9 Crazy Things About NYC

NYC was just voted the world’s favorite city. This month was my twelve-year anniversary of living here, and I love it here, too. But NYC can be a serious drag sometimes! (Remember the popularity of this Onion article?) So, although I often point out the positives of the city, in an effort to be even-handed, here are nine things about NYC that can drive you batshit crazy

NYC pizza tastes like cardboard. There, I said it.

Rats come out when the sun sets. Kids at playgrounds will actually say, “Ok, let’s go, it’s rat time!”

Summer is humid and blazing hot; winter is bone-chillingly cold.

Many people you know have been mugged at one point or another. (When I was mugged in my twenties, two guys in hoodies came up to me and told me to give them my wallet. In a moment of very uncharacteristic bravery, I actually negotiated with them to see if I could just give them my cash and keep my wallet because I had a gift card from my boss in there! They said yes!)

The average wait time at a West Village restaurant on a typical evening is 90 minutes. 90 minutes!

Most people’s apartments are TEENY TINY. For example, our friends share a one-bedroom apartment with their two kids—the baby sleeps in a mini crib at the foot of their bed and the toddler sleeps in the closet.

As a thirtysomething adult with a full-time job, it’s very normal to not have a car, dishwasher or washing machine (and have to trek to the laundromat).

The city is filled with models. (For example, at the playground this summer, Alex ended up casually chatting with her!) So, you find yourself walking down the street feeling pretty good about yourself, and then you pass a gaggle of these ladies and you’re like….oh, well, okay then.

Random things are psychotically expensive. For example, one chocolate-chip cookie will run you $4. One drop-in children’s music class is $25. And I ordered a lemonade at a cafe this summer and when the check came it was $10. $10!

But in the end, I can’t help it…I’ll always love you, New York City.

Anything else to add?? And if you live elsewhere, what’s unglamorous about your town? :)

P.S. The Cup of Jo Guide to NYC. Plus, four posts with Gemma Correll: How to have sex, how to eat dinner, how to drink wine and how to feel pretty.

(Illustrations by Gemma Correll for Cup of Jo. Top graphic by Rachel Ball for Cup of Jo. This post was inspired by Anne’s awesome series called Unglamorous Paris.)

  1. Cheryl says...

    Ok a few things were missing…
    1. Six story walk ups. Forgot your lipstick? Eh, forget it. Can’t walk back up for that.
    2. Shlepping groceries home! The old lady rolling carts were invented for such an errand.
    3. The most annoying thing about life in NYC is keeping up with the expected rules of efficiency and multi tasking. I.e. , ordering in a corner deli: quickly, efficiently and don’t even think about hemming and hawing. Pick up breakfast (an egg and cheese sandwich, Deli coffee in all its scorched glory, light and sweet and hopefully the latest issue of The Onion) before dashing to the subway (you can hear it coming) so you juggle coffee, paper and sliding your metro card out of your pocket so you can swipe as quickly as possible.
    All of this is seemingly necessary. Go, go, go. Confident and collected. It’s like being plugged into a light socket.
    I left the city in 2011 and live by the ocean. Every day I see open sky, exchange a laugh with a friendly clerk or pass an afternoon on the beach with my toddler I am grateful. Grateful to have spent thirteen years plugged in and in super hero mode…and now to be unplugged and calmly exploring every golden moment.

  2. Natalie says...

    I was cracking up reading this post. I can totally relate to it. I will always love New York though.

  3. Ok, I look forward to the hot weather of our New Mexico summers (I love when it finally gets to 100* for weeks on end.) Also, I think you’re completely gorgeous.

  4. I grew up in Wichita, KS and it has to be the most charming little city..and it’s only getting better. More and entrepreneurs and local shops each year. (Alton Brown totally agrees! )

    I live in Nashville, TN now and the worst part about both cities and that you definitely need a car to live in them. The idea of being able to walk most places sounds so fabulous!

  5. Love this! I hear you about the bumping into models thing. The other day I was feeling pretty good and felt I was looking nice, when I bumped into a totally gorgeous and much taller woman and immediately was like ooookay.. Funny how we always compare ourselves to people, even without meaning to.

  6. I’ll be in New York in two days and I’m so excited.
    I only regret one thing, I’ve just discovered your blog! It could be really helpful for people in my place a resume with all the information about knowing NYC in a pdf or something like it.

    Great blog!

  7. I know this is an old post, but anyway.

    Some crazy things about London?:
    1. The cost. EVERYTHING is expensive. Food, transport, childcare, clothes, and don’t get me started on property. A friend is moving out of their one bedroom, unfurnished flat, and another friend is taking it over. The rent for the new person is 20% higher than the previous tenant’s (and my friend moved in about 18 months ago). It’s insane

    2. It’s so big. As terrible as it sounds, I end up just seeing friends who live close by, because otherwise you can end up spending three hours on public transport to see someone. I’ve just given up and only see some people once a year, it’s such a hassle. It once took me longer to get from Gatwick Airport (which is one of the London Airports, to the south of the city) to home, than it took to get from my destination (Edinburgh) to London.

