What Eight Years in New York Has Taught Me

February 4, 2019

What Eight Years in New York Has Taught Me

This past Saturday marked eight years for me in New York City. Whenever I take time to reflect on this, it feels like it’s been so much shorter than that. Eight years have gone by in the blink of an eye.

I heard a quote the other day “No one that arrives in New York City isn’t looking to accomplish something” and I find so much truth in those words. When I set foot here so many years ago I wanted to prove it was the right decision. I wanted to see where the city took me and all these years later, I’m so glad I took the risk.

What Eight Years in New York Has Taught Me

lessons from living in NYC

Meghan Donovan in Brooklyn Heights in a Herringbone Plaid Jacket

What Eight Years in New York Has Taught Me

Lessons from living in New York

Meghan Donovan in Herringbone Plaid Jacket

8 years of living in NYC

What Eight Years in New York Has Taught Me

I’ve learned a lot in my eight years in New York so to commemorate my latest anniversary in the Big Apple, I thought I’d share some of my greatest lessons learned while living here.

You will have many chapters to your story here, no matter how long you stay.

Your friendships will change every few years.

New York is a city of transplants and therefore you’ll be reminded of this as you see good friends of yours depart in waves every 2-3 years.

Relatedly, there are people everywhere but it can feel really hard to meet other people – to date or to become friends with.

Some ideas on meeting new friends can be found here.

Upon moving to New York, I learned what a real bagel should taste like.

(Ess-A is the best in my book!) Relatedly, I’ve learned breakfast sandwiches are really amazing and can cure pretty much anything. (I never understood nor liked the idea of a breakfast sandwich before landing in NYC!)

You can get pretty much anything and everything on demand.

It’s a beautiful thing (fluids and meds delivered when you have the flu) but also sometimes a curse (pizza at 3AM). 

The city is filled with millions of people

But sometimes can feel like the loneliest place in the world when you’re going through hard times. I’ve come to realize the value in asking for help and reaching out when you feel this way.

You’ll spend a lot of time waiting in New York.

For the subway. On the subway. To buy groceries. To pick up dry cleaning. Or to see a doctor. Nowadays I always remind myself: you’ll get where you’re going – eventually.

If you look for them, there’s a lot of beautiful moments unfolding in this city at every moment.

New Yorkers are crazy resilient.

They look out for one another. And they band together like you wouldn’t believe when their city is threatened.

There are great ways to enjoy New York’s culture on a budget.

Several museums have “pay what you wish” or free special hours if you dig them up. Also, TodayTix is an amazing app for getting discounted theatre tickets. I use it often but didn’t learn about it until about 3 or 4 years ago.

You must pick your apartment carefully.

I now know not to live above a restaurant or bar unless I want mice or roaches as neighbors. I’ve learned to Google the management company or landlord listed to see if they have ongoing legal battles or negative reviews from previous tenants. I know to ask loads of questions before signing a lease. More on tips to move to NYC can be found here.

Your bucket list of things to do/eat/see/watch/experience will only get longer the more you stay here.

Mine consistently grows and I absolutely love ticking through new restaurants, art exhibits and various attractions.

No two days are the same

And this is exactly the reason I love living here. I’ve never had a boring or dull day in New York. Bad/awful/hard days? Yes, absolutely. But never boring.

New York bodegas are really gems within the city.

I love their random offerings, 24-hour service and how much character they have.

It’s true what they say about your career in New York – your network is everything.

You must work to build it, spend effort nurturing it and keep up with it to ensure it continues to serve you. It’s a lot of work but it is has paid off big time for me.

Relatedly, you have to work damn hard to stay here.

Nothing seems to come easy. If you want to make it here, it takes strength, perseverance, a good attitude, some grit and a whole lot of patience. A smile goes a long way, too in my opinion 🙂

As much as I love the city, I’ve learned it is important to escape, too.

I love how so many great destinations are a close train or car ride away. Favorite escapes of mine include The Catskills, Boston, Washington DC and the Hamptons.

New Yorkers stand “on” line – not “in” line.

This took me forever to realize I wasn’t mishearing. “Are you on line to order?” (Don’t think this is ever anything I’ll adapt!)

As big of a city as you may think New York is, you’ll have a lot of small world run-ins.

It’s important to keep this in mind as your reputation will follow you.

Walking the city is the best way to make sense of it.

And really understand how the various neighborhoods are threaded together.

It’s important to find the places in the city that speak to you and make you feel most comforted, most alive.

I have a few including Central Park, the bar at Buvette, the Impressionist wing at The Met, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, the DUMBO Waterfront – to name a few. All of these places I am often overwhelmed with the feeling of “I can’t believe I live here.”

I am so grateful for my time here in New York and can’t wait to see what year nine brings me. Happy Anniversary to one of my great loves in life – New York City!

Herringbone Jacket // Black Sweater (under $50) // Jeans (last seen here) // Staud Bag (love this one, too!) // Kate Spade Heels // Ann Taylor Pearl Barrette // Chanel Brooch

p.s. a brief history of my time in NYC and my favorite posts about NYC.

[Carter Fish Photography]

comments +

  1. Libby says:

    I love this list of things you have learned about the city! Happy 8 year city-versary, Meghan!!!

    xoxo Libby

  2. Kate Scott says:

    Happy New York anniversary! So exciting!

  3. GF says:

    As a fellow NYC-er (only been here 2.5 years, so not nearly as long as you), I LOVED this post. I agree with so much of it, from the highs (amazing) to the lows (unfortunate). This amazing place we live in is truly unlike anywhere else in the world. Happy 8 year anniversary! And, LOVE your hair!!

    • Meghan says:

      Oh thank you so much! I meant to call out its my first set of photos with the new hair! And I love that you could relate to this post with your 2.5 years – they go so quickly, don’t they!?

  4. Shannon says:

    This photo shoot has all The Sex and the City vibes

  5. Happy anniversary to you and NYC! I loved reading this, and still long to live there (even if just for a year) one day. In the meantime, I’ll just have to plan another visit back (it has been 2.5 years which feels *far* too long for my liking). I just marked 10 years in England, and I love how moving so far from home makes you see the whole world differently.

    Briony xx

  6. diana pearl says:

    happy eight years! i’m coming up on five years here and i’m truly grateful to live in NYC every single day. (even when dealing with a mouse, lol.)

    x diana // pearl girl

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