10 NYC Quirks That Will Confuse Any Midwestern Transplant

published Jul 13, 2018
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We Midwesterners are known for our polite ways (except when it comes to… well, pretty much every major sport), but moving to NYC is a different playing field. Truly. This hits on all facets of life – decorating and more – and living here almost a decade (wow, let’s pretend I didn’t say that), I am more than able to speak to the differences of the two. Here we go.

1. Bye bye, garage sales—hello, stoop sales.

Stoops are not a thing in the Midwest (obviously), so it stands to reason that a stoop sale is very new to any Midwesterner. But get this—not only do people have stoop sales, sometimes they just put things on their stoops to get rid of them, meaning they’re FREE for you to take. (Though beware—bed bugs are no joke.)

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

2. Getting things for your home is just harder. Period.

In general, when you move in the Midwest there is some spot nearby your home to park for your U-Haul, furniture delivery, or even car full of Target run goodies. But in New York, anything dealing with a vehicle is always a rigamarole. That furniture delivery service will most certainly be double parking—and they will need you to take time off work to meet them at your apartment. Even just getting normal apartment essentials, like sheets or shelves, is a hassle. Not only do you need to get figure out how to get to Target or Ikea (god bless if you live near one of these, you are the lucky ones), you’ll also need to puzzle through a way to schlep it all home and up the flights of stairs to your fourth-floor walkup. Thank you, Lyft.

3. No one will understand where you’re from, ever.

Give up explaining Midwestern geography now. To a New Yorker, it’s all just nondescript states from here to California. The exception is the New Yorker who went to a Big 10 school (there are so many more than you expect!): They will wax on about Ann Arbor or Madison… but still have no idea what states border the state they lived in for four years. (Also, Go Cats!)

(Image credit: William Strawser)

4. You’re going to want to start putting a lot of stuff on your walls.

While this isn’t limited to New Yorkers—no one anywhere wants to take the time to paint an apartment they’ll be leaving in a year—many young transplants will divide the difference and just throw a ton of art on the wall for some color against the stark white walls of so many New York apartments. It’s probably shocking from your own Midwestern home, where more than three things on the wall felt a little cluttered. (I’ll know you’re new if you actually follow that “no nails” rental rule. Break it. And then learn how to fill in the holes if your landlord is very serious.)

5. No one will know what you’re saying sometimes.

Aside from Midwesterners’ go-to expressions (“ope” being first and foremost), even explaining design decisions will take you through it. You need somewhere to put your tennis shoes (or gym shoes, if you’re from Cincinnati or Chicago)? Better explain to IKEA that you’re not looking for sports equipment – you’re looking for a shoe rack. For sneakers.

(Image credit: Eric Han/Unsplash)

6. Bodegas are your new best friend.

Bodegas are the lifeblood of NYC, and they’ll soon become yours, too. They’re a corner store, sure, but they’re also a deli, a pharmacy, a late-night fast food joint, and a place to pet your new emotional support animal AKA the bodega cat. Get to know your bodega owner. It’ll serve you well.

7. Your tinkering might confuse people.

This isn’t a complete NYC vs Midwest statement, but in my experience Midwest transplants seem to be the ones with the extra set of tools and the know-how to fix that dresser that keeps coming off the tracks. Chalk it up to those hardworking stereotypes or the fact that our cars broke down due to extreme cold pretty much every day, but figuring out how things work and how they’re put together is kind of in our blood.

8. People won’t get your appreciation for a lake.

Everyone wants to go to the Hamptons or Montauk when you hit NYC, and it is fun. But it’s kind of a bummer to pay that money when you think about the fact that you can name 12 people back home who live on the lake, with a boat, with a cooler of $1 beers. Even the beach for the people (AKA the Rockaways) will always be more pricey and out of the way than driving to the lake. (Though if you are new to the Rockaways, you do need to get a nutcracker from the local vendors. Actually, I didn’t write that. They’re illegal.)

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

9. Your family and friends will always be a little shocked by your living expenses.

The fact that you pay 4-figures to share an apartment with strangers and get about 200 square feet of personal space is going to be outrageous to pretty much everyone you know. It’s outrageous to you, too, but at least you know why you’re paying for it. (Keep reminding yourself of this when your friends are buying 4-bedroom homes with a mortgage cheaper than the rent for that well-deserved studio you still can’t really afford the rent for.)

10. NYC kind of ruins you…in the best way.

New York is kind of like that relationship that shows you how much you can love something. You may grow out of that honeymoon stage, or end up leaving, heading to a different city or moving on to the burbs, but you’ll always have a soft spot for this crazy city, and you’ll end up comparing everything to it. It’s fine. It’s one reason why millions of people call this place home.