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City Guide: New York City
Level 1 - NGMI
Welcome to NYC! As an added bonus to paid subs we’re including various city guides across the globe for “infotainment purposes”. Make no mistake, the content will be back to normal starting Wednesday as 90%+ will always focus on earning in some way (investing, macro, e-com etc.).
That said, since a large chunk of you will end up in NYC it’s pretty easy to vet and get a feel for how the overviews are structured. As usual there is no perfect city or ideal paradise in this world, everything has a downside but NYC is certainly an amazing city if you have the money (the main downside is the cost).
Part 1: How to Live in NYC Without Getting Rinsed
Many of you work on Wall Street or will visit NYC for work due to conferences, meetings and other money related opportunities. It’s unquestionably the mega city for the United States and with that comes a population of about 9 million. It always feels like a lot more than 9 million due to constant flow of tourists, events etc.
Since this is an American city it’s actually better to talk about it from a living situation first. Unlike international cities, where the vast majority will likely visit for a week or two before heading back home.
For NYC we’re going to focus entirely on Manhattan. While you could throw in Williamsberg and try to consider Hoboken as part of NYC, it’s simply easiest to do Manhattan.
The Downsides First: Before getting too excited, living in NYC is expensive. Top tier cities cost a lot of money just like a “top tier restaurant”. Similar to other Mega Cities, you unlikely want to raise a family here due to limited control of the environment. Just like any other major city in the world (outside of a few in Asia), when you have a large and dense population, this means you increase the chances of freak accidents.
Unsurprisingly, the two major issues are pretty obvious. Cost and Safety. You will not be able to walk around NYC without encountering someone smoking Marijuana or seeing visible trash bags and a rat here and there at night. (No it isn’t a walking zombie world, just do a quick YouTube search of people walking around Manhattan and you’ll get the vibe. It’s jam packed which means you should expect to see those things while out and about for an entire day unless isolated in a particular part of town).
Beyond that the only other downside is the winter weather. If you cannot stand the cold and must live in the west or southern part of the USA, best to simply visit in spring/summer and early autumn.
Housing the First Major Mistake
The major mistake people make is trying to live the NYC lifestyle on day one. Unless you have a trust fund or you are ultra rich already, it is not going to be feasible to get a high-end two-bedroom condo in SoHo on day one. The math simply doesn’t add up. With companies forcing their worker bees to come back to the cubes, this means NYC rents are sky high.
As you can see from the image, with monthly rent at about $4,200 you’re looking at *half* of your $160,000 salary post tax (single) going to rent.
Bi-Monthly Check Calculator for NYC
Naturally this does not add up well. If you’re going to live in a competitive, dense and expensive city you’re forced to live in a roommate situation until you’re earning more money. This is why the most important step is actually step 0. Do not move to NYC unless you have line of sight to significant increases in earnings.
If your plan is to move to NYC in a low paying corporate position that only offers 5% pay raises per year, you’re better off scrapping the idea entirely. Generally speaking, this leaves you with really Wall Street, Tech, Sales and people who get transferred to NYC into some sort of management role that pays much more.
In short, always take down your housing expense below where it could be for your first year in NYC. Otherwise you will unlikely save anything.
For specific areas to look at see the map section in part 3 that is based on your income.
You’ll Be Forced to Work More
This is just how the city operates. If you are working 40 hours in your position but then go to NYC, you should assume hours will go up at least 5-10 per week. NYC has a “always on” vibe to it with people walking quickly, showing up early, leaving late and constantly on the run. This is good in some ways. It will force you to work harder than you did in the past and likely lead to more options. The bad news is that the income doesn’t really change much to compensate for that effort.
This isn’t really a good or bad comment just a neutral one. If you are grinding it out constantly looking for better ways to move up the socio-economic ladder, your probabilities are simply higher in NYC. Notice it isn’t a guarantee, it is a probability game. The number of ultra wealthy people you will run into in NYC is going to be high when compared to smaller cities like Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia etc. This is not a negative or positive comment, just a math and numbers comment. You can see that here with the cities with the most millionaires (source)
Generally speaking, the major reason most get eaten alive is due to a constant cost of living increase built into NYC culture (everyone tries to figure out “what you have”). If you live well below your means and simply focus on what NYC offers (huge range of people so high chance of meeting the right person where your skills match), you can move up pretty quick.
Now All the Benefits
Scared off by needing to live below your means for the beginning and work a bit harder. Honestly, no need to show up. In that case you’re better off going to visit or showing up when you’re already rich after selling your software company for $10M bucks.
