Chick Literal

I Might Not Ever Live In New York City (And That's Okay)

I distinctly remember an afternoon in college, walking by the river with a friend, having one of those collegiate what-do-we-want-from-life conversations, and saying without a trace of irony, “After college, I really think we should all move to New York and do the whole ‘Sex and the City‘ thing for a few years.”  I said this with the naivete of a 19 year old who genuinely believed the show was a blueprint for adult living, not realizing how wildly unrealistic the show was.  This being 2005, I also did not realize that a few years later there would be a show exactly about the girls of my generation who thought the SATC lifestyle was a real thing they could live, and how very wrong they were.

While SATC fueled my obsession with New York, it wasn’t what started it.  It started with rom coms:  How To Lose A Guy, Maid in Manhattan, The Devil Wears Prada.   As a kid, I believed that it was possible to afford a one bedroom apartment and endless designer clothes on an entry level salary.  The fun and glamorous lifestyle, the fast paced city life, the endless buffet of man candy, I figured that was Manhattan living, and I wanted to be a part of it.  It didn’t hurt that every time I visited New York, I always had an amazing time.  My childhood visits were a whirlwind of Broadway shows, pizza, and black and white cookies.  In high school and college, I feasted on still more musicals, brunches, and those Magnolia Bakery cupcakes.  Everything felt like it had been taken from a scene of one of the shows and movies I loved so much.

If rom coms started my obsession and SATC fueled it, then Gossip Girl cemented my belief that Manhattan was a place I absolutely had to live.  The show was in its heyday when I was feeling like a misfit in Los Angeles.   When it got too frustrating to listen to another person ask why I was so ‘East Coast’ and uptight, it was comforting to come home and watch a television world where Blair’s type-A scheming was rewarded, instead of being dismissed for not being laid-back enough.  When I got sent on an extended business trip to Long Island, I was thrilled, as the location afforded me the ability to visit Manhattan frequently, and dream of the day when I could have my own apartment there instead of having to ride in on the LIRR.  I loved the restaurants, the shopping, the vibrancy of the city.  I felt like I was killing it there; cab drivers called me witty, restaurant owners brought me free drinks.  New York seemed to get me in a way the west coast just didn’t.  Eventually I returned to LA where things felt as dismal as ever; every trip back to New York was like a breath of fresh air.  “Don’t worry,” friends would tell me over drinks at some swanky, exclusive bar.  “We’ll get you out here eventually.”

When I finally returned to the east coast, I figured it was just a stepping stone on my way to my ultimate destination.  It was thus a bit of a shock that on my most recent trip to the city, it didn’t have the magical potency I remembered.  The restaurants weren’t as amazing, the shopping was just okay.  The city didn’t feel vibrant and alive to me; it felt dirty and overcrowded.  It’s entirely possible that I was just having an off weekend, but it was enough to make me start questioning my devotion to New York.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that New York was just a dream I needed to get me through.  When things felt tough, I could just remind myself that New York was waiting for me.  At the moment, I’m kind of loving my life, which makes New York feel exhausting and overpriced.  It’s a fun dream, but an unrealistic one – my day job is one uncondusive to living in New York; the stories I hear from friends about apartments and real estate terrify me.  I don’t come from Upper East Side money, and I realize now that newspaper columnists don’t make enough to keep them in Manolos.  It’s possible I’m old enough now to not feel disappointed that my NYC rom-com dreams might never come true, and instead relief that it’s an item I no longer need to cross off my bucket list.

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking New York.  It’s an incredible city and it will always hold a special place in my heart.  I fully reserve the right to change my mind about living there if the right opportunity ever comes up.  For now though, I’m content to appreciate Manhattan the same way I came to love it in the first place – through TV and movies (and the occasional visit).

Image via Shutterstock

  • Juliette Dam

    I’ve just moved to NYC a month ago and I can say it is overhyped. That being said, it is still incredible and hugely overwhelming. I don’t know if I’ll live here forever but it’s definitely character-building for wherever the future might take me.

  • Helen Evans

    New York for me like you, has always been held in my heart as my dream destination, the place where magic happens and movies come alive. I have always had the romantic idea that I’d live there one day too in one of those massive lofts full of my oversized Jackson pollokesque paintings. Reading this has made me a little sad, I hope my bubble never bursts as its what drives me forward. Sure it may not happen but I’m going to try everything to get there – at least for a holiday!

