New York City is a wonderful place. But it's also one of the most expensive cities in the world. The cost of living, including food and shelter, makes residing in New York a sacrifice. Other sacrifices include the fact that one must accept a below-average level of personal space, both within the home and in public.
So what makes living in New York a worthwhile endeavor? Options. There are the obvious options given to NYC residents: access to a diverse employment market, a wide array of cuisine choices, exceptional cultural experiences, solid educational offerings, and a higher probability of finding romantic connections.
But I believe that it's usually the less obvious options provided by major global cities, especially New York, that really balance the value-equation. These options can be small: such as overhearing incredibly interesting conversations, meeting young visionaries (entrepreneurs, philosophers, economists, writers, actors, etc.), encountering movie stars as they walk their dogs or yell at their children, seeing old movies in basement theatres, and many other small wonders. The options can also be large: like pitching a business idea to the same man who invested in Twitter, playing a Grandmaster of chess in Washington Square Park, or being a part of the backdrop for American culture.
New York has something to offer to nearly everyone. Only not pursuing the large and small options that New York provides would make this city too expensive.