Things I’ve Learned Moving to New York

5 years ago by

I arrived to New York City on a blistering hot day in August. Twenty-seven, ten bags and one roller coaster of a journey ahead of me. You see, I never lived anywhere but London, the city that raised me; its grit, harshness and fast pace made the perfect precursor for my new home or so I thought…nothing prepares you for the move to New York.

I had moved for a new job but really it was a lot more than that. I was bored of the safety of London. I loved everyone but I knew everyone, I relived nights out at the same clubs, bars, pubs, and restaurants week after week and desperately needed a change. I caught an Uber to my temporary accommodation; an apartment in Chinatown where I had arranged a TaskRabbit to help me with my bags. A little excessive but it brings me to…

NY lesson no. 1. What really seemed like a light, airy and spacious apartment on the corner of Henry and Catherine really was a box room in a six flight walk-up in a building whose questionable smells were only heightened by the summer heat.

But it was only temporary, I had scheduled a month to get on my feet and the plan was to get an apartment of my own, sign a lease and be on my way to picturesque brownstone living. WRONG.

NY lesson no. 2. When trying to secure an apartment in NYC, be prepared to come to every viewing with your medical records, a king’s ransom and a deed for your first born. I was rejected so many times due to a lack of credit (despite me living in every pocket of London by myself since I was 18), or just being pipped to the post by extremely aggressive NY dwelling seekers. After so many years of being an ideal tenant, all of a sudden I was an ‘undesirable.’ When I finally visited Bed Stuy on the advice of my friend Elaine, I knew I had found the area I liked and after many tears, tantrums and sleepless nights, I found a lovely apartment in a quiet street a walk away from the neighborhood bar and restaurants and pounced. (I had been trying to avoid a brokers fee, 15% for them to press print on their pre-written contacts, no thank you!) I ponied up for the broker and moved in.

So with accommodation sorted, I focused on a social life. I had been coming to New York a number of years and thought it best to start with the network I had built over that time. Which brings me to ….

NY lesson no. 3. When scheduling social engagements in New York, “let’s meet up soon” means in a month minimum, with little or no regard to canceling last minute if something better comes up. I believe everyone had the best of intentions when they penciled me in for a half-hour coffee in the third Wednesday in November but I couldn’t help think that this was a city of the most socially fickle people I had ever met. Still, I persevered and made a friendship circle who have now become my rock in the city.

Just note, (or lesson 3 and a half), if you want friends, be prepared to dine out a LOT. Because NOBODY cooks. Deals are made, friendships are cemented, lost and bitched about over an 8 pm table at Fat Radish and promises of good faith are made real in shadowy parts of the cities speakeasies. I had always loved dining out but this was on 2.0. Everything I do is centered around dining and my bank account has taken a hit which brings me to…

NY lesson no 4. Everything here costs an exorbitant amount of money! I’m not talking about the usuals, the rent, your bills, things that go along with living in a thriving metropolis, oh no, I’m talking the ridiculous costs, the $6 dollar coffee, your $30 dollar exercise, oh and your Uber bills. A necessary evil when you live in Brooklyn, a notoriously terribly connected borough.

And on the subject of transport, the subway! A veritable playground of bad smells, delayed service, unsolicited entertainment and a place where it’s completely socially acceptable to blare out bad 80’s music on speakers instead of headphones.

NY Lesson no. 5 New Yorkers pay $131 dollars for a monthly travel-card to be bitterly disappointed 365 days out of the year. And not all lines are created equal. While I’m convinced the A/C has got to stand for ‘awfully crappy,’ I find the 6 and the F the most reliable service but it’s too early to tell.

NY Lesson no. 6… is about the elitism around job recommendations and hiring. Let me preface this by saying, I had earned my job in NY. I had held the title at previous publications, had sterling contacts and relative experience. All reasonable prerequisites for a job. But want to know what I have found in NY, what’s better than all of the above you ask? Is being in proximity to someone other people think are cool. It’s weighted but serious claim, but 75,000 spent on a Masters and 75,000 Instagram followers, somehow amount to the same amount of professional competence in some circles.

But alas, a mere eight months in and I am appreciating the good things… I don’t get lost in midtown anymore, I have (almost) made it through weather that makes a February snowfall in Moscow seem like a breeze. I have a laundromat I can count on and have christened New York dating life with a whiskey on the rocks in a Bushwick bar with a photographer who talked solely about himself and I lived to tell the tale. A clear (neon-style bodega) sign that things are on the up…


Lynette Nylander is the VP of Content at Alexander Wang and moonlights as a freelance writer and editor. And I’m sure you can see why, she’s crazy talented. Follow her on Instagram, here!


Add yours
  • donnag June, 15 2018, 9:21 / Reply

    I would love for you to write about living in London!

  • YESSSSS!!! I find all these things about New York to be true too, but I guess that just what makes it so charming and draws us in…Although the fact that ONLY an MBA is any form of superiority in business (aka higher salary, etc) compared to an MS or an MA. As an MS holder, I’ve been SHOCKED by how few people actually take into account the fact that I have a statistics graduate degree….

  • Love your witty writing style. Keep thriving!

