Making the Move New York Travel Guide

Experience New York City Like a Local

Living in New York like a Local

One thing I quickly learned when I moved to New York one year ago, was that visiting as a tourist is a completely different experience than living here. The list of comparisons feels endless but here are a few of the main ones that come to mind and a little advice on navigating the city.

  • Take the subway everywhere. Locals don’t take yellow cabs. If we need to go somewhere by car we use Uber or Lyft.
  • Walk. Fast. When locals walk around Manhattan they don’t stop suddenly to look up. A local knows the rules of the pathways which leaves no time for looking at your surroundings, as sad as that may sound. We know where we need to go and don’t waste time getting there.
  • Stay away from Times Square. Sure it’s cool to look at but no local has a reason to be there unless they genuinely enjoy feeling like a sardine or like to eat in overpriced, poor quality mega-chain restaurants.
  • Drink good coffee. The “city that never sleeps” is fueled by coffee, but not just any coffee. There might be a chain coffee shop on every corner in New York City, but you won’t find many locals there. A true local will forgo Starbucks for freshly roasted beans and pour-over brews. Hot spots include Blue Bottle Coffee, Everyman Espresso, Joe the Art of Coffee, La Colombe, Stumptown, and Third Rail Coffee.
  • Shop in sample sales. Buy books in local bookstores. Get your vegetables and fruit in farmer markets.
  • Do Brunch. Weekend brunch is a way of life here. Experience a million different varieties of eggs Benedict, fruit-filled pancakes, chocolate French toast, gourmet burgers, or fried chicken and waffles, accompanied by mimosas, Bloody Marys, or specialty brunch cocktails. These days, just about every restaurant worth going to requires an advanced booking for their brunch on the weekends.
  • Don’t eat in American chain restaurants. There’s really never a good excuse to eat in one of these places when you have literally hundreds of other eateries to choose from with much better food. If you’re stuck for ideas see my NYC restaurant guide & map HERE.
  • Don’t pronounce Houston Street like the city in Texas. It is named after a guy who pronounced his name “HOW-stin.”
  • Subway advice: If a subway car pulls up and you notice two-thirds of it is packed and the last third is empty, everyone’s not too stupid to walk to the end: they just smell something you don’t yet. Always stay with the crowd.
  • People on the subway mean business. There is no time to pause, so jump off the carriage and power walk out of that station. Never, under any circumstances stop at the very top or bottom of a staircase.
  • Drink the tap water. The tap water in New York is the best filtered and treated water in the country.
  • Buy everything on your credit card and build up your credit score. I never did get around to this but if you’re living in America long term it is a must. You can save money in multiple ways, build points towards flights and hotels and of course it’s super helpful when finding a place to rent.
  •  Don’t limit yourself to Manhattan, check out Dumbo and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Hoboken in New Jersey and White Plains in Westchester, Upstate New York. The beautiful towns of Connecticut are only an hour away too.

Living in New York like a Local

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  • Reply
    November 15, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Thank you for explaining why Americans seem obsessed with putting expenses on their credit cards! I’ve been reading personal finance blogs for years and I’ve never been able to understand this fixation when it seems to involve running up debt. Now I see.

  • Reply
    Taylor || The Millennial Sprinkle
    November 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    So fun and so true! I love the tip about walking fast, it’s SOO true. Also, avoid Times Square like the plague hahaha, not fun if you live around it!

    xo, Taylor (

  • Reply
    November 15, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    Oh my gosh if only I could drink local coffee and have brunch in NYC!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 1:10 am

    These are all such great tips! I’m heading to NYC this weekend and cannot wait!

    The Blush Blonde

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 2:23 am

    I wholeheartedly second the brunch tip!

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I just went a couple weekends ago and definitely enjoyed experiencing it like a local with some friends!

    xoxo, Paige

  • Reply
    Southern & Style
    November 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    This was so neat to read! I’ve never even visited NYC, I’m just not a big city girl, but I do love hearing about how living in other cities “works”.

    xoxo, SS

    Southern and Style

  • Reply
    Cameron - Diary of a Southern Millennial
    November 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    These are great tips! I’ve only been to NYC a few times, but it’s very much like other large cities in terms of not getting in the way haha.

  • Reply
    Christine Anne
    November 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    I’ve only been to New York once when I was 18 and I was only there for a couple hours. I would love to go for a longer trip and do some of these things.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    This post was so interesting! I’ve been to NYC a handful of times but some of these things I didn’t know! The last time we went it was only 3 days. I’d love to go back and try more restaurants, there are so many good ones!

    Kayla |

  • Reply
    November 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Looks like NYC and DC locals have a lot in common! I could totally relate to a lot of these…except drinking tap water. Tap water in DC is awful, NYC tap water is definitely much better!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    I have only been to NYC once and honestly, I was so unsettled by the entire city I do not know if I will ever go back! A little TOO fast-paced for me. But I like these tips, and I laughed out loud at the subway car thing – I have found that you should always follow the crowd in big cities and airports – better safe than smelly (or worse!)

  • Reply
    November 19, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I’ve been to New York quite a few times (last time, for a 8 day work trip) so I second these tips! I stayed in Hoboken last time, with this gorgeous view of the skyline from my bedroom, and can’t recommend it enough!

    Tori || Victori Media

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