December 2, 2008

Question


I'm in a bit of a soul-searching in-between time of life right now (and you cannot even fathom how much I despise in-between times!) trying to figure out jobs and apartments and blah blah blah.  My perplexed mental state, combined with way too much HGTV, leaves me constantly wondering if where you live can really affect your happiness.  

I'm feeling kind of claustrophobic here in the rural suburbs of central NJ.  I want to see some human beings.  I am sick of driving driving driving.  I want to be able to walk everywhere.  I want to have restaurants and bookstores and amazing dance classes and culture right at my fingertips.

I'm stuck on living in NYC, though I'm well aware that I probably won't last more than a year and will despise the noise and crowds and stench and insanity.  I'm also kind of paranoid and am convinced that I'm going to get mugged, murdered, or caught in the midst of some horrid terrorist attack.  As Jared has pointed out just a few times, perhaps living in the hugest city ever is not the best choice for me.

When I went to Spain last spring I fell in love with Madrid, a huge beautiful city which still manages to be so clean!  I mean, it actually smells like you're outdoors!  After wandering the city all day I didn't even feel the urge to immediately disinfect my entire body of that hot dog pretzel subway exhaust stench!

I also really loved DC when I went there for the first time in September (yes, my first time in DC - don't judge me).  But again, kind of a high murder rate.  And an excellent terrorist target.  (See, I told you I had some paranoid issues...)

I'm kind of obsessed with Portland, Boston, and Seattle, even though I've never been to any of these cities.  Seems to me like you get a big city feel with a quainter, cleaner environment.

But I just don't know if I could leave my family and friends.  Is it worth it to move far far away?  Can the place outweigh the significance of your existing relationships?

If you could live anywhere in the whole wide world, where would it be and why?

{Photo by queenzombie}

32 comments:

mommyknows said...

Anywhere?

It would have to be Dubai. Then London, UK and then right here where I am (Edmonton, Alberta).

R.A. Porter said...

Santa Monica. Right by the beach, good weather, a great walking community, lots of character, and still part of a major city.

If I could take NYC and physically move it somewhere with good weather - as opposed to the four weeks in the spring and four weeks in the fall when it's not a nightmare - I'd want to live there.

Jenny said...

DONT LEAVE MEEEEEEEEEE :(

Johnny Truant said...

See, now I'm the other way around. I need to get away MORE and get into the country MORE.

James A Woods said...

I love West Texas, but I would like to move a bit further south of my current location, closer to the Big Bend area.

the sassy kathy said...

do you think it would be worth it to move, even if it meant leaving your family and friends?

M. said...

I too lived in Madrid for 6 months and LOVED it. I know exactly what you mean. And I can relate to word for word, want for want, "I want to have restaurants and bookstores and amazing dance classes and culture right at my fingertips." Believe it or not I live in LA, and have just that. And the gorgeous weather to go with it. If you can put up with everyone trying to be a movie start or already thinking they are, its a pretty great place to be.

Dream Big.
M.

Dominick said...

Hey Kathy,

Definitely check out Boston. It's beautiful and historical. Of course, I hate the Red Sox, so I don't think I'd fit in real well in the city!

If I could live anywhere, with no limitations and no worries about the cost of living I'd either live on my own Greek Island, in Venice, or in New York City, Uptown Manhattan. I love the city even if it is one of the biggest in the world. I actually always feel really safe when I'm there. I used to explore the city, on my own, as a teenager and was never afraid.

Still, the solitude and beauty of Greece and the Mediterranean is pulling more at my heart strings than anywhere else!

Mishi said...

Boston is a nice place to live if you want city live but you don't want to be overwhelmed. It's a city - but it's small, and not too hectic.

Ginger said...

Seeing as how I've picked up and moved away from family and friends 3 times, I think yeah, it can be a good thing. But it has to be something that you really want, not just something to do "just cuz".

Leaving my family in particular, while hard, was the best thing I've ever done to cultivate who I am and what I believe. I tell everyone that they should spend some part of their life...away. And what better time than in your twenties, before you're tied to a place by mortgages and babies and such?

VioletSky said...

I've moved away from family and friends and, while it is wonderful to explore the new love of your life (i.e. home) and fantasize about your family and friends visiting, my reality was that they never did visit and I needed lots of money to go back to see them.

Having said that, I absolutly loved New Zealand...now if only it weren't such a far away island (or two islands in truth).

Rebecca said...

