When you've lived in NYC for a while, it's easy to notice when someone is new to the city.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with being new to NYC, in fact, in 2017, more than 264,000 people (3 percent of the city’s population) moved to New York, and of these, 35 percent came from abroad and the remaining 65 percent, moved from elsewhere in the U.S., according to StreetEasy. New Yorkers, both native and "transplant," make NYC what it is today.
That being said, newbies to NYC do questionable things that are quite against the grain of city living, from stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to making eye contact with strangers. They haven't yet learned the city-specific habits we've picked up—there's a lot to learn, after all.
On Reddit, a user asked the question, "What’s a telltale sign somebody is an NYC newbie?" and the more than 600 answers gave us a good idea of what it might look like. Below are 16 ways to tell somebody is an NYC newbie, according to New Yorkers on Reddit.
(Note: Take these with a grain of salt—some of us who have lived here since birth still do some of these things!)
1. They're obsessed with looking/acting like a "real New Yorker"
If they're concerned with appearing like a "real" New Yorker, they must be new here. Being a New Yorker is just who you are, it's not something you can force or make yourself look like. You either are or you're not. In fact, the harder you try, the more you will stick out.
2. They stop in the middle of the sidewalk
The golden rule of NYC is not to stop in the middle of the sidewalk. If they break it, it's clear they haven't walked our streets much.
3. They pronounce it "Hew-ston" and "Gren-wich Village"
It's pronounced "House-ton" and "Gren-ich." This is a big tell.
4. They're unnecessarily rude because "that’s how New Yorkers are"
Being rude is not a New Yorker trait it's a personality flaw. We're direct, not nasty. "I think a lot of transplants confuse directness with being an absolute antisocial asshole," bombardieristrash said.
5. They call every deli and convenience store a "bodega"
Not every corner deli or convenience is a "bodega."
"Growing up, no one called the corner store a bodega. It was either the corner store or deli (latter if it was mainly Jewish or Eastern European and sold certain items). A bodega was specifically a Hispanic corner store, typically Dominican or Puerto Rican. But now everything is a bodega. The gas station? A bodega. Pizzeria that sells some chips and knickknacks? Nah it’s a bodega too," bombardieristrash, said chiming in again.
6. They wait for the walk sign when there are no cars coming
Unless traffic is oncoming, why wait for the walk sign to come on? We have places to go and things to do! Abiding by the sign when there's no car or bike in sight is silly. We're careful but in a hurry.
7. They refer to the subway lines by color or call the subway something like "The Metro"
The subway lines are numbered and lettered. The colors help to know the general direction they're going in, but that's not what we know them by. And it's not "the tube" or "the metro"—it's "the subway" or "the train."
"If I give directions to out-of-towners, I’ll reference the color first, then the letter or number so it’s easier for them to navigate. For any local, by the numbers/letters," 113631 said.
8. They buy CDs on the street in Times Square or the Javits Center
We all know to avoid these CD-hawking scammers. They're fake rappers selling "autographed" CDs—we just keep walking.
9. They smile and make eye contact with people
If you're here for the long haul, you learn to wipe the smile off your face and avoid eye contact with strangers. If you don't, it's an open invitation to weirdos to speak to you. Sure, it might make us seem rude and intense, but we're doing it to protect ourselves (and our time). And honestly, we're all busting our asses so a lot of the time, too tired to smile or engage, anyway.
10. They say they're waiting "in" line
This is a major flag. You wait "on" line. Period.
11. They refer to destinations by the actual address instead of cross streets
As much as we know our streets, the actual addresses of the places we're going to are of little importance. Most of us go by the approximate location because we're walking and taking public transportation, not driving with GPS. Give a taxi driver an address and they might know how to get you there, but give them cross streets and you're golden.
12. They can't conceive of anyone voluntarily living in a "non-cool" neighborhood
There are so many awesome neighborhoods in NYC that don't qualify as "cool" like Williamsburg is, but that's a good thing. Once something is deemed "cool," any hope of keeping its character is over. The world is so much bigger than these overhyped and overcrowded neighborhoods and not everyone wants the same things as they do.
13. They talk about how much energy the city has
We know, we feel it every day and it's part of why we're still here but also stressed out AF.
14. They're immediately an NYC influencer on TikTok or Instagram
We have all seen videos by an influencer who just moved to the city claiming to discover a "hidden gem" and rolled our eyes.
"The way they make these grand pronouncements about 'New Yorkers this' and 'New Yorkers that,' how 'nobody knows' something (like they did on that video about chopped cheese some years back), how they 'discovered' a neighborhood, how a gentrifying neighborhood where people are being displaced is 'up and coming,' or how they’re suddenly the experts about how 'authentic' some cuisine is that they just tried once they moved here," explained BxGyrl416.
15. They plan out subway trips assuming they will arrive at the time stated in an app and don't leave additional time for mishaps
This is a hard lesson to learn, but eventually, New Yorkers come to realize it will always take more time to get there than any app says.
16. They ask questions like "how can you spot an NYC newbie?" and philosophize about what it means to be a New Yorker
If they have to ask, chances are, they're a newbie. ;-)
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