8 Tips For Getting Around New York City and Navigating the Subway Like a Boss

Moving from your hometown is a big change, no matter where you’re heading.

For some, that means a move to a mid-sized city like Boston or Phoenix but for others, those fearless few with a love for new experiences and a surprising lack of apprehension or fear of failure, New York City is the only place to go. Just kidding, sort of.

New York City is unlike any other place on earth, a home for commerce, art, fashion, film, and all things innovation. Over 8.5 million people call it home, and even more commute into city limits for work. As someone making the big move to such a giant city, it feels incredibly overwhelming.

Luckily, we’ve asked some real New York locals what they wish they’d known when they moved to The Big Apple to help ease your transition and get you in the know about New York City and how to live there.

The city consists of five boroughs– BrooklynQueensManhattanThe Bronx, and Staten Island. Within each of the boroughs there are numerous neighborhoods. There are things to do in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, in Soho, Chinatown, and you’ll want to do them all no matter where you live.

How do you navigate the city if you’re unfamiliar with the geography? What do all of the numbers on the subway mean? Why is there an empty car right next to the overcrowded one you’re currently riding?

Here’s are eight quick tips gathered with help from Free Tours By Foot, a foremost expert on New York City navigation and walking tours:

  1. Get yourself a subway map, or better yet, an app that has the subway map.
  2. Determine which metrocard is best for you – how often will you be riding? At what times during the day?
  3. Getting a cab on a weekday at 4:30pm in the city is close to impossible because of the shift change. Uber will likely be surging as well, so plan accordingly.
  4. If all the other cars on the subway are crowded, but one is empty, don’t get on it. That’s the stinky car. Wisdom of the crowd goes a long way on this one.
  5. Those elevators you see at some subway stops? Those aren’t elevators, they’re bathrooms. Don’t use them.
  6. Make sure you offer your seat on trains/buses to the elderly and pregnant women. As a young person, you’ll be singled out as the top candidate to offer a seat, and it’s the decent thing to do.
  7. People are nicer than you think they are but never, under any circumstances, should you stand still on the sidewalk.
  8. Don’t stand to the left on escalators unless you have a desire to be run over by New Yorkers on their way to wherever they’re heading. This is as ostracizing as standing still on the sidewalk.
Matt Lawler