NEW YORK CITY LIFESTYLE – Part 1

by MatselaMoshokoa

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LIFESTYLE

I have been traveling back and forth between JHB and New York City for the past year. Experienced the city in both extreme winter and summer. Every time I visit NYC I am afforded the chance to be a little more intimate with this big metropolis. I’m discovering the truth about life in NYC, and it’s unlike no other really, it has an energy and a buzz that you cannot experience as tourist who happens to be passing by, you cannot truly see the place for what it is in just a few days. New York City is one of those destination you keep re-visiting beaches upon every trip you will discover new things, it’s constantly changing, nothing stays the same for too long in this town.

Johannesburg and New York have a few things in common, economic hubs, these 2 cities belong to no one, because everyone comes from somewhere else, and these people have similar missions, to make it against all odds. These cities are for seekers and survivors.

I’ll be going through the lifestyle in New York City from a perspective of a young person who has lived in Johannesburg all her life, and what it means to live in a City like the Big Apple.

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CITY DWELLINGS

Being one of the most densely populated cities in USA, with 8.4million people residing in an area of only 790km2, compared to Greater Johannesburg with 7million people on an area that spans 1657km2. New York City is very tight on space,which means you will most likely live in an apartment as opposed to a free standing house. It’s also a very expensive city to live in, so rent is high and the homes are much much smaller. One of the things you will appreciate about Johannesburg is space. The pre-war architecture is beautiful though and has old facades that give you a glimpse of old New York. Boroughs like Brooklyn used to be pretty affordable before gentrification, now places like Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo and Williamsburg cost just as much as Manhattan Island.

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GETTING AROUND

One of the things I admire the most and wish on JHB is a public transport system as efficient and reliable as the New York Subway. The Subway and Metro North transports on average 2million people into the city for work. It really is the engine that drives this bustling city. It’s cheap and very easy to use, and covers a vast area. Because there is such a great subway system, one would think that New Yorkers won’t have as many cars, right? NOT! It’s also a driving city, so which intern means parking issues. Most cars park on the road sides because there is no space for parking lots. It doesn’t end there, cycling has also become an efficient way of getting around too, if you don’t want to deal with the headache of finding parking, then cycling is the way to go. I once spent 2 hours searching for a parking spot. For a quick get around, the classic old yellow taxi will do, but if you don’t know the city well, the driver can get stuck in traffic jams while your meter still runs, and you end up spending a fortune just moving from uptown to midtown, so I usually use the yellow cab late at night when traffic has subsided or on weekends.

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SHOPPING

We know of the 5th Ave, and Madison Ave as shopping destinations in New York City, but these are mostly tourist hubs and they are so packed that you spend time standing in long lines and fighting over stuff with people. Then I discovered SoHo, you will find all the high street stores and more, without the foot traffic, Soho is also very charming with its cobble stone street and small boutique shopping and restaurants.
Brooklyn is also one of my favorite shopping destinations away from the hype, it has cool mom&pap stores that have the best artisan American products. The Brooklyn neighborhood has made effort to keep the big chain stores away from their market in order to give the small entrepreneurs a fare trading market. I think it’s very noble and it encourages local business to thrive.
The variety is endless you can never have enough of anything. I love it!

EAT

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New York City has over 20 000 restaurant, yep! So much variety of course. Eating out is the order of the day, because of small apartment living people tend be out more. One day of sitting in the house, I get claustrophobic, the homes are literally for sleeping and storage, everything else happens outside. Endless bars, coffee shops, tea shops all kinds of speciality eating out places you can imagine. But what I also noticed is how small these eating out spaces are as well. I have been to places where it was very hard not to hear what the conversation on the next table was about…yes that small. Living in New York you have to be prepared to give your personal space, because you are forced to exist in close proximity with people, in the restaurant, subway, etc.
I absolutely love the adventure of eating out. With about 800 languages spoken in New York, you could only imagine the taste options you are exposed to. On my last trip I fell in love with Polish food, found in Green point Brooklyn area, hearty, tasty food.
You can never have a favorite in NYC, until you have gone through them all.

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PLAY

In Jozi we brag about our gardens, or our big patio where we entertain our friends on the weekends. In New York I have come to notice that people brag about rooftops, whether your building has a rooftop entertainment area or your favorite bar is on a rooftop. It was on everyone’s youngest this summer, again because of space, alternative spaces need to be used, New York City has an impressive skyline, and what better way to appreciate it than from a rooftop. It could be over the East River in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg/Brooklyn heights, or in Chelsea where you get the view if the Empire State Building, you need to find yourself up top and partying the night away. A lot of hotels have rooftop bars that are open to the general public. If you are in the big apple skip the Time Square and head to the rooftops, in the warmer months of course.

I’m still discovering New York City and I’m convinced I’ll never cover every corner. I think it will finish me before I finish it.

If you want tips and a not so tourist guide NYC, you can always email us info@diaro.co.za

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