My Must-Haves for Manhattan Living.

By: Jen Shoop

On the heels of yesterday’s post, sharing a few essentials that have gotten me through the last few years:

+Yoyo BabyZen stroller. The absolute easiest way to get around town with a small child. It folds up into a small square that can be tucked under a dining table and can be carried over your shoulder on a strap when descending stairs. It is lightweight and yet much sturdier than any of the other travel/umbrella strollers I’ve ever tested. We used this every day to get to/from school when mini was 2 and partway through her third year, too, as there is a walk on either end of the Subway ride, and also used it quite a bit when we were out and about with both children. (We never invested in a double stroller, and this saw us through the days we needed both strapped in for longer walks/excursions.) This could totally be your one-stop-shop only stroller as a Manhattanite. I especially like that it folds up so easily and can be tucked into a closet.

+MetroCard. Self-explanatory but we rarely, rarely take cabs anywhere. So much faster to get around on the subway, even though I have spent my fair share of time cursing the many stations without elevators while on an adventure with my children. The subway also obviates the question of how to get around with a small child and no carseat. (Plus, can you imagine toting a carseat with you to your destination?)

+Miele Classic C1 vacuum. I’m sure I would use this vacuum no matter where I lived, but scarcely a day goes by where we don’t bring it out given our tight quarters and how much debris, dirt, etc. we track in from the street. I love that this little guy is compact (it sits in our linen closet when not in use) but ultra-powerful, and just so thoughtfully designed. Sort of like the BMW of vacuums IMO.

+Red Rooster sound machines. I know the Marpac machines get the top ratings all around (in fact, just purchased one for a friend of her baby registry!) but the point is: sound machines are essential for little ones given how close we all live to one another and how noisy the city is in general. My son’s nursery is literally right off the butler’s pantry into the kitchen, and it has a highly inconvenient glass transom window over the lintel of his door, which means that when we are cooking in there in the evening (as we do nearly every night), we must keep half the lights off (!) and whisper our way around. We’ve accommodated, and I know one day we will look back and laugh at ourselves tiptoeing around in the dim light of the kitchen for two years of our life (!), but the sound machine has been a crucial element in keeping the peace. I had one for both children but we bought a HomePod mini for my daughter’s room, which is fairly generously sized and therefore serves as a playroom as well. It’s fairly common for us to pass mornings/afternoons playing in there and we wanted music to keep us company! Bonus: Siri plays sleep sounds, so we use that for her room. But the Red Rooster is a good, inexpensive pick handy for travel and the like. I also like how tiny it is. As an aside, Hill’s off-kitchen bedroom placement is actually a very standard arrangement in apartments in pre-war buildings in NYC — they are often designated as “maid’s rooms” in floor plans dating back to that era, as they used to serve as lodging for live-in help. Now the perfect size room for a nursery…with the most imperfect location just off the kitchen. Oh well!

+Shelf-risers. Anything to optimize the space you have in an NYC apartment is a plus in my book. These literally doubled the amount of items we could stow in our kitchen cabinet — and they are super sturdy. Same goes for this hanging rod.

+Elegant candles. Fellow apartment dwellers will understand the importance of a good candle to cope with the fish dinner going on next door, the burnt toast down the hall, etc…I’m a newcomer to Cire Trudon but have been so, so impressed with them. I find them a little more subtle and less assertive than Diptyque, with unique scents. Two of my other favorite summertime candles: Lafco Peony and Tocca Cleopatra.

+MZ Wallace backpack. My preferred diaper bag when out with the children, as my hands are free. This bag is crazy lightweight and has two water bottle pockets so I can keep the children hydrated easily. I wouldn’t call the fabric “waterproof” but it can withstand a light drizzle and is easy to maintain — you can just wipe it clean with a baby wipe when you need to.

+X-benches by the door. I don’t have the exact style linked but if I were buying all over again, I would buy those (and they are 20% off RN!) because they are easier to keep clean / will not show dirt and wear the same way an upholstered style will. These benches are a must for right by the front door — we use them to take shoes on/off, to drop parcels, to set out mini’s backpack for the school day, etc. I mean, I really don’t know what we’d do without them! So handy! Plus, I love an x bench because it can be repurposed as seating when you have a full house. More of my favorite x-benches here.

