I’ve been away for a few weeks traveling and exploring New York City with a friend of mine. What a zany/exhausting/ eye-opening joyride of an adventure it’s been! As a New Yorker who’s lived here longer than anywhere else, I like to think I know the city well. Yet every time I venture into the thick of it, I’m still amazed at all there is to see and do and experience. All the different people from around the world who call this wild city their home, the melting pot of cultures, the stories, the dreams.
I don’t always enjoy living in New York. To be honest, the weather is unpleasant or depressing at least 50% of the year (ask any New Yorker and they’ll tell you no one moves to the city for the weather!), it’s often noisy and crowded with an energy that can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to disconnect yourself.
But my friend’s visit really stirred up a heaping dose of NYC appreciation for me and got me thinking a lot about the power of perspective. Seeing his enthrallment with the city, his appreciation for the culture, his amazement at the never-ending array of options at your fingertips, his desire to live here and become a New Yorker, moved something in me.
It got me realising how much I have to be grateful for. How much I take for granted living in this crazy part of the world, as well as all the reasons why I fell in love with NYC in the first place.
So in the spirit of gratitude for my hometown, I thought I’d share my personal reasons why I love this concrete jungle and why I continue to call it home.
NYC is a foodie paradise and New Yorkers are spoiled with food options, truly and completely. You can eat foods from around the world here. Not only that but with such a large population of foreigners in this city, you’re bound to find not just worldly cuisine but the authentic version of whatever you’re searching for.
Just in the short time that my friend was visiting here, we’ve eaten Greek, Malaysian, Venezuelan, Australian, paleo, Vietnamese, Japanese, vegan, grass-fed organic, classic NYC deli, and more. Wow. I love that this all exists in my neighborhood. As a huge foodie, it’s important to me that I have access to good and interesting foods — it’s one of my top requirements for living somewhere actually — and the food scene here is some of the best I’ve experienced yet.
Living in NYC, you become friends with people from all over and all walks of life. Perk up your ears on a subway ride or stroll down a busy street and you’ll hear a variety of languages spoken. Subway signs are translated into dozens of languages. Advertisements and newspapers are regularly printed in foreign languages, Spanish and Chinese especially. And as my friends who I picnicked with last week keenly observed, there were more foreigners in our group at the time than Americans. And it all felt very natural – just how things are.
I remember some study that I read way back which found New Yorkers to be some of the most liberal, tolerant people in the country. I would say this has to do so much with exposure. When you live and interact with people from a variety of different cultures & backgrounds in your everyday life, you learn that we are all essentially the same. I feel this energy whenever I travel and come back to NYC. There’s a strong tolerance and acceptance for whoever you are, whatever you look like. When you live in New York, it takes a lot to bother or freak you out.
The options and variety
I love that you can find most anything in this city! When I wanted to take lyrical (a pretty specialized dance class to find for adults), I located a class option right in my neighborhood. When I wanted to practice and improve upon my Icelandic, I found a class in the city led by a native speaker. When I felt like going to a street festival over the weekend, I discovered not one but several that were going on throughout the city that very day! When I go out to eat with my vegan friends or a mixed group of eaters, we never have problems finding a restaurant that satisfies all. There are always an abundance to choose from. If you’ve got an obscure interest, chances are you’ll find a community for it in NYC. What a gift that is!
If you follow my newsletter, you know how often I talk about cultivating freedom. I’m a true wanderer at heart and one of my most favourite things to do (besides dance and eat delicious foods!):) is to grab my camera and take off for the day exploring and picture-taking. I could be in the forest, climbing a mountain, traveling through some part of the world… it doesn’t really matter as long as I have inspiring scenery and that sense of boundless, free-spirit.
With subways and trains providing quick access around the metro area and beyond, the ability to walk everywhere, and the sense that there’s always something to discover, NYC seems to cater to wanderers, making it easy to explore and feel free. Some of my best memories in New York involve wandering with friends & camera in tow, and the random and hilarious things we’ve often encountered along the way.
Every year hoards of people move to NYC because they have a dream. There are actors, artists, dancers, comedians, singers, photographers, chefs, models, writers, performers – all people who are looking to make their big break here, who desire and thirst for achieving more in life, who want to make an impact, a difference.
This makes NYC one competitive place; it also makes it a city full of LIFE. This pulsing energy can be felt even in the day-to-day. Your work and/or personal life can be filled with some of the best and brightest people, whose dreams have led them all to this tiny spot of the world.
Make it here and you can make it anywhere, or so the saying goes. I believe that. It takes determination, passion, and a ‘do what it takes’ mentality to thrive in this city for long-term.
The health scene
My friend who was visiting observed how easy it is to be unhealthy in America since everything is loaded with sugar. That may be true but I would say that it’s also incredibly easy to be healthy in NYC, provided that’s something you want. For example, I don’t go very far out of my way to source good food here. Between the health food store in my neighborhood, one next to where I work, and the farmer’s markets, I find virtually everything I need.
The city is chock-full of organic juice & salad bars, green smoothies, restaurants serving exclusively grass-fed & wild meats, farm-to-table dining experiences, yoga & fitness studios in just about every neighborhood (sometimes multiple ones within blocks of each other!). If you’re on any special kind of diet or have many food restrictions, you’re in luck in New York — here you can find gourmet restaurants dedicated to keeping a gluten-free kitchen or grass-fed organic or vegan, etc.
New York is definitely one of those places that’s going through a major health craze right now. Not that I’m complaining. This is the kind of scene I do well in and I am so grateful to be able to easily eat in the way that makes me feel best.
So there you have it — my top fave things about living in New York City ♥ Now, turning it over to you — where do you live and what do you appreciate about it? Look closer. What seems normal, commonplace and “everyday” to you may not be for millions of others.