NYC: 1 Year Later

I’m going to start this off by saying that moving to NYC was easily one of my best decisions yet. It’s astounding to see how quickly the transition has impacted my life and self-development. I essentially dove in head first – moved with a few suitcases in tow, no place to live, and no friends to call my own – and what an adventure it has been.

Central Park

Let’s be real for a bit though – life is never all glitter and gold. I’ve certainly had my downs in the city that never sleeps. It can be a crazy cutthroat place that will chop you into pieces if you let it. I’ve discovered that the phrase “when it rains, it pours” completely rings true to New York – the good and the bad both seem to come in waves on any given day. It’s a city of extremes with little middle-ground.


I had a few major worries when moving to New York City. Most of us are well aware of the reputation it has – outrageously expensive, stressful, full of mean/angry/unhappy people, difficult to establish friendships, a cruel place to date in – the list goes on. While I certainly agree with many of the stereotypes, I must declare with full unbiased honesty that they’re simply an inaccurate representation of the city. New York is a place that allows you to get whatever you want out of it…if you work hard enough to do so. NYC doesn’t change for anyone, but it’s so versatile and pliable that you can establish your own life out of what’s given (if that makes any sense). That’s what makes New York so unique. The only requirement is to come here with an open mind and zero expectations.

I still consider myself a total newbie in mighty Manhattan. In my one year here I feel like I know nothing about the city but 13 months later my daily life is more-or-less grounded and comfortable. Overall, it took me about eight months to truly feel at home here, but I put in the effort and made it work.



Current residence: Upper East Side

Favorite place to run: Central Park reservoir, East Promenade

Favorite nightlife spot: Meatpacking District (I know I know…it sounds so elitist but I love the atmosphere)

Favorite restaurant: The food scene here is insane, absolutely insane. The options are endless and sometimes even overwhelming. My current two favorite restaurants (because I can’t choose just one) are Flex Mussels and Maison Kayser. Delicious!

Favorite thing(s) about NYC: Ahh so much! As great as all the “typical” things are about New York, my heart skips a beat over the small stuff – the fruit stands all over the city, the sight of the beautiful skyline when crossing any majorstreet (this is one of my favorite things ever), Central Park, endless people watching opportunities, countless rooftops, the different personalities of each neighborhood in Manhattan, the way the city constantly reminds me of Russia (another reason I’m so attached to the city). I can go on and on!

Least favorite thing(s) about NYC: I suspect I get shielded from many of the “worst” qualities of New York because I often work remotely, but I certainly hate crowded subway cars and rush hour in general. I also hate how dirty my feet get in the summer after stepping outside. The drivers here are despicable too…they never stop honking!

Central Park

Most shocking experience: This is difficult to pinpoint but I had a few while on the metro including having someone sit on instead of next to me while trying to hit on me. It was partially my fault though because I unwisely chose to take the subway home at 2AM. Sorry mom, never again I swear.

Best experience: I don’t think I can identify just one single experience as “the best” but I’ve had some memorable nights that typically revolve around great friends, rooftops, and a drink in hand. Manhattan is easily the most fun city I’ve ever been to, and the nightlife is perfection. Other great memories include the various visits from family and friends – Christmas with my parents, my first half marathon in NYC with a surprise trip from my mom, New Year’s Eve with the bestie, my sister and I pampering ourselves during the entirety of her stay in January – I love experiencing the city through the eyes of others.

Worst experience: There isn’t any particular moment that was absolutely horrible, but I would say that I hit a bit of a depressing slump around the seven month mark. I’m sure being smack-dab in the depths of a brutal winter had something to do with this, but January and February were rough. An overpowering feeling of being lost and sad took over for a few weeks before I took matters into my own hands and started making changes. Good things come to those who put in the effort, and this was certainly the case with me. I ended up quickly meeting an amazing group of friends and the rest is history.

Random New York quirk I love: I noticed that everyone wears sunglasses everywhere, indoors and outdoors alike. This made me extraordinarily happy because I basically live in my sunglasses – on the subway, in grocery stores, while shopping. But now when I come back to Chicago I suspect people think I’m weird because no one seems to do the same…but maybe I’m wrong? #Iwearmysunglassesatnight


On Chicago vs. NYC: I don’t want to make any enemies here because this question is truly an opinion, but I will say that I personally prefer New York to Chicago. It’s the perfect place to be a young, wild, and free twenty-something. I always tell people that this city is too much fun…to the point where I can’t fall asleep some days because I’m too excited about who knows what. I totally understand why it’s the city that never sleeps. New York possesses this incredible energy that I’ve never felt anywhere else. It ends up infiltrating every cell in your body and you either vibe with the city or you don’t. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Chicago and always will, but the only way I see myself moving back is for family/friends/school.

