4 Things People Don’t Tell You About New York

I recently moved from Chicago to New York to pursue my dream of being a fashion journalist. Fun, right? I thought so. Until I arrived and realized that nothing anyone told me about living in New York was true. OR that if they had divulged personal experiences, they left out the bad stuff, like a jerk. Since I find it appalling that people have been ensconced in this charade for years, I thought I’d expose some of these lies and share a few things I wish people would have told me before I moved.

1. People are lying if they tell you they have a friend that will get you a job.

Everyone will tell you that they have a friend in your field who can “totally help you out.” But they’re probably not referring to an actual friend as much as they are the idea of someone they once met. Strung along by these threads of false hope, you’ll say things to people like, “Can you believe that my friend knows someone who worked at Vogue? They told me to send them my resume and they’d pass it off to their friend who will try and send it to the editor. I’m practically in!”

You’re not in. In fact, you’re worse off than before, because while you think you have all these new connections and that it’s only a matter of time before your big break comes, you’re actually just sitting in a dark room alone holding a gun to your head while your dream taunts you by doing a jig in the corner. News flash, home skillet: You’ve just spent two months relying on the idea of someone else’s friends and you’re the sitting duck with a Master’s degree, an empty bank account and no job.

2. If you haven’t saved every bit of paperwork pertaining to your life ever, you will not qualify for an apartment in NYC.

I was fully prepared to live in a closet when I moved here. What I wasn’t expecting was that I’d have to have pay stubs from the job I didn’t have because I JUST MOVED HERE, that I would need proof of employment for said non-existent job, that I’d have to bring my parents into my misery by using their bank statements, pay stubs, proof of employment and credit checks just to secure an apartment for myself (a 26-year-old woman). That no-fee apartments always have fees; that the only way to actually find an apartment is by going with a broker, which costs thousands more dollars than what you ever planned to spend; that you will lose your first two apartments the broker finds you, and when you finally have one he’ll call you, screaming at you to get to his office right now with $5000 or you’ll never live anywhere again; and that you’ll spend so much time trying to look for and secure your apartment, you won’t have time for a job. Leaving you two months into your tenure in NYC with a home and literally zero dollars with which to decorate or stock it with food.

3. People are lying if they tell you that your first year in New York will be really hard.

Let me tell you a story. The other day, my roommate Britany and I endured an abysmal five-hour apartment search in Brooklyn that resulted in us not seeing the inside of a single apartment. We love movies, so we thought we’d end the day on a high note with a night at the theater. Happily enjoying our large popcorn, contraband wine and Straw Dogs, we’re right at the part where things are getting good and the screen goes black. Britany goes to see what’s happening and I — a victim of New York, a broken human — start crying, trying to make sure she doesn’t see and discover I’m so low that I’m crying because our movie lost power. I end up finding her crying in the lobby, and when the manager tries to give us free passes we hit rock bottom, sobbing to him about how badly we needed this movie and could he give us extra free passes because this is a really bad day? In a moment for him that must have felt like some weird dream, he gave us one promotional Straw Dogs baseball cap to share, and said he hopes things get better.

I know hard. My parents got divorced when I was 12 and I retreated into a den of brown lipstick and JNCOs. I once had a boyfriend who was secretly engaged to another woman until it wasn’t a secret and just my crappy life. But never have I publicly disgraced my own self and been plied into submission with a baseball cap. Hard? Try “the lowest 365 days of your life.”

4. Everyone looks better than you, and is doing better than you. Always.

Children in New York look better than I do. They are wearing way more expensive clothing and probably get weekly blowouts. I, meanwhile, have decided to “grow out my hair” which really means that I’m pretending like my inability to afford a haircut is a choice. I have never seen so many people at one time who look like they’ve just walked out of an editorial — while I have ankles, and a bunion, covered in band-aids to protect my blistered stumps. Every time I smile big and say “Thank you so much!” I feel so blindly Midwestern that I want to smack my own self in the face. I’ve been wearing more makeup to hide the bags under my eyes (which now reach my chin), and realized how badly that was backfiring when a friend said the other night that I should lay off the foundation.

At least I have my new Straw Dogs cap for when I want to hide my bloodshot eyes while buying my hangover everything bagel. TC mark

image – Chris Isherwood

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  • Kait

    Love this. Good luck!

    • Samreen

      Hilarious! I just tweeted you. Found a job yet?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    Typo on #3.

    Why not just find a roommate? 

    • Scottie

      Did you miss the part where she says “my roommate Brittany”?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        Yes

  • Erik Stinson

    Ahahahaaa

    But serriuosly

    Go home

    Jk

  • http://twitter.com/morganizing Morgan Kelley

    Tip #6 – don’t go to the hair cuttery (do they even have those in New York?) if you get the urge to “trim the split ends” while trying to grow it out because I promise you, that bitch with shred your hair 3-5 inches shorter than you anticipated. And then you won’t be able to use the excuse that you’re growing it out because it’s so short it looks like you stuck your head in a freaking weed whacker. So yeah, just keep growing it out, screw them split ends.

