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Why I Could Never Live in New York City

2011 April 19
Rockefeller Ice Rink, New York City

The Rockefeller ice rink.

Ahhhh New York City… what a place.

A city that has been a part of America, even before the United States existed. You walk out on to the streets and it’s impossible to miss the constant hustle, the cornucopia of sights, sounds, and smells and the ever present buzz in the air. It has some of the best food, arts and museums and is the financial hub of the West, if not the world. Not to mention the great public transportation, one of the most famous parks, and enough back streets and alleys to explore for a lifetime. From the Broadway shows, the lights of Times Square and the thundering herds on Wall Street, New York is truly a one-of-a-kind city, a city in a class by itself.

Only London comes close to New York in terms of the size, importance and grandeur of a city. Anywhere else, and you’re looking at something second-class. There’s a reason why they call it the “Big Apple”; New York City is the alpha dog, the big man on campus. And you can bet New Yorkers know it, what with their “better than thou” attitude and covert smugness.

But for all New York City is, I could never live there.

– – –

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area has spoiled me. One of the best things about this place is the weather. There’s a wider range of temperatures inland but in the city, it’s quite moderate. In all the years I’ve lived here, I remember San Francisco hitting 95F only once. And when the entire city tunes in for the possibility of snow (earlier this year), you know it doesn’t ever get too cold. The rest of the year, it’s pretty temperate with a good amount of sun.

How can you resist that?

Compare that to New York where the summers are blazingly hot and humid, the winters are freezing and the only good weather you get are a few short weeks in Spring/Fall.

I pretty sure I’m a mild sufferer of Season Affective Disorder (SAD) and needless to say, I’d be a lot sadder in New York City.

– – –

There’s no denying that New York has an amazing party scene. Having bars/clubs stay open to 4am means you can rage till sunrise and everybody, especially myself, enjoys a proper rager. But after the fifth time of pulverizing yourself to oblivion, liquefying your liver and waking up at 2pm with a jackhammer in your head, you ask yourself, “So… now what?”

I’ve only spent time in Manhattan (it’s a narrow view, so sue me) but I feel like this becomes a vicious cycle, especially if you’re working a demanding job. The “get blasted, be hungover and do it again” cycle quickly wears on you and there’s not many other outlets for release, particularly when the weather is shit. Good luck running on the streets, Godspeed if you try to bike and I chuckle at what East Coasters call “mountains”.

San Francisco has Tahoe within four hours, Napa in one, surf spots in 40mins and trails/parks everywhere you look. Heaven.

– – –

Getting an uncomfortable feeling when you look at your bank account? Don’t worry, that’s just your wallet getting raped.

They say NYC is expensive but, holy hell, it’s not until you get there that you realize just how expensive it is. Good luck finding a decent meal under $15 and a beer for $5. Apartment rents are astronomical: you can get a single room in a shared house here in San Francisco (which is the 2nd most expensive city in the US) for the same amount that you’ll pay for a dinky single room in Manhattan. Making less than six figs? Congrats bro, you’re poor!

Sure there are things that are cheaper like taxis, public transport, etc. But let’s face it, as 20-30 year olds, most of our expenditures are going to be on food, booze and rent. And in New York, that shit is pricey.

– – –

Look, I love New York City. Every time I’ve been to New York I’ve had an amazing time. But there’s a difference between going somewhere for a couple of weeks and actually living there.

Think of it this way. New York City is the sexy, tall, blond chick. Drop dead gorgeous but then you realize she’s bat-shit insane. San Francisco is the down-to-earth, cute, brunette girl. Stable, sane and a little quirky.

Who do you bring home to mom?


19 Responses leave one →
  1. Maddy Hussain permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Really good article dude a great read. Espesh when I’m moving from London to New York in less than 2 weeks!

    • Paul permalink*
      April 19, 2011

      Give me a ring when you make it out to the west/best coast.

  2. April 19, 2011

    Ahhh, New York is awesome. Greatest city in the US.

    A few very random thoughts:

    To really appreciate New York I think you need to know, or stay, with someone who actually lives there. You get to see and experience a lot more of the “underground” non-touristy NY …in my opinion.

    $15.00 – please tell me where. I don’t think I’ve had a meal there for less than $100.

    Let’s face it – Manhattan is NY for all except for those who live outside of it, except for maybe a few blocks over the Brooklyn Bridge.

    NY is so expensive because, well, it is NY. You have the whole country’s money system basically based in Lower Manhattan and you most of the country wanting to live there for at least a bit (not all, but yopu know what I mean). It basically trumps (no pun intended, but I like it 🙂 ) any other city in the states, by far.

    You gotta go rent controlled, which means a massive battle for each and every opening, or give em your first kid for rent. The funny thing is, you get the apt, walk out your front door, and Seth Green, Jennifer Love Hewitt or opne of the Baldwin’s is your neighbor, complaining about rent as much as you are, and no one cares who they are, because it’s NY… on that note though I know a girl who bought a condo on the upper east side …5 1/2 million …my brother used to live there but now only pays the trite amount of $10,000 per month for his pad in Tokyo, which is almost cheap.

    Good post,

    • Paul permalink*
      April 19, 2011

      Totally agree, every big city has two sides: the tourist and the locals. And you really don’t get to appreciate it unless you’ve been on the local side.

      It is the only true world-class city we have in the US but still can’t picture myself living there.

  3. April 19, 2011

    I am extremely offended

  4. April 19, 2011

    Is this a cry for more of my attention???

  5. le wy permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Ok, but honestly I feel the need to respond to this. Mostly for the benefit of Paul’s loyal readers who may have not been to NYC yet! Of course all of those problems exist, and I have to agree that NOTHING will beat California weather. East coasters claim that they love the season changes, but this is definitely BS. That being said, I actually enjoy the summer humidity.

