Real Life: Six Months in New York

A look at New York City in the call through the lens of Armani glasses.

I think I might have to write a short amendment to the three month rule. Remember this post? Crazily enough, we’ve been living in New York for over six months now — almost seven, in fact. (Nov. 18 was six months to the day, actually!). It simultaneously feels like we’ve been here for years, and also, like it’s only been a few weeks.

Are we feeling more settled in? Totally. Does life feel like it’s back to normal? For the most part, yes (minus all the funny cultural things I’m still learning about living in this city!). But I also wanted to be honest about the difficulties too. Primarily because I get a lot of emails and comments alluding to the fact that I seem to be totally settled and loving life.

Which isn’t to say I’m not. But it fluctuates. If I’m honest, I really, really miss California. I talk regularly about when we can move back (though it probably won’t be for years). I sometimes feel like adjusting is a job in itself — like half the time I’m working hard to settle in and feel normal living here, and the other half I’m trying not to think about and pine for the west coast. It’s sort of a new experience for me, because typically, I’ve found myself to be pretty adaptable. The only conclusion I’ve drawn so far is that it’s much harder to move to a new city as a 29 year old than it is/was as an 18 or 22 year old. Partially because your whole life is more settled the older you get, and also because you just know yourself (and what you like, don’t like, want, and need) a lot better. Oh, and a second conclusion: I must’ve felt really at home in San Francisco, without even realizing it (or maybe taking it for granted).  But you know, this whole thing is  a process. It’ll take time. I think this time of year helps a little, not only because with the holidays we can partake in some of our family traditions, but also because with the new year approaching, it feels like everything will start anew.

Here are some additional things I’ve observed about living in New York too: 

1) Everything is both highly convenient and highly inconvenient. If you want pizza, there are probably 20 places within 5 blocks of wherever you are at any given time. If you want to run a few errands (like dry cleaning, cleaning supplies, making a return, say), you’ll need to strategize over where all the stores are, how much you can realistically carry, what the weather is like (because if it’s bad, you’ll never be able to get a cab home with all your shiz), what time of day it is (same issue as inclement weather), and in the end, whether you’d rather just wait an extra day or two and pay to have everything delivered. You will constantly plan in New York. This is actually the thing I probably dislike most about living here — that the simplest things become extraordinarily exhausting.

2) Car horns should be outlawed. Especially at street corners (for the sake of people who live above them).

3) You pay to wear heels. Because it’s virtually impossible to walk any sort of distance in them here, so you will need to take a cab if you’re wearing them (I find that any heels are curb-to-cab shoes in this city). It’s funny: I’ll decide whether or not to wear heels based on the occasion first, and then whether or not it’s feasible to take a cab. If the answer is no, it’s flats or boots only. Some of my heels have not seen the light of day in quite some time!

4) Central Park is the best thing ever. I am SO glad we live near the park, not only for Lucy’s sake, but because it’s such a peaceful respite and an easy way to escape the hustle and bustle. After several months, we definitely have our favorite walking paths and secret picnic spots. If you go before 9am or after 9pm, dogs can also be off leash. Let’s just say that Lucy is a fan.

So many of you wrote that you were going through similar transitory periods when I wrote the Three Month Rule post. I’m curious to check in with you. If you had recently moved, or changed jobs, or were going through any other transition, how are you doing now?

{Image Credit: Ann Street Studio}

 

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38 Comments

  1. 12.11.13
    Allie said:

    Amen to #1. I try and explain it to people who haven’t lived in New York, and always feel like a huge brat for talking about how difficult everything seemed. I lived in NYC for two years (a year longer than expected) and was so ready to leave when it came time. I’ve since settled in Austin, TX, which is worlds different but such a better fit for me. I missed trees, my car, and friendly, laidback people too much!!! I always feel strange when I tell people I didn’t absolutely LOVE living in New York, but I think that’s something only people who have lived there can understand. I am glad you are near the park, because I always felt so suffocated in my hole-in-the-wall downtown apartment. NYC can be magical though, especially around the holidays, so enjoy it :) And I definitely think it takes a least a year to decide whether or not living in a certain city is right for you. Hope it continues to get better for you!!