Since many headquarters are here it is much easier to get promoted and move up. If there are 100 people in the HQ something like 15-20 people likely get promoted later. If you are in a smaller place and there are 10 people, there is a good chance there is only one slot. While it looks like it’s not too bad in percentage terms, 10% vs. say 15%, it’s huge. Due to politics and performance of groups, being #1 is not easy or sustainable long-term
If you survive for a few years and leave to another city, you will absolutely run circles around everyone. For some perspective, staying around 2-3 years would be enough to really experience the grind. In fact most end up on that type of cadence, they show up for 2-3 and leave. If people stay for 5-10+ years that’s usually a combo of right place right time and the “NYC personality” combining into one person
You will never be bored. It just isn’t possible. While you might like a certain area of Manhattan, in the end, you can find whatever you like. Restaurants, bars, clubs, outdoor cafes, every possible culture etc. All of it is available if you look for it since you’re looking at around 10 million people
Ideal for someone who lacks motivation. Anyone who burns their time watching motivational videos, looking at videos of lambos or looking up mansions on Zillow with $10K to their name… Just get a job/career in NYC. You will not have time to daydream once you show up. It just isn’t acceptable. You’ll be on the treadmill fast and quickly realize how much time you were burning on things that didn’t help you at all
If you don’t want to live in NYC (don’t blame you), you can benefit by simply living there for spring. Just look into all the tax laws in terms of days spent in the city/state. In an ideal world you live in NYC during spring only and move on (call it 4 months max)
You can simply show up. Unlike a city like LA or SD where having a social circle and going out in groups is extremely common, in NYC you can simply show up. You don’t need friends, family or relatives there. You simply show up and you can meet people on day one. Probably the best thing about the city
Good time to remind everyone co-workers are not friends. Especially in a cut-throat place like NYC. Everyone is trying to move up the corporate ladder and when push comes to shove they will happily send you to the gulags if it means they make an extra $5-10K. Similarly, as you move up the ladder in any corporate environment, the people below you are not nicer, they are just playing politics to win your approval
At this point you have a good feel for the city. In the end, you can decide if you’re better off just visiting and waiting until you have a good nest egg or jumping into the fire early. Those are the two best options: 1) either go when young and entering a *high paying profession* so it is easier to deal with the longer hours or 2) you can go when you have enough money to afford the NYC lifestyle. The absolute worst decision is to move to NYC for a 5-10% pay bump a few short years into your career. You’re getting the worst of both worlds.
Part 2: Lifestyle Design and How to Operate
There are really three stages to New York City: 1) completely new, 2) on the come up - but fast and 3) already made it and in town visiting/moving there. These are the three acceptable reasons to be in NYC.
As you can imagine most don’t fall into any of these categories hence why a lot of people don’t like the city or struggle to succeed. Again. This is not really surprising since the pace is frenetic and you have to plan out your priorities in advance. Something the masses certainly cannot do.
Majority of situations suggest you’re better off visiting vs. living so be sure to engrain the two best situations into the memory bank.
Stage 1: If you get a high paying position in NYC this is a good time to go and start your career. This means you’re 21-24 as a rough range. You can go into one of the high paying fields since NYC will always have openings for revenue generating roles (or front office roles like Analyst/Associate where you aspire to eventually become a revenue generating banker).
In this region the game is simple. Live close to work and you want to be with a roommate at minimum. This allows you to grind out the long hours, avoid burning your monthly income and simultaneously live a decent life. You can go out and party, see shows/sports events etc. This is due to a lower overhead cost. Also. No one will bat an eye that you’re living with a roommate since you’re in your early 20s anyway.
Stage 2: You either know or you don’t. If you are on the fast track to being moved up in your career, it’s a good decision to stay. Politics are huge and you can simply run up the ladder while the going is good. This is where things get tricky because you need to be smart about running up the ladder but not being #1. If you’re #1 you will not be able to get enough time for your wifi ideas. Don’t fall into this trap.
Many of you already know that from years of reading us. If you are getting promoted and are well liked, you’re good to go after about 12 months of “political clout building” The majority will not be in this camp.
If you’re not in this camp it is smart to jump to a tier 2 city after you get promoted. This is reasoning is simple here. You can lock in a higher salary/bonus structure and when you move to a lower cost of living area you’re in great shape. This is quite common and many people work for a couple years then leave to a similar paying position in a less crazy expensive city. They realized they were not in the “chosen group” for fast upward mobility.
