So long, and Thanks for all the Fish
Oh, New York…
It’s not me, it’s you.
If you weren’t born in NYC, they say that after 10 years of living here you get to call yourself a New Yorker. With a combined total clocked time of 13 years over the last 16, I’ll carry that title proudly - all while still complaining about it. If you and I have ever had a singular conversation, there’s a 95% chance that at some point I made a disparaging, off the cuff remark about New York City. Usually something about the awful weather, the lack of cleanliness, the overcrowding, the crumbling transit system, or the rising expense - especially compared to other cities. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with New York, but I can’t imagine having developed my career anywhere else and do think of this chaotic place with all its dumb quirks as home.
I’ve got an unpopular opinion to share with you. You ready? Here it is: New York City is not the greatest city in the world [insert shocked emoji face]. It’s all a really well done ad campaign that at times is quite convincing and very believable. Every now and again in between the 5 months of winter & polar vortexes and the new 5 months of soul-crushing humidity that is summer, you get a few nice days that everyone is grateful for. * IF * you get Fall that’s truly the only time in my opinion that is absolutely stunning. That’s a good time to take advantage of being outside and even using the ferries - which are a nice reprieve from being crammed in like sardines on an ever worsening underground transit system. Personally I would save the title of greatness for cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, or London where things actually work. New York’s greatest ability is to make you think everything within it is possible. To some extent it is, but unless you hit it just right, much of it is always just out of reach no matter how much “success” you find so everyone just keeps slaving away. Everyone is spread out not only amongst the 5 boroughs but also out into the suburbs of New Jersey, Long Island, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut. Keeping in touch is often exhausting as we all get priced out of more centrally located areas. Seven years ago I figured out how to game the system by moving from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Jersey City. I avoided the city tax and got 3-4% of my salary back, found cheaper cost of living in a gorgeous brownstone, and cheaper 24 hour transit - all 7 minutes away from the island. It made all the difference and kept me here a little longer. Plus looking at the city from across the river wasn’t too bad! I only had to put up with all the (extremely incorrect) jokes about New Jersey.
The one thing that New York is though is the center of everything. Once you’re in its gravitational pull it’s very hard to get out of it. Everything comes here first. Finance, Art, Music, Entertainment, Tech are all heavily rooted in this area. Everything that appears in blogs and magazines and shared throughout the world, happens here. Being in the room where it happens is intoxicating. (Yes, that’s a Hamilton reference.) The smartest and most interesting people I’ve ever come across are all sharing the space of a 22 square mile island. And those who don’t live here often have to travel through, so people just naturally come to you. If you’re looking for connections, challenge, opportunity - there honestly is no better place to cut your teeth. Once you have figured it all out, know what’s around every corner and where to find the hidden gems, have connections at the hottest companies, and can get yourself on many a VIP list - there’s a certain feeling of accomplishment and coolness (if not obnoxiousness) that comes with knowing you’ve earned your New Yorker stripes. You also start to take it all for granted.
After that feeling creeps in, the allure has gone stale, and everything seems to feel like Same York, what then? If you want something in between the suburban American Dream (marriage, 2.5 kids, picket fence) and the urban Rat Race (climbing the corporate ladder, getting a $2.5m 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan or Brooklyn), what’s in the middle and is New York a good place for it? Two questions I have been seriously asking myself since October 2018 when I could no longer shake the feeling of wanting and needing a change. When I left the city the first time in 2007 it was go travel and explore the world knowing New York would always be here. Now, it’s going to be to find some focus and balance between work, life, and health while continuing to keep working on my personal and professional goals. I also just desperately want a washer & dryer directly inside my apartment for the first time in my entire adult life.
All of this as a long winded way to say - my days in New York are numbered. I’ve got a one way ticket to leave on Sunday June 30, 2019 to see what the west coast has to offer. I’m extremely fortunate that both my full time job at Oliver Wyman (a top 100 place to work and for good reason) and my part time job teaching as an adjunct professor at Syracuse University are allowing me the opportunity to work remotely from San Diego, CA. I am truly excited to be moving into the East Village part of downtown and utilizing the WeWork for coworking.
All of the places I’ve been to in recent years have been in the running for options after New York. Sometimes I thought it would be Denver, other times it was going to be Seattle or even Vancouver. At one point I truly thought London was the next logical step (until Brexit royally messed that all up). However, there was always one clear choice in the back of my head, and when I reviewed all the times I threatened on social media to leave - it was often, and it was always to San Diego. Since 2010 the goal was to spend 3 months living on a houseboat since the weather was so consistently perfect - but a high rise apartment will have to suffice for now. Let’s see if America’s Finest City lives up to its name. I’m looking forward to weekends spent hiking and/or scuba diving, yoga on the beach, casually watching surfers, and chasing some of the world’s most gorgeous sunsets. I also cannot wait to explore that part of the US & Mexico as so much of it will be completely brand new to this New Yorker.
If you have friends in San Diego, I’d love and appreciate an introduction. New Yorkers - get in touch if you want to hang before July or visit when you need a break from a polar vortex.
New York will always be home and I’ll be back often - so don’t be a stranger.