1. Your workout options are limited.
If you live in an apartment without a gym (aka ME… and I’m pretty sure most people), it is either free or super super expensive to workout. Expensive options include gym memberships or Class Pass which typically run around $100 a month. Free options primarily consist of running… in Central Park, up apartment staircases, or weaving your way through traffic on the sidewalk. All three types I did last week.
One cool thing the city does have, is that free fitness classes are available, as long as you are flexible with your time and location. A lot of workout stores (Nike, Lululemon, etc.) host free run clubs one night a week. This past Wednesday I tried out the Lululemon 66th and 3rd run club. It was awesome! We did six 800 meters in Central Park.
The nice thing about the Lululemon run club is that they let you leave your stuff in their store while you run, and you can use their dressing rooms to change if you are coming from work. Talk about clutch! But since I live in Midtown (a non-residential area around 34th street), I had to walk/ride the subway 30 blocks to the store.
2. Live in a residential area.
Residential areas are nicer, cleaner, safer, and hence more expensive. But I honestly think it is worth it. Midtown is a bit sketch. There are more people (unfortunately including more homeless people), more stores, more loudness. Residential areas like Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, and obviously Upper East and Upper West side just have so much more charm. I enjoy walking around those areas.
3. Catch onto the neighborhood lingo.
Directions are very simple here. If you are going to Lululemon on 66th and 3rd Avenue and are starting from work at 50th and 5th, you go north 16 blocks and right 2 blocks. Genius. Genius, I tell you! What is not so easy is when someone tells you they live in Union Square, or Lincoln Square, or Hell’s Kitchen.
The key is to know where Central Park is located. And hint: It’s pretty centrally located (see map below).
West of Central Park is the Upper West Side. East of Central Park is the Upper East Side. You don’t want to go North of Central Park, because Harlem is sketch. And then directly South of Central Park is Times Square (Midtown). Continuing south grows increasingly trendy/hipster/chic in areas like Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Soho, until…. BAM you turn all business professional in the Financial District. And if you keep going more south then that, you end up in the Hudson River. 💁🏼
4. Navigating the subways are a breeze… once you figure out how to work the Metrocard machines.
Subways are simple. To find a station, use Google Maps. If you put in where you currently are and where you want to go, Google tells you what train to take and where to find the closest station. Once inside the station, you pick if you are going “uptown” (aka North like I am at 34th street and want to go to 50th street) or “downtown” (aka South like starting at 66th street and heading towards 20th street).
Street Knowledge: Streets run horizontal. So if you walk 34th street you are moving from the left side of the map to the right side of the map. Higher numbers are north/uptown. Lower numbers are south/downtown.
Avenue Awareness: Avenues run vertical. Taking a trip down 5th Avenue means walking from the top of the map to the bottom of the map. Higher numbers are on the west and lower numbers are on the east.
The red X on the NW corner of the box would be 70th Street and 7th Avenue. Mind=Blown.
Side Story on Subways: So I went to refill my Metrocard, which is how you pay for subways, and I insert my Metrocard into the machine and then I select how much I want to add to my Metrocard and then I swipe my credit card to pay. I complete the process, but then I don’t get my Metrocard back! The machine ATE MY METROCARD. I was absolutely perturbed.
So I storm over to the guy in his little subway booth and (politely) explain how the machine ate my card and I want a refund. Well he gives me a free ride to get home, and an envelope to request a refund and tells me to write down the machine number to complain. I returned to the machine, wrote down the number, and then started to buy a new Metrocard at the machine next to it, because I still had to work the rest of the week. I go through the entire process again and then pull out my wallet to pay, and MY METROCARD IS RIGHT NEXT TO MY CREDIT CARD IN MY WALLET.
Summary: Katie is not cut out for city living, and desperately needs to return to the suburbs. Anyways, on to more fun facts about NYC…
4. There are like NO grocery stores!
Residential areas do have a few grocery stores. But unless you can afford to pay for organic food or Trader Joes, you are left to eating out for every meal! I have heard you can order groceries online, which allows you to bypass 1) finding a grocery store and 2) carrying all your groceries from said grocery store to your apartment. Sounds like a ok option.
5. NYC is not actually as bad as a grass-loving, introverted, slightly-germaphobic person might think.
After you learn how to keep track of your Metrocard, figure out what areas of town are safe (and more importantly which ones are not), you might find yourself saying…
Well, I mean obviously Boston is better… and Philadelphia… and Mishawaka… and Waco, TX is home of Chip and Johanna Gaines from HGTV’s Fixer Upper so I would rank that place above New York…
I really am trying. I promise.