    The trick to “partying” in NYC, like partying anywhere, is moderation. I don’t go out every night of the week. Some weekends I am only social one night, or I drink in a friend’s apartment to save money. Is it nice to be able to go out to a bar/club/restaurant/deli at any hour of the night? Fuck yes. As a resident of almost 2 years, do I constantly take advantage of that? No.

    Prices here suck ass, but you learn the loop holes. Which bars have awesome happy hours, which bars serve a beer AND a shot for $5 (ahemmm) how to win a free open bar, which coupons to use at which restaurants, how to get 50%-70% off of a meal, and where to shop for cheap groceries. If you take the time, you can find bars that serve free food with a beer, or the best falafel in manhattan for $3.50 (with the hottest sauce ever). It takes effort, but you feel so rewarded when you’re eating a delicious bowl of pasta for $6 that usually costs $15. Tonight I will be eating 6 oysters and drinking a glass of wine for $8. Jealous??

    You don’t live in NYC to stay in your apartment all the time. We put up with the horrible prices to live in an amazing place.

    • Paul permalink*
      April 19, 2011

      But jumping through loops is tiring and you gotta sleep somewhere. Amirite?

  6. skopes permalink
    April 19, 2011

    Wyman’s right. A couple of the reasons you cite are weaksauce. San Francisco is actually the most expensive place to live, I would make $2500 less for the exact same gov job if I lived in New York City– Just sayin.

    Anyway, all that being said, wherever you live you find the deals. Oyster happy hour, taco trucks, groupons, etc etc every city is going to have that stuff. Chicks in all shapes, sizes, colors, and levels of crazy flock to cities.

    The main difference between the 2 cities is young people in San Francisco have cars and they use them to go on trips. Friday rolls around, you jump in the car, head to Berkeley, head to Santa Cruz, head to Marin, and you can be hiking, kayaking, swimming, skiing, camping within the hour, ALL YEAR LONG. Wyman insists people can do that in NYC too, although she has never done it, and has no friends that do it either. Young people in NYC don’t have the time, cars, money, or gear to leave the city, and insist they don’t care because there’s so much to do in the city anyway.

      • skopes permalink
        April 19, 2011

        Please consider that you cited 4 newspaper articles that all articulate the same point- New York is more expensive because real estate costs are so much higher there than the rest of the country. If that’s the only thing you care about- housing prices reflect cost of living- then so be it. I would agree New Yorkers get a much smaller bedroom for a much higher price. No one is arguing with that. If housing is the #1 reason a city is more expensive, then yes, NYC wins hands down.

        I agree, government pay scale is only one reflection of cost of living. The government pay scale, however, is inherently based on cost of living. So if you don’t agree with it, the feds made a gigantic error when they calculated how expensive it actually is to live in all those cities (if you are inherently skeptical of the feds, then so be it, the argument is over from here.)

        The first article even says a cup of coffee, gas, and a fast food hamburger are all more expensive in San Francisco. I personally think those, and a lot of other factors should come into play, one being transportation (taxi cost per mile in SF is higher) or sales tax- (which is 9.5% in San Francisco and 4.5% in New York).

        Even I don’t really want to argue about numbers- both cities are fucking expensive to live in. The reason you wrote this blog post is because you cited all the reasons why you couldn’t live in NYC, money being one thing, but party scenes/weather/accessibility to other things in the bay area are all important factors too.

  7. April 20, 2011


    Really one of my wishlist to one day visit New York and not just see but touch the beautiful and historical structure that the city of New York is endowed and established with..Nice article..
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  8. Julia permalink
    April 25, 2011


    This argument will always boil down to personal preference, no matter how many sources you cite for either side. Pace of life, general attitude, and accessibility to the great outdoors are the reasons why SF wins for me, but obviously I know not everyone feels the same.

    • Paul permalink*
      April 25, 2011

      It’s so chill out here, brah.

  9. June 24, 2011

    I just moved to NYC after living in San Francisco for 15 years and really appreciate the change. They both have their plusses and minuses, but I do like the change of seasons and huge variety of great dining. I miss the wine country, but its easy to re-connect with.

    Housing aside, I haven’t found the day-to-day expenses to be much different than San Francisco, and I love not owning a car. But I agree its not for everyone…

    Interesting perspective.

    • Paul permalink*
      June 24, 2011

      In terms of the cost, I do agree that most things are pretty equivalent, maybe NYC being a little more expensive (for example: a sandwich in the financial district of NYC vs. financial district of SF). But it’s the cost of housing that kills it.

      Have to give the nod to NYC for the dining options though, I think it’s pretty much unbeatable in the world.

  10. September 23, 2011

    I personally strongly dislike New York. I’ve always dreamed of living in California. I only have nightmares about NYC. I’ve been there multiple times. The people are rude, it’s too congested, too many terrorism issues, it’s wayyyyyy to fucking cold, it’s ugly (minus certain parts), the majority of the buildings are run-down, and to me it just feels like a breeding ground for diseases….it’s too urban. There should be a population restriction per square mile. I’ve lived in the suburbs of Texas my entire life. I could never imagine living in a city like NYC. I’d literally commit suicide (not to be rude…). I never understood why NYC was such a big deal. Maybe that’s just me though.

  11. January 6, 2012

    Off the tourist places like Times Square (eck) and the area its expensive compared to elsewhere but you can easily find a decent meal for under $10. I don’t know if by decent you mean a three course complete with wine or just something that tastes good, but even $15 -20 is high for a drinkless lunch in Manhattan. I usually spend around $10 on lunch easily in Manhattan, and that’s not street meat from a halal cart.

  12. March 29, 2019

    Well done!! I would like to thank you for this informative blog. Very Nice.
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