What’s it like to work in New York?

What’s it like to work in New York?

11th September 2015 0 By Biggsy
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last Updated on 24th July 2020

So what’s it like to work in New York then? You’re currently based in London but have just been given the chance to go working in New York City out of the Manhattan office for two months. OK – bear with me – it does happen and it happened to me back in October 2014. Home was the Wellington Hotel on 7th Avenue and work was a 20 min stroll via Times Square to 34th Street. Here’s some things I noticed while living out there along with the odd top tip or two!

What’s it like to work in New York?

Here are 11 things I noticed on my daily walk from Manhattan’s 55th Street, through Times Square down to the US office in Midtown.

1. Abusing Starbucks Wi-Fi

Do what most other tourists/people working in New York do and that’s stand outside Starbucks to use their free Wi-Fi. There are 208 to choose from (212 in total) and this chap tried to go to them all – https://nycstarbucks.com/. NB. Other cafe/hotel receptions’ are available 😉

Free Starbucks Wi-Fi Bonus
Free Starbucks Wi-Fi Bonus – image courtesy of Guestofaguest.com

If you like taking part in organised excursions when you’re on holiday then check out the three NYC trips below.


2. Watching ‘Good Morning America’ live

Get a free TV show every morning, Monday to Friday, at 7am in Times Square by watching ‘Good Morning America’ on the corner of 44th Street and Broadway, or the ‘Today’ programme at the Rockerfeller Plaza in-between 48th and 49th Street. The presenters are stars in themselves but each show has a variety of A-listers too. Both have windows for viewing and in the Summer/Autumn months they do daily sketches outside where if you’re lucky you can appear in the background for your 5 seconds of fame. I walked past at 08:15 each week day to check out what was happening for 30 minutes or so. Here’s me getting a little mention below and more about that at my post about appearing on TV’s Good Morning America.

Even better still was visiting the scene where Crocodile Dundee quoted “Call that a knife!”. Read about that on one of my subsequent adventures.

3. Working in New York and trying to find a cheap Midtown lunch

I never did find out how to eat cheap in Midtown while working in New York. Watch out for the salad bars that charge by weight as before you know it an average sized plastic container is costing upwards of $10-12.

4. Remembering the sales tax

The price on the label isn’t always what you pay! I knew that tips in restaurants/bars can add 15%+ to the bill but in stores the price you see doesn’t tend to have the tax of 7% on it until you get to the till. Still – cheaper than 20% VAT in the UK and the U.S. products tend to be way cheaper in the first place too.

5. Avoiding the sneaky UK bank charges

Admittedly I should have listened to Martin Lewis’ credit card advice sooner but unfortunately every one of my credit card transactions included a ‘Non-Sterling transaction fee’ so basically a 2.75% extra fee on top. So my £4.85 Starbucks brekkie incurred an extra £0.13. It all added up. So just apply for a Halifax Clarity Credit Card before you go with no fees when using it abroad – https://www.halifax.co.uk/creditcards/clarity-card/.

6. Tipping!!

Many waiters/waitresses liked to circle the amount on the bill or even write on the bill what the tip should be. Just to make sure you didn’t forget! That’s the custom so there’s nothing wrong with that but it leads me to another point. Why can’t the restaurant/bar owner actually pay his or her staff a fair rate in the first place rather than the customer having to pay for the food PLUS top up the waiters/waitresses wages in the form of a tip!?

7. Jaywalking – is it illegal?

Never a problem. More often than not I’d see jaywalking pedestrians “having a go” at car drivers rather than the other way round. Although I always heard the odd story of the cops doing on -the-spot fines/warnings for those unlucky enough to get caught.

New York Crossing
New York Crossing

8. All the honking horns

Cars would honk their horns even if the vehicle in front had nowhere to go due to pedestrians crossing. However I later found out that the driver at the front of the queue is obligated to speed things up for everybody else behind and isn’t actually tooting people out of the way in an unfriendly manner.

New York Honking Taxis
New York Honking Taxis – image courtesy of the NY Times

9. The peer-through toilet Doors

Maybe it’s because I’m British and a little bit prude but I could never get used to the gaps around the toilet doors that strangers could easily peer through if they wanted to … or the huge gaps underneath that could easily be conquered by a passing limbo dancer. I was working in New York in a big office. This wasn’t some public toilet – yet still there were huge gaps that you felt people could peer through!

Huge Toilet Door Gaps
Beware of limbo dancers! Why are there so many gaps around American toilet doors?

10. Looonnnngggg TV commercials

I’m sure some TV programmes were actually shorter than the combined time of all the ad breaks that interrupted it.

11. Drug commercials

I loved the U.S. Drug commercials that remedied something like the common cold but the legal speak at the end was actually longer than the main part of the ad. Usually ending with the wording “In some circumstances using product “X” had lead to blindness, coma and even death”. I might just stick with my cold thanks! 😉

Have I missed anything? 🙂 Have I covered the key things about what’s it like to work in New York? Anybody else been fortunate enough from abroad to be working in NYC? If you’re in and around New York at the end of November make sure you visit the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade! And if you’re there over the first weekend in November then definitely watch out for the New York City marathon!

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