It’s been 5 years since I graduated college in Virginia and moved up to New York. I wasn’t one of many – I was actually the oddball. Most of my peers stayed in and around Virginia – which makes sense, since the idea of moving to the Big Apple is not one that is welcome by most far-away suburban newly-graduated millennials.

But there was something about this city that I was drawn to. I blame the movies – Sex and The City – and every other beautifully-shot photograph showing the iconic skyline that so many people see in and out of their dreams.

Fast-forward five years and I’m still in a love and hate relationship with this city. Why the hate? Well, it’s complicated. And tough. But the reality is – New York City is more often than not, absolutely nothing like the movies. It’s much, much more.

So here are 10 of the things I’ve learned while living and working in New York City.

10 Things I've Learned While Living In New York City


1. You’ve got to really, really want to be here.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

New York is not for the faint of heart. It will push you, pull you, and make you wonder why you moved here in the first place. But that’s the beauty of this city. It will shape you and make you stronger, but you’ve got to be willing to struggle through it. People come to New York City with an idea that it’s all sunshine and rainbows, and leave just as quickly as they came.

Rent is expensive, you’ll have way less space than you are used to, the city is always busy – and you’ll have to do what you can to survive. Work multiple jobs, or a job that isn’t one that you’ve dreamed about – but every day is a lesson. And the more time you spend here, the tougher and more resilient you’ll become.


2. You’ll become a champ at day-to-night dressing.

Day to Night | Levis 700 Series Denim

I’ll admit it. I used to wear a lot more color before moving here. But style changes with your environment. And New York City has influenced my style in so many ways. You’ll think about ways to be creative with your wardrobe, but also prioritize function when making fashion choices. I stopped buying things I can’t wear comfortably. I’m grateful to whoever brought the sneaker trend back. When in doubt, wear black. And I stick to buying pieces that can transition from day (workplace) to night (playplace).


So in honor of my 5-year relationship with New York City, I partnered with Levi’s x Zappos to give you a glimpse some of my go-to spots in New York City – showing you how I wear my favorite Levi’s 711 Skinny Jeans from day to night. (Watch in HD!)


With love, from NYC <3

Walking you through New York City day to night wearing the Levi's 711 skinny jeans from #ZapposStyle #LadiesinLevis

Posted by PROJECT INSPO on Tuesday, October 13, 2015


3. People are rude for a reason.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

There was always this notion that New Yorkers were rude, mean, impolite – this is more often untrue than not. I believe that New Yorkers are just a bit more impatient than people who live in other cities/places. We’re used to efficiency, and speeding up the process. Faster food, faster cab rides, faster lines – all around faster living. But there’s also a reason why people can be rude – and that’s because someone else was rude to them. I’ve noticed that in many instances – public rudeness is a result of a cycle.

Wake up in a small room.
Leave the apartment to grab a coffee. Wait in line.
Get honked at by a cab driver while trying to cross the street (you weren’t fast enough).
Get to the train. Five people push you into the train car to fit into the stop.
You’re smushed, and way too close to a stranger for any kind of comfort.
Get out of the train – bumped into by five people trying to cut in front of you to get to the stairs.
Walk into your office building. Wait in line for the elevator.
Try to squeeze into the elevator, but too many people. Wait for the next one.
Get to your desk.

This is just an example of a typical weekday morning for me when I worked a full time corporate job. I found that it was very, very difficult to not get frustrated by the time I got to my desk. And that was just my story – imagine those of any and everyone else living and working in the city.


4. Everyone has a story.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

One thing that I always loved about this city was the diversity of stories and people. Everyone you meet has a story, and there is inspiration everywhere you go, and in every person that you meet. I always chat up my cab driver – and I’ve had some of my most memorable conversations in them – stories of family, success, finding new jobs, moving to a new city, foods and even relationships.

The barista who makes your coffee in the morning – the woman who works the desk at the dry cleaner – the security guard working the door at your favorite bar – the bathroom attendant in the night club making sure the line moves at a reasonable pace – the part-time model and student who you see in spin class – even the pizza delivery guy. Everyone came here for a reason, everyone came here for a better life, and everyone came here to hustle. The more people I’ve met – as different as they seemed at first – the more I’ve realized that we were all connected by this city, and what it stands for.


5. You’ll become a bag lady.

You’ll get used to carrying an overnight bag as your everyday bag – because you’re most likely going to need everything by your side. If you want to go to the gym after work, you’ll probably have to bring an extra pair of clothes, sneakers, shower products and any other miscellaneous items you’ll need. All this, since you won’t have time to go back to your apartment before going to the gym.

