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Moving to NYC From the West Coast? Here's What You'll Need

Start with a brisk walking pace, an incorrect opinion on bagels, and a healthy hatred of Bill de Blasio.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
August 10, 2021, 7:52pm

I don’t know how LA people do it. From what I’ve heard, it’s hot there, like, year-round. No winters—no seasons at all—just heat, smog, and more heat. No changing leaves, no sledding, no drunken snowball fights, and never getting to experience the unmatched feeling of walking into a warm bar, dusting the snow off your jacket, plopping down on a barstool with your buddies and taking a big gulp off a frosty pint while the football game you don’t really care about plays in the background. Yeah, a place without winter seems a little hellish, but do you, West Coasters. (I guess you have the desert, or something. Seems a bit… dry.) 

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Me? I’m a winter guy. I grew up in the northernmost part of the best state in the union (New Jersey) where it snows a ton. Having to come up with Halloween costumes that would keep me warm, driving to New Hampshire to ski at the mountain near my grandparents’ house, and praying that my ‘06 Honda Element would start on cold January mornings were just parts of life—parts that I loved, and still love to this day, though lately, the ski trips are few and far between, and I don’t make it back across the river as much as I’d like to. 

The thing about winter is that it’s hard. It gets really, really fucking cold in New York, and if you’re not used to that, it might be a little bit of a shock, even if most of the real work is done for you in the city (plowing the streets, shoveling sidewalks, salting the stoop). I went to college in downtown Manhattan, where it snows hard, and snows often. I had some friends from LA, and getting to watch someone see snow for the first time (ideally via a good-natured snowball to the dome) is a beautiful thing. 

And then, of course, there are the super-humid summers, which might be equally unnerving to West Coasters who are used to arid heat, and solace in the shade. August in New York is a sauna… well, if you were in a really, really big sauna that also had bags of trash all over the sidewalks. One of the best parts about East Coast summers is that it stays warm at night, but then again that also means your apartment retains heat, too. And don't forget that in New York, we walk everywhere, since almost none of us drive or own cars. Shitty weather doesn’t slow anything or anyone down, and unless you’re living la vida rica, your building probably won’t have central air. Yep, northeastern weather is no joke—especially if you’re unprepared. 

As moving season rears its ugly head, we’re sure some of you SoCal folks will be contemplating making the jump to greener—err, more meteorologically volatile—pastures in the northeast, whether for work, relationships, or just a change of scenery. Obviously, you’ll need to upgrade your wardrobe, and outfit your apartment with some creature comforts. There are a million more quirks and regional things-to-know that’ll you’ll figure out when you get here, but the tips below are a good place to start, regardless of your borough. 

Holy AC, mother of chill, pray for us sinners…

… Now, and in the hour of our heatstroke-related death, which is likely coming this week. LA folks, be warned: Unless you’re living in a luxurious temple of gentrification, your apartment building almost certainly won’t have central air conditioning. Get a wall unit, learn to love it, and try not to let it fall out of your window. 

GE

5,600 BTU Portable Air Conditioner with Remote

MIDEA

5,000 BTU EasyCool Window Air Conditioner and Fan

What's in the box???

A fan! A box fan is like a baby AC when you either have been too spacey/drunk/busy/lazy to put your AC in the window; are in an in-between season where you need ventilation and circulation, but don't want to run up your power bill; or you just have a messed up window shape that doesn't accommodate a proper air conditioning unit. This purple one from Lasko is powerful but lightweight (only seven pounds), and adds a nice color accent to an otherwise drab living space. 

Lasko

Lasko Cool Colors 20" Box Fan

Book a calf massage in advance

If you think you walk a lot where you currently live, you’re wrong. Since there’s no place to park, and everyone lives on top of each other, New York is a walking town. Though our infrastructure is “crumbling” or whatever the talking heads say [gets dripped on by water flowing through a crack in the subway station ceiling], we’ve got the largest subway system in the world, and you can get to and from pretty much anywhere in the five boroughs for a measly $2.75. A good pair of insoles or some dope running shoes (which I’ve personally tested out and approve of) are investments in the health of your feet and joints. Your 60-year-old self will thank you. 

Fulton

The Classic Insole

A bike

Your bike will be your chariot. Cabs, Lyfts, Ubers are all really expensive in New York, and slower than biking or taking the subway most of the time. If you live anywhere between Greenpoint and Prospect Park, a bike will get you to any party or bar in Brooklyn in less than half an hour. Plus, it's good exercise, and biking around the city is way better for the environment than chugging along in the back of an Uber SUV—plus, zipping through the streets with your pack of buds like you're the kids from E.T. is just really fun. Start with a beater bike from Craigslist if you must, but when you want to reach your final form, try a sleek city bike from a brand like Solé, which makes single-speeds, Dutchies, and city cruisers that are built for life in the Big Apple. (NYC is super flat, so a single-speed is perfect.) 