  2. 12.11.13
    Karlee said:

    I also moved to New York this year, at the end of April. I am also doing it solo, really only knowing one person who lives here. It has been hard in some aspects…like making friends and I do agree about some of the little things being more of a pain. I sometimes feel like a little chipmunk constantly picking small things up and bringing them back. You definitely can’t run a ton of errands at once b/c you can’t carry it all and take it back on the subway. But I love this city and the quirks that come alone with it. There is no other place like it and it often feels magical! I’m hoping in a few more months I will feel more at home as well!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I think NYC is just one of those places that takes a minute to really settle into and feel like home. Most people I talk to who moved here feel like it took them between 1-4 years to feel settled (yikes!).

  3. 12.11.13
    Kate said:

    Had to comment!

    I just made the move back home to the East Coast after moving to and living in San Francisco for 2 years (b/c of a job), so I know how you’re feeling.

    For those two years I never really felt settled or like SF was “home,” despite making great friends and really enjoying a lot of aspects of the city. Every day came with a little anxiety, a little pressure on myself to “make it work” and fall as much in love with SF as everyone else seemed to be.

    And I had moved a LOT between the ages of 21 – 26, so when I moved to SF at the ripe old age of 27 I thought it would be just as easy to jump in and make new friends, feel good about where I was etc. But you’re right — the older you get, the harder it is.

    So I want to say — keep at it (it does take work) but don’t force yourself to adjust too quickly! Be kind to yourself — allow yourself to stay in some weekends instead of feeling like you always need to go out and meet people or make the most of NYC. It does get easier and one day you’ll wake up and realize you’ve built yourself a nice life there.

    Best of luck!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Kate!! :)

  4. 12.11.13
    Dana said:

    I’ve been in NYC for close to 3 years now, which is something I never expected or planned. But sometimes life just happens doesn’t it? I lived in the city for a year when we first moved and while I liked it, I couldn’t really imagine myself staying there for life. But after a move to Brooklyn, I finally feel at home and absolutely love it.
    On the other hand, after 2+ years at a job that was making me fairly unhappy, I finally left and started a new one about 3 months ago. Its been a strange transition to say the least, but on the whole, so far its so, so much better than before, so I’m very lucky!
    Loved hearing about your NYC experience so far – its definitely a unique place!But being from CA originally, I know the magic of SF too :)

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Yes indeed, sometimes life really does just get in the way! :) What’s that saying? “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

      I hope your new job continues to get better and easier!

  5. 12.11.13
    Bethany said:

    I am feeling the difficulty of transition, too. We just move out west from the East Coast and I miss it so much! I think your three-month rule applies most of the time, but in our case I don’t think our current location is a good fit at all, so we’re trying to find a way back or just out. From what I know about New York, your points are all spot on!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      I’m sorry you guys are having a tough time :( Fingers crossed things improve, or you’re able to find an easy way back east!

  6. 12.11.13
    Sonya said:

    This is so interesting to me because I moved to Chicago at 23 not knowing a soul (and from a mid-sized city in Florida). At 32, I am now pondering a move to the west coast: San Francisco or San Diego, it really depends on the job situation. This winter is already wearing me down and it isn’t even technically winter yet! Gah!

    I have good friends all over the country that I communicate with on a regular basis but only see a few times a year, so that won’t change. But, I fear the making friends thing, even though in my trips to the West Coast I feel like people are very open and friendly. Midwesterners are nice and friendly but it is a different type entirely. I can’t explain it.

    Also, I don’t have a car in Chicago and I completely understand the errand thing. I often schlep too much home and you can forget getting a cab if the weather sucks or if it is rush hour.

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Obviously, everyone’s experiences will be different, but there has been a marked difference for me from when I did this as a teenager and in my early 20s to now! I think having the right office environment can really help — co-workers are always automatic built in friends!