Hint: if your friends go to NYC and a few of them are still there 5-7 years later with no complaints, you know they hit the right combo of performance and politics. Emphasis on politics since a large chunk of the corporate world is being well liked which is hit and miss many times (even the president has a 50% approval rating at best).
Stage 3: This is probably the ideal situation. You already “made it” and decide to simply move to NYC as either the home base or as a 49%/51% time share. There are all kinds of set up where you live in 1 state for 183 days then 90 days in NYC and 92 days in another state. So on and so forth. The main reason for this was already explained: 1) taxes and 2) the rough winter weather
If you know a lot of people who lived in NYC you will certainly know a lot of people in this situation. They sell a company and get a good amount of money and suddenly live in NYC for spring/summer and go back. If you want to put numbers around it, quite common at the $5-10M range. People with this type of “event money” go back to NYC for half the year then do another job/career/business but avoid the income tax by avoiding residency.
As a reminder, if you get to $5M early in your life (call it 30s) there is no shot you give up working entirely. We’re not suggesting a person retires in NYC with $5M since moving a family of 4 and trying to live on $250K pre-tax at 5% rates is not going to be enough with a place in Central Park/SoHo
Major cities typically offer higher salaries to make up for the high cost of living. This is a general rule of thumb. An administrative assistant in NYC is going to make more than one in Tulsa.
Stage 1: As a ball park you’re in this range at the $125-275K range. At these levels you are squarely in the “build work stamina and energetic” mode. Under no circumstances do you go from making $90K in Houston to $130K in NYC in your late 20s. You’re better off in Houston.
Stage 2: As a ball park range you’re seeing 20%+ increases with wage + bonus. You should be moving up FAST. This means you are seen as a great fit and with that much political pull even in NYC you are allowed to bend some rules. If you are in this stage you should see a clear and sharp path to $350-$500K in about 5-7 years. You should be at the rough $400-500K level in your late 20s if you’re truly liked and a super star
Stage 3: Gave it out already. You already have *wealth*. Don’t really know a single wealthy person who dislikes NYC. The only people who do are heavily against the fast pace and simply distain cities (typically prefer tons of outdoors & concrete social group/circle).
This is the ideal situation and if you have $5M+ (implies $250K printed off of T-bills) this means you can certainly juggle the two city lifestyle since you’ll be doing something with your free time to earn money.
Note: if you have $250K coming in off t-bills this implies you were smart enough to scale a biz and sell (or something else extreme). This means you likely earn more than $250K+ from your active income (related to your primary skill as a coder, real estate developer etc.)
With that we can jump to the map.
Part 3: The Map
The goal for the vast majority is to make it into the Red Zone. There is no “right answer”. For people reading this that are in/from NYC they will vehemently disagree! That’s kind of how NYC works.
People get their eyes set on a specific area/building/street and they are certain it is superior to all other areas! It’s fun to watch the passionate belief in their opinions.
That said the two biggest areas you will hear (for the well off people) are in red. You’re either a SoHo/Tribeca type person (threw in Greenwich to appease everyone) or you are a Central Park type person.
SoHo/Tribeca: This is more of the new money aspirational zone. It’s close to NYU and a lot of the younger people in the city and it is surrounded by all the fashion people. If you go in this area and tell people Hoboken is just as good, expect to be laughed out of the building!
Central Park: Older money vibe but new money is also there sometimes. The map alone can probably tell you why it is a totally different feel. You’re next to central park which means you want fast access to the public amenities and you want to be a bit separated from the insanity that is Times Square (tourist central)
If you’re just going to visit to see NYC, you can see everything here. Honestly, staying in Times Square is just too much noise. Lots of lights. Lots of people. If you absolutely must post a million photos on Instagram/TikTok etc. then go for it. Once you see all the tourist attractions by the end of your trip you will begin to learn that most people want to be out in the red zones.
The reason why we’re predicting you learn about the Red Zone towards the end? You’ll go out to party and hit the clubs/bars with all the young people which is in the Meat Packing District, IE. the bottom left of the map. Just google Chelsea market and draw a big half circle around that area and you’ll be close enough.
Dark Blue and Light Blue Zones
Here is where most people should typically start if they are going to try and live in NYC with a budget. You can throw in New Jersey across the water or you can throw in Williamsberg as well. Trying to keep this as focused on Manhattan as possible.
