1. Always have a beverage in hand. There really is only one way to describe the functionality of a big city: caffeine by day, cosmopolitans by night. Now when it comes to coffee, there are some rules. Do not walk into a chain of any sorts wearing any kind of velour tracksuit that has an adjective spelled out on the back of your pants and order your usual double-double. Cool people, do not do this. You must find that family-owned coffee house around the corner that only uses organic beans shipped in from northern France. Now that you’ve found what will become your regular morning destination, order the most complicated and terrible sounding combination of things on the menu. Something like a grande non-fat green tea latte with soy milk, no whip. That’d be perfect.
2. Now that that cute barista knows your ridiculous order like the back of his hand, ask him out. He is going to be a struggling artist who will take you to poetry readings on the weekends and play you acoustic versions of songs you used to like – but he will also be your guide to the city. This barista will know of the newest underground bars and the best Chinese takeout at 4 a.m. All essential to big-city survival, of course.
3. So you’ve mastered the look and attained a cute boyfriend. Now you must find the perfect apartment, which brings me to the next cardinal big-city rule: rent, don’t buy. Almost no one that’s just moved to a big city in their twenties buys. Yes, you want to be cool enough to say you live here, but too cool to show you want to stay forever. Buying reeks of commitment. So instead, wash your money down that toilet in your trendy studio apartment each month so you can be an official city-hopper.
4. Your apartment should never look like page six of the IKEA catalogue. Or any page, for that matter. Unless you want your place to look like your mom went shopping for your student residence, of course. Otherwise, grab your one-dollar-breakfast at the house of cheap Swedish furniture and head straight to that vintage shack in Kensington that refurbishes things they find on curbsides.
5. Take the subway. Since you’re already spending $8 on that matcha green tea garbage every morning at the coffee shop, you won’t be able to afford taking taxis. To that end, never ever hop onto any kind of city transit wearing your Raquel Welch wig and six inch stilettos. City gals know better than that. Taking the subway will also give you a directional grasp of the city, so when the moment finally arrives when a suburban tourist asks you which way the MOMA is from Central Park, you will know what to say. Because if you don’t, you’re essentially wearing that beanie hat and pumping Lana del Rey for nothing.