  7. 12.11.13
    Daina said:

    It was really interesting to read your perspectives on NYC. This year marks my tenth in NYC and I couldn’t agree more about the hassle of running errands and the need for cute flats! I dread running errands and carrying everything through those subway turnstiles. I also now only wear boots, flats, and clogs. I can’t walk in heels to save my life!

    Hopefully your life in NYC will only get better and better. Congrats on your six (seven) month mark!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Thanks for the encouragement, Daina! :)

  8. 12.11.13

    I was actually thinking about your three month rule yesterday – looking back on all that has happened this year. I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel “settled” because as soon as three months goes by, something big and major happens.

    Got promoted, got engaged, got new job, major international trip, holidays, etc. etc. and I just feel extremely anxious about not being able to nail down a routine that satisfies me. I know that I’m my best when I wake up at a certain time, get my workout in, get a full work day + blogging in, do some reading, but it’s hard to make it all work.

    I’m hitting a point where I don’t know if feeling unsettled like I do now is the new normal, or not. I certainly hope not.

    For what it’s worth, it took nearly a year and a half for San Francisco to feel like “home” to me, and for me to feel settled in. The first six months were horrible, the second six months I fell in love with the city, and then the next six months I finally made deep connections and friends. I still have days where I want to just move on – mainly when it comes to housing costs! You’ll feel settled and happy and great more often than not, eventually. But I think it’s perfectly normal to allow yourself to miss the place you felt most at home.

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      ” I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel “settled” because as soon as three months goes by, something big and major happens.”

      TRUE STORY.

  9. 12.11.13
    Lauren said:

    Thank you for sharing this! It’s so interesting to read about your experience.

  10. 12.11.13
    Susan said:

    Victoria this is so interesting to read! I just started a new job almost five months ago (though it seems so much longer!). It’s a completely different environment than my last job. I absolutely love the work, though it’s a bit more exhausting than I ever imagined, especially at this time of year. I am still working on those relationships that will hopefully turn into friendships. You forget how long it takes you to make friends until you go someplace new. But I have good feelings and the people seem really great. I’ve never been to NY, but I’m glad to hear that Central Park is amazing in real life as it is in the movies!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Yes, I’m going through the same thing with the “friendship” timeline…you have to remember to be patient, for sure!

  11. 12.11.13
    Jen said:

    We also moved from CA (Los Angeles) to Seattle in July and then went back and got married in November and took a honeymoon. We had already planned the wedding before we knew we were moving. Now I feel like all the work of figuring out life here is starting…again. I miss CA all the time and talk about moving back, but I know it won’t happen for a few years at least as well. It has been a big adjustment, and at 30 I feel like I’m a little less adaptable as well. I’m currently struggling with how to meet people, but know it will take some time. Have you been doing anything to meet people in your new city?? xo

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Yeah, the marriage part makes it interesting too (it was similar with us as well). Like, you already have enough change happening in your life…why not through in a big move with it too, to keep you on your toes?!

      I wrote a post about meeting new people and making friends here: http://vmacandcheese.com/2013/10/30/real-life-how-do-you-make-friends/

  12. 12.11.13
    jillian said:

    so interesting, i need to read some of your other posts about how the cross-country post was…like did you use pods etc. xo

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Feel free to email me! :)

  13. 12.11.13

    AMEN on #1. We just go the delivery route, and living in a full-service building also helps a LOT.

    Personally, I’m thrilled you guys are here. Sri and I have had such a great time getting to spend time with you and Joe over the past 6 months, and we look forward to many more game (and champagne!) nights! Not gonna lie, we also love hanging with Miss Luce too :)

  14. 12.11.13
    Amy said:

    The new fiance and I are moving from San Francisco to Manhattan end of January (as in less than two months from now, eek). It’s a little overwhelming to think about all the stuff that has to happen between now and then, but I’m excited for a new city. I’m going to miss SF so much, it’s been my home for so long and I’m a little worried about the transition in the dead of winter. No more Rainbows for awhile makes me sad, but it’s the price we pay to live with the one we love.

