How to Spot Someone Who Just Moved to New York City

Sarah Anderson/Thrillist (edited)
Sarah Anderson/Thrillist (edited)

Tourists, transplants, born-and-raiseders, sad Central Park polar bears... there are lots of different types of New Yorkers, all with unique and highly noticeable distinctions. Not mentioned but equally recognizable: the recently-moved-to-NYCers.

Here’s how to spot one in the wild.

Flickr/Alan Bloom

1. They don’t know when to sit on the train

You know how there’s that beat between the hissss of the train air brake and right before the whole shebang jerks suddenly into motion? The just-moved take that second to try and sit down, and inevitably get knocked off balance mid-sit once the train starts. If you’ve been here long enough, you actually start to get a spider sense for when it’s going to happen. Time will slow as some dude begins to crouch and you just know, “Too late, brah.”

2. They say the “red line” or the “blue line” or “let’s go to Target on Saturday!”

Nobody who’s been here for a while refers to any train other than by number or letter. Also: there isn’t enough Xanax in the world for Target on a Saturday.

Flickr/Wally Gobetz

3. They’re amazed by a bánh mì

Once you’ve spent some time in the city, a bánh mì might as well be a bologna sandwich, but the ubiquitous Southeast Asian treat seems wildly exotic to the guy who just got his first studio apartment in Bushwick. Once you’re regularly suggesting, like, cow tongue toasted bagels FOR WORK LUNCH, you know you’ve arrived.

4. They live in Manhattan

While it’s true that Manhattan is “The City” even to people born here, it’s not really the best place to live unless 1) your family owns the naming rights to a couple of European soccer stadiums, or 2) you’re an apartment-hunting professional (which if you’re just moving here, you are not -- trust). But new-to-the-city folks assume that they have to live in Manhattan to get the city experience, meaning they typically get a studio apartment with 17 roommates and a live-in goat somewhere on the Upper-Upper-Upper-Upper-Upper-Upper West Side in a real-estate agent-invented neighborhood with a stupid acronym like HOBOROBO.


5. They always want to do stuff

Uuuuuggggh stuff is the wooooorst. Stop wanting to go to this “hip new club” or “jazzy fresh bar” or “this Staten Island house party hosted by a Wu-Tang clan side, side, side member’s dog.” Just watch Netflix at home with some Seamless while thinking, “I just can’t do this anymore” like everyone else who’s been here for a decade or three.

6. They pronounce Houston “Heeeeeew-ston”

And so what? If you’re some New York pro and you correct somebody on this in anything but the most off-hand way like it’s NBD, you’re a dick. Nobody else pronounces that word like we do. It’s like expecting someone to just know that the Natural History Museum’s blue whale comes alive at night and hunts trespassers. Buddy, it takes years of living in New York to know that!


7. They take forever to swipe their damn MetroCard

Tourists just kind of stare dumbfounded at our mystical train-entering portals and you feel bad so maybe you help them (lol no you don’t). Those who just moved here should know better but they swipe and swipe and swipe... and the extremely loud passive-aggressive huffing and sighing behind them is the only thing that will help them. Probably.

8. They eat breakfast

Like at home? Not a deli breakfast sandwich or stolen workplace piece of fruit or oatmeal?? What is wrong with these people?!?

Flickr/Aurelien Guichard

9. They think everywhere but New York City sucks

Dude, you just got here! New York City pride is fine, but the planet is a big place with lots of cool stuff, like giraffes and opium. If you meet someone who excessively dumps on the rest of the world including his hometown, guaranteed he just got here and has yet to have a piece of air conditioning or construction scaffolding fall on his head. Yeah buddy, that’ll change your opinion of New York quick.

10. They’re scared to go South of Williamsburg. Or North, East, or West.

If they dare to enter Brooklyn at all.

Flickr/Garrett Ziegler

11. They get enamored with all the ethnic enclaves

And think you have to travel 47 stops on the Z train and transfer to three different buses and eventually take a donkey ride to some exclusive pizza shack manned by identical Italian quadruplets to get an “authentic slice.” But really, you can get something just as good down the fucking block. The need to feel endlessly superior about your culinary taste and the “hidden gems” you’ve discovered on Bronxten Island (the illusive sixth borough) is a sign that, while you’ve been here for a little while, you haven’t settled into a comfortably blasé New York attitude about anything and everything.

12. They have a TV. And cable.

Eventually, you will pare down your life to a five-year-old MacBook, a futon, and a suitcase full of broken dreams and expired MetroCards.

Sarah Anderson/Thrillist

13. They get excited about seeing celebrities

If you’re still happy to see movie prop trucks parked on your block and not extremely annoyed that weird dudes with headsets might be creeping on you and telling you not to walk up your own damn street, you haven’t been here long.

14. They think being here for three years isn’t “just moved here”

A lot of people reading this probably see stuff they do but are all like, “But I’ve been here like a few years!” Yeah, well, you need some more time under that belt there, son.

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Jesse was born in Beth Israel hospital sometime in the 1980s and continues to live here now. You can angrily disagree with him via Twitter.