- Unlike in the Midwest, people don’t greet each other on the street in New York City.
- City grocery stores are much smaller.
- Even though it’s a city with millions of people, New York still feels like a small town sometimes.
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To be fair, Midwesterners don’t always know what to make of New Yorkers, either.
I moved from Wisconsin to New York City three years ago and it was a bit of a culture shock. Here are eight differences I’ve noticed as a Midwesterner living in New York.
It takes much longer to travel short distances.
The island of Manhattan is only 13.4 miles long. That’s a drive that would take about 20 minutes in the Midwest. But getting anywhere in the city takes much longer because of traffic and frequent subway delays.
Most people don’t own cars.
In the Midwest, owning a car is pretty much a necessity to get anywhere. In New York City, most people I know who own a car are constantly thinking of getting rid of it.
Parking is difficult to find and expensive to pay for in the city, and public transportation is a slower but sufficient and cost-effective replacement.
When I’m invited to a wedding in New Jersey or want to stock up on more groceries than I can carry at Trader Joe’s, I wish I owned a car. Otherwise, it’s very possible to get along fine without one.
Umbrellas are a must in New York.
I don’t think I ever owned an umbrella before I lived in New York. It doesn’t rain a lot where I grew up, and if it was raining while I was out somewhere, I could just run a few feet from the exit to the parking lot where my car would shelter me from the storm.
In New York, you don’t want to end up in a torrential downpour with five blocks and an avenue left to walk to your destination. It’s not fun. I’ve learned to keep an umbrella handy at all times.
There’s cold, and then there’s Midwestern cold.
- REUTERS/Pinar Istek
During last year’s polar vortex, some parts of the Midwest were colder than Antarctica.
New York gets cold during the winter, but nowhere near as bone-chilling as the Midwest.
Grocery stores in New York City are much smaller.
- Kunal Mehta/Shutterstock
Quite frankly, grocery stores in New York City are terrible compared to grocery stores in the Midwest. They’re much smaller, more expensive, have a narrower selection of items, and are less aesthetically pleasing.
New Yorkers are a friendly bunch.
- 1000 Words/Shutterstock
New Yorkers have a reputation for being a little rough around the edges.
While it’s true that they’ll often get annoyed if you walk too slow or cut in line, New Yorkers are just as friendly and down-to-earth as any Midwesterner. When I first moved to the city, locals were happy to give me directions or hold open doors while I was carrying heavy loads.
People don’t greet each other on the street.
When I walk around my hometown, saying hello to everyone you pass is common courtesy. In New York City, such friendliness would be viewed with suspicion. Even making eye contact with someone you don’t know is a breach of city etiquette.
There’s also a practical reason why greeting strangers doesn’t happen here – there are just too many people. You’d be saying “hello” or “good morning” multiple times for every step you took.
New York City still feels like a small town sometimes.
- Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock
New York City has a population of 8.6 million people, but I still run into people I know all the time.
New York is a place where some people move to reinvent themselves and start over, but I find it comforting to bump into old friends the way I used to in my hometown of 23,000.