    3. People can be right bastards.
    They can be lovely as well, but there Londoners are generally not friendly (particularly if it’s rush hour on public transport) and some are quite self-absorbed

    4. The weather
    It sucks. It’s better than other places in the UK, but we didn’t have a decent summer for about five years in a row. Basically, five years with no summer. It’s inhuman

    5. The tube mice
    You can be quite happily waiting for the tube, without a care in the world, and see lots of dark grey mice scuttling around. They’re getting braver and moving more around people. I’m afraid that one day they’ll rise up and take over the city

  8. s says...

    Love the artwork!

  9. Great post :) I’ve never been there in NYC but i have heard it’s a wonderful place though… i hope to visit it one day !

  10. Great post! I love New York City with its shortcomings. It is the little things …
    My hometown is Kiev in Ukraine. Now here we have barricades, flames and smoke! Police use torture to the people (video)!

  11. Really? I love NYC Pizza. John’s is my favorite. Chicago is great for Deep Dish though. Everything else I agree with though.

  12. I was a New Yorker and then moved to Sydney and started to appreciate the price of eating out! Not to mention the cost of groceries, clothing and toys. I guess you never know how good you have it until it’s gone…

  13. I live in NYC, so true. And the mugging thing actually literally happened to me like in the picture! Except I didn’t get to ask for my vintage purse back (It was Ralph Lauren, and so cute and perfect!) because he had a gun to my head :( Ah, New York. Still love this city despite everything.

  14. I’m a Canadian living in Vancouver, but NYC is my favourite place on earth. And i think this is hilarious! i can appreciate this more than you know!
    a not so glam thing about Vancouver….. 3 words….the east side. ha!

  15. ,,,currently living in AZ (Arizona) where everything EVERYTHING is covered in a layer of dust! can’t stand it. i gave up polishing the furniture a long time ago. there i said it (a bazillion times at least) you would think i would already be accustomed to the dust being a native of this southwest state but Noooooo…i’m not! can’t wait to get out of here.,,,

  16. Joanna you must come to Lisbon. You’ll fall in love, I asure you! The prices, the places, the food, the people, the sea, the Tagus river, the beaches around Lisbon and the green forest in Sintra. If you know someone that already came here, talk to them. They can confirm everything ☺ I love Lisbon ;) kiss for you and the boys

  17. From my experience, I’ll agree with all these but the pizza (Love it!) and the mugging…not sure if I know anyone who has been mugged. I grew up there and lived there just until a few years ago. Tear. I MISS IT TERRIBLY.
    Also – whoever mentioned roaches – TRUE THAT. Ew.

  18. CC says...

    I live in southern Minnesota and I love it. But the downside is that 90% of your scenery is cornfields and more cornfields.

  19. I agree 100% specially the waiting time for a restaurant (sucks)
    But I love this city :)

  20. The cute little drawings were both beautiful and funny like a in a funny kids book. Be careful though, I can tell the city snide side is rubbing off on you LOL.

    good job

  21. We were asked to bring cookies to a party from a specific bakery on the Upper West Side. The total was $100. A HUNDRED DOLLARS! For 25 cookies! Granted, they were so delicious I almost wept when I bit into the first one.

  22. This was great! Thanks for the laugh. I live in Boise, ID and my only complaints are that they don’t really plow the snow in the winter. It doesn’t snow all that often but when it does it’s as if drivers have forgotten how to drive in the snow. The only thing they do is sprinkle sand at the intersections. Also, when the wind is blowing the right (or wrong) direction you get a whiff of manure. No rats here but sometimes there can be mice, if you’re living in the newer, more rural neighborhoods. But that problem can be resolved with a cat. We see a lot of semi trucks hauling potatoes, but I just think that’s funny. It’s a good thing I live in Idaho, because I really do love potatoes.

  23. I agree with many of your feelings.
    But after 20 years, I still miss an NYC bagel. it has to be the water!!!!!

  24. I’ve never been to NY, but this was a funny article nevertheless! Living in smalltown, Idaho, has it’s pitfalls as well. Having to take main street to avoid 1st south and it’s line of buses and students headed for high school is a must, but requires a speed limit of 20. Often forgeting how long my 10 minute commute to work takes, postpone leaving home only to arrive at work late. Feeling my hands dry up from the freezing high altitude. Smelling freshly laid manure in the morning from the field opposite our county road. Getting chased by un-tethered dogs during my morning jogs. Waiting 8 months for the the water company to place a new pipe down 3rd street, fill it up, and finally lay asphalt. Filling a glass of water from the tap, but waiting for the milky appearance to settle (lots of tiny air bubbles). Baring down the windows and doors during harvest season to prevent the smog-like dust and debris from floating indoors.