    • guest

      Just saying, as a hair stylist, your may have had that long of split ends and in order for your hair to grow and even be worth having they need to be gone. Get trims all the time if you’re growing your hair out – if you go as much as you should they will actually only be trims.

      • http://twitter.com/morganizing Morgan Kelley

        well see that’s what I thought too, but then I saw the rat tail she gave me.

      • http://twitter.com/morganizing Morgan Kelley

        well see that’s what I thought too, but then I saw the rat tail she gave me.

  • http://twitter.com/morganizing Morgan Kelley

    or you know, Tip #5. Whatever.

  • macgyver51

    Man, if its that hard then I have no idea how a poor single mom with two kids can live there.

    • saran2

      Probably can’t.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WQXSSKAMOU4WCHKCWYMUKKKNU Aladin Sane

        Because there are no poor single moms here. Right? RIGHT!

  • dayna lynn

    i survived barely 8 months in new york and cried when i decided to come back to chicago. new york was awful i don’t miss it. i love and appreciate chicago so much.

    • B Wagner03

      You made it 2 months past me! Oddly enough, I didn’t hate the city so much as I did some of the douche bags I encountered there. Yet, here I am back in Cincinnati and wishing I was in another city… like a New York. Isn’t that a bitch? ;)

  • ryan chang

    the 2nd year is always the hardest b/c you know what to expect of the fucking winter

  • B Wagner03

    “Every time I smile big and say ‘Thank you so much!’ I feel so blindly Midwestern that I want to smack my own self in the face. ” — Hilarious! I’d say things like these enthusiastically just to piss people off because not that it meant anything or made it better, but at least I still had my manners. It could be the day from hell and you know there would be no silver lining, no polite person to check you out of the drugstore around the corner who actually said, “You’re welcome.”… So, I’d even add in a “Have a great day” or “Have a good one” as I walked out the door responding to their silence quietly with… “dick”.  Hang in there! You’ll make it happen, and if you retreat- no harm in that.

  • Marthabuca

    1. You have a typo in a headline. Have you heard of proofreading?
    2. You are so bitter.
    3. New York is wonderful and I would never change what I lived there for anything
    4. Breaking news 26 y/o woman, the real world is hard in New York, Chicago or wherever you go. You will find unemployed people everywhere! Move to the South, you still will have to show that you are not broke to be able to get an apartment and HELLO if you are broke, you’ll have to live with roomates, sublease, etc. Just like I did when I lived in New York and never complained.
    5. Get therapy for your misery, don’t infect the Thought Catalog with your very own personal issues and don’t ever talk bs about NY.

    • Ponyys

      asshole much?

    • Lou

      MARTHABUCA MAD
      MARTHABUCA SMAAAAAAAAAAAAASH

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1580441990 Kim Brobeck Hill

      Isn’t Thought Catalog for this very thing?  New York City is in general crowded, smelly and rude.  So chill out Martha…this is one persons personal account of NYC.  You are so bitter.

      • Marthabuca

        At her, yes I am :P

    • True New Yorker

       Hells yes.  I have read many insightful and intelligent pieces on Thought Catalog–this is not one of them.  Grow up!  Life is hard these days…EVERYWHERE.  If you don’t like it here then get out…that’s what pisses off true new yorkers most–people like you who don’t appreciate it and think we’re all assholes.  We’re not by the way, we just don’t have the patience to listen to you bitch.

      • Stephanie

        New York is one of the best cities in the world, but it’s a hard as fuck place to move to from somewhere else. I’ve lived all over the world and have never had such a hard time renting a place as I have in NYC. Two landlords actually wouldn’t rent to me because I wasn’t American.

    • ATL

      I moved to Atlanta 4 years ago from a small town and have also tried to move to New York.  It’s a WHOLE different ballgame.  You can live in a nice place by yourself for $700/mo. in Atlanta.  With roommates, you’re looking at  $300/month.  And by Atlanta, I mean in the city, not the suburbs. You only have to show your paystubs and you never need a broker.  You will NOT get hired in New York if you don’t already live there.  When you look for a job, you have to be able to crash at a friends’ place and lie on your resume using his/her address and say you already live in New York.  And this is just at temp agencies.  The only way I can imagine getting a job in New York without living there is if I got transferred within the same company.  Getting a “career” in Atlanta is still very difficult, but you can easily get a “job” making $10-$12/hr and still be OK if you have roommates.  I love New York, and luckily I already know that I’ll need at least $5000K in savings just to get started.  It’s a wonderful place and I hope to make it up there one day.  But don’t assume that this is common knowledge and that it’s just as hard everywhere else because it’s not.

    • Stephanie

      This article is hilarious. Martha I suggest you get a life, and a sense of humor.

    • Stephanie

      This article is hilarious. Martha I suggest you get a life, and a sense of humor.

  • Rebekah

    Aww I hope things get better for you soon! Living in a city is SO expensive! I have a full time job but don’t make that much and I’m struggling to eat this week. I feel your pain!

  • jesssim6

    Poor thing. I hope things turn around for you. Hang in there x

  • http://twitter.com/LondonCS Madeleine Corley

    Very similar to London..,

    • S.H.

