The Biggest Mistakes People Make When They Move to NYC

Daniel Fishel/Thrillist
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

New York City is unlike any other place on Earth, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of things people do wrong when they first move here -- from poor judgement calls (like not buying an unlimited MetroCard) to nearly life-threatening ones (like thinking SantaCon is a good idea). Fortunately for you, we’ve rounded up the most common mistakes transplants make, so you don’t have to make them, too.

Thinking you need to live in the heart of Manhattan

“When I moved here, I wanted to get the ‘full NYC experience’ (whatever that means). My roommate and I worked with a broker who found an apartment with temporary walls. He even convinced us that we needed to pay for the walls, in cash, to him, even though they had already been installed and paid for by the previous tenants. Obviously we were totally scammed, but learned two invaluable lessons in the process: The first is to always trust your gut and not pay cash to shady brokers. The second is -- you definitely don't need to live in Midtown to get the full New York City experience.” -- Michelle G., NYC resident for five years

Waiting hours for brunch

“There are LOTS of places to eat brunch on a Sunday in New York City, and absolutely none of them make eggs that are worthy of a two-hour wait. Plus, the food is often better at the places that won’t make you come very close to dying of starvation.” -- Lucy M., lifelong NYC resident

Living above a bar

“Living above a bar (or really, anywhere within earshot of one) is absolutely nothing like TV sitcoms would have you believe. You will not sleep, and the only reason everybody will know your name is because of all the times you file noise complaints.” -- Sam R., NYC resident for 10 years

Eating from a bodega’s hot buffet

“Never trust the hot buffets at the supermarket. Or any other bodega for that matter. I used to live by a market and its hot buffet was my go-to dinner spot until I saw someone reach in with their hand -- yes their actual, physical hand -- to take a scoop of potato salad. Suffice it to say that moment has scarred me for life.” -- Melissa C., NYC resident for seven years

Going to bars in Midtown

“You’re either going to pay for extremely overpriced, bad mixed drinks or extremely cheap watered-down beers, both of which are going to be even more intolerable when you’re faced with hordes of middle-aged businessmen.” -- Lucy M., lifelong NYC resident

Taking too many cabs

“I wish I took fewer cabs [when I first moved here] and spent more time walking from place to place, which turned out to be one of my favorite things to do about living in New York City.” -- Parker G., NYC resident for five years

Not understanding the difference between a local and an express train

“You will get on the wrong train. And you won’t realize until you’re on your way to 125th Street with no way of getting off.” -- Nolan E., NYC resident for four years

Paying a broker fee on an apartment

“This one’s a little tricky because no-fee apartments can occasionally be scams, but if you’re smart about it and do your due diligence, you can easily get an apartment without paying an exorbitant broker fee. Save that money for overpriced cocktails!” -- Tim S., lifelong NYC resident

Thinking cockroach infestations are just a stereotype

“Be prepared for roaches and bedbugs. It’s a fact of life in this city pretty much anywhere you live. I moved into a place once on 7th Avenue and 20th Street -- there were roaches in the hallways every day [and] the entire building had bedbugs. You will never find a place that is entirely roach-free. At best, maybe you’ll only see them once or twice a year.” -- Ric S., NYC resident for eight years

Not buying a monthly unlimited MetroCard

“Unless you’re lucky enough to live walking distance from work, you’re throwing away your money without it.” -- Amanda M., lifelong NYC resident

Participating in SantaCon

“When you’re new to NYC, the idea of dressing up in a Santa costume and drinking copious amounts of alcohol sounds like a great idea. Until you’ve been thrown up on by two different adult men and realize the entire city wants to kill you.” -- Sarah T., NYC resident for eight years

Assuming you won’t need a roommate

“Don’t go apartment shopping with the expectation that you’re going to be able to live by yourself. Unless you’re making $75,000 or more, it’s not going to happen.” -- Gigi E., NYC resident for eight years

Avoiding long subway commutes

“Don’t be afraid of long commutes. They give you a chance to destress before getting to work for the day, and also [give] you the opportunity to read a book, listen to a podcast, do some writing, etc.” -- Ric S., NYC resident for eight years

Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Melanie Taryn Lieberman has been a NYC resident for four years. She actually had the unhinged idea to keep her car in Brooklyn and -- after only two months -- had her first three parking tickets (ever) and potentially a lifetime of stress-induced nightmares about opposite side street parking.