Let me start off by saying that New York is a spectacular place to live, especially if you're a young person with creative career goals. While it was never part of my personal life plan, I followed my college boyfriend here some years back, and soon found myself calling the Big Apple "home." The scenery, the crazy pace, the endless opportunities ... it's all part of what makes New York the mecca of awesomeness everyone knows and loves. Of course, living in New York has plenty of challenges, too — which is why eventually, it came time for a change, and I packed up my bags and moved. As for what I discovered? Turns out, life after New York isn't so bad. In fact, it can be pretty damn awesome — for a million tiny different reasons.
After three years, seven tattoos, three apartments, countless jobs, and just as many dudes (plus public subway cryings), I deemed it high time to make my exit. I made plans to move south to Atlanta, another metropolitan option that was cheaper, closer to my parents, and more promising when it comes to that whole "work-life balance" thing. Now, I'm rounding up on my one-year, post-New York anniversary, and whenever friends still there ask how life is treating me down here, I always offer up the same honest response: "I feel like I hit the easy button on life." And that's for real. Now I know this isn't a universal fact or anything — many folks I met in New York I know will absolutely be lifers and be thrilled about that. But for me — and for a lot of other people out there — leaving New York makes life a whole lot easier.
Here's just a sampling of all there is to look forward to:
1. Rent Is Cheaper
This is the first of many bomb ass discoveries you'll make when getting out of NYC. Before I made plans to leave the concrete jungle myself, I used to torture myself by scrolling through Craigslist housing ads in other cities. Save a few exceptions like the Bay Area and parts of L.A., pretty much anywhere else you choose to live in the U.S. comes with a much smaller overhead.
2. Broker Fees Aren't The Norm
A friend of mine divulged this little tidbit to me once, while she was deep in the throes of planning a move from Brooklyn to Austin. Turns out, she's totally right. When you bounce from the Big Apple, you soon learn that forking over $400+ to some doofus with a longboard — showing you mostly decrepit buildings outside of your price range — is not a universal practice.
3. Apartments Are Way More Legit
More good news: You don't have to dodge that sweltering hot pipe in your apartment during the winter, or explain away to friends why there's a shower in your kitchen. Why? Because, wherever you are, it ain't New York. People live like civilized folk elsewhere.
4. You Have Storage Options
Closets. Are. REAL!
5. It Isn't Impossible To Live Alone
I was lucky for the most part and had really exceptional roommates most of my Brooklyn tenure. However, at a certain point you just wanna go pantsless and not have to warn anyone in advance. Instead of living with roommates until you're deep into your 40s, living outside of NY gives you the option of going solo way more often.
6. You Can Have Pets!
...OK, then I suppose you're not technically living alone, but who cares? A furry little companion is pretty much the best, and with a bit more living space, being a certifiable pet owner is definitely more manageable.
7. You (Probably) Only Have To Work One Job
With lower prices all 'round — and not just rent, but groceries, bar tabs, cover charges, etc. — you probably won't have to pull the multiple job thing unless you want to save up for a trip or pay off some debts or something. The point is, now that you can pay your rent and have more than $5 left in your bank account, having one income is totally doable. Although some side jobs may start paying you much higher in New York than elsewhere (like hostessing), most pay exactly the same, if not lower because of the huge pool of applicants willing to work for nothing (aka struggling writers).
8. You Eat More Meals Outside Of The Office
Now that you've got more money in your pocket, you can probably upgrade your lunch from that sad desk salad (that also probably cost you about $14). People seriously do leave the office at five or sometimes six o'clock outside of New York. In other words, the whole work-life balance thing is no urban legend — it's an actual thing companies value and actually attempt to facilitate. Crazy!
9. You Run Into Secret Trust Fund Kids Less
OK, I know it's not their fault. But seriously, when you meet a handful of young adults working low-paying creative jobs that couldn't possibly cover their rent — only to learn Mom and Dad are really footing the bill — it's a little disheartening. Especially when you're existing on nothing but Ramen noodles a week before pay day.