      …?!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WQXSSKAMOU4WCHKCWYMUKKKNU Aladin Sane

    wah wah wha…MAN THE FUCK UP.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WQXSSKAMOU4WCHKCWYMUKKKNU Aladin Sane

    wah wah wha…MAN THE FUCK UP.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5WQXSSKAMOU4WCHKCWYMUKKKNU Aladin Sane

    wah wah wha…MAN THE FUCK UP.

  • ams

    Wahhhhh. But seriously on the haircut tip, Bumble & Bumble is always giving out free haircuts. Check craigslist – they post the kind and when you can make an appointment.

    Buck up, learn to be hungry a lot and enjoy the fact that you can be there. The 2 years I lived in NYC were amazingly hard, but so fun and made me grow up and not write things like this.

  • ams

    Wahhhhh. But seriously on the haircut tip, Bumble & Bumble is always giving out free haircuts. Check craigslist – they post the kind and when you can make an appointment.

    Buck up, learn to be hungry a lot and enjoy the fact that you can be there. The 2 years I lived in NYC were amazingly hard, but so fun and made me grow up and not write things like this.

  • ams

    Wahhhhh. But seriously on the haircut tip, Bumble & Bumble is always giving out free haircuts. Check craigslist – they post the kind and when you can make an appointment.

    Buck up, learn to be hungry a lot and enjoy the fact that you can be there. The 2 years I lived in NYC were amazingly hard, but so fun and made me grow up and not write things like this.

  • http://facebook.com/sdouglas Scott

    NewYork Catalog

  • Megan

    I’ve never lived in NYC, but I worked a couple summers on Martha’s Vineyard in a town known for it’s NY monthly visitors in August. They are just down right MEAN. Disrespectful, unable to drive and practice common courtesies of the road, and yelling- ALWAYS yelling! At me, at other vactioners, at the other summer workers who endure their abuse with hope that they’d give us a decnt tip (because we all knew they had $ with their Land Rovrs and ridiculous “I’m rich but look like a disheveled mess”/completely yup-ified attire with always includes red pants or plaid shorts).

    I was warned about the NY’ers and didn’t believe it. Until I was being screamed at because a woman told me I should be taking responsibility for the condition of the beach I had sold her a pass to. Really? Sorry lady, your botox’ed face is screaming injustice, but your ridiculously absurd demands scream “asshole”.

    • Marthabuca

      Stereotypes.

      • Megan

        then all of MV stereotypes all of those yellow license plates. 

    • True New Yorker

      Seriously? Generalizations on an entire STATE of people is pretty unintelligent.  You’re the one working in Martha’s Vineyard…

    • True New Yorker

      Seriously? Generalizations on an entire STATE of people is pretty unintelligent.  You’re the one working in Martha’s Vineyard…

  • Megan

    I’ve never lived in NYC, but I worked a couple summers on Martha’s Vineyard in a town known for it’s NY monthly visitors in August. They are just down right MEAN. Disrespectful, unable to drive and practice common courtesies of the road, and yelling- ALWAYS yelling! At me, at other vactioners, at the other summer workers who endure their abuse with hope that they’d give us a decnt tip (because we all knew they had $ with their Land Rovrs and ridiculous “I’m rich but look like a disheveled mess”/completely yup-ified attire with always includes red pants or plaid shorts).

    I was warned about the NY’ers and didn’t believe it. Until I was being screamed at because a woman told me I should be taking responsibility for the condition of the beach I had sold her a pass to. Really? Sorry lady, your botox’ed face is screaming injustice, but your ridiculously absurd demands scream “asshole”.

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    New York is pretty much the best city in North America, but I don’t understand why people move here right out of school with no money, skills or jobs. Just go live in San Fran or Scottsdale for a couple years while you get established. New York sucks when you’re poor anyway.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500654073 Kevin Kelly Kenkel

      san fran or scottsdale??? that’s like saying “eat this baked potato, or this cat poop. same thing.” san fran prices are just as high as NYC.

      • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

         That was a joke ;)

        C’mon. Scottsdale?!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500654073 Kevin Kelly Kenkel

      but you’re so right: only move to NYC once you HAVE a job. or else you’ll find yourself in a pit of misery and despair

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500654073 Kevin Kelly Kenkel

      but you’re so right: only move to NYC once you HAVE a job. or else you’ll find yourself in a pit of misery and despair

    • Marthabuca

      I did cry on the streets once but not because NYC was hurting me. It is a fact that I read in some other article about NY. You will always see a drunk New Yorker, a crazy one, a model, etc. and every now and then someone crying lol

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    New York is pretty much the best city in North America, but I don’t understand why people move here right out of school with no money, skills or jobs. Just go live in San Fran or Scottsdale for a couple years while you get established. New York sucks when you’re poor anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/geology_rocks Haley F

    New York is pretty much the best city in North America, but I don’t understand why people move here right out of school with no money, skills or jobs. Just go live in San Fran or Scottsdale for a couple years while you get established. New York sucks when you’re poor anyway.

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