I’m moving out of Manhattan at the end of September and heading down to Wilmington, North Carolina in mid-October! My heart flutters every time I talk about it. It’s really happening, folks.
Some of my friends were thoroughly shocked to hear of my choice. How could I leave a city that is the center of the universe? How could I live with constant FOMO? How could I abandon the bagels?
They bring up some valid points (particularly regarding the bagels.) There is a lot about NYC that I adore and I have a deep history with it. My parents and I drove in to see Broadway shows and eat at Roxy’s throughout my childhood. My first taste of teenage independence was taking the Metro North into Grand Central and wandering the grid. My first legal drink, long-term relationship, and apartment all took place in Manhattan.
Because of these memories, I’ll always have a soft spot for New York City. However, more than a few qualities about it have pushed me to make the decision to say goodbye (for now.)
Here are nine reasons why I’m moving out of New York City:
- The subway is an unpleasant mess. Look, I like riding the subway well-enough when the ride happens to be smooth. It’s nice to listen to a podcast with your earbuds in, take a seat when one is available, and enjoy the ride. The problem is that having a good subway experience is a rarity. The subway clearly isn’t working efficiently now and it’ll probably be a while until it gets any better. It can be seriously overcrowded, break down often, and smell terrible, and I regularly see harassment take place on the trains. On one particularly hellish day, I got stuck underground on FOUR different trains for a minimum of twenty minutes and was late to every appointment I had. I sincerely hope that the MTA, city, and state will make the necessary repairs and renovations, but I’m not holding my breath.
- Everything is overcrowded. Related to the above point, New York City has a serious space issue. Over eight million people live in only three hundred square miles, and you can feel it on the subway, in living spaces, on the sidewalks, and on the roads. I’ve spent too many minutes of my life shuffling with masses through Times Square (and not by choice, it was where I unfortunately worked for three years) and stuck in a Lyft on the FDR. While some people may like having so many other people around them, I’ve learned that I’m not one of those people.
- Rent costs are too damn high. Almost everyone I know has to hold down numerous jobs to afford living in any of the five boroughs (the exception being twenty-somethings whose parents pay for their rent.) If you can afford to rent an apartment in NYC, it is likely shared, small, and has very few amenities. This is not the case in most other parts of the country besides San Francisco and Los Angeles. Personal example: The cost of my quaint studio apartment in Harlem will be $1850.00 for the next person who rents it. That same amount of money would get me a three-bedroom apartment in the complex I’m moving to in Wilmington, North Carolina, plus the complex comes with laundry in-unit, a heated salt-water pool, dog park, car wash, etc. Of course you have to consider that wages differ throughout the country, but the cost of rent in New York City is clearly unsustainable for most people and it’s only going to increase.
- Summers are grimy. There’s a reason why everyone tries to escape Manhattan once summer rolls in: it can get pretty gross. Humid subway platforms, putrid trash odors, large tourist groups on vacation taking up a WHOLE block, and having to make skin-to-skin contact in crowded places all make summer in the city an unpleasant experience. It’ll take at least an hour, more likely two hours, to find a beach, and the traffic won’t make it easy. Summer may be even more humid in North Carolina, but at least the beach is only a ten minute drive away.
- Winters are rough. While NYC does offer some holiday charm with the window displays, big tree in Rockefeller Center, and shopping boutiques in the parks, it’s not enough to distract from just how terrible winter in the city can be. While the winter climate isn’t as brutal as other parts of the country, winters in the city can feel bitterly cold because of how much time we spend walking while we commute. Most of us don’t have the luxury of hopping straight into a car and blasting the heat. Sure, the snow can be charming, but it likely won’t give you a snow day and it quickly accumulates into dirty, gray piles that take forever to melt.
- The pollution is bad. Despite the fact that the city’s air quality is improving, various types of pollution are still a huge problem for NYC. It’s rare to find a clean street and track fires caused by garbage are a regular issue that the MTA has to deal with. Garbage is everywhere, and you will step in gum or worse at some point. Don’t even get me started on the pervading light and noise pollution. Why is being in the city that never sleeps a positive thing?
- Everything is a little more expensive. Not only are rent costs high, practically everything in the city seems to have a mark-up simply because you’re in the city. Your coffee, gym membership, haircut, and groceries will cost more money, and the quality often doesn’t match the price. One example from a quick Google search: a movie ticket at an okay AMC in Harlem for a Sunday evening ranged from $15-$21 while a ticket at a brand-new Regal in Wilmington with reclining seats and a bar ranged from $5-$10. From a budgeting standpoint, moving away from the city could save me serious cash.
- It’s not as liberal as you think. Some of my friends try to defend the city as a super progressive and liberal place, but it’s just not true. It’s too large to really be of one mindset. Though most of NYC voted for Clinton in 2016, plenty of people voted for Trump in the five boroughs. The finance capital will always be somewhat conservative because money rules. On a more personal level, I’ve been called plenty of derogatory terms related to my body, gender, and sexuality in various parts of town, even in so-called safer spaces like the Village. Pride events have become as commercial as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The police presence is intense and unnerving, and it’s even worse with ICE agents mining the subway. Of course I’m aware that I’m moving to a more conservative state, but at least my vote will count in North Carolina.
- Maybe NYC isn’t the center of the universe. Hear me out. Yes, New York City is a finance and media capital, and it certainly is more multicultural than many other large cities, but that doesn’t mean it’s better at everything. I honestly have come to believe that it can be a little overrated. Not all of the experiences are as fantastic as they’re touted to be. I’ve had downright awful food that I had to pay a lot of money for. I’ve seen plenty of terrible shows on Broadway, often too commercial and plastic to be relatable. You can’t even get a quality photo on the top of the Empire State Building. Just because every experience is crammed into New York City doesn’t mean it’s going to be the best. Other cities offer plenty of attractions, entertainment, and cultural experiences that are just as good or better.
There you have it: those are nine of the reasons I’m moving out of New York City. Am I missing a major reason? Do you disagree with any of my points? Leave a comment below.