What I’ve Learnt Since I Moved to New York

I’ve been here four months now but it feels like I’ve been here for years. Time goes a bit differently here. Or maybe I’m just getting old. I’m reminded of things through the ‘On This Day’ feature on Facebook and most of the time I think “I remember that! It doesn’t feel like it happened four, five, six years ago!”

In my four months, I have learnt some things and changed my thinking in some ways. I’ve been more trusting of other people, and more careless than I should have been. As a result, there were some hard lessons to learn.

Don’t Trust Other People To Do The Right Thing By You:
In my first few months here, I managed to:

  • Get locked in a yoga studio after the last class of the day
  • Get scammed by someone selling fake Radiohead tickets on Craigslist
  • Lose my passport
  • Lose my phone

I’ve always been a lucky person. I’m never that person who loses things or gets scammed. Of course I’ve had some bad luck in my life, but I’ve also seen many more people have consistently worse luck than I do.

My attitude in life is a little naive but I tend to believe that if you have a good outlook and do the right thing by others, that it will be returned to you somehow.
I learnt very, very quickly that just thinking things will work out because you want them to is not realistic. And it’s especially not realistic when you live in a place with millions of people crammed into it.

Yes, bad things can happen when you live somewhere small too, and of course things can go well in a big city. But if you’re not looking out for yourself when you’re around a lot of people, there’s a bigger chance of something bad happening.

Don’t trust other people to do the right thing by you. If it comes down to them helping themselves, or helping you, most of the time they’ll help themselves. Make sure you take care of yourself, and don’t expect to be lucky all the time.


Radiohead tickets! One real, one fake. Can you guess which is which?*


It Is Expensive to Live Here:
But only when you’ve had bad luck like I have and wasted money on fake tickets, replaced your passport and your phone.

Otherwise, alcohol in bodegas and supermarkets and CHEMISTS (yes, that’s right, they sell beer and wine in the chemist) is cheap. Transport is cheap. Food (when you cook it yourself, and hello, dollar slices!) is cheap.

If you’re living the high life and going out to dinner, lunch, and brunch regularly then it will add up. If you’re taking Ubers or taxis from one side of Brooklyn to the other side of Manhattan, and paying $10 per drink (including tip) on nights out every week, then you will eventually look at your bank account and cry.

The luxuries are expensive, but the basics are cheap. And this is a big, welcome change after coming from Australia where everything is expensive.

You Don’t Have to Plan Everything. Or Anything:
I lived in Sydney for 8.5 years, and spent a lot of time worrying about my plans for the week, or for the weekend. I very rarely did things at the last minute, and if I did it was things like going shopping, or going to a movie.

I would often feel a bit anxious if I didn’t have plans to do something on a weekend. But here, I know I can decide on something at the last minute if I want to. I know something will always come up and there will be options for me to choose from.

I also know I can stay home and watch Netflix and not feel bad – yes, there’s a huge exciting city to go and have fun in – sometimes it’s OK to stay in, stay warm, and catch up on your stories.

* The bottom one is the fake.


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Justine McNamara

I'm an Australian living in New York. I work in marketing but I write about music, New York, and my own personal experiences.

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