Laugh all you want, but a grocery cart will save your life

You're on Streeteasy for hours upon hours, scouring listings for apartments, when finally you find The One. It's a Bed Stuy brownstone/Williamsburg railroad/Bushwick loft with all of the exposed-brick charm you've been dreaming of and a monthly rent that is mercifully affordable. Oh, and it happens to be a fourth-floor walkup. No problem, you think, and scribble your name on the lease. Then along comes your first big grocery shopping trip, when you have six bags to lug up 48 stairs. This rolling cart that can climb stairs (!!!) will end up saving your ass. 

Rolser

Stair-Climbing Rolling Cart

A big ass tote bag

Enough said. It will be the home of your bodega haul (kombucha, Takis, incense, Milano cookies), dented work laptop, fancy condoms, extra sporks, and the latest issue of VICE. It will survive infinity subway rides, terrifying weather conditions, and being left at the bar down the street twice in three weeks. It's your best friend. 

Seeker

Unisex Seeker Giant Tote

The blueprint for Yankee No Brim 

Beanies are an essential part of NY style. You can rock them no matter the outfit, the time of day, or the temperature—though they’re a little more comfortable in the cold-weather months. They’ll keep your noggin and ears toasty, and add a nice layer of anonymity to your chic sidewalk persona. 

Carhartt

A18 Knt Cffd Beanie

asos

Lambswool Mini Fisherman Beanie in Black

What are they selling? Chocolate? 

Over-the-ear headphones serve two purposes. They let everyone on the sidewalk know you can’t hear them, which is a plus, because people on the street will yell at you/scream garbled nonsense at you/try to sell you stuff. They also keep your ears warm in the winter, and aren't as dorky as ear muffs. This pair from JBL features adaptive noise cancelling and a Smart Ambient setting that lets you keep in touch with your surroundings (when you actually want to) so you'll know if someone's warning you that a rat's about to crawl over your foot.

Existential pain, pain, go away

New York doesn’t stop because of a little rain. We’ve got places to be, people to see, and other cities to smugly look down upon. [Hammers a bacon egg and cheese.] You will need some solid rain gear though—can’t have water getting all over your dollar slice. A pair of rain boots, an umbrella, and a rain jacket will probably be enough to see you through. (Clear umbrellas are the move because they cover the entire top half of your torso, and won't flip inside out when it's gusty.)

Totes

Signature Manual Clear Bubble Umbrella

Columbia

Columbia Men's Watertight Jacket

Everlane

The Rain Boot

Boots that actually serve a purpose

Speaking of boots, it's very common for Californians to move to New York and not realize that you can't wear Vans Sk8-His here when it's February and slushy AF—well, unless you want your feet to get soaked and then freeze. It's a completely foreign concept to people from warm-weather areas that you need different shoes for different seasons, and that surviving a New York winter means wearing Serious Boots. Doc Martens are classics for good reason; they're the intersection of good looks, ruggedness, and functionality.  

Dr. Martens

Dr. Martens 2976 Chelsea Boots in All Black

Dr. Martens

Black Nappa 101 Boots

Jackets that you’ll never zip up

A sturdy outer layer is a must-have during the fall and winter in the city. The classic puffer jacket is versatile, practical, and might help cushion you fall when you inevitably have your first ice-related wipeout. It won’t save you from the also-inevitable embarrassment, though—just don’t drop the blunt.

Everlane

The Cotton Quilted Jacket

asos

Sustainable Puffer Jacket With Detachable Hood in Khaki

Heattech, a word that means nothing on the West Coast

Before moving to the East Coast, you may have never heard the word "Heattech"—but once you arrive and the temperature drops below 40 degrees, it will become a major part of your vocabulary. It's the magic fabric that comprises a bunch of Uniqlo's layering garments, from long johns to tights to tees, and it keeps you insanely toasty for, like, IDK scientific reasons. You can try to spend a winter without it, writing it off as boring and basic, but you'll probably come around the following December and stock your drawers with all of the tight, stretchy stuff you can get your hands on. It goes under your cool clothes, anyway. Buy it before winter, when lots of sizes sell out. 

Uniqlo

WOMEN HEATTECH EXTRA WARM CREW NECK T-SHIRT

Uniqlo

MEN HEATTECH LONG JOHNS

Fits like a _____

Your mitts are gonna be the first thing to get seriously cold, and while you might not think you need them now, it’s not always possible to shove your hands into your pockets when it's freezing. Perhaps you need to hold an umbrella, or carry groceries a few blocks home? (Spoiler: You will need to do both of those things at some point.) Pop on your gloves—and stuff some hand warmers in there if you’re really feeling homesick—and thank me later. 

The North Face

Etip Recycled Glove

Carhartt

Carhartt Men's W.P. Waterproof Insulated Glove

HotHands

HotHands Hand Warmers, 40-Pair

Now all that’s left to bring is a brisk walking pace, an incorrect opinion on bagels, and a healthy hatred of Bill de Blasio. 


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.