Go live in New York if that's what you want to do. A lot of people just live there a year or two. That's okay, you're young!

Then check out Madison, WI. A lot of New Yorkers move here because it's a lot cheaper, but a fabulous city. It's consistently listed at the top of all the best places to live lists. And I could help you make new friends! ;)

It's worth it because you'll make new friends and keep old friends. You're young enough to do this kind of thing so do it now!

JenX67 said...

Sassy Kathy - when *I* was 23 I was getting married. I wanted desperately to backpack across Europe, but I must not have wanted it bad enough, b/c it never came to pass. Now, at 41, that wanderlust, that zeal, that energy has shifted. Now, it is focused on my children - their dance classes, their Sunday School, loving them, teaching them to garden. I have no desire to backpack across Europe. I'm not even sure I'd go on a luxury liner. This is how it goes. All the people I was afraid of leaving at 23 ARE STILL HERE WITH ME NOW. All your loved ones will be here when you get back from Boston, Seattle, New York, wherever. But, these places may not be there for you in 20 years, like backpacking across Europe is not here for me now - and I am not here for it. Make sense? And, if the people aren't here when you return, they were going to leave anyway, in the manners in which people most often leave - death, divorce, disengagement. Good luck with your decision. You have so much energy. I'm sure it will carry you well. Oh, and as far as where I'd live - where all my children live - so right here in OKC.

Eva Lyford said...

Take a chance and live away from home. The experience is worth it, and you can move back later on a more fulfilled person. I'm surprised about your take on Madrid though; I was robbed there, and ever since have despised the city. But I do still love Barcelona.

Anya said...

Being in DC, I love it and think there is tons to do (food, culture, just and hour out of town to the Appalachians, couple hours to the beach). I've never had any problems with crime, but my friends say I'm pretty oblivious to negative things so I'm not a good judge. I also have a sister in NYC, and she says all the same things.

As for leaving family and friends, I moved away (NY, CO, CA) and then moved back 2 years ago. And guess what, I visit them less now that I'm closer b/c I can always put it off until next weekend. When I lived farther away, I set aside dedicated time to visit/talk with them and they'd get my undivided attention.

The programmer and I are also discussing a move b/c we're tired of the cold, never visit family anyway (which was why we had moved back to DC, the programmer wanted to be closer to his sister and brother--who have since moved far away, lol), and we can now live anywhere we want as long as we can get an internet connection.

So I say move. Move several times in fact...but I just might be weird like that *grin*.

distracted by shiny objects said...

I agree with JENX67 on this one--move to NYC and try it out. If you don't like it, move back. You're 23 with no kids, enjoy the freedom you have to move around without disrupting an entire family while you can. And, bad things can happen anywhere. Be smart, lock your doors and be aware of your surroundings. That goes for NYC, Oklahoma City, cities in the midwest, and apparently Madrid. Make decisions out of joy, not fear.

citysage said...

This is a really tough question and I think there is no single answer. I left Canada to go to college in California, and was terribly homesick. But I think it had a lot to do with having a boyfriend back in Canada (mistake!). Then, when I went back a couple years later, I was free as a bird and had an awesome time. So I think it's the mindset that you go into a situation with, as much as it is the place...

If I could live anywhere? The French Riviera, hands down. Nice, Cannes, Monaco. I'd open a little shop full of gorgeous treasures, and spend every afternoon on the beach.

GEMMERZZ said...

as some of the other folks have said, i agree that this is a great time for you to go for it -- MOVE! i felt the same doubts when i quit my job to return to school full-time. but being young and "unattached", you have the opportunity to make a decision for you and JUST for you. this would be great for you!

to answer your question, i personally would move either to chicago or florida. i was born and raised in chicago so the idea of going home is very comforting. florida just has great weather that does wonders for my hair and skin. haha.

Stacey Snacks said...

There is good and bad with every city.
Personally, I would move to Paris, but my French stinks. It's the most beautiful city.

DC is so nice and small, like you like, however, you would grow tired of the smallness.
NYC is so close to home and has so much to offer. If you can afford it, that is my choice for you (been there, done that).
You're not moving to Madrid, so forget about it. I won't let you.

Mad Asthmatic said...

