Jeremy Abroad

Foreigner's Impression of NYC

September 27, 2018

I was just speaking to a South African in the hostel common area who’d spent 8 years living in London. When I told him I’d been living in NYC, his reaction was “oh wow. I don’t know how anyone lives there, it’s too much ‘city’ for me.”

This actually seems to be the most common reaction I get when I’m abroad. And after leaving NYC and seeing many other cities, I can see why.

NYC, particularly Manhattan, is truly unique among major developed cities in how dense and congested it is. But unlike a city like Tokyo which is also dense but feels comfortable, Manhattan just feels overcrowded. The South African hit the nail on the head when he called out the nonstop ear-piercing police/ambulance sirens, one of my least favorite parts of the city (there’s a dead simple solution to fixing this problem: turn the f*cking volume down).

I started my world tour thinking I’d analyze all of these world cities and compare them to NYC, but I realized early on that NYC is so unique in its overcongestedness. Compared to NYC, virtually every city feels relatively comfortable (except for somewhere like New Delhi).

What about Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx?

The reality is that most companies have offices in Manhattan, and so living in the outer boroughs means you’ll have to spend 20-60 minutes commuting to Manhattan. Under a typical 9am-5pm work Monday-Friday, this means you’ll be spending the bulk of your day in Manhattan.

Sure if you can work from home then you can live in any borough, but if you can work from anywhere why on earth would you choose to live in a city as expensive as NYC?

Of course NYC has a lot of other positives that may overtake the negatives and make it worth living in for a couple years. But I think the overcongestedness and high cost of living disqualifies it as a comfortable place to live in long-term.

Jeremy Bernier

Written by Jeremy Bernier who left the NYC rat race to travel the world, work remotely, and find the meaning of life.