Ten things to know about living in NYC

Annika Lewis
3 min readApr 18, 2019


I left New York City about a year ago now. Shockingly to many New Yorker friends of ours, my husband and I left entirely voluntarily while still in our twenties (more shocking yet: we *didn’t* leave for SF).

Having been removed from the city for a year now, I appreciate it even more than I did when I left. I’ve felt the exact same way with Toronto; my love for both cities seems to grow as time passes. Change has brought me perspective, and perspective has brought me gratitude.

I visited NYC last week and all of the feels came back. I walked the streets grinning ear-to-ear like an idiot. Still wearing all black, but definitely grinning. I felt right at home; I relished in the craziness that I’d actively decided to leave — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I left New York, I’d jotted down a short list of recurring observations I’d had while living there: mostly inconsequential, mildly helpful things I found interesting that I would’ve loved to have told a past version of myself before I moved.

Since I never shared it, now feels like the time. Enjoy!

Dear past self: Ten things to know about living in NYC

  1. No matter how much you know about a celebrity, you will be starstruck and have nothing of substance to say when you run into them on the street.
  2. Brooklyn is really, really, really big. Like, 3x Manhattan big. And it’s not just a small hipster escape where you go for a day trip (Gossip Girl’s portrayal of Vanessa and Williamsburg definitely played a role in this misconception…).
  3. No matter how packed it looks, you can fit into that subway car — and if you don’t, someone else will.
  4. It’s a complete myth that the big banks are all headquartered on Wall Street. Most are in midtown.
  5. Pizza Italia at 17th and 8th is possibly the best kept secret on earth. You’re welcome.
  6. There are three — and only three — ways you can go for a run in Manhattan: around the perimeter, over the bridges, or in Central Park. Attempting anything else is futile.
  7. No one blinks an eye when friends spend their disposable income on things like rap music yoga or Ramen Burgers. There’s always something newer and weirder to try.
  8. “Building juice” is a thing and it will fall on you from the scaffolding even on a sunny day.
  9. Neighbourhood lines are ambiguous and hotly debated. Alphabet City is a subset of East Village, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  10. And finally, this place has endless ambition and possibility. People seem to have the craziest, coolest jobs that you wouldn’t imagine exist anywhere else, and they’re universally among the most worldly, driven, and intellectually curious of humans. At first it’s super intimidating, and then it’s wildly energizing. You grow a ton, and the city makes you feel like you can do anything and everything. Because here, you can.