Thoughts on NYC expensiveness: I’ll be the first to admit that New York is insanely expensive, but it’s totally manageable. I discovered that everything except for the rent is comparable to Chicago prices. I manage my finances very well and haven’t felt troubled by this as a result. The way I see it, I’m paying for the experience and it’s 100% worth it to me. To each their own.

Thoughts on living solo: First and foremost, I love living alone. I’m a private, introverted person and thrive in my own space. Living far away from my family and hometown however, isn’t always easy or pleasant. I’m a homebody who has a wonderful relationship with my parents and I didn’t mind living with them for two years after college graduation. While moving hundreds of miles away was far from stress-free, the opportunity to fly back often for work has made the transition significantly easier. Plus, I love being financially independent!

Central Park

Thoughts on the residents of New York: They’re easily the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Everyone has a unique story on how they came about living here, and the one thing that ties us all together is the drive we had when pursing the relocation.

Thoughts on friendships: Maybe I got lucky here but I’ve met some of the greatest girls and established solid friendships with them almost immediately. It took a while though, almost eight months, before I realized that friendships won’t simply float into my lap themselves. They require effort, much like everything else in life. I wrote an entire post on this, check it out!


Thoughts on dating: Non-existent…but the blame falls on me and my lack of effort in this department.

Thoughts on myself: I feel limitless here. It’s an incredible, powerful feeling that’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before. New York brings a cool, sexy confidence out of me. I’m enjoying seeing the transformation of who I’m becoming in this wildly influential city. The key is to not lose yourself, and I found that to be easily avoidable by maintaining my roots. One of the most exciting aspects of moving to another city without knowing anyone is the opportunity to reinvent who you are. This doesn’t mean you should suddenly transform your personality and become a stranger to yourself. You should, however, explore the dusty parts of your personality while still staying true to you. I’ve done exactly this and am invigorated by it daily.

Thoughts on my future here: Ahhh here is where things get blurry. I am far from ready to move away from NYC. I absolutely love living here and can see myself establishing roots. But my future plans may not end up intersecting with New York, so I try to avoid thinking about this until the time comes. No point in stressing out over the unknown right?

me myself and I

And so here I am, excited for what the next year in New York will bring. It’s a truly incredible experience to actually live life. Some days I’m crossing the street and a wave of unexplained excitement washes over me. It happens at least once a week. I like to believe that this feeling is a sign of what’s to come…that the future holds incredible surprises for me. Whether NYC is part of this or not is irrelevant; my move to the city is a stepping stone much like all decisions in life.

Some nights as I stand above the concrete jungle that is now my home, music blasting and drink in hand surrounded by the people of my generation embracing the moment, all I can think is “this is life.” Every moment, morning noon and night, makes up the adventure of my days. Every minute, good or bad, feels somewhat significant. Life is beautiful here even on the worst days, but the city itself is only part of the equation. Leaving Chicago and moving out East has changed my overall outlook on everything. New York became my reality because it’s the city that worked best for me. This is always a personal choice and in no way does it mean that New York will be the answer for you. It might not even be the long-term answer for me! I urge you to find a place that makes you feel limitless as well.

That’s enough blabbering for now. Let’s check back in another year!

♥ Irina


  1. July 31, 2014 / 11:17 am

    New York really seems to be such a good fit for you, and I’m so happy you’re enjoying your life there! I have a lot of similar feelings about Chicago (except for the whole “It’ll eat you alive if you let it” thing — I don’t think Chicago has quite that strong of a cutthroat vibe!), and I think a lot of that is because Chicago has been such a huge change for me from the small town where I grew up. I am the BIGGEST proponent of moving away from your hometown/general hometown location, if for no other period of time at least while you’re in your 20s. I think getting into a different environment allows you to grow and develop so much more than hanging around a place where you can easily spend time with all the people you grew up with. I think that kind of holds you to those patterns you developed as a child/high schooler/college student, and while that’s not *necessarily* a bad thing, I personally feel that growing beyond that is a better thing 🙂

  2. July 31, 2014 / 2:49 pm

    I can’t already believe it has been a full year since your move—you have done so much in that time, and based on your posts, you really have grown and have found a way to make NYC work for you! If a shocking experience like yours happened to me, I definitely would have felt most uncomfortable…

    Reading this post has definitely gotten me excited and thinking about how much I will grow and develop one year from now in LA 😀