  • Great post, Good Luck to you! SMH move to the south LOL

  • Lynette, great post! Funny, captivating and so true. You would make an excellent regular contributor to this site. xo

  • Sandrine June, 15 2018, 12:49 / Reply

    Would love to see a similar post for London

  • Diarra Yaw June, 15 2018, 6:25 / Reply

    Seriously made me miss home. Beautiful writing.

  • Ce post est tellement vrai et peut s’appliquer a n’importe quelle grande ville du monde.
    “….With little or no regard to cancelling at the last minute if something better comes up.” Triste realite !

  • Spot on and second the above – love your writing style!

  • Michel June, 16 2018, 3:59 / Reply

    I loved the way she writes about everyday life things with a funny twist! She reminded me of Garance the way she describes her stories! We need more voices like that and personal stories on the blog… Posts like this, usually from Garance, are the ones that make me keep coming back to the blog;-) Keep up the good work!

  • Georgia June, 17 2018, 2:41 / Reply

    It’s funny because your experience about New York is almost the same as my experience moving to London! Thank you for sharing.

  • Stella June, 17 2018, 6:00 / Reply

    I love her dry and witty perspective.
    Great article.

  • Sascha @saschaandtheboys June, 17 2018, 6:33 / Reply

    I love this post and your writing style! I’m a Londoner and would love to read bout your life in London :) NY seems so…ruthless. How does anyone finds a spouse there? :) People say one has to be tough to be a Londoner but we seem soft in comparison to New Yorkers! :)

  • OMG! Felt so close to home when I moved to NYC after 20 years in London. So spot on and so witty! Thank you! ????

  • Can totally relate to this! Moved to NYC in 2005 as a newly-wed from an Asian country and was sorely disappointed that Manhattan was not what was portrayed in the Sex and the City movies. It was tough to break into the creative field if you didn’t have rock solid NYC credentials. Did my time and when four years later we were posted to Hong Kong, I couldn’t have been happier. NYC is a great city for a holiday or for the young and the restless and of course for the very rich.

  • the most stupid city in the world, people struggle so much for such a low quality of life.. Everywhere people keep on saying it is the greatest place in the world but it is only to cover the misery that they have to go through. Is it better for people who reach success ? not so sure , because if you need to parade in front of people who didn’t and that’s all they do in New York it does mean that success is not as fulfilling as it is.
    New York is a city for teenagers but grown ups ones who value money and success more than humanity and happiness .
    If you live there you better start asking questions about your emotional maturity because it does mean a lot.

  • Jean Munroe June, 17 2018, 10:08 / Reply

    What is the meaning of “pipped to the poet.” I am sure it is a British idiom but cannot fibd anything on Google.

  • I believe it’s actually ‘pipped to the post.’ Perhaps a typo? It means being defeated at the crucial last minute by someone who snuck up from behind. Or something like that ;) (says the one who lived in London for 20 years and misses it like crazy!)

  • Veronica June, 17 2018, 12:32

    Thank you for this clarification, Agnes! I have fixed it in the text! xx

  • Major talent. Love your writing voice. Love your courage and love your audaciousness. Don’t stop, Sweetheart. Keep up the energy. You will get to exactly where you want to go. Faster than you think!!! A Star on the Rise. I am watching you!!! Hugs from Paris.

  • Absolutely Fascinating reading ..Thankyou

  • Marsha June, 17 2018, 9:00 / Reply

    Nicely written! I moved from the UK to the West Coast and love it here, but my brief taste of NYC made me realize that’s not the city for me – I’m happy to read others’ engaging tales about it though ;)

  • Stefani June, 18 2018, 12:22 / Reply

    Loved this! :)

  • chiara June, 19 2018, 2:15 / Reply

    This article resonated with me a lot. I lived in NYC a couple of years and I went through so many emotions. I would say, NYC once you have a good circle of friends (which requires some effort to build and maintain) is one of the best and exciting places to be. You can not get bored, especially if you like art, music, theater. But you have to dose it and try to live in a sustainable way, in many aspects. 30$ classes are more affordable with apps like classpass, and taxi are cheaper via car-sharing apps such as via (which i think serves bed-stuy), especially late at night when you are not in a hurry to be somewhere. meetups are great for meeting fellow expats (who are less likely to flake, sorry americans) and volunteering is a good option, haha my only advice is don’t take it personally, lots of weird people in NYC. best of luck!

  • Hannah June, 19 2018, 7:22 / Reply

    Thank you for this honest, beautifully written post Lynette! I lived in NY on two separate occasions. They were both a huge struggle and let down and I kept pushing through, spending SO much money, still hanging on to the idea that someday I would find the “magic” of NY that people talk about. I never found it there and I am glad I listened to my heart and left for Europe (found the magic here!). I think it has a lot to do with having a great group of friends and it sounds like you found that Lynette, so I am so happy for you and I hope this is a beautiful experience for you! <3

  • Saglara June, 21 2018, 9:47 / Reply


  • I love, love, love this. But do you mind posting a write up about your experiences in London. Especially about growing up.

  • I’ve written at least a handful of posts about moving to NY. It was also summer, also hot but 5 years ago. It’s unbelievable the things you have absolutely no idea of. Like the credit, the being an undesirable alien. But above all, the most surprising thing of all the experience is the loneliness. I’ve never felt so lonely in my life. Even though, I would not trade the experience. Fancy a coffee? Xx

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