve to bring children into this world, and worse, bring them into Fairway Market.
Most MTA stations don’t have elevators or escalators, so old folks with disabilities are mostly out of luck, and there’s no guarantee people will give up their seats for the elderly on the subway.
12. Having to bundle up
I love wearing black, but don’t miss lugging a puffy jacket, a set of mittens, an extra sweater, and a scarf around NYC before entering a bar, where I’ll have nowhere to store my winter attire. There’s coat check, but at a price. It’s much easier only needing a light jacket, if that, during chillier seasons.
What do you think about NYC living? Do you agree or disagree with my compilation? Do share in the comments section.