5 things that living in NYC has taught me

BY Amanda Smith


22 March 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I felt like a kid looking out of that car window. The city skyline hit me like a slap in the face. I felt small. The city? Infinite.

I liked this feeling – of being ‘just another’ New Yorker. I felt grounded, blending into the sea of people. The city has a way of making you feel like you belong, almost instantly. This notion hasn’t left me, even two months in.

I’ve learned a lot living in New York City, especially doing it alone. While I hate to box my lessons in numerical constraints, we only have a few short minutes here, so I’ll share five.

1. People are trying to make their mark

New Yorkers don’t ‘have it made’. There’s a tendency to assume that everyone living in New York is rich, glamorous, and killing it at life. Living here has humanised these people and the city, for me. You’ve got all walks of life, hustling to make their dreams happen. People aren’t necessarily happy here, either. Making a living in New York can be tough; heck, debilitating. ‘You must not be from here,’ I’m often told. Life is tough for New Yorkers. Just the other day, one of my friends was telling me how she can’t move out because she must pay $300 a week in student loans. She’s got a good job, but she still has to make sacrifices.

2. Live in the moment. Not for the weekend.

The more you travel, seeking adventures just becomes engrained in your expectations. But that’s not always the case for the rest of the world. The pressure that New Yorkers experience, by taking time off, is not worth the trip. They get two weeks off a year, which they can rarely take back-to-back. So, they’ve got to make the city (and around it) their ‘Bali’. I think this is what gives the city its unmistakable energy. People are travelling within their own city, every day.

3. The grass is always greener

I’m constantly pulling out my phone to show my NY friends photos from Aus. ‘I’d love to go live there,’ they’d say. I used to think the same thing before I moved here. There is no ‘greater’ place. There are positives and negatives to everywhere. It is what you make it.

4. The importance of walking

Faces, places, and creative expression through street art. You miss all this by always taking the subway or an Uber. The best way to see New York, and any other place for that matter, is by foot. You never feel alone taking a walk in the city. If I must take the subway, I always get off a stop before and take a walk in a new neighbourhood. It’s a time I use to collect my thoughts and process everything that’s going on around me.

5. You’ll find your ‘mini’ NY

Every neighbourhood is vastly different. West Village and East Village feel like two different cities, yet they’re only a subway stop apart. You’ve got glamour and grunge. You’ll notice living here that you gravitate towards your own cluster. Cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, and everything else you’ll find in your favourite area. This will become your NY.


One of my goals for this year is to write a book. Yeah, maybe it’s going to be the death of me, but hey, a girl’s gotta try.  I once read this quote and like all great quotes, they always stick with me.

My advice for aspiring writers is ‘go to New York’. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests. Writing books begins in talking about it, like most human projects, and in being close to those who have already done what you propose to do. {Walter Kirn}


So, maybe that’s it – why every time I pull out my subway card and catch the L line into Manhattan, a wave of happiness runs through me. I feel at home. In love. Happy, truly happy. I’ve found my people.

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