Editorial

Is It Time To Move Back To New York?

In the summer of 2016, I wrote a piece pondering the question of whether it was time to leave New York City after twenty two years there. In the years I’ve been doing this blog, it was easily one of the hardest posts to write.

The post came at a time when work prospects had dwindled, threatening my ability to merely pay rent. I had hit a wall and I was sick of the struggle in an increasingly expensive city and really stressed, as I detailed in the original post. I was also blowing that tired horn that old time New Yorkers blow about how much New York had changed from the city they moved to.

At the same time, I was facing a personal struggle that I didn’t include in my essay. My 80 year old mother had become very ill with heart and respiratory problems, beginning what would become a three month stay in the hospital, including four stretches in the intensive care unit. My siblings and I weren’t sure if she was going to make it. As the youngest of five, and the only one without a spouse or children (or a job at the time), coming back home to Cleveland was the right thing to do.

Cutting to the chase with mom, she rallied and she’s doing alright today, living on her own again. But for my first year in town, I lived with her in her house in the suburbs, doing what I could to help her recover from a harrowing time. I was a grocery shopper, a driver to doctors’ appointments, a medication dispensary, a dining companion and anything else I could be as she gradually regained her strength. It was a privilege and an invaluable experience to be able to show up for my mother like this.

During that first year at mom’s house, I also managed to hustle up enough work to enable me to move into my own apartment when mom was ready to be on her own. And so began what I’ve come to call the Cleveland Experiment.

In the fall of 2017, I had the good fortune of finding and moving into the nicest apartment I’ve ever had in the nicest building I’ve ever lived in. In Cleveland terms, this brand new, 1,000 sq ft, one-bedroom loft in a converted warehouse in Downtown Cleveland sits on the “luxury” spectrum, but for a New Yorker, it’s a bargain at $1,450/month. (And did I mention I have a washer and dryer in my unit?)

All told, the Cleveland Experiment has had ups and downs. A consistent silver lining throughout has been my living situation. When I’ve shared photos online, friends from New York have virtually salivated over what I’ve got. A great apartment is a crowning achievement of New York living, and my current situation in a New York context would make heads explode. It’s a stunning repurposing of a century-old warehouse complex that includes an exquisitely landscaped courtyard with fire pits and grills, a dog courtyard, a huge “living room” lounge with work tables and a bar, dry cleaning service and a roof deck. Many units have patios and balconies. To top it off, the building management should win an award for its attentiveness and proficiency. If my building and all its amenities were transplanted to Chelsea or Brooklyn, the rent for my suite would easily be north of $5,000/month.

It’s a great apartment. An amazing apartment, actually. And in an absolutely fabulous building. But there is more to life than a fabulous apartment.

In spite of my glorious living situation, other aspects of my Cleveland Experiment have me missing New York very much. This is not to say that Cleveland isn’t a great town to live in. It is. But as time goes on, against the backdrop of my own life experience, I find myself hitting walls – professionally, socially, geographically.

Professionally, I haven’t really found a groove in Cleveland. I’m a creative in the shape of an actor, a writer and a creative consultant of sorts. There is work, but it isn’t very lucrative. As a one-man band, I don’t want ten clients, which is what I’d need to do if I really wanted to fly here. I want two or three really good ones. The money people are willing to spend, whether it’s for social media, content creation, magazine writing or new media (all of which I’ve done here), really adds up to “survive” money as opposed to “thrive” money. I’ve written before that Cleveland is cheap. It is. But for a creative, it can be cheap in more ways than one.

As an actor, I’ve had more work here in the last two years than I had in the last five in New York, especially with voiceovers. It’s been nice to get back into that game. But the fees for the work in this market are very low. In the two years since I signed with my agent, I’ve seen maybe two or three jobs that pay a fee with an actual comma in it. And after the agency takes its 20%, it’s even less exciting.

In the last two years, I worked briefly as a contributing writer and editor of a local magazine, also often taking the accompanying photographs. In that time, I was also the proud co-host of the first podcast produced by WCPN, Cleveland’s NPR station. It was about Downtown Cleveland. In addition to co-hosting with the amazing Amy Eddings, I designed the show’s logo and branding, co-wrote copy, authored one of the episode companion essays, took photos, launched and managed the show’s social media. Between the two of us, Amy and I worked our asses off and created a great show with really engaging conversations.