+Picnic blanket. Cannot tell you how much use we have gotten out of a proper picnic blanket. We basically live in Central Park on the weekends and in the summer, and our nannies have used the picnic blanket many weekdays, too. We bought ours the first year we moved to NYC and it is just now starting to look a little worse for the wear. I love the look of this $30 style or this red-white-and-blue check! I find we need a blanket that has a nylon/waterproof lining on at least one side, but if that weren’t a factor in my math, I’d love also one of these chic blockprinted quilts!

+Bins and baskets of all shapes and sizes in every single room. I am probably going to be basket-obsessed wherever I go, and with however much space I have, but I find them especially critical in our NY apartment, for stowing shoes in the coat closet, toys in the living area, and the miscellaneous debris that tends to accumulate on the chair of our bedroom.

+Running shoes. Running through Central Park every other day of the week is one of my greatest joys — and it’s free! Hard to beat a workout that is aesthetically pleasing and cost-less! These are easily my most heavily used shoes.

+Boat Totes. In heavy rotation at all times. We use these to carry outdoor toys and picnic fixings to the park on the weekends, to schlep parcels to the UPS/USPS, to drop off dry cleaning, etc. Super handy.

+Hermes sandals. Hate to say it, but these were worth every penny to me because they have endured years and years of heavy use and are absolutely the most comfortable sandal I own. I could walk all day and night in them and never see a blister. I’ve heard people wax poetic about the comfort of their Birks, too, so the point is just — super important to find comfortable footwear to accommodate the pedestrian lifestyle.

+Marmot rain jacket (currently 25% off!). This is more outdoorsy than I usually go but this rain jacket is a total MVP in my closet. It truly keeps all rain out, but is super lightweight and easy to throw in a bag without adding any bulk/heft. I even wear it while running in inclement weather.

+Davek mini umbrella. Related to the above: this is the best compact automatic umbrella on earth. It is so well-made (have never had it invert in winds) and is absolutely teeny. I did one time break one of the “spokes” and the company replaced it, no questions asked. Have bought this for a few people I love — it is so good! Weird to get excited about an umbrella, I realize, but there you go.

+Dark Sky weather app. I am compulsive about checking the weather since we travel by foot nearly exclusively, and it’s way better to wear rain boots out of an abundance of caution than to be caught downtown in the rain with no way to get home to your gear.

+StateBags belt bag. Similar to the backpack, great for hands-free life with small children. I also use this (a lot) when walking Tilly in the evenings. The perfect size for essentials.

+StreetEasy. The best way to find new apartments in these parts! Almost comical how much New Yorkers like to talk about this site.

What things do you swear by in your daily life?


+My all-time favorite home gear.

+These sconces are so fun.

+A great wedding guest dress option — so fun to see a formal dress with a pattern! (More wedding guest picks here.)

+Pretty blockprint napkins at a great price.

+Swooning over this gingham top. To die for!

+This eyelet dress is striking in the brown.

+Looks like SIR the Label, costs less than half.

+Raffia sandals in great colors. The neutral color would go with everything! (And would tie in nicely with those earrings you all bought!)

+On having a dog in Manhattan.

+Excuse me?! These earrings are insane! I literally cannot believe the price! At first glance, I thought they had to be Oscar or something. Such a fun statement for a summer wedding. (More great statement jewelry here — all under $125!)

+Seriously fun napkins for a game night with girlfriends and cocktails.

+These bow sandals in the black!

+Most of the MDW sales are ending today — but worth a quick skim in case you missed them!

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6 thoughts on “My Must-Haves for Manhattan Living.

  1. This is such a good list, and definitely rings true — the StreetEasy mention! Ha! … and so good to point out the importance of comfortable footwear, as I absolutely trashed a few pairs of stilettos in my youth on NYC streets (especially Soho cobblestones; they’re killer!)


    1. Have totally been there before. Nearly all of my spindly heels from my 20s have frayed/scratched up heel tips!


  2. On the Oran sandals, did you have them soled at a cobbler? I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy but I’m trying to figure how much wear I’d get out of them! I have Loubies that are 10 years old but feel like sandals are a different story.

    1. Hi! If you can believe it, I’ve never had them soled at a cobbler. They’ve never needed any care or treatment! They are buttery soft. Now they are starting to look a tiny bit old (there is one small scuff on the side) but I feel like given how much I wear them (and how much they go with everything), buying a new pair once a decade is reasonable…!


  3. This one was fun. So much to see and buy. I have bought a few things now that are so wonderful. Now chandelier earrings are my go to. Thanks for so much fun in this blog.

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