10. Restaurant Jobs Are Reasonable
You also don't encounter any of that unpaid-working-interview nonsense, where you spend hours trailing a current employee, but never see a dime. And there's no need to prove five years' experience and supply a genuine letter of endorsement from everyone you've ever met, which makes actually landing the job a whole lot easier.
11. You Have More Of An Excuse To Get Into Cooking
I suppose some folks would see the dramatic decrease in delivery options as a loss, but it really isn't. Ordering Seamless twice a day with any sort of regularity (I'm not saying I'm not guilty) adds up like crazy. And what do you really have to show for that kind of practice other than an insane collection of plastic chopsticks you'll never actually attempt to use? That's right: nothing. With less temptation to be lazy and a (probably) larger kitchen, you have the opportunity to embrace your inner Top Chef.
12. There's Way Less Chance Of FOMO
OK, that's because there's way less happening, but TBH, until I have Hermione's Time Turner, there's no way I could ever hope to hit all 17 awesome-looking concerts any given night of the week — not to mention the heaps of other goings on like gallery openings, parties, potlucks, exhibitions, etc. I can only take on so much, and I don't need the FOMO that comes along with being able to select just one or two options tonight from a spread of like, 4,512,156 — because that's 4,512,154 things I didn't get to experience.
13. No One Cares What You're Wearing
I never felt fancier than when I first moved away and hadn't slacked my own wardrobe protocol yet. Far less people regularly rock heels and — get ready for this — people wear freaking pajamas to the grocery store. Not that I'm adopting pajamas as public wear just yet (and hopefully this never actually happens), but if you have to meet a friend out and don't feel like doing your whole ~routine~, you certainly don't have to.
14. ...And They Wear Actual Colors
Yep — no more looking out into a sea of black clothing. A little shocking, I know, but you'll come to appreciate color eventually. (I still don't do it, though.)
15. You Don't Have To Carry Cash
The first time I charged an iced coffee at an independent cafe outside of New York, I stepped outside to quietly weep. A lack of cash is the sole reason I ever was able to frequent the Dunkin Donuts on Graham — because sometimes I needed a pick-me-up en route to the train, but only had three quarters. Almost everywhere takes cards since — as New York can trick you out of remembering — it's 2015 and this should be the normal in all places.
16. Splitting Checks Is NBD
None of these arbitrary rules New York restaurants randomly invent actually exist elsewhere. Most joints allow a dinner bill to be split in two quite easily — no questions asked. Unfortunately, though, this means not many people outside New York use Venmo... because they don't have to.
17. Restaurants Actually Hydrate You
No more of that one-tiny-glass-per-person mess. Remember, a person needs between nine and 12 cups of water per day. I mean, I'm not sure if this is partially because there are so few legit public restrooms in New York that this is a measure to help you avoid them or not.
18. There Are Free Public Restrooms Everywhere
Guys, no lie: I peed in a Taco Bell yesterday without buying a thing while out running errands. And no one came chasing after me for it, either. It seems non-New York establishments don't want you to perpetuate that urine-soaked street smell, so they accommodate accordingly. And it is a-mazing.
19. You Don't Have To Carry Your Life With You...
Once a friend was crashing with me in Greenpoint and I was advising what she should bring for the day she'd spend away from my apartment. "Don't forget your phone charger. And a book. And a water bottle. Maybe a light sweater and some makeup to touch up, if needed. Also, it's not a horrible plan to carry those Shout wipes because spills happen." She looked amused. "So, you kind of pack like you're going camping?" She did have a point. In other parts of the U.S., having a car can sure come in handy.
20. ...Or Enormous Purses
How are you going to carry all that? Oh right, your enormous purse that makes one hip pop out more than the other. Admittedly, I still keep a huge purse but it is far less heavy these days.
21. Uncomfortable Shoes Are Now An Option
Since you don't have to walk one mile to the subway and one mile back, those insanely cute hand-me-down pumps you carried for years only to collect dust are now a real and viable option. Driving culture isn't the worst, y'all.
