Dr. Strangecity or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love New York

It’s such a cliche. Young twenty-something from the South leaves home to start their life in NYC away from everything they knew, blah blah blah. Ok, we get it.

The thing is though, this was all supposed to be someone else’s cliche. Definitely not mine.

Someone who dreamed of New York City since they saw Gossip Girl on the CW and compared 5th Avenue apartments online for fun.

And if you asked any of my friends a few years ago, I would have been singled out as the biggest antithesis to this bright-eyed YA novel heroine. Back then I was planning to live literally on the other side of the U.S. in Seattle with a series of hipster roommates and unironically enjoying the rain all year round. Yet here I am, the poster child of the tired phrase “Never say never”, employed by Bieber and parents everywhere.

My love story with New York City plays out like a well-written romantic comedy (yes, they do exist!). First I hated it. Then I started to see the value in it. Later on, I had a couple positive chance encounters combined with great timing. And finally, I was running through an airport to get back to it.

But since that’s all a little too cutely wrapped in a bow, let’s get down to the 7 reasons I changed my mind about NYC and decided to move here.

7. JOB: For my industry, there are just more opportunities here. I had spent this past summer interning at an agency in NYC and truly saw the professional advantages to staying longer. I’m trying to become an art director at an advertising agency and you’d be surprised how hard that is. Most major cities just don’t have a lot of openings for entry-level in creative and the sheer number of agencies here dwarf anything I have back at home. Plus networking here is vastly easier, with an event almost every week.

6. HOUSING: I had a guaranteed place to stay for cheapish. I was incredibly lucky to have found a friend of my aunt who was willing to let me rent their guest bedroom month to month for a crazy cheap rate. If I hadn’t found this incredible deal, I probably would have sublet from someone on Gypsy Housing, but this basically made everything easier.

5. SAVINGS: Let’s be honest, this city is expensive. Although it’s not even in the top ten of the most expensive places to live in the world. But, in all honesty, the fact I had saved up a nice nest egg beforehand is a real factor. I did this by always having paid internships/ jobs throughout high school and college, keeping up my GPA to qualify for scholarships that covered most of my college tuition (I got out debt free thankfully), and never owning a car. This isn’t a possibility for everyone and I’ll be the first to acknowledge where I received help to make this happen: amazing agency owners giving me a fair rate for my work, getting into a cheapish public university that my parents paid part of, and generous friends who’d give me rides without a second thought.

4. LIFESTYLE: You don’t realize how much you change in terms of preferences until it hits you one day. My first trip to NYC was riddled with crowded tourist traps, terrible street smells, and the belief at any moment I’d fall onto the subway tracks. Yet, as I returned to the city for various conferences and events, I realized how much the current version of me loves the crazy energy of dodging people on the street, how little I’m bothered by the trash, and I conquered the track thing by standing against a wall so no one could push me. In all honesty, I can’t quite pin down why a city that overwhelmed now energized me. I think four years spent in my tiny college town acted as the catalyst for me making a huge change.

3. TRANSPORTATION: I hate driving. It’s un-American and blasphemous I’m told, but I hate it. And apparently, I’m not alone in this. I grew out of most of the anxiety and insomnia I suffered from as a child, yet the minute I sit in a driver’s seat I start panicking. I would rather confront the biggest bully in the locker room than drive a car in traffic. I got my license halfway through college and with the exception of one summer I almost never use it for its primary purpose. So it’s no surprise that I love the subway. I can get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time and I’m pretty good at navigating the transfers. Plus it’s much cheaper to pay the $122/month for an unlimited rides metro card than any car payment or insurance fee.

2. SUPPORT NETWORK: After college, most of my friend group stayed in our college town to either start their graduate degrees or live with their new partner. I being neither of these, was then left with the strange realization that all my other friends (college friends that graduated before me) had moved to the big city. Moving to a new place knowing I had a group of people already there as support was a huge stress reliever. Also, the strange thing is, despite living all my life in one state, I was better at making new friends in NYC. I chalk it up to always being more of a city girl raised around people from rural parts or the fact that most people in NYC are from somewhere else too just looking for a buddy. It could also be that my sarcastic dark humor just plays better here. Who knows.

1. CULTURE: I love what this city has to offer and how much I get to learn from it. I’m a sucker for a day spent going to lectures, wandering through museums, and reading a new book while splayed out on park grass. I have never lived anywhere where there’s so much to take in and do that you need to follow a whole website to keep up. Tomorow a new friend and I are going kayaking for free. On Sunday another one wants to check out a new gallery in Chelsea. Even just walking around I stop (over to the side so as not to be trampled by foot traffic) and stare at the architecture and art installations outside office buildings. Someday I hope to be just as permanent.



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