Best and Worst Things About Living in NYC

I feel I should preface this post by saying obviously I do not consider myself an expert on the topic of living in NYC based on just 7 weeks of playing home in the city.

However, having rented an apartment in Manhattan, tackled the subway on a regular basis, hauled laundry down to the basement and wondered where exactly New Yorkers buy their groceries, I feel I can offer some insight on what it might be like to be an expat in New York should any of you be considering becoming one in future.

So, with that out the way, here are some of the things I loved and loathed after almost 2 months of living in Chelsea.

Sonder apartment New York
Miles & I enjoying the bed in our Sonder apartment

Best things about living in NYC

The Parks

I never thought I would start a post about living in Manhattan’s concrete jungle talking about how good the parks are but I’ve got to hand it to the people in charge of NYC ‘coz they are really rocking the green spaces.

From the fields of Central Park to the shrubbery in Union Square, I always found an empty space in the parks to plonk down and feed the baby. In Bryant Park you can loan books or get work done thanks to handy power outlets hidden in the flower beds, Union Square has a delightful green market and Hudson River Park is a great place to head with kids due to the playgrounds and changing facilities dotted along the waterfront.

Bryant Park New York
Bryant Park fills up at lunchtime

The Food Deliveries

I saw someone use the hashtag #ChewYorkCity on Instagram and couldn’t have put it better myself. Similar to London, I love the way New York caters for every imaginable cuisine and then some. Once you’ve worked your way around the delis, pizzerias and bakeries the city is famous for, you can head to the Med, South America or the Middle East in your lunch break.

The really excellent thing about the food in New York City, though, is the fact that anything you crave can be on your doorstep within minutes. (This jet-lagged mum nearly ordered a Starbucks Chai Latte on UberEats in the first week but resisted!) We road-tested at least 5 different delivery services while in Chelsea (they all had sign up bonuses – yay) and loved that we could try so many cool restaurants without leaving the apartment containing our sleeping baby.

Click here to read about the best food markets in New York

Cookie Do New York
Cookie dough delivered to your door :p

Easy Navigation

Thanks to the grid system it’s fairly easy to navigate NYC, as long as you know which way you are facing! The subway is relatively inexpensive at $2.75 per ride and even better value if you buy a weekly pass. (As local Adventurous Kate pointed out, if you’re taking more than 12 subway rides per week it’s cheaper to buy an unlimited 7-day passes for $32.)

What is a pain in the ass, however, is working out which subway entrance you need for your correct line and direction. At almost all subway stations I encountered there is no way of getting from one side of the track to the other underground so you have to make sure you take the right entrance above ground – totally simple if you know what you are doing but when faced with four options dotted around a roundabout at the likes of Columbus Circles you’re literally doing circles trying to find the right one.

The Bowery Mural’s latest look

Ever-Changing Landscape

Sure the non-stop construction is annoying but knowing you can find something new on your own street practically every week certainly keeps things interesting. During our 2-month stay a new section of the High Line opened at Hudson Yards, an iconic Aussie cafe launched their first New York outlet, the Time Out Market opened its doors (and rooftop) in Brooklyn, the Bowery Mural Wall got a new look and a sky high mural was unveiled in the shadows of the Empire State Building – and these are just the things I remember. It seems there will always be a hot new eatery, Insta-worthy mural or top secret roof garden to get you out and about in this city.

NoMad New York
A new mural popped up in NoMad during our stay

Free Events

It’s really hard to get bored in New York. Every day I logged into Instagram and saw one of the many local accounts I began following talking about a pop-up exhibition, market, concert etc going on somewhere in the city.

From free story-time at one of the city’s many libraries to a celebration of Portugal on the streets of Soho, there was always something we could easily and cheaply take part in.

Soho NYC
You never know what will capture your imagination on the Soho streets

Proximity To Beaches

So Sydney spoilt us when it came to city beaches but I was surprised how easy it was to hit the sand from New York too as you don’t really hear about NYC beaches – at least I hadn’t.

While we chose to venture a bit further afield to Jersey Shore and The Hamptons (both bloody gorgeous and like a little taste of Florida a few hours from the city) I’d have loved to check out Rockaway Beach in Queens and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn if we’d had a little longer.

Asbury Park, New Jersey
Nope, not Florida. This is Asbury Park, New Jersey

The Dry Bars

I know the world is catching on to the genius convenience of blow dry bars but nowhere are they more ubiquitous than New York. There were two different outlets within minutes of our apartment and I loved ducking in for my usual Cosmo-Tai at the Drybar (they have a small catalogue of looks to choose from) and sipping complimentary prosecco while someone tamed my mane into chic curls that lasted for days.

The Cookies

If I could give you one good reason to move to NYC it would be daily access to Levain Bakery. (I’m not even joking!) Seriously, these guys make the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. I dream of the Oatmeal Raison.

Bourke Street Bakery NYC
Who knew one of the best things about living in NYC would be the Aussie coffee!

The Aussie Cafes

I know this is a funny point to end on but I’ve got to be honest here – the best coffee and brunches I enjoyed in New York were thanks to the Aussie expats that have set up shop here. From Sydney’s famous Bourke Street Bakery opening in NoMad to Bluestone Lane offering toast piled with avocado everywhere from Flatiron to Montauk, I enjoyed my time in New York so much more thanks to Aussie cafes and coffee shops.

You can check out all my fave Aussie cafes and coffee shops in New York here.

Next: Click here to read some of the worst things about living in NYC – based on our short biased experience!

Find all New York posts here.

About the author

I’m Jayne, a travel blogger, content creator and mum to a 4-year-old son. I’ve been blogging since 2010, travelled to 65 countries and share travel guides and tips to help you plan stylish, stress-free trips.

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