20 Signs You're Not Cut Out to Be a New Yorker

“If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” sang Frank Sinatra, a guy from New Jersey who’s famous for making fun of his one-eyed black Jewish friend on stage. He did sort of have a point, however: succeeding in New York is a badge of honor earned by few (though bought by many). While there’s no shame in not being cut out for the New York game, there are definitely some signs you should pack it up early and maybe give it a shot somewhere else.

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You’re not comfortable living with multiple roommates 

Living alone in New York City is a rare privilege only earned after you’ve consumed the souls of several other entry-level marketing people. When you first graduate college and move to New York City, you’re going to have to live in a converted studio/12-bedroom/haunted orphan zoo. 

You say things like, “my body's a temple”

Unless you mean a temple to Grundler, high god of pickle back shots. New York City is a playground of bodily damaging substances and activities. If you consider a long, healthy life (both physically and psychologically!) a big priority... uh, California is probably more your speed.

You really miss driving

The only thing you’re going to be driving is your roommate... crazy, that is! Because you’re complaining all the time about not driving, you see.

You don’t like working

New Yorkers do a few things really well, one of those is work (the other two are “complain” and “produce writer dorks who write lists for web blog Tumblrs”). The lazy rarely last long in a population that prides itself on sleeping at their desks. 

You don’t like priding yourself on really stupid things

Like sleeping at your desk or having a 212 area code or never going north of 14th street. There’s a bounty of really stupid things only New Yorkers are proud of and totally should not be because they’re so stupid and sad. Anyway, you better like them! 


You’re not “into food”

There are some people who consider food nothing more than fuel for their bodies. These people are hobgoblin monsters who should be hunted in televised bloodsports only legally watchable in former Soviet satellite states. Also, they shouldn’t come to New York since one of the reasons you’re donating blood to pay rent is to enjoy the massive bounty of galaxy-class food available all over the city.

You wouldn't do horribly unspeakable things to get an apartment

All’s fair in love, war, and New York City real estate. You must be prepared to sink to the lowest human levels to secure that rent stabilized Alphabet City walk-up that, when you think about it, isn’t even a great deal but the location is really nice and, you know, vehicular homicide isn’t even rigorously prosecuted in New York City anyway.  

You care that vehicular homicide isn’t rigorously prosecuted

No, really, you could totally get hit by an Uber and die and nobody would care. 

You’re not cool with weird smells

Hot summer water garbage, winter subway wet wool coat musk -- New York is replete with olfactory delights that you have to be prepared to get used to. If you’re upset that your morning commute regularly smells like a well-used Kardashian waist trainer, Sheboygan might be more up your (nice smelling) alley.

You enjoy positively rooting for your sports teams

Even when the Knicks, Nets, Liberty, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Islanders, Yankees, or Mets are good... they actually suck. They always suck. Remember this. All New Yorkers are looking for an excuse to yell “You suck!” at our sports teams. “Hey, thanks for being good at sports!” is not something a New Yorker will ever say to a sports man.

Flickr/Michael Dougherty

You want kids

Good luck with getting them into the pre-pre-pre school that’s now required to qualify to go to the pre-pre school that guarantees all their graduates are in the top three percentile for singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Like everything in New York, having kids is a brutal and ruthless competition. If you don’t have the stones to create a parody Instagram account of a neighbor’s child just to destroy their chances of being accepted into Stuyvesant thereby marginally increasing you own kid’s shot... well you’re not cut out for New York City parenthood, buster. 

You get upset by cat calls

So this is messed up, because nobody should be cat called, right? But no amount of writer nerds going, “Hey, don’t whistle at ladies!” will stop the whistling at ladies. If it deeply bothers you to be harassed by goon idiots asking you to smile, New York is going to be tough for you, and that’s not your fault -- it’s just the trash reality we have to deal with.

You don’t hate-watch House Hunters

Are you fucking kidding me, you’re looking for a four bedroom, three-car garage landed estate with like a tennis court and pool and a houseboy for $100,000? 

You want to own a home


You can’t survive solely on Chinese takeout for a weekend

There will come a hangover so savage that nothing but pork fried rice and egg rolls will power you through multiple days of Netflix and swill (Gatorade). If you’re pining for some fresh fruit you do not belong.  

You want to get married

Nobody gets married until at least 30 in New York. Sometimes never. If every couple you ever meet introducing their significant other as their “partner” makes your blood boil, you should probably call a more marriage-happy burg home.

Flickr/Jeffrey Zeldman

You don’t cross the street unless the sign says “Walk”

If you thought New York City’s municipal disregard for traffic deaths would discourage true New Yorkers from crossing the street whenever they damn well please, you’d be wrong.

You’re afraid of street food

Never mind fancy stupid trucks that sell like lotus pot pie burritos or whatever -- if you’re afraid to get a dirty water dog, dropped into a stale-ass bun from some no-glove wearing crusty vendor, you belong shopping for pre-made meals at Wegmans.

You want to save money

The cost of living in New York City typically ranks it near the top of the most expensive cities in the world. If “the sweet release of death” bothers you as a retirement plan, better hightail it to Canada.

You hate the heat/cold

It gets cold enough to freeze the Hudson River and shut down transportation. It gets hot enough that the city has to set up air conditioning centers so old people don’t die. If you can’t gut-out the swamp-ass to arctic vortex range of New York City weather, the utter lack of any kind of seasonal distinction of Los Angeles is for you (enjoy the earthquakes!).

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