For surfers who don't mind icy winter tubes, NYC is a good urban option. Photo: Mike Nelson
For surfers who don't mind icy winter tubes, NYC is a good urban option. Photo: Mike Nelson

10 Best Surf Cities in the World: New York City

In no particular order, these are the 10 best urban options for a surfer

It's a sign of the times that seemingly all surf shops must now come equipped with a Slayer espresso machine operated by a pretentious barista. No longer contented to simply fondle a few handshapes and leave with bar of wax, surfers--particularly urban-based surfers--also need an exotically sourced pour-over from a third-wave coffee purveyor and a selection of artisanal baked goods, while they scope out new surf crafts. It's clear that the needs of surfers have evolved quite a bit since the post-war years of Kivlin, Quigg and company, content to eat canned meats and retire to improvisational thatched-roof shelters after hours of riding waves on the North Shore. Today, it seems that coast-adjacent, dense, urban areas best meet the needs of the contemporary surfer.

In the gig economy, cities--regional and global centers of industry, commerce, and culture--are where the jobs are. Modern cities have become walk-able, gastronomic and booze-centric, tolerant and progressive playgrounds for a Millennial generation primed to live and work in a more communal, stimulating environment. And when you stir in an accessible coastline and roughly a hundred days of ridable waves per year, a city can also provide a surfer a dynamic and balanced existence.

So in case you're considering a relocation opportunity, we pored over job statistics, surf reports, and city guides--taking into consideration surf proximity and quality, employment opportunities, and quality of life--to narrow down the world's best surf cities. The list we've assembled includes ten world centers, economic hubs revered for their cultural institutions where one can find a steady job and consistent-enough surf to satiate the most wave-obsessed among us. These are cities where, even if you're resigned to only surf with the weekend warrior crowd, you'll never be bored--provided you haven't handed over all your disposable income to some pretentious barista.

Next on the list…

New York City, New York

If being in the center of the world and occasionally finding yourself in the belly of a cold, heaving tube, appeals to you, New York City is undoubtedly a smart bet. It takes knowledge, grit, and experience, but if you can make it in this increasingly competitive and expensive city, you’re surely capable of dialing in the surf that surrounds it (something that takes a comparable amount of perseverance). The Rockaways offer fairly consistent surf within striking distance of most of the five boroughs, but even heading there (like heading anywhere in NYC) can be a precarious undertaking depending on the traffic. Further east, the long Island surf scene is as diverse as NYC-itself, from hollow, New-Jersey-esque beach breaks like Lido, to the classic, New England-style points of the easternmost vacation town of Montauk. Starting with the late summer hurricane season and continuing with the brutal cold fronts and size-producing Nor’easters of the harsh winters, things stay relatively hollow and heavy-though frigid-for long stretches of the calendar year. Though the conditions are fickle and fleeting, spring and summer bring warmer water-temps and ridable surf, though you’ll have to outmaneuver the throngs of pasty urbanites visiting the shore to wade in the still-chilly Atlantic.

In New York City, everyone wants to know what you do. And though you may surf in your free time, they really want to know how you afford to live in New York City-because to do so truly requires a fair amount of hustle. The city’s status as a world financial center and publishing mecca makes for a plethora of high skilled job opportunities for those with the proper education and connections. Meanwhile the tech scene has grown strong over the last decade, with more and more startups setting up shop in Brooklyn. Of course, the city also plays host to millions of tourists each year and the service industry’s needs are endless, though-in a city of 8.5 Million-those jobs can also be ridiculously competitive.

Already home to 8.5 million people speaking more than 200 languages, there’s a reason people keep coming to New York. Whether an artistic muse or financial gain, people come to New York to chase their dreams. Some of the world’s best theaters, museums, art galleries, restaurants, and public parks are here. The city’s fastidious, round-the-clock lifestyle is not for everyone. And with rent prices sky-rocketing in the quickly gentrifying borough of Brooklyn, maybe young New Yorkers are now musing about seeking more affordable housing back in Manhattan. But if you can stomach the hustle and bustle and handle paying roughly $3000/month for a dingy, one bedroom apartment, there’s literally no place like New York City.

Median Income: $60,000

Top Industries: Financial Services, Healthcare, Technology, Retail & Food Service

Median Home Price: $750,000

Median Rental Price: $3,400 for a 1 BR

Population: 8,500,000

Water Temperature Range: 36-75F

Surf Spots: 92nd Street, Lido, Fire Island, K. Road, Ditch Plains

[Head back to tomorrow for our next reveal]


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