  • Emily Sullivan

    I’ve NEVER wanted to live in New York… I’d love to visit, but live there? No way. I can barely stand being in Phoenix. I’m just not a city person. Give me trees, a starry night sky, and mountains before Broadway shows, night clubs, and designer outlets.

  • Kristen Lynch

    I’m originally from Maryland, and I’ve lived in New York (Brooklyn, not Manhattan) for the past 4 years, and I love it. I don’t think I’ll live here forever, but it’s been an amazing adventure from the first day. I think every person will experience New York differently, depending on where you live and the crowd you hang out with, but if you get the chance, take it! It’s true what they say; if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

  • Starla Petersen

    I lived in NYC for 13 years. My husband and I moved there right after getting married. We still laugh at how naive we were. How we thought we would live in Manhattan. That we would find an apartment the first day we looked. The first apartment we found that was decently priced, in a pretty good neighborhood in Manhattan, had a crowd waiting outside to see it. That was our wake up call. We finally gave up and moved to Queens. Living in NYC is one crazy roller coaster. I loved it for awhile. But 2 years ago we moved after having twins and I’m so glad we did. It was an amazing place to live, but it’s even better just to visit. What an experience…….and we will NEVER move back.

  • Amanda Ski

    When I was in high school, I looked into going to NYC colleges for my “dance career.” I looked at Julliard, Fordham, and Marymount Manhattan. I ended up not applying to any of them because I think I knew that NYC would be the birthplace of my broken dreams and I didn’t want that. I was much more willing to let my dreams die in a smaller city – like a Philly, where I lived and struggled for 5 years after high school. I think I would have had a much more difficult time admitting that NYC was too much for this budding artist, as opposed to what really happened – I decided a career in classical ballet or even modern dance was not for me.

    Now I’m in a profession that almost requires city life–marketing and communications. If I ever landed my dream job as a CMO at some Manhattan firm, I think I’d still live in my home state, New Jersey, and just commute. I love visiting NYC, but like you said, it just seems dirty, overpriced, touristy, and cold now that I’m not longer 18 and disillusioned by fantasies of performing Swan Lake at the Met or Chicago on Broadway.

    Turns out, not all single, twenty-something professionals need the big city life. Today I live in the magestic Catskill mountains (so I’m still a New Yorker!), but I’m living a different kind of fantasy (which also turned out to be different than what I expected). In the end, I don’t know that “where” you are really matters. The people you surround yourself with and how you spend your time seem to be the keys to success. I bet someone told me that at some point…

  • Laura Elizabeth Donovan

    Just moved to LA from NYC. I miss the energy a lot but don’t miss how much energy it took for me to survive there. It’s a tough place. Invest in your friends and you’ll be ok :) I was a writer in NYC and it was nothing like what we saw in SATC — I was always running out of money and stressed! LA is a better fit for me in the long run, but I appreciate being able to visit — and leave — NYC. Awesome post :)

  • Dylan Conroy

    “No Dylan we’re new yorkers, we don’t take cabs”
    My dad use to tell me this all the time growing up, and this is the mentality of people born in new york.

    New York is not about desighner clothes, bars and late night taxi rides; those are more of the result of the New York life. New York is really about the grind. It’s about taking the train home at 4 am because you don’t want to pay $20 for a taxi that will just get stuck in traffic. It’s about working on your craft not because its how you like to spend you time, but because there are hundreds of people living here that are working on the same craft and you just want to be better than them.
    I’m a boxer. I dont go out on weekends because the money I spend on drinks is money that is taken away from my trainning. The $40 I spend in a bar (on a cheap night) is $40 away from new gloves that could make the difference between winning that last round or losing it. That’s the real New York life style.
    I get up at 5 am, run 3 miles, work a 10 hour day at retial then do two hours at the gym, that’s the real new york life style.

    New York is not about being happy, it’s about being successful. If you want to be happy, go to Cali.

  • Kimberly Dowlen

    I used to have dreams of moving to NYC. It wasn’t SATC that did it for me. It was Friends. I wanted to live in a rent-controlled apartment, above a coffee shop, with all my closest friends. Now I’m content with my hometown, near Nashville (which is also nothing like what television portrays it as).

  • Akilah Hughes

    I love New York, but as a native Cincinnati-an/Northern Kentuckian, I’ve realized that there’s a lot to love about a variety of places. Hell, I used to live basically in Disney World, and that had its ups and downs…I feel you. I think NYC is great for some people, and I love it for now, but I think I’ll be “settling down” somewhere else when the time comes.

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