8 Things I Figured Out The Hard Way When I Moved To Manhattan

by Ariel Seidner

So, not unlike many other 20-somethings, I recently moved into an apartment in Manhattan. I had been anticipating living here for months, filled with the excitement, not unlike many of the other 20-somethings in my position.

Growing up watching “Sex and The City” from my suburban home and being a college student who had no real perception of what it is like to live life on my own outside of a suburb or campus, I had grand expectations of what living in the city would be like.

I pictured myself as a young Sarah Jessica Parker, strutting down the avenues of Manhattan, “brunching” with my girlfriends and falling in love with handsome strangers on the street.

That is certainly not what happened (unless you consider the weird guys who stand on the corner handsome strangers, or quickly picking up an orange juice and granola bar as “brunch").

Now, of course I am exaggerating a bit. I didn't actually expect my life to be like Carrie Bradshaw's (I expected better), but below is a list of some things that I really do wish someone had told me before I began living on my own in Manhattan:

1. Standing on the subway

Nobody is above using subway car railings. You cannot defy gravity and you will fall on someone in front of/behind/next to you when the train starts moving, when the train alters acceleration in any way, shape or form and when the train stops.

Don't smugly stand there like you're too good for stability assistance because trust me, your balance isn't as good as you think it is.

Getting into a crowded subway car is kind of awkward and putting your hand on the same pole as five other people while trying as hard as possible not to touch another hand for fear of further awkwardness isn't very fun.

But, after standing there, cradling my bag in my arms with a stance I hoped would be stable enough to keep me from falling the second the train started moving, I realized I probably should have just sucked it up and reached for the pole.

2. Air conditioning

If you have to buy an air conditioner, don't get a crappy one. I know it's tempting to buy the cheapest one on the shelf, but you will not regret shelling out more for the better one, the one that also removes moisture from the air.

The only thing worse than a nice, cold, air-conditioned room, unfortunately tarnished with the heaviest humidity you've ever felt is, I suppose, a hot room with the heaviest humidity you've ever felt. Don't half-ass this one.

3. Cell service

There is no cell service in the subway halls. I'll admit that this makes a lot of sense, especially considering that it is underground, so laugh if you'd like.

But, in my defense, I knew that the actual trains wouldn't have service; I just didn't expect to lose bars the moment I walked down the steps.

Perhaps I should have figured, but basements have service… so why don't the subway halls? I discovered this one mid-conversation with my mother. We got disconnected and I think she thought I died.

4. It will rain

Always carry an umbrella. I remember once emerging from the subway caves only to find that everyone in sight is shielded from the sudden downpour because they came prepared with an umbrella.

I, on the other hand, walked to work in the second perfect storm. You really don't want to be this person.

5. Your feet

This one is for girls especially: Bring flip-flops with you, everywhere. The aching pain I felt after walking only a block or so from my apartment, combined with the thought that I would have to endure it for the rest of the day, led me to turn around and actually walk back to get flip flops.

The heels can wait until I actually get to work.

Also, being caught in the rain and having to spend the day at work in soggy wet shoes is just as bad. However, flip-flops can be kind of slippery and dangerous in the rain, so maybe have tennis shoes, instead. Either way, be prepared.

6. If you ever need literally anything...

You are never more than two blocks from a Duane Reade, just so you know.

7. Free isn't really free

Don't believe anyone when he or she says something is “free.” My building provides tenants with free toilet paper, and in the words of my roommate, it is “barely half a ply.” “Free" might not cost money, but it definitely costs something.

8. Swipe the damn Metro Card correctly

When you enter the subway turnstile, please, if there's one thing you take away from this, swipe the Metro Card with the black strip facing toward you and swipe it quickly.

If there is one thing you don't want to be, it's the person who can't figure out how to swipe properly and blocks a turnstile for 45 seconds.

It's really uncomfortable and everyone stares at you, muttering under their breath about how annoying it is to wait while some idiot keeps walking into the unmoving turnstile bar. Trust me, it's the most agonizing 45 seconds in life.

Feel free to share any Manhattan survival tips you wish you knew before walking into an embarrassing situation in the comments below!

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