After spending much of my life off and on New York’s mean streets, I’ve decided to break up with New York. Maybe she can be my primary, to ape terms from the poly community, but even that implies a sense of commitment and prioritization.
Here are 15 reasons why New York living is firmly in my rear view:
1. Brunch Sucks.
Slaying a sacred cow here, but brunch – New York’s official meal – sucks. Brunch is a means for restaurants to unload overpriced, low-quality nosh ($17 avocado toast is more a cliché than a meal) and bottom-shelf booze. Weekend brunch is why your spin class isn’t making you lose weight. And you can make better cacio e pepe eggs at home.
2. Street Fairs.
They snarl traffic for blocks. They shut down entire avenues. And they’re all carbon copies of each other, slinging the same tourist-trap t-shirts and questionably pasteurized lemonade.
3. $168 “vintage” t-shirts.
There are boutiques in DUMBO selling $168 vintage t-shirts. Maybe I’m not in the know, but why should I be paying nearly $200 for a plain white T-shirt unless it’s really an Invisibility Cloak.
4. It’s Now a Mall.
Time-Warner Center and Brookfield Place are a far cry from the dingy, Sbarro-infested shrines to commerce that shaped my youth, but you can find many of the same stores in most high-end malls in cities with a much lower COL. Same goes for SoHo, which is an outdoor mall with cobblestones. But, Nordstrom Rack is a net gain. I guess this one’s a wash.
5. No Airport Infrastructure.
After living in Asia for several years, I grew spoiled by accustomed to the idea of a cheap, efficient train that shuffled travelers from the city center to the airport with minimal stops and no transfers. The best we have is New Jersey Transit, if you’re willing to roll the dice that train derailments or other infrastructure fails won’t foil your plans to make your flight.
6. The Subways Are Dying.
For years, I defended the subways because they got you anywhere you needed to go, rats and piss be damned. We got a glimmer of hope in January when the 2nd Avenue Subway opened to much fanfare. But, like Keith Richards’ liver, they can’t last forever, and they’re crumbling before our eyes.
7. All the Good Deals Are Gone.
Even dim sum in Flushing can set you back close to $50. Juice is $12/bottle, spin classes can cost up to $40+/session (once you factor in a bottle of water and post-workout smoothie), and the MTA keeps hiking up subway fares.
8. Except on Hotels.
The best deals in New York aren’t even for New Yorkers. With apps like HotelTonight, you can book a last-minute room in many of the city’s 4 and 5-star hotels for under $200. But, many of these deals are geography-dependent, meaning that your grandmother in Naples, FL may be able to score a 4-star Midtown boutique hotel for $185, but you can’t.
9. But Not AirBnB.
Ever since New York voted AirBnB off the island, its residents have been left with one less means to earn extra dosh. No one wants to live next to a studio apartment-cum-Motel-6, but does anyone know their neighbors enough to tell the difference between friends visiting and “friends visiting”?
10. Street Noise Is Bad for Your Mental Health.
All that drilling, honking, banging, and jostling on Manhattan’s city streets and subways puts your brain in fight-or-flight mode. Are you going to get run over by that pedicab? Will that Citibike slam into you as you open the taxi door? Is that bang a construction noise or the next BREAKING NEWS?
11. Sunshine and Green Space.
Nonexistent. Central Park is special, but let’s not fool ourselves that it’s nature. If you want nature in Manhattan, you need to go up to Inwood Hill Park. Or, better, Van Cortlandt Park. And good luck getting yourself to make that trek.
12. Everyone Drinks All the Time.
For much of my life, tolerance of a functioning alcoholic lifestyle was a feature, not a bug. But it’s getting a bit extra. The entire city seems in a constant state of self-medication. Where other cities (e.g., Los Angeles) almost fetishize wellness, New York glorifies excess. The city’s wine consumption would make a Lannister blush, and it’s time to step away from the bottle.
13. It Takes Half an Hour to Get Anywhere.
A mile-and-a-half journey between neighborhoods can set you back half an hour or more. Especially at certain parts of the day, or if you’re trying to get across town.
14. Kids are a Status Symbol.
The basic act of procreation is a competitive sport in New York and its surrounding suburbs. How do New York rich telegraph their wealth? They aren’t Instagramming their private jets or Amagansett manses. Instead, they have children. Lots of children. And with standard preschool education starting at $30,000 a pop, who can blame couples for leaving the tri-state area?
Walking is a form of transportation in New York, which means sneaky ice patches and calf-high slush puddles and dressing like Jon Snow (sorry, Aegon Targaryen) for nearly 5 months out of the year. If the cold doesn’t drive you mad, it’s lugging all the cold-beating paraphernalia around and finding a place to put it when you meet friends for lunch brunch.
Which you still agree to attend, even though brunch sucks.