I’ve gotten used to carrying bags on top of bags all throughout the city just to get through my day. Bring a change of clothes to work if you have an event + dinner to go to that evening. Why? You probably won’t want to or have time to go home and come back out.

You’ll become a bag lady. Or bag man? Either way, the bigger the bag, the better.


6. When you describe yourself as a ‘foodie’ – it will almost always be an understatement.

Every. Single. Kind. Of. Food. You. Can. Think. Of. — New York City probably has it. I thought the freshman 15 was bad when I went to college. I gained more weight in my first year in Manhattan than I did freshman year in college.

There are deli/cafes with every single kind of food you can think of – cafeterias and diners perfect for late-night (more like way-early-morning) eats – romantic, candlelit fine dining restaurants – faster food chains that don’t start with an ‘M’ or a ‘BK’ – ethnic food neighborhoods that span blocks – gastropub famous for craft cocktails – beer gardens with outdoor sand pits – and everything in between. The food and restaurant scene here is unmatched by most places anywhere in the world, and there is a place serving something for every craving.


7. It can be the loneliest city in the world, if you’re not careful.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

You’d think that because New York City is so crowded, it would be impossible to feel lonely, right? Wrong. Sometimes you can feel the loneliest when there are always people surrounding you.

Personally, I’ve learned that everyone’s schedule is hectic, and it can be really difficult to keep in touch with your friends if they don’t live within a 5 block radius from you. It’s also expensive to eat out and meet up for dinner multiple nights per week. But that’s when you’ve got to get creative, and make sure you do what you can to maintain your friendships. Buy a bottle of wine and invite a few friends over for a home-cooked meal, or better yet – a potluck. Have movie nights for two. Grab a quick thirty-minute lunch during the week with someone you haven’t seen in a while.


8. Your favorite meal of any day will be brunch.

Bottomless brunches are probably the best thing to ever happen for groups of friends. Eat, stay, drink and talk for hours with some of your besties, sitting outside and soaking in the sun. Brunch in New York City is unlike brunch anywhere else, and it will quickly become your favorite meal of any day.


9. Your limits will be tested, but if you make it here, you can make it anywhere.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

As cliche as this statement is – I 100% believe that it’s true. New York City will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not paying attention, but it’s this grind that separates the tough from the weak. If you can build up yourself, your career, your business, your goals while surviving in New York City – whether it’s for one year or ten – the lessons you’ve learned during your time here will be invaluable. And living / working anywhere else will be a piece of cake.


10. Don’t get lost in your day to day.

New York City | Levis 700 Series

I remember when I first came to Manhattan – I couldn’t stop looking up. The skyscrapers, the people, the cabs, the shops and restaurants – it was like I had a high from the city that felt like it would never go away. But the buzz wears off after you’ve been here for a while. You get caught up in your day to day – work, home, favorite restaurant / bar, sleep. Wake up, do it again. Ask a New Yorker when the last time they went to any kind of tourist attraction – and they’ll probably laugh at you.

What once was wonder in your eyes can easily become frustration + stress. Your slow, sight-soaking stroll will most likely become a brisk walk – everyone’s got somewhere to be, and everyone’s moving like they’re late for something really, really important.

I keep having to remind myself not to get lost in my day to day. Look up to remind yourself of this amazing city, and do something new – explore, always.


This is a follow-up post from my last post in partnership with Zappos and Levi’s – READ: How I Finally Found The Perfect Pair Of Jeans. View the entire Levi’s Women new 700 denim line here. They’re around $40-$50 a pop and thanks to Zappos, free shipping + returns so if they don’t fit, exchange ’em or send ’em back! 🙂


Thank you so much for reading this post. What do you think about New York City – love/hate it? Why? Leave a comment below!


With love,

  • Catherine Lux

    New York City sounds *a lot* like London! It’s always so busy with everyone rushing around! And I’ve also mastered the day-to-night clothing thing haha!

    C x | Lux Life

  • WeFoundAWay

    This is so true! As a German my chances of living in NYC are very low (the endless visa struggle…), but I had the privilege to live and work there as an intern for three months. It was a dream and hell at the same time, since I was unpaid. No matter how exhausted I was from work and my daily commute through China Town, I went outside to explore a part of Manhattan or Brooklyn every single day. This post made me miss New York so much!

  • I love everything about the city and I’d love to live here someday.

  • Veronica Yabloko

    Another great post! I don’t live in NYC but I live quite close. I’m trying to appreciate it and go there more!