    Would love any and all advice about moving to such an amazingly crazy city!!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Please feel free to email me! It IS overwhelming…cross country moves are intense!

  15. 12.11.13
    Nina said:

    I moved from Chicago to SF. And any move is just so hard. It was a year and a half ago and I still feel like California is sometimes a different planet LOL Not that I don’t like it. But just different

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      We used to tell students studying abroad that in college (I worked at the abroad office). Other places aren’t better or worse, just different. I keep trying to remind myself of that!

  16. 12.11.13

    I know we just talked about this but I thought I’d comment anyway and tell you that I think it’s great that you’re putting your feelings on the whole settling in process out there. One of the best things I did when I moved to New York was to discuss all the issues I had with the city with my close friends and family who helped give me perspective and encourage me.

    Now, five years into living here, I’m shocked that I’m still here and like you I don’t think this is the place I’m meant to be forever but taking time to appreciate the things this city has to offer is the best medicine. I find exploring new neighborhoods, visiting museums, going to festivals and fairs, and seeing shows reinvigorates my NY love.

    For now, I’m glad I’ve had the chance to hang out with you and I think if nothing else you’ll find New York teaches you a swath of valuable lessons and you don’t even have to love the city to get the most out of it.

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Thank you, B! Honestly, it has been support and kind ears from people like you that have made it that much better. I’m so glad we met and have been able to hang out!

  17. 12.12.13
    christin said:

    #2. all. day. long. also, i feel like we should get together since we only live a few blocks apart!

  18. 12.12.13

    I love this! My husband and I are thinking about a move to SF from San Diego and I know I will have a big adjustment.

  19. 12.13.13
    Chelsea said:

    I couldn’t agree more that the older you are, the harder it is to adjust. We’ve only moved a few hours from our prior place of home and I find it infinitely harder than when I was just out of college. We’ll call is character building ;) Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    • 12.13.13
      Victoria McGinley said:

      Yes “character building.” This has become my mantra! :)

  20. 12.16.13

    OH girl I know all about adjusting. We are 7 months into Georgia and I still love/hate it. Miss home, but am embracing the new adventure. It takes TIIIIME like you once told me!

  21. 12.16.13
    Rose said:

    Not to be a downer (and I hope this isn’t a downer for you!) but I honestly feel like it doesn’t end—you are always in a transition period in NYC. I’m now going on my third year here and I still feel like things are always changing—periods of where I want to go out and do everything, periods where I just stay in and feel a little guilty about it, times I want to say f*ck it all and pretend like my life is an episode of “Girls,” times I miss home and think about moving back, times I love living in NYC more than anywhere else. I actually just bought “Goodbye To All That” and I’m really interested to read it and see how it makes me feel—I’m not ready to leave here, I think, but I also don’t know if I want to stay or where I want to go. As one of my good friends here (also from the Midwest like myself) has said many times, she needs to learn to be happy here or do something about it. It’s a constant struggle of am I content/settled vs am I really HAPPY?

  22. 12.23.13

    I actually just moved back to SF from New York – I was there for 5 years and it was long enough! I found a job within two weeks of moving and am now going about settling into a routine (and the new job) and really just spending as much time with family as possible. That’s one thing I missed so much while I was in NYC, and at the moment I can’t get enough!

    NYC is fun and I would recommend it for a few years – I think I’m glad that I went in my early 20s but it isn’t somewhere I’d ever settle down in (or near). Life is so much easier out on the west coast and I’m so grateful to be back!

    Hope NYC feels like home to you soon though! It’s definitely nice to be by the park! Merry Christmas!

  23. 4.25.14
    Christina said:

    Hi Victoria, I’ve been a fan of your blog for a while now and know you had your fair share of stresses while apt/house hunting in NYC. I am moving to NYC at the end of May for a new job and was wondering if you had any tips. My budget isn’t very large, which was why I was hoping to find a roommate, but wasn’t getting any luck with friends since they’re all already situated. I’ve been looking at UES and Astoria/Long island city bc it is closest to my work. Any and all tips would be so greatly appreciated!

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