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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Do I Stay or Do I Go? (5 Reasons to Leave NYC, 5 Reasons to Stay)

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 03, 2017


Although more and more people are moving out of New York, it feels like the city gets more crowded every day.

The first few years of living in New York is a love affair. But over time it can turn into a love-hate affair. When I was a kid, my dad worked in the Empire State Building. New York was a beacon to me. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I knew I would live and work there when I grew up. After graduating college I knocked around suburbia for a few years before landing a job in the city. Whoot! I was a young buck working at global corporation in huge skyscraper in midtown traveling the globe selling bubble gum. Since then, I’ve never wanted to live anywhere else but New York. That is, until now. After a few decades of city living and finally settling down and having a child, city life has changed. These days, my wife and I are discussing our future and we’re not sure if New York City is going to be part of it. We’ve done so much here, but there is so much more out there for our son and us. So soon, we may be saying adios to NYC.

I don’t want to move and find myself bored with the pace of a So Cal beach town, freezing my ass off in New Hampshire, or feeling like I’m much too far way in New Zealand. I also don’t want to be so jaded to think that there is no other place to live besides NYC. And although I grew up in New Jersey, sorry Chris Christie, but I do not want to return to my roots in the Garden State. I’ve had enough of the tri-sate area.

So, I’ve mapped a handful of the pros and cons of living in the big city and whether or not it is time to move out. To stay or leave NYC is a big decision, so let’s explore the criteria.

REASONS TO STAY IN NYC

1. NYC is a 24/7 playground - There is always something to do in New York. Unless you want some quiet time, being bored is virtually impossible in a city that never sleeps. If you dig people, they are out and about at all hours of the day and night. If you don’t believe me, hop on a subway at midnight and chances are it will be overflowing with people coming home or going out. If you’re the type of person that often gets that late night itch to find some action or some great food, there is no better city in the world than NYC. Once you become accustomed to the lifestyle and having all the resources at your fingertips, it’s hard to fathom living anywhere else in the world.

2. The people, the energy, the culture - New Yorkers are a high-energy, purposeful, intelligent, and cultured group. People with that purpose-driven mindset come here from every other country to follow their dreams and become part of the fabric of this amazing city. We’ve got some crazies here, but that’s understandable when you jam eight million people together and expect them to fall into some semblance of order and organization. Over the years I’ve had neighbors from every continent on Earth all drawn to New York like flies to honey. And there is no other city in the world with the cultural diversity of New York. Open any issue of Time Out New York and hands down you’ll find more things to do and places to go for the arts, music, theater, and film than anywhere else.  You get four real seasons and you can hit the beach, the slopes, or a golf course relatively easily from midtown.

3. The food, the drink – Not only does New York offer indigenous foods and drinks from every culture on Earth, it’s also a leader in inventing and fusing new foods and cocktails, whether it’s Korean tacos, cronuts, or alcohol-infused ice cream. If it’s new and it tastes good, it usually starts here. And, you can get it delivered at any hour of the day or night. Check plus, plus.

4. If you can make it there… - Deep down, I think every New Yorker carries pride knowing they are making their mark in arguably the toughest arena in the world. Unlike life in other areas of the country, many New Yorkers live to work and take pride in being the best in their jobs. Of course all work and no play gets old, so most careerists know how to cut loose in their down time, often in extreme ways. If you don’t believe me, check out the action at the clubs and after-hours dens of diversions in sex, gambling, and other extreme activities. If you’ve got an itch for something edgy, yeah, you’ll find it here.

5. It’s constantly changing – If someone asked me what’s the one thing that I’ve learned that stands out about living close to three decades in New York, I’d have to say that New York City never stops moving, evolving and changing its shape. Nobody can keep up with the city, even if a lot of New Yorkers roll 24/7/365. No one person has the time, stamina or resources to harness the pulse of this ever-changing magical city. Hot new neighborhoods like Hudson Yards and Gowanus pop up like weeds all over the city.

There. I’ve laid out a strong case for living in and never, ever leaving New York. If only life was so simple. There is a big wide world out there, amigos and it’s important to know when it’s time to pack up the caravan and move on.

