Every place has unique success factors, but no other city in America is quite like New York City.
There are about 8.6 million people in the 5 boroughs, each borough larger than most American cities; the smallest — Staten Island at 479,458 — is bigger than Kansas City #35 or Miami #44 (data).
If you are new to the City, here are some tips.
Find and do the thousands of Free things. Parks, libraries, free Friday Museum night, live performances, lectures at the library or colleges, walking tours, street fairs, etc. By doing the free stuff you save money while experiencing “common” activities that you may never need to do twice (unless your friends and family come to town). List.
Save money. Per above, do the free things and find the places for great and cheap. Fresh seafood and groceries in Chinatown. Meats at Western Beef ($8/lb filet mignons), Spice shops in Little India (28th/Lex), used Designer clothing at Housing Works, fresh $1 bagel shops everywhere, St. Marks area for dive bars and tattoos, and the list goes on for destination areas with quality, inexpensive goods and services.
Avoid paying full price. TKTS for half price Broadway tickets, Club Free Time for free off Broadway tickets ($19/annual subscription), Groupon, Goldstar, Yelp, Stubhub and other discount sites. With a tiny bit of searching you can save a lot of money.
Avoid Friday and Saturday dinner or events in favor of weekdays for splurging on expensive things. Locals like Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday so you get better service and quality; tourist and outsiders come in on the weekends and make a mess of things. Cheaper theater and sports tickets are available mid-week.
Network like crazy. Make new friends with others in your hobby, interest, profession, beliefs and age group. If you are young/20-ish, many of the people you will meet are from outside NYC and are hungry to meet others as well. If you have school age children, get active in the PTA, sport teams and performance classes.
Work really hard. Regardless of age, but particularly if you are young, you should be working insane amounts of hours to outshine your peers in your job. High performance means high rewards in every NYC company and industry. I went from $15K to $50K in 3 years when I was starting out.
Be a kid and don’t let the little annoyance get you down. The subway delays, constant noise, stinky smells, dog poop, traffic jams, oblivious tourists, rude people — ad infinitum — are in your face 24/7. Get used to it and “Love the smell of napalm in the morning.”
Pay attention and learn. Learn Spanish and Yiddish saying and turns of phrase; “Bodega grocery market”; “Bagel with a schmear, please”. Learn shortcuts — even street go east, odd west — and about every 9th street, they go both ways (14,23,34,42, 57, 72). Avenues run North (uptown) to South (downtown) and switch from numbers to names; no local will ever call 6th Ave. the Avenue of the Americas. Download the MTA bus and subway apps.
Be nice and help others. Very quickly you will see people that are perplexed and confused, generally tourist, Seniors, and homeless. Smile at them and they will either respond or not, then do what is right.
Carve out personal rewards. Chocolate, truffles, ice cream, shoes, jewelry, music, theater, classes, cocktails, craft beer, sushi, whatever. NYC has everything and you should make a list of what to get when you deserve a reward.
Enjoy this? Here are a few other NYC focused articles I’ve written: