Why Having Less In NYC Will Make You A Better Person

Why Having Less In NYC Will Make You A Better Person

Image via Unsplash/Anders Jildén

Image via Unsplash/Anders Jildén

In a city of plenty, most people live with less in The Big Apple: less space, less money, less luxury. And yet there’s a beautiful thing in living with less [but shelling out way more than you'd like], especially when coming from a life of easy luxury. Most New Yorkers have known a prior life in which they weren’t scrounging for every penny or square foot, but they'll all tell you that they've never felt like they were living with less because somehow, somewhere along the way, having less just makes you a humbler person. At some point of living in NYC, not having everything you're used to doesn't matter anymore, and you realize you might just be a better person for it.

Learning The Art Of Saving And Appreciating Money

Ask a New Yorker about his savings, and he'll tell you that it's usually competing with something called rent and groceries. Regardless of whether you're living in the coveted brownstones of Manhattan, the happenin' parts of Brooklyn or the more wallet-friendly neighborhoods of Queens and Staten Island, New York City is ex-pen-sive. End of story. Putting away savings is an act accomplished by few because most New Yorkers make just enough to pay their rent, bills and have a little fun enjoying the best city in the world. But, boy, the money you do put away will never feel more like a gold mine than when you live in New York. What's more is that if you never learned how to save before, you'll learn pretty quickly how to accommodate for your short-term, mid-term and long-term expenses — or you'll just go broke. Whereas a dollar just feels like a dollar outside of NYC, it feels like a quarter in The Big Apple. And while at times you'll feel like you are living in poverty watching every penny you spend, you'll be humbled by the fact that you can still afford so much more than the guy literally living on the street, and you'll appreciate every dollar you make more than you could have ever imagined.

Learning How To Do Things The Hard Way

It's probably accurate enough to say that a good portion of New Yorkers never washed a dish the “old-fashioned” way (you know, by scrubbing it by hand with soap and then rinsing…and then doing it again until the sink is empty), let alone walked through the rain and snow just to get a gallon of milk or do a load of laundry before moving to the city. That's because most New Yorkers knew a life of dishwashers and cars and homes with high-end appliances before giving it all up to “live the life” in the concrete jungle. It's a shame that you never realize how convenient and stress-free your life is until you're left without the everyday items that make it that way, which is why initially living without a washer/dryer unit can feel like the end of the world.

I actually have to PAY for my laundry and SIT at a public laundromat for HOURS on my day OFF?! I have to WALK in this disgusting weather with 10 lbs of groceries?! There's no central air or heat in my apartment building?!

Yeah, you sound like a brat just as much you think you do — but it's not your fault. Taking away anything from someone who is used to having it makes for a rude wake-up call, but luckily you're only losing things you can live without. Being stripped of your everyday luxuries is one of biggest trade-offs for living the NYC experience, but you'll never take any item of convenience for granted again. It's a priceless experience knowing how it feels when you have to adjust to doing things the hard way because you don't get to afford the luxuries so many other people have. But you know what? If you hadn't been living in your Middle America fishbowl, you would probably know first-hand how many people right in your backyard live without the “everyday” conveniences of having a car, or a dishwasher, or a personal washer/dryer — and they're all doing just fine. Adjusting to doing things the hard — or “old-fashioned” — way in NYC is not only a learning experience for knowing how to deal with life when your environment abruptly changes, but it's also a guaranteed method to make sure you never take the little things for granted ever again.

Learning To Enjoy The Smaller Things In Life

With less money and less conveniences, coping with living in NYC can be a doozy at first. What do you even do when it seems like just about every social event costs an arm and a leg? You get creative. You learn how absolutely beautiful the New York City skyline is sparkling off the Hudson during a stroll along the water. You find out how much you enjoy catching up with a friend over a glass of wine on your rooftop, or how much fun it can be to rummage the weekend flea market just because it's something to do. The beautiful reality about NYC is that the opportunities to occupy yourself are limitless, and not everything needs to cost money or be a big production. Discovering all the ways you can make your dollar stretch and still have a fabulous weekend is a skill you'll appreciate no matter where life takes you after your time in the big city. And that is something that is a valuable lesson you can pass on to anyone.

To the outside world, New Yorkers give off the impression that they're living the ultimate life, a life that lacks nothing. Take a walk in their shoes, and you'll realize that New Yorkers actually live without a lot less of the material things than you might know — but it's perfectly okay. Having less in NYC feels more plentiful than living anywhere else, and how can your heart not be content with that?

Foram Mehta