15 common misconceptions about NYC

New York City has a lot of stereotypes, but very few of them are even close to accurate
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Andrea Schaffer
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Fellow New York transplants, maybe you've had this experience: you return to the place you grew up (I refer to both Oakland and Brooklyn as home), and half the people you talk to reel off some reason that they could never live in Gotham. “It's too noisy for me,” “I couldn't live without my car,” “Why would I ever live in a place where cocktails cost $14?”

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Chances are, if you're reading this, you get defensive about NYC life when you're traveling, too. You never feel as overwhelmed by crowds or put off by rudeness as nonNew Yorkers assume you should. Of course, there are frustrating things about the city (the L train shutdown, creeps on Tinder and terrible roommates, to name a few). But in case you need a quick retort for someone who just doesn't get it, we've rounded up the 15 most common misconceptions about the city. Here's why they're not true (mostly).  

1. It's too crowded 
Yeah, there are a lot of us sharing the streets and subways. But that also means there are more people to meet, more funny conversations to overhear and more memorable chance encounters. Plus, it makes running into a friend feel extra special.

2. It’s dirty
If you want to live somewhere clean, go somewhere boring. Sure, New York can be a bit dirtier than other places on the planet, but that just means it’s more loved. And also, you can walk around most of the mess. (Just don’t look at what’s been hiding under that snow bank all winter when it starts to melt.)

3. You can't live here unless you're super rich
Go back to the Midwest and it probably won’t take long to hear things like, “I hear a pop costs five dollars there!” and “Don’t you have to lay down 20 big ones for lunch every day?” Admittedly, those things are both true. If you don’t know where to go, that is. Live here for a bit, and you’ll know the best spots for cheap eats, free snacks and other cost-saving hacks like the back of your hand.

4. Everyone’s rude 
Of all the misconceptions about New Yorkers, this is the most blatantly incorrect. We may develop gruff exteriors, but we are happy to help lost visitors find their way, and we always give up our subway seats for the pregnant and elderly. We carry strollers and suitcases up stairs, and we hold the door for whoever’s walking behind us. We may not be smiling all the time, but we’re certainly not unfriendly.

5. It’s dangerous
Girl, turn off that SVU. Network procedurals may still paint New York as a crime-ridden place full of random acts of violence, but that hasn’t been the case for years. In fact, crime and murder rates have dropped so fast that New York is now one of the safest cities in the United States. You can walk the streets here without Mariska, we promise.

6. Everyone wears designer clothes
Many people outside New York imagine a city full of designer-clad divas and men in expensive suits, walking briskly to their jobs in media and finance. Sure, you’ll probably find a lot of designer duds in the offices of midtown and the Financial District, but the majority of New Yorkers dress in, you know, cheap clothes. (Cheap fashionable clothes, but still.)

7. The pace is way too fast 
Um, clearly everyone else just walks too slowly. If you want to meander here, feel free, but just let the rest of us get around you. We’ve got places to be.

8. It’s not green enough 
Do you live within a mile of a 843-acre park that also happens to host Shakespeare plays and ice-skating? What about a 585-acre one with free outdoor summer concerts? Didn’t think so. Yes, there’s a lot of concrete here, but our parks offer amazing respite. And a short train ride away are hikes in the Hudson Valley, Long Island beaches and all the apple orchards you could want come fall (and you don’t even need a car to get there).

9. It’s too loud
There are plenty of sirens, honking cabs and noisy conversations, but that hum is part of what makes NYC feel so alive. And you get used to it—you learn to tune out the din to such an extent that you start to find silence unnerving. When you venture outside the city, it can be hard to sleep without that white noise out the window.

10. Manhattan is the biggest borough
Brooklyn has been gaining more attention in recent years due to it’s international hipster cred, but for many people, Manhattan and New York are one and the same. That’s obviously wrong. But whatever you do, don’t tell them how awesome Queens actually is. It’s hard enough to get a table at Mu Ramen as it is.

11. All apartments look like they do in Friends
Unfortunately, if you move to New York, you aren't going to live in Monica’s gigantic apartment from Friends or Carrie Bradshaw’s dream-worthy Upper East Side studio. If Monica Geller owned that apartment today, she would have to be a millionaire many, many times over. They would have to rename the show Millionaire Friends and Their Poor Friend Joey.

12. You can’t find decent Mexican food 
We may not have as many taco trucks as California, but if you know where to look, you can find a great burrito or enchilada, especially in the outer boroughs. Plus, lots of NYC chefs use Mexican influences to get creative with upscale dining, so our sit-down Mexican food scene is pretty baller.

13. The subway’s a hassle 
We don’t have trunks to store all our junk in (literally), but instead, our commutes involve reading, listening to podcasts, and most important, people watching. Driving alone in your car doesn’t foster the productivity that you can find on the train. And though the subway map may look complicated to outsiders, it’s actually very easy to get anywhere you want. And the trains runs all night, so nobody has to worry about driving home after an evening out. We’ll take that over highways anytime.

14. You can't raise a family here 
You probably won’t have a picket fence or a backyard, but raising a kid here is just like doing it anywhere else (except that they might grow up a little faster). Children can learn the bus routes and say hi to neighbors in the hallway just as well as anyone else. Plus, city kids never wish they’d grown up in the burbs, but Westchester and Long Island natives always move to NYC. Case closed.

15. The rents are crazy high
Yeah…this one is actually true.

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