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I moved to New York City back in 2011 and it’s taken nearly as long to discover how to live in this city with maximum efficiency. Like any local, I hate to waste time, so having the right apps on my phone is key.
When I first discovered Seamless, I was astonished that I could order anything I wanted to eat, not just pizza or Chinese, and have it delivered to my front door. Now there are apps for just about everything that has to do with NYC living—from keeping on top of news in your building or on your block, to getting my adult beverages delivered (no lugging bottles home), and discounted tickets to the shows I want to see.
Keep reading for our picks of apps that you need to download to unlock your best NYC life. (Want more apps? Brick Underground has rounded up transit apps to help you navigate the city’s transportation like a pro, and rental apps that help find your next NYC apartment.)
[Editor's note: An earlier version of this post was published in October 2016. We are presenting it again with updated information for October 2019.]
Connect with your neighborhood
You may find yourself feeling out of the loop when you move to a new NYC neighborhood, or just lonely in the big city. Apps like NextDoor and Cinch will help you connect with your neighbors or local businesses. Nextdoor is a social media platform for your block—you can only read and post about topics happening around the neighborhood you designate. Cinch doesn't allow you to communicate with your neighbors like NextDoor, but it does connect you with local businesses by providing deals and discounts—there's also a wallet feature that allows you to pay via the app and let's you earn rewards.
Stay up on (very) local news
In a city as big as New York, there's a lot going on so you need a good news source to keep you up to date. New Yorkers are lucky to have a bunch of choices for local news, not as many as there use to be (RIP DNAinfo), but still more than other cities. For news apps, check out Patch, New York Daily News, New York Post, and the New York Times.
Be aware of crime
The city is certainly not as dangerous as it was decades ago, when Times Square was seedy and not so family-friendly, but it’s still good to know what kind of crime is happening in your neighborhood. There’s Neighbors by Ring, which uses activity recorded by residents’ Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro and uploads it to the app for neighbors to see, and the crowdsourced app Citizen. Fair warning: You'll get a ton of notifications once you download these apps, and it can be a little disturbing to find out about all the crimes going on seemingly all around you. So stay strong and don’t let paranoia get the best of you.
Get your dinner delivered...
New York City is a foodie’s dream, so when you move to a new neighborhood, it’s essential to check out what dining options are in your neighborhood, especially for those late-night cravings or midnight dinners after a night out. There’s a ton of food delivery apps out there, including the granddaddy Seamless and also Postmates, where you can have more than just food delivered, plus Caviar and Uber Eats. If you’re a new user to any of these apps, make sure to take advantage of the first-time discount codes.
...and your booze
If you’re hosting a party and you run out of liquor or it’s raining and you’re craving red wine but don't want to go out, alcohol delivery apps solve the problem. Some alcohol and wine shops around the city have their own apps with reward systems, while apps Minibar and Drizly allow you to order alcohol from vendors around your neighborhood and have it delivered right to your front-door.
Sometimes ride-sharing is your best bet
There are a lot of transportation options in NYC but sometimes—say if you're traveling between hard-to-reach places or off-peak hours (like if you live in Brooklyn and are dating someone in Queens), ride-sharing is your best bet. Currently, Lyft is offering free and discounted rides for those going to job interviews. Uber and Juno are other options to get you where you need to be.
Divvying up the rent (or the check) easily
Lots of New Yorkers have roommates to help pay the rent and utilities, so cash-transfer apps are essential to making divvying things up a no-brainer. Here's another tip: Restaurants are limiting how many cards you and your friends can use to split a bill because they get charged for each swipe, so these apps can simplify the bill-paying process. Brick's go-to apps for cash delivery are Venmo and Zelle, which come with most bank’s mobile apps.
Score cheap (or even free) show tickets
If you have a little patience, you can attend tapings for popular talk-shows like “The View” and “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" for free. Just get on a waitlist and get lucky enough to be chosen. For these shows, as well as many festivals and concerts, check out the free ticket offers on 1iota. Is Broadway your jam? The famous ticket lottery that can get you into shows, including Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is available through Todaytix, which also has tons of affordable tickets for hit Broadway shows.
—Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith
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