  • Love this post and the pictures! Its funny, so many of these things ring true here in Shanghai too–especially the bit about brunch and the freshman 15! 😉 Also, you are a rockstar for wearing those heels on that ledge. I would probably fall to my death.

  • Love this post, and how honest you were about your experience! When I visited, I also could not stop looking around and being in awe of the hustle and bustle of the city. I loved it! Especially Time Square!


  • Love this post, very personal. But I can’t keep my eyes off the photos specially the one when you’re sitting on a ledge. Please tell me that was photoshopped. I nearly had a heart attack upon seeing it!

    • Same!! I thought Photoshopped for sure…. wish I was that brave.

  • Selim Miles

    This is great opservation about big apple!

  • I have lived in NYC for 11 years and can attest that a lot of this is true. Great post!

  • Hopefully im soon in NY too, your post is very interesting.
    The picture on the rooftop is amazing.

    Frido from

  • Izzy

    LOVED this! I have always dreamed of living in New York, having been fascinated by it since I was kid, when I lived in CT for two years, and visited NY frequently. I really need to go back and experience it as an adult – but your description is honestly exactly what I would think it would be. From the business, the speed of everything, the restaurants, the loneliness. All what I would expect, and seeing its true just makes me want it even more 🙂 now just to convince my other half to move over…even just for a year would be amazing 🙂

  • The photos and the video ideas.. Amazing! Great job! And great advice as well!

  • For a person who hasn’t been to the Big Apple before, NYC gives me goosebumps and perhaps a mini dream. I love writing and I know one day I can do it as my career. Have always imagined myself writing at my minimalistic desk by the window in my apartment, wearing a camel chunky knit overlooking the whole of New York City with a cup of hot cappucino 🙂

    Real Life Nerd //

  • I moved away from NYC last year after living there for 12 and this made me so nostalgic!! Great post.

    Adia | beauty luxe life

  • FashionNeedsJesus

    I adore this article. The City has a way with people, dreamers especially! You have to want to be here, you have to cry and get back up, you have to know that if you keep pushing, and you want it bad enough, you can make this place your home. The part that stuck out was how lonely it can be. For the past 10 years I’ve lived in the 2 most expensive cities(SF and NYC), and my friends come through revolving doors in my life. It’s hard to connect knowing there’s a really good chance your brunch bestie won’t be here in another 6 months. I try to attract the absolute die hards, the ones that would rather share a bedroom than leave. The ones who are relentlessly chasing their dreams, and if part of that dream is NYC, so be it…come what may. God, I love this city.

  • love the photos although girl, you are a brave one for strutting in your heels on the edge of a building! I’m also a New Yorker (4 years and counting) and yes, it’s definitely a love-hate relationship with this city. The glitter i had tossed in my eyes when I first moved here have long since faded. People can be rude, it’s expensive but I do love how everyone has a story here, It truly is a city of dreamers.


  • Amazing post, I don’t consider living in NY, but I would love to visit it one day 🙂

  • Love this post as a New Yorker now living in Jersey City, priced out, haha! Every New Yorker is a super hero. They know everything and want to help you figure out anything. I love my peeps and Absolutely we are bag people. We don’t get home till late! Thanks for your story.

  • M.

    Looove this post! NYC went from a city I hated to a city I wished I lived in over the years and I adored getting to know your experience doing so.

    I think number 10 is the reality in most places though. I live in Rio de Janeiro and most people here have forgotten how amazing this place is, due to getting stuck in day-to-day life.. It’s sad, but true.


  • clariza

    My first time in new york was july of this year I really love it! what building is that you were on? … And love reading about this thank you for sharing

  • Ellese Launer

    Oh my gosh, first off the shot of you walking in heels on the side of the building give me chills. Girl, you are brave! Secondly, I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote. New York City pushes, breaks, strengths, teaches, and then breaks you again. It is the most incredible city that I’ve ever lived in though, and I seem to never get enough. This is by far the most accurate portrayal of what it is like to live in New York. XO, Ellese

  • Great post. Really enjoyed reading it as I just got back from a trip to Newyork. I travel a lot but NewYork will always be one of those special places

  • New York seems to be really crazy! It is a bit like London… Here it is the same on the way to work. People are in a hurry, cars are honking their horns at you and everything is so expensive. I have to invite friends at home all the time in order to see each other more often. The city definitely has a spirit! I would love to visit NYC! Thanks for the post!

  • john

    I have lived in Toronto for 10 years and this article could apply just as well to my city as it does to NYC