I have a confession: I had a secret motive for moving to New York City.
Yes, I was stepping into the greatest opportunity of my career and fulfilling a dream I’d had since I was thirteen. I was finally going to be able to call the city that I literally dreamed about my new home.
Among all the stress of packing, saying goodbye to friends and family, sorting visas and walking onto a plane with no idea of what was going to happen when I got off on the other side, there was one thought that was repeating in the back of my mind:
I've binge-watched the entire series of 'Friends'. I've got this. Life in NYC is going to be a breeze.
I was going to call West Village my home. I'd have a local coffee shop that would regularly tell me to leave before closing every night. The barista would know me so well they wouldn't even care that I called them Gunther, even if their name was actually Kate.
I was going to find my very own Rachel, Ross, Joey and Phoebe to complete my crew. (Yes, I am the Monica to my husband's Chandler, as much as we both hate to admit it).
They'd be there for me, I'd be there for them, and life was going to be great. It was about to be my day, my week, month AND year.
So, three months in, I've settled into my new life in New York City, and you can imagine my complete and utter shock at realising that this totally fictional, outdated television sitcom had COMPLETELY LIED ABOUT EVERYTHING.
It feels a little like this, actually:
I don't want this to happen to anyone else.
That's why, I'm giving you a list of all the ways Ross Gellar and friends (I somehow feel like he is to blame for all this, no?) lied to us all about living in the Big Apple.
1. The apartment.
Oh, you think you can afford a two-bedroom, one bathroom, separate kitchen and dining room apartment with a private balcony in the West Village?
While you're working as a chef/whatever it is Rachel is doing that week/actor-slash-model/whatever Chandler is?
With only one roommate?
I knew New York would be expensive. But I spend 75 per cent of my monthly wage on my rent. And I live in Brooklyn. And I share the apartment with my husband AND a roommate.
(I need to take a moment to admit that I live in Williamsburg, aka the Manhattan of Brooklyn, and my apartment is more expensive than most because it gets full sun and it has a dishwasher, but still, you get my point).
Many of my fellow expats live with two or three roommates, at least. One actor-slash-model I know lives in a makeshift cubby house above the kitchen in the apartment he shares with three others.
Others that do live in the West Village have their kitchens crammed into a hallway, with one or two rooms barely big enough for a double bed.
In 2013, it was estimated that Monica's apartment alone was worth $3,500,000. So unless Monica is the greatest chef in all of New York City and Joey is as bankable as Brad Pitt, those TV apartments are not happening.
Prepare to be cramped. Very cramped.
2. The stairs.
Eagle-eyed viewers (or, ahem, obsessed Friends fans) may know that in the first half of the series, Monica lived in apartment five. Which would have been fine, if her apartment wasn't clearly a few stories off the ground.
It was later re-numbered to apartment 20, and considering there are no elevators in the West Village building, that's a lot of stairs.
Suddenly, that infamous 'PIVOT' scene makes SO. MUCH. SENSE.
Imagine walking around the city all day, most of the time in the freezing cold, along footpaths coated in invisible ice and slush, only to have to trudge up seventy-four thousands steps to get to your (tiny) home.
Going grocery shopping just got a lot harder. So did moving in: hauling multiple suitcases, IKEA flat-packs and exorbitantly priced and oversized fluffy pillows from West Elm (guilty) up six flights of stairs is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy.
You may finally be home after a long day at work, but your butt and thighs are guaranteed to be burning when you get there.
3. The local coffee shop.
Despite what I was told many, many times before packing my things and moving to New York, you can find good coffee in this city.
Quality cafes are popping up on almost every corner, but there's still one problem: think you can nab the couch or that seat by the window every time you visit?
The cafes - especially those run by Australians - are usually overrun with hip New Yorkers, working away at their laptop computers. They sit there ALL DAY.
So popping in for a quick coffee and sitting with friends - or six friends, if you're the stars of Friends - is near impossible.
You're more likely to be cramped near the exit holding your cappuccino up in the air so as not to spill it when people squeeze past.
But hey, at least it's nice and cozy, right?
The animal population proportions are all wrong.
I've lived in New York City for three months now and I've seen approximately one cat.
Three if you count the one I regularly see on a fellow New Yorker's Instagram and the one at the pet shop on my street.
So Phoebe's infamous Smelly Cat song, which was meant to be the unofficial anthem for my new life, has become totally and utterly irrelevant.
There are no smelly cats roaming the streets. No-one is feeding stray cats anything weird. Because there are none.
Rats? Yes. Cats? No.
In comparison, there are dogs EVERYWHERE. On sidewalks, on subways, in bars at 1am on a Wednesday night.
I'm not complaining. Dogs are good. But when I compare real life to Friends-life, they completely undersold the dog population of this city.
There was a MONKEY in the show. And a duck and a chicken. But there were only about 4.3 dogs in ten seasons. If I had known there was a dog on every corner, I would have moved to NYC a lot sooner. Seriously.
Something Friends got right...
Small apartments and cramped cafes aside, there is one thing Friends got totally right about life in New York.
With expats pretty much outnumbering native New Yorkers these days (and honestly, no one knows what a native New Yorker is, they're that elusive), there's guaranteed to be someone in the city who knows exactly what you're going through.
The stress of waiting for your visa application to be approved before your flight leaves without you, the drama of trying to find a liveable apartment with zero US credit history and the terror of facing approximately 63 rounds of interviews every time you go for a job?
Someone else has done it first, and they will 100 per cent be there for you to talk you through the process.