REASONS TO LEAVE NYC

1. The rent, and every thing else is too damn high – Can you really afford to pay $3,000 a month for a studio in midtown or would you rather live with four random roommates in a two bedroom walk up in Bed Stuy? That’s just the tip of the financial iceberg that impacts your quality of life in New York City. New Yorkers can handle it, but after awhile living like you did in college gets old. New Yorkers like convenience so they eat out for most of their meals. That along with cocktails, the daily Starbucks, and a trip to Whole Foods on the way home gets expensive. Unless you are a savvy New Yorker who has been here long enough to stay ahead of the housing trends, it’s tough to keep yourself out of debt when you are renting, raving, and rolling in the clubs until dawn and all the while working a backbreaking entry-level job. Over the past few decades the situation has gotten worse. Unless you got a break on a Wall Street job, most kids fresh out of college to wheel and deal and improvise just to find a place to live, and that sucks. Back in the day, you might have to live uptown or on the west side, but at least you could plant some roots and live relatively comfortably with some privacy when starting out. That’s tough now. Almost a deal breaker if you ask me. I would not want to have to commute from the depths of Brooklyn or the Bronx for an entry-level position. I always managed to live near my office and relatively close to the nighttime action. I’m not sure that’s possible these days. And it’s very expensive raising a child in this town. Swimming lessons go for $50 a half hour. That’s just the beginning, folks.

2. Mass transit is worse than purgatory – Unless you have a trust fund to draw on or a corporate Uber card, you are probably using the subway. Over the past few decades the subways have gotten way more crowded, and much less reliable. And now we’re in the mass transit “summer from hell”. Very simply, riding the subway sucks more than ever. The cars are dirty, unreliable, and overcrowded, even in the dead of night. New Yorkers, and human beings in general, deserve better. Did I mention subway service on the weekends? Hahahaha. For a long-time New Yorker, traveling by mass transit has become a sore point and an actual embarrassment that is below the standards of a quality of life that New Yorkers deserve. And I don’t see the situation improving.

3. The noise, the lights, the crowds – After three decades you’d think I’d be used to the sounds of pounding jackhammers and blaring sirens at all day and night. Nope. Where I live uptown, we are also treated to churn of motorbikes plowing down the streets at all hours. All the lights from the streets and businesses that stay open all night make it challenging for us New Yorkers to get a proper night’s rest. By now I’ve learned to sleep through anything but why should I have to shut my windows to dull the roar from the crowds outside the bars at 3 am? Did I mention the lines New Yorkers stand in for a cool movie, event, or a bargain? I now pass on anything requiring me to stand in line, unless they are giving out free money or sex.

4. City living can be toxic – New York City living is a stress-inducing experience. Don’t discount the effects of living in a cramped metropolis filled with all types of Wi-Fi, radiation, and radio waves bouncing around and throughout the entire city. Humans soak this stuff into our bodies and over time it collects in our systems and causes havoc to our health. Recent studies show that our once-thought-as-wonderful city drinking water is filled with carcinogens and heavy metals. Get a water filter and walk in the park whenever possible. And even though New York has come a long way since 9/11, it is still number one target for terror.

5. Been there, done that – Black outs, 9/11, hurricanes, massive snowstorms, a garbage strike, the AIDS crisis, sweltering heat waves, and blinding rain and floods have all been part of my life in New York City. Like Mick Jagger sang, “I’m in tatters”, after surviving these tumultuous years. After decades of running wild and finally settling, there comes a point of diminishing returns for living in the big city. It’s that, “do I really want to put up with this shit?” feeling when you’re dealing with the cable company, mass transit delays, broken elevators at the train station, “show time” on a crowded subway, or witnessing general bad behavior on the street in front of your kids. This stuff gives even the most ardent New Yorker pause about continuing to live in this crazy town. Admit it. You’ve thought about living elsewhere.

So where does this leave me? I’ve put myself on a two-year plan before making a final decision about leaving New York. After working for major corporations, ad agencies, start ups, I’m not sure if I want another nine to five gig in the city. Nowadays businesses no longer require employees to come into the office every day. More and more jobs are done virtually, so it doesn’t matter where you live. I’ve done or tried just about everything I’ve wanted to in this city. So I ask myself, why not cash in and check out of New York to start a more peaceful life with my wife and kid somewhere less interesting, but saner? It’s a decision I will be considering over the next twenty-four months. Until then, I’ll keep fighting the good fight. Now I’ve got to go back into the bowels of the sweltering subway and get on that filthy C train to take my kid to his expensive swimming lesson.

This week’s Guys’ Guy’s Guys of the Week are all the folks who have taken the leap and lived in the New York City. Some like it hot and some do not, but everyone here adds a bit of spice to this human zoo. I’ll see you in the crowded streets, amigos!

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