New York is a city that I have been in love with since the first time I got off a bus from Montreal to visit waaaay back in my early 20’s. Something about the energy, hustle and bustle, bright lights and the people. Years later in a very different stage of my life I have been given the opportunity to live in the Big Apple. When my husband came home from work and told me he’d been offered a transfer to New York, my first reaction was “Hell Yeah, we’re in!”. But I have to admit, their were a few things at the back of my mind that I was worried about. I’m happy to say that less than 2 months after living here these “worries” are not worries at all – they are misconceptions that thankfully are not at all true.
- Everyone in New York is rude: Not true. Alot of people I have come across are straight forward and don’t beat around the bush, but for the most part I have found people courteous. I can understand how for some people being so to the point can be daunting and mistaken for rudeness. I admit the average New Yorker’s way of being is a little different to what I am used to, such as service people don’t really ever smile. I like to kill them with kindness with a bright smile and a big thank you, you’d be surprised how many of these same people end up being alot more friendlier once they see that I am friendly (you give what you get). I guess the average New Yorker smiles alot less than the average Kiwi, but it doesn’t mean they’re rude.
- I’ll never understand how to get around on the subway: I’m not one of those people with a built-in GPS and prior visits to NYC have found me lost on the subway heading to Queens as opposed to Brooklyn. This time around I’ve got the hang of it pretty quickly. The signs in the subway themselves can be confusing, but you just have to pay attention and soon enough they are not confusing at all. Google Maps and iPhone apps have been a big help in planning out my subway trips before hand – and in turn lowering my anxiety.
- Crime is rampant in New York: Like everywhere, their are pockets of crime in New York but it’s not like it’s anymore widespread than other cities. Big Monkey had read an article just before we left New Zealand showing how crime in New York was on the steady decline as opposed to it being on a steady incline in much smaller American cities and towns. I’ve read that sociologist and other experts had actually expected a trend of more crime in New York in these times of recession, but that they have been proven wrong. Their are people doing shifty things, specifically in the more shifty neighborhoods. Keep your wits about you, keep your head down and your more likely to stay out of trouble.
- Can I raise children in a city that never sleeps: Well, the city does sleep, especially in neighborhoods that are particularly family friendly. That’s the great thing about New York, their are so many different neighborhoods that will “fit” different people’s stage in life and interests. In some neighborhoods there is even a nice mix of people from very different walks of life – professional artists living amongst the stroller set in Park Slope for example. Basically, if you want to sleep you can just find the right nabe to do it in – and their are plenty.
- That I would be trading ants for cockroaches and that the rats are bigger than cats: In Auckland ants are a normal part of everyday life in most houses. You have your savory loving ants and your sweet loving ants. You figure out pretty quickly which ones you have invading your kitchen and learn tricks to keep them to a minimum. I think we used to have savory ants. If you left one morcel of bread on a plate on the counter you would have a full-on swarm of ants marching across the counter by the end of the day, what a pain! They bothered me to no end but I was even less looking forward to cockroaches, Yuck! Back when I used to visit New York semi-regularly , I would stay with this dude whose kitchen I would never go into at night. I did once and I swear I saw at least 5 crawling around in the sink and across the floor. Blech! That image is etched in my mind. The rats thing is just something that everyone says about New York. So far, I’ve been lucky to have neither where we live. Ok, so I think at times I may hear some sort of vermin outside by the rubbish bins, but at least they are not in my house. I think it’s safe to say some apartments and brownstones will be infested, but again, I don’t think it’s a given.