New York is probably the only city in the world that almost everyone thinks about moving to at some point in their lives. Even those who have no desire to ever live in New York are still fascinated by people who do, which is why it’s the setting for countless movies, TV shows, and probably staged viral videos starring rats.
It’s a fantasy for many -- but a reality for even more. And those of us in said reality face a constant slew of crazy questions and comments about New York life from our third cousins in Ohio, tourists on the subway, and just about every other out-of-towner ever. None of us are naive enough to think this will be the last time these things will come up, but hopefully this will be a not-so-subtle suggestion to those from other parts to at least try to avoid saying them.
"Wait... your rent is HOW much?"
In New York, it’s oddly not considered rude, or even inappropriate, to outwardly ask a stranger how much he/she pays in rent. Mainly because we’re always worried we’re getting a worse deal than our friends, but also because living here makes you weirdly obsessed with real estate -- it’s hard not to peek into the bay window of that West Village townhouse and wonder how much the tenants pay, and Sunday afternoons are frequently spent doing Streeteasy searches “just to look.”
But that doesn't mean I want to be reminded that I could be paying off a mortgage practically anywhere else. That’s not why I live here. And yes, it’s fully crazy how much I pay for a bathroom to be in my kitchen, but I’m (mostly) over it, and I’d appreciate if you could be too.
"I could never live in New York"
This is a serious backhanded compliment.
"But how do you get your groceries?"
Why is it weird to walk to get groceries and then walk them back home? All it means is not buying in bulk or doing massive Costco runs. I wouldn’t want to do that anyway, considering my storage space amounts to one weird cabinet in my kitchen that I suspiciously can’t open. I once got overly excited about a 12-pack of paper towels on sale, only to get home and literally have nowhere to put them.
"Chicago pizza is better than New York pizza"
Chicago and New York are like the the Sharks and Jets when it comes to their pizza rivalry. And that means, of course, that New York is the Sharks. It’s not that New Yorkers can’t appreciate a deep-dish... we just appreciate our slices a lot more.
"Yeah, but are the bagels as good as Einstein Bagels?"
"Don't you miss driving?"
Sure, there are certain aspects about driving I miss, but for the most part, not really. Public transportation in New York is pretty great, and never having to worry about the whole drinking and driving thing, gas, or a car payment is even greater.
"You must hang out in Times Square all the time, huh?"
I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve “hung out” in Times Square, and the majority of those times were to do so ironically and/or eat unlimited salad and breadsticks at the giant Olive Garden (slightly less ironically, because unlimited salad and breadsticks are no joke). Times Square may be something you need to see once in your life, but people who actually live in New York tend to stay away from it the same way locals in Vegas avoid the Strip.
"It smells like piss everywhere"
OK, it’s not everywhere. Just, you know, on certain subway platforms. Occasionally some of the actual trains. And perhaps several Downtown streets during the summer months. But just relax with your generalizations!
"Why don't we/you take a cab/Uber?"
Cabs and Ubers are fantastic, but when you live here fulltime, for most they’re considered a luxury. Remember, it’s not cheap to live here. So unless it’s hailing golfballs (rain/snow is fine) or you’re coming home late from far away, it’s subway or walking all the way. Maybe a Citi Bike. Because as Ross Geller so famously said: “Who am I, Rockefeller?”
"Can we go see Hamilton?"
Do you have $2,000?
"I don't get it, why don't you live in [absurdly expensive neighborhood]?"
There has yet to be one movie or TV show that displays realistic New York real estate. Every single New York apartment you’ve seen on-screen is a complete and utter lie; no one can afford them. Not even Broad City gets it totally right, and aren’t they supposed to be broke?
Bottom line is, no, we can’t live in one of those giant SoHo lofts on Greene St or that brownstone on Perry St, and neither can 99.9% of the population.
"Do you see celebrities everywhere?"
If you’re actually paying attention, yes. But that means, mostly no. Celebrities easily blend into the bustle here, and they honestly probably like living in New York because people who live here are too wrapped up in their own shit to care or even notice they’re SoulCycle-ing next to Alec Baldwin or grocery shopping with Helen Mirren. That said, I did purposely and extremely excitedly follow Louis C.K. and his two kids for five blocks once.
"I don't get the subway"
It’s actually extremely easy to figure out. The city is a grid, and the subway takes you up/down/across the main thoroughfares of it. The lines are even color- and letter-coded, and even though the G train is almost always delayed for a quarter of a century, and we’ve basically already stopped considering the L a train line, it’s still rated one of the best and most efficient public transport systems in the world.
"How can you not be dating anyone? There are people everywhere!"
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.
Liz Newman is a freelance writer who lives in New York. Her apartment looks just like Carrie Bradshaw’s, because all New York freelance writers live in brownstones -- it’s the law. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lizn813.