The New York City Suburbs are a Pokemon Dead Zone


"There aren't any pokemon around here. Literally what is even the point of coming to work anymore?"

This is something I yelled at my coworkers while heading to a meeting with my boss, something that I can only imagine screamed "management material" to the office at large. While this might not do me any career favors, I do stand behind the sentiment: in a world where people's houses have been made into gyms and New York City dwellers can't even step into the shower without being inundated with Pokemon, living in the suburbs kind of sucks.

The following are a list of grievances I've developed as I attempt to fulfill my pokemon master dreams from the comfort of the NYC suburbs:
  • City dwellers are often amazed at the number of deer that live up here. If they saw one wandering their streets, they would assume it was lost. Similarly, in the "real world" of Pokemon, the woods surrounding my house would be exactly the kind of place you'd expect these creatures to live. Not so fast, say the developers at Niantic. I took a nearly hour long walk the other day and encountered only two pokemon. Two!
  • You know what's really nice about cities? Consistent cell phone service. You know what we lack in the suburbs? Cell phone service. Today I sat in a parked car for 20 minutes trying to connect to a Pokemon gym before giving up and driving away, because my phone kept cycling between 1x service and no service. It was miserable.
  • People are exercising more thanks to Pokemon Go, but in the suburbs the majority of your Pokemon Go-ing has to be done via car. There is just no way to walk the endless miles between scattered location points. I can't just walk into my friend's house and catch four different Pokemon. I have to walk a mile before I find anything, and a mile after that, and it's likely that both the pokemon I will encounter will be Weedles. Also I might have to trespass on someone's property to catch them. Super awkward.
That said, I do have some tips if you, like me, are not deterred enough by the struggle of suburban life to hinder your dreams:
  1. Stick to population centers, aka towns. Rule of thumb seems to be the more people and houses there are around, the more likely there are to be Pokemon.
  2. Look up some historic sites before you go. A lot of these tend to be Pokestops. While you might not find actual pokemon, you can at least stock up on some items in the meantime. Libraries and churches seem to be good places for this too.
  3. Have someone drive you around in their car. I know I complained about this earlier, but it really is the most efficient way to play. Plus, your designated driver will only momentarily hate you for screaming at them to turn around so you can catch that Drowzee.
  4. Suck it up and go to NYC/your city of choice. Is it insane to take a train an hour south to play an app based on a children's game? Probably. Is it worth it? Completely.
Kerry Erlanger is a writer from New York (state not city). She can be found on twitter @hellokerry.