Dark Blue: This is certainly not the nicest part of Manhattan. That is kind of the point. If you’re looking to cut costs and still be close to the nightlife area you can see from the map how this all lines up. Also. If you’re working in the financial district you’re quite close as well. It’s a good mix and the area is going to have a lot of young people walking around as well. You’ll be fine even if you’re no where near the financial level to afford SoHo/Tribeca
Light Blue: Pretty self explanatory. Sometimes you can find decent deals here and that’s another option particularly if you plan on working in Investment Banking. No matter what, your first year is going to be absolute pain and suffering since you will have to build political capital from ground zero and you will have to work long hours. This is a decent option and if you live with people with the same belief system/strategy it can work out well.
Pretty much for everyone on the fast rise. If you live in NYC you will eventually find your right neighborhood and you will move around based on where you work + what area you like. Logistically speaking, you are clinically insane to choose anything that is far away from work (first 1-2 years).
There is no way you should be showing up to NYC to be a “baller” on day one unless you’re already rich. After the political capital is built up, you *earned* the flexibility and you can decide on an area that meets your lifestyle needs.
There are too many different personalities to go through in terms of neighborhoods. Could range for you wanting to be near indoor sport facilities, to pure nightlife like the meat packing district or all the way up near Central park if your office is there and you find something that is somewhere in-between. The good news? That’s an amazing problem to have because you hit the jack-pot. Well liked + performing well in a major city with a major firm. Can’t complain!
Part 4: Culture and Personality
“What do you have” “How fast can you get it done” “50-60 hours a week is nothing it’s normal bro”
This is a good three quote summary of what to expect. Everything moves faster. People are too busy trying to win in the corporate race that they simply don’t notice if you’re visiting, alone or with a group. They are talking to you for that split second and that’s all they notice.
The one downside here is people quickly make decisions about you both in work and out at night. This is good for you since there are 10 million people to talk to on any given day from a social perspective. This can be extremely bad for you in a work setting since you can’t really “turn someone” who dislikes you politically.
Once a new yorker has decided you’re “not good” the decision is made. Unlikely to turn that into a positive relationship unless the guy gets fired/replaced and you’re starting fresh again.
This is why you see a lot of people move up fast in NYC which attracts the “get rich crowd”. They see a few of these stories and go “hey that could be me too”. Realistically these are just combinations of good timing, good personality fit and the right skills. Extremely rare in any company/city but the number of people (emphasis on number not percentage) is higher due to the number of careers people start on a yearly basis.
All major cities have this ploy. In Los Angeles tons of people move there to “become famous”. It’s all related to the same old marketing, math and numbers phenomenon.
Part 5: Rating System
Unsurprisingly! NYC is another 9/10 unless you have a family then it probably drops to a solid three at best. This is largely due to safety and other big city issues that are unavoidable. Most of the rich people with families move out to the Hamptons/Connecticut and set up shop there.
If the wealthy are doing it, that is typically the right move 9/10 times.
The main people who won’t like NYC are as follows:
You don’t enjoy going out a lot. This would kill a lot of the value. People who are older and “done” with the going out phase usually dislike it
Only exception is made people who go for the spring to take advantage of all the entertainment options from shows to sports etc
You’re not ready for the fast pace and aggressive culture. If you’re in love with the San Diego chill type vibe, this isn’t going to work out well
You’re “expecting” to make it. This is a tricky statement. If you go into NYC when you’re young assuming success and living paycheck to paycheck you’ll be thoroughly depressed in no-time
Generally speaking, single women usually don’t like it as much since the Sex and the City marketing psyop warps the reality of NYC for the majority
Some Places: While the other cities have more specific places, this city is pretty much good anywhere. That said it wouldn’t be complete without some mentions.
As of today one of the more popular spots is the Wiggle Room, Catch is always a good option, Acme was previously one of the most popular spots, going to the Standard Hotel is common (multiple spots there) and Hudson yards has become a lot better with the Electric Lemon being an example of a new popular restaurant. The rest of the food options are pretty cut and dry by the zip code, there are designated areas by food type and the standard steak/seafood items are practically everywhere.
As a rule of thumb if you stay in the Red Zone you’ll be fine on any night out. The dark blue zone is heavily tilted to a younger rowdier crowd.
Hopefully you are surviving the NYC grind if you were recently pulled back to the office. Remember that the game is career escalation and keeping housing costs low if you want to maximize benefits of NYC while you’re young. If you’re already rich, well, we’re pretty much certain you have nothing negative to say about the city since you only go when its good!
On that note.. Back to the tent
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