Biting Into the Big Apple — A Survival Guide for New Residents

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New York is a great city — but Frank Sinatra’s line of making it there equals making it anywhere is a testament to how difficult it can be to survive the Big Apple. The pace is fast, the people are competitive, and the prices can get a bit high. You’ll need more than just wits and luck to survive and thrive in the city.

1. Get Walking

Traffic is ever-present in the city. Tourists, ongoing construction, and high population density all combine to make New York’s roads one of the most congested among the major cities in the world. Relying on cabs will not only drain your personal savings account, it will also leave you frustrated and late for your appointments. Fortunately, New York is a very walkable city. Its grid-based design makes for short walks and easy navigation. Of course, almost everyone walks in the city and the pace can be closer to a slow jog than the normal stroll. As a bonus, the extra cardio counts as exercise and would burn a few calories.

2. Use Maps

Don’t hesitate to look at your phone for directions. Online maps or GPS apps are the norms in any modern city — so don’t bother with traditional physical maps. One of the more important maps you can get is a map of the subway. You won’t be riding just one line, so a subway map can make it easier for you to find the right stations and stops. New York subways can get crazy, so try to ride the middle car (where the conductor is) or follow the crowd. Try not to board empty cars — subway stations are always crowded and an empty train means people avoided boarding it for a reason.

3. Know Where to Eat

New York is an expensive city and restaurants charge higher prices — 30 percent higher than the national average. It gets crazier in Times Square as the massive flood of tourists and people allow establishments to charge even higher prices. If you don’t want to drain your savings account, cook your own food and eat at home. Dining out with friends can be costly, so limit them to once or twice a month until you note which establishments have happy hours that fit your schedule. If you’re on the run, opt for local delis and food trucks — they have more reasonable prices and less pretentious food.

4. Prepare for Rain

rain water

Rain is a big part of living in the city. New York experiences 120 days of rain a year — not counting light drizzles and short showers. Puddles on sidewalks and the splashing of cars can leave you drenched and your shoes ruined. A good pair of rain boots should keep your feet dry during the rainiest of seasons. Pair it with a big umbrella and you should be ready for the rains. Of course, your first splash of puddle water will teach you to stay far from the roads or wait until the rain stops before you start walking.

5. Keep Your Wits About You

Every city has its criminal elements and New York is no exception. Crowded places are hotspots for pickpockets, so stay alert and keep your phone and wallet in your front pockets. Don’t flash around wads of cash or wear jewelry unless you have some sort of protection (bodyguards, posse, or rabid fans). Be wary of sudden commotions — some pickpockets rely on distractions and they often work as a team to rob a mark.

New York is a concrete jungle and survival requires knowing the practices, the unwritten rules, and the people. Learn to navigate the intricacies of the city and you can thrive in the Big Apple.

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