    And yet, there’s a lot of positives. Lots of space, less-expensive gas, and beautiful sunsets!

    Great article, thanks for sharing!

  25. I live in LA and what we have in common with NYC is the prices of things, and the whole model/actress thing all over, everywhere. I actually like NY pizza- come here and you will have a different outlook on NY pizza! haha.

  26. Boston has ZERO good delivery options. The only way to get delivery is to pay someone a premium (like $10!) to bring it to you, and then you end up having to tip them as well! Brutal. Also, the subway system in Boston is brutal. Since it’s the oldest in the country, it doesn’t go anywhere you want to, and walking is usually just as fast.

  27. I have been living in Mombasa, Kenya. The downside…trash. It is a rarity to find a public trash can so everyone litters.

  28. Summertime garbage smell! Wintertime frozen trash juice on the sidewalk!

  29. Joanna, I loved this post! Visited NY once, loved it so much! But yes all big cities have they pros and cons. I am French but live in Johannesburg, South Africa and after 7 years, I get seriously worked up about certain things: safe public transport non-existent, prices increasing like cah-razy (esp petrol and food) and salaries very low. Service is atrocious, roads in a terrible state, traffic lights out all the time and it goes on and on BUT then we have the Kruger park, beautiful Cape Town, vineyards, and so many other gorgeous things to see and experience and SA wins my heart over France any day :)

  30. Cute illustrations! I’m living in Tokyo and I’m having a love-hate relationship with the city!

  31. I lived in Manhattan for seven glorious years and even with this unglamorous top ten, I would run back in a heartbeat. When I visit, I hit the ground running to try to cram in everything I miss. (It’s so hard to work the Cloisters in….) I’m jealous every time you write or post photos about NYC–don’t take it for granted. I’m hopeful someday I will be able to return for more than a few days. BTW, not having a car is a very GOOD thing. In most cities it’s difficult to get by without one.

  32. So you moved here post 9/11 and the beginning of gentrification and luxufication and Bloomberg’s terms, where consumerism and luxury was his crying call to show the terrorists that capitalism and NYC will not be down, therefore keep consuming — spend. spends. spend. People moved here and adapted to their neighborhood, not destroy it to liken it to their images and their hometown of of suburban banality. If this NYC was a different country and you criticize on the way its citizens live their way and their local cuisine, you’d be a racist. And the people who are agreeing with you who don’t even live here and have only visited here, give me a break. How would you like it if I criticize your hometown Podunk Middle America after spending only a few days there. What a bunch of ignorant fools. NYC has now become to the narcissist and those who do nothing but consume and be glamorous — useless and vacuous, like you and your minions and this post. Go away. Leave NYC to those who have soul and character.

  33. Well the pizza is really flat — does that make it cardboard-like?

  34. You must live in a different Chicago than Chicago, Il where last summer was unseasonably cold and the summer do .2012 was hot as hell!

  35. That’s why I live in Edgewater NJ =). I love NY but can’t think about living in the City.
    Great and funny post!

  36. in Alaska, shipping is always expensive, and most of the time free shipping is not actually free or there are places that don’t ship to Alaska at all. super annoying but I love living here, the views are breathtaking, the people friendly and well, it’s home :D

  37. I’ve always heard to carry a fake wallet with you for tricking muggers. Maybe put some ones in there and some fake cards to make it look real enough to give you time to get to a safe place.

    Also, put a $20 under the soles of all your shoes for cab or subway money. Just in case.

  38. Great post! I live in Toronto (which I feel like some people might not know is fourth-biggest city in North America, right after Mexico City, NYC, & LA) and although it’s great to have access to awesome museums, concerts, restaurants, and shopping (especially as a newly-engaged bride-to-be!), there are definitely a few things that drive me nuts: crowds are insane, especially at big events; public transit isn’t great and traffic is TERRIBLE; and we have an intense raccoon problem that made it almost impossible for me to grow a garden this summer. That said, I know I’m lucky to live in downtown To.!

  39. TEN dollar lemonade! never in a million… LOVE this post!

  40. Absolutely hysterical and witty! Love the illustrations! Ha! I’m in Florida. Everyone is always like “Oh! The beach. You are sooooo lucky!!!” Yeah. No. First of all, if you live here, a tourist goes to the beach a lot more than you do AND the weather is no treat in the summer. You’re looking at rain every.single.afternoon for 3+ months!! Arrgghh!!!