22. Other Shoes Last Longer
It took just three weeks to burn a hole right through my Toms in New York. Now, I'm convinced my canvas Vans will last until my now-toddler nephew can legally drive. And I'll bet I am correct.
23. You Can Leave Your Headphones At Home
Because you're not surrounded by millions of people all the time, you're not forced to create your own bubble of a world through music and podcasts throughout the day, just to drown out the noise.
24. You Can Grocery Shop In Bulk, No Problem
Cars! Again! And even if you don't have a car, you probably don't have several flights of stairs to conquer before getting into your apartment, and then a handful of roommates with whom you gotta share limited storing space. So go ahead — go nuts. DO IT.
25. Drinking Is Less Of A Central Activity
I don't know if it's the ease of widespread public transit (which, TBH, I super miss) or the stressful nature of the city itself, but no city drinks like New York. And drinking that heavily that often is gonna take its toll at some point. I didn't realize this kind of "Yo, let's meet for four strong cocktails after work on a Tuesday" wasn't actually normal until I left the little vodka bubble for my new life down South.
26. Chances Are Your Vote Matters Again
Once, a friend described voting liberal in New York as "pissing blue into a sea of Kool-Aid." When you're surrounded by people who think the same as you, your vote can kind of seem irrelevant. But while it's never irrelevant, it does feel even better when you can cast your vote in a new state that's not so definitively Red or Blue.
27. Your Favorite Places Stick Around
It was really heartbreaking to watch a slew of awesome venues shutter during my time in NYC. But since most cities don't have the rapidly-rising rent costs New York does, businesses elsewhere have a greater chance of keeping the lights on for longer than a few years.
28. People Are Friendly Not Just Because They Want Something
This can be downright jarring to experience at first, but I gotta say, after a while, I kinda love the unabashed friendliness that goes on in other places. When privacy exists as an easy option, people don't ignore each other so hard. Ergo, when you run into other humans, they are often pleasant and not just because they want to share their religious or political preference with you.
29. Dating Is Less Of An Olympic Sport
It's no secret that dating in NYC is kind of the worst. I know dating technically sucks everywhere, but I swear it's a special brand of suck in New York — particularly because there are just so many singles competing for each other. As friend said once, "The only way for couples to stay together in New York is if they leave New York."
30. Summer Is Even More Awesome
When 90 percent of the breezes you enjoy don't stem from passing subways or city buses, they're a damn delight. Refreshing gusts of wind are so much nicer when they're not combined with the pungent stench of pee or literal pieces of garbage.
31. In Related News, Fresh Air Can Actually Smell Fresh!
Sure, stinky sidewalks and airless subway platforms can be charming in their own ways (just kidding, no they can't). But as soon as you escape the bustling Big Apple and take in a deep breath, it'll hit you right away: The air is different out there, my friends. I swear, Asheville smells exactly like lavender. And Amherst is like old books. Cities can have unique smells that don't simultaneously make your stomach churn at every corner.
32. Silent Nights Are Actually
Adjusting to the sweet lullaby of the rumbling BQE can feel like a badge of honor at first — but its novelty can only last for so long. Once you've heard everything from alley cats having loud sex outside to your angry neighbors having loud sex upstairs, you'll be praying for the sweet sweet sound of silence. Because despite what you may have been told, hearing nothing but the sound of crickets chirping outside isn't scary — in fact, it's pretty chill and kind of amazing.
33. "Getting Out Of The City" Is A Treat, Not A Necessity
The way people talk about getting out of New York — however briefly — always sounds like a bunch of junkies desperate for their next high. When a city wears on you that intensely, that's not a great sign. Now I'd personally be stoked to stay put and enjoy all the offerings of my city. Getting out can be fun, but it isn't treated like a basic human need.
So yeah, leaving the Big Apple behind in your rear view isn't the end of the world. In fact, it could be the beginning of a bright, new future... in which your bank account is full, your weekends are way more relaxing, and you regularly skip around your apartment pants-less — just 'cuz.
Images: Comedy Central; Giphy (17)