I want to live where I am now. I was away from family for 12 years before returning to the same area they all live. Follow your dreams, Boston is fab, only been there for a holiday but loved it.
MA

stef said...

i'd say, of all of the places that i know and have visited personally, i'd either go with sydney, australia, or glasgow (where i am currently). as glasgow is closer to home, and doesn't require crossing the international date line, i think it's probably the winner.

of places i've never been to, though, i'd say either reykjavik, iceland, or somewhere in france. both cultures stand out to me as being quite unique.

as far as the states, funny you should mention, because i always said that if i could choose anywhere on the west coast, i'd choose seattle, and on the east coast, boston. both are amazing (albeit expensive) cities. even more coincidental that once i move back to cincinnati, i may keep on moving west to portland with some friends of mine that are planning on moving in the spring.

definitely go for it. i've had so many opportunities to move out of my hometown, and i wish i would have at the young age of 23. i would miss my family and friends a lot, however, if i knew then what i know now....

ang said...

I would live anywhere in the countryside of Texas.

Yes, your environment can contribute to your happiness. Go try out NYC; it's not the end of the world if you end up not liking it and it beats the heck out always wondering.

Darryle said...

OMG Kathy--you chose a subject near and dear that I've planned to write about on my own blog--from the other end of life.
I have lived across the country from my entire family for 30 years. For all that time, up until one week ago, I would have advised you to ABSOLUTELY LIVE AS CLOSE AS POSSIBLE TO YOUR FAMILY--but now after spending a week with my own family, all on the east coast, I would recommend Monterey, California.
PS. I love your blog. If you do come to Monterey, I want to adopt you.

the sassy kathy said...

so many options! and all good ones at that. thank you all for these thoughts on moving and taking a chance!

(though i will say, mama is frantic that you are all convincing me to move far far away from her :) )

Lisa Paul said...

San Francisco is the most European City in the US. Plus, it's less than an hour from rural America (albeit rural America that grows heirloom vegetables, gourmet goat cheese and world class wines.)

Of course, I'm insanely biased dividing my time between SF and Sonoma.

(Did I mention that the economy is still fairly good around here?)

Jody Whitesides said...

One really good thing to do is to pick several places you'd like to live and spend a week exploring the area. That will start to give you a feel for it.

At one time I thought it might be fun to live in Phoenix, until I spent a week there in August (the height of heat) and realized it was too darn hot for me.

Always pick a time of year to go when their weather isn't the greatest. That will give you an idea of what you'll like and dislike in a hurry.

Johnny Truant said...

Kathy... I hear you on the claustrophobia. That's exactly how I would describe how I've felt each winter recently, and especially this one. I live near Cleveland, Ohio, and it's overcast for 9 months. This winter is very cold and snowy here. And it's just started.

Add the short days and I feel like I'm in a box.

This year or next, we're moving to the Charlotte NC area. I can't wait. The days will still get short in the winter, but I can say goodbye to the overcast and the very cold.

I once spent a night on a bench outside a hotel in Madrid. It was not cool, but at least we didn't get mugged as we thought we would.

The best in Spain? Barcelona hands down!

Zoe said...

Kathy, it is absolutely worth it. I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand over a year ago. I have an incredible group of friends and lovely family back in the States, but I needed to go abroad. They still mean as much as ever to me, but I've nurtured new loves over here.

Give it a try, at least :).

Spain? Thailand?

Sheila said...

At some point in my life I'd like to experience life in several different cities. A year in New York, a year in Paris, a year in Italy...

kari said...

My recommendation (as if you need another one) is to do it, mostly because you'll regret it if you don't. I would start with NYC because it's close to home and therefore an easier transition -- and really a lovely city to live in. It's not always easy, and some days you'll hate it, but then there's the next day, when your foot hits the sidewalk and you look up again and say to yourself, "I live in New York City." And then you'll know you can survive anywhere.

Grace said...

Congrats on being the new person on the Blogging Block from Chuck's site!

Where would I live? Exactly where I do, a small town in the southwest. Advantages: I can walk everywhere. I have high speed internet. Four seasons. Friendly neighbors. Good friends. Quiet time with nature. I go to the city for art museums and fly to far away places. But THIS is home! G.

mimi charmante said...

Seattle is lovely - we really like it. there are a lot of fabulous neighborhoods that you could live where you could walk to everything, and it does indeed have a quaint feel to it. it is also really healthy, but much more laid back than nyc - which also has a great vibe by the way. portland is also wonderful~ maybe you need a trip to the west coast...
i would live in london as i love it and can't get there enough. i love the way of life, and although i don't know if i would want to stay forever, a good five years would be excellent!
have a great new year,
xo