Few people move to New York City thinking that one day they’ll leave for greener pastures (or a bigger apartment). Loving and leaving New York can happen to you, me, your BFF, or that strange guy sitting next to you on the 2 train. It happens every single day. That said, when is it time to leave New York? I have a few thoughts on the subject.
When you don’t have a desire to explore the city anymore.
One great aspect of living in New York is the convenience and ability to explore the undiscovered – there are five huge boroughs out there! When your boss gives you free orchestra seats to Hamilton (or another top Broadway show), and you’d rather binge watch Game of Thrones, you’re probably not taking advantage of all this city offers. (Know that I’m not referring to the occasional lazy day or night because we all need those). What’s more, if you’re not getting all that you expect from NYC, writing that big rent check each month is all the more painful.
When you’re gone more than you’re in New York. (and it’s a choice).
If you find yourself visiting friends outside NYC every chance you get (and not just during summer or holidays), perhaps you’re living in New York solely because you have a job in the city. Unless you specialize in a field that’s unique to NYC, jobs are everywhere, and you can probably secure a job in a different town and save yourself the high cost of housing, groceries, and fancy cocktails.
When a once-in-lifetime opportunity presents itself.
Life is weird in the sense that you can be content and have no plans of moving until a great career opportunity comes into the picture (especially when you’re not looking for it). If a job offer suddenly appears and it’s not in hell, but rather, a place that you might actually enjoy living, you’d almost be silly not to take it or at the very least, consider it. And you’d be incredibly silly not to consider it if you’re fighting to make ends meet in New York. More on that next.
When you’re struggling to get by, and your debt is through the roof.
The cost of living in this city is outrageous, and if you’re living off credit cards because you can’t pay rent, utilities, and general living expenses every month, leaving town could be the sane decision. Paying off debt doesn’t come easy, and moving away from New York could cut your costs in half, or more, and once you’re in the black, you might even be able to save money.
When bad days outnumber good days.
Ask some New Yorkers, and they’ll assure you that bad days in New York are the worst days imaginable, but good days in New York are euphoric and better than the best day anywhere in the world. The truth is we all have bad days in NYC, and realistically, we have bad days everywhere. But, when frustration becomes a daily occurrence, you dread leaving your apartment, and you find yourself always focusing on the negative, that’s a surefire sign that something needs to change. Granted, New Yorkers have to tolerate a whole lot of B.S. to live here, but the fabulousness of life in New York (e.g. having anything and everything at your fingertips, being in the center of a cultural mecca, living where inspiration lies in some form or another on every block, etc.) should override the challenges and annoyances. When that’s not the case, it’s probably time to find a new address.
When living here is severely affecting your mental or physical health.
Studies say that one in five New Yorkers suffers from depression or another mental health disorder. That’s not surprising. Winters are long, dark, and frigid. Apartment life can be isolating. Even though you’re never truly alone in the city, you can feel forlorn and friendless at times because everyone is busy, distracted, and caught up in themselves. It’s called survival. And, NYC is intense, noisy, and crowded, so for introverts, the city is overwhelming and intimidating. All this can take a toll on mental and physical health whether you realize it or not. Only you know when you’ve had all you can take, but my advice is to listen to yourself. Know that when your mind and body are telling you it’s time to leave New York, it’s time.
When you look at the skyline and feel nothing.
No matter how long you’ve lived in New York, that magnificent skyline should be a reminder that you are lucky to live in a city that’s deemed the greatest in the world. When you look up at Lady Chrysler, One World Trade, and the Empire State Building and no longer feel inspired, fortunate, and motivated to take advantage of the countless opportunities that this city affords, then it might be time to move on.
If it is time to leave, remember – New York isn’t going anywhere. Scores of natives and transplants leave and never return, but many come back to visit or find themselves moving back after a much-needed break. NYC has a wonderful way of welcoming anyone and everyone with open arms, whether it’s the first time or the 100th time, and that’s one of the reasons that millions fall in love with New York in the first place. Isn’t it?
Also, becoming a New Yorker, when does it happen? Why I still love living in Manhattan, and Kate loves living in Brooklyn even after a decade.