Just for fun, I also work a few nights each week as a manager in a popular restaurant up the street, which is a low-commitment job that offers engagement with polite society and an opportunity to practice jokes and social skills. It’s not a huge check, but I don’t expect it to be. I basically do it to get out of the house.

This is not to say I haven’t enjoyed the work I’ve done here. I have. Even the restaurant gig puts me in front of some interesting characters, which can be fun. And I’ve made some nice connections with some truly fantastic people. But the problem is that none of these connections and experiences seem to lead to a sustaining paycheck for a guy with my skill set. The compensation is more commensurate with a hobby, a side hustle or a supplement to something else that actually pays the rent and the health insurance premium.

I wrote a piece last year suggesting that Cleveland is a very affordable and wide open option for freelancers who aren’t tethered to a specific geography. As a creative freelancer, this has been my experience. But my highest ticket clients whose retainers pay my bills are based in New York and elsewhere, not here. When I have a meeting with a prospective Cleveland-based client, I go in with very careful expectations about the ratio of the budget and the scope of work.

Along with the professional and financial, there are some social issues for me. To be clear: Cleveland is a great city with a lot going for it. And its renaissance/rebirth is a great boon for a town that’s had some real challenges. But Cleveland is a place best enjoyed by heterosexual sports fanatics who eat meat, love drinking, live in athletic casuals, drive a car (the bigger, the better) and work in banking, commercial real estate, healthcare, insurance, law or some form of sales. Unfortunately, I’m none of those things and I’ve had, to be honest, a really hard time fitting in and finding a groove here, especially as a sober man in a town with a lot of people who drink like it’s a job. I’ve met some wonderful people, and I adore my neighbors. But in terms of a best friend or a buddy, it’s been a lonely haul.

As most people know, I don’t have a car. Unfortunately for me, Cleveland and its surrounding areas are built for sprawl, all best accessed by an automobile. Without one, even with Uber and Lyft, it can be hard to enjoy all of the great things about Cleveland. Public transit funding and infrastructure in Cleveland is pretty dismal, producing a questionably reliable system that might (or might not) take you where you need to go. For the basics, like grocery or pharmacy, it’s all pretty doable in Downtown Cleveland, even though there is no proper bicycling infrastructure to speak of, downtown or anywhere else in the city, for that matter. But in a downtown that stumbles with the language of “walkable, workable, livable city,” I still need to borrow a car to do several things like taking my dogs to the vet because there isn’t one nearby. In general, you can’t really “wander” here and stumble into something without a car. There are some nice local features, but without a car, one’s access to Cleveland’s disconnected pockets of wonderful is limited. This is a car-dependent town. Based on the evidence and the lack of any real observable action suggesting otherwise, it probably always will be.

And about that sprawl… I grew up in suburbia, and I lived in suburbia for my first year back in town. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the suburbs, and a lot of people seem to really like them. But here’s my problem: I hate suburbs. If I never had to step foot in one again, I’d be totally fine. And the Cleveland experience is all about the suburbs and single-family homes and lawns and the need to get into a car for absolutely everything from going out to dinner to getting a tube of toothpaste. That’s just not a value system or model of living that works for me. My family, a lot of old friends and some fabulous people are out in the suburbs, and it’s always nice to be invited to this and that, but there is absolutely nothing new anyone can try to sell me about suburban life. I want nothing to do with it.

I love city living. I love being within walking distance from any cuisine, from Central Park, from a movie theater, from a pharmacy, from an intimate café… I love being able to take my dogs for their last walk at 11:00pm, bump into a neighbor, share some local gossip and duck into the neighborhood pizzeria for a slice or the corner bodega for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. That doesn’t happen in Cleveland, where most people are in a car, where everything except a bar or a nightclub seems to close at 9:30, where “vibrancy” is equated with partying like it’s 1999. When I take the dogs out here at 11:00pm, I feel like Will Smith in I Am Legend. In the interest of a positive and thriving city experience for a guy who likes density and doesn’t do car or suburbs, I’m not feeling it.

Again, I think Cleveland is a great town doing some amazing things as it works to reinvent itself. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a nice quality of life and a good bang for the buck in a small/medium size suburban town to give Cleveland a look. And God help a non-Clevelander or anyone who’s never been here who tries to badmouth it in front of me. But after three years, going all-in with the total experience, I’m feeling like I’m in a relationship that just isn’t working. It’s a relationship with which I’ve really tried hard. So, no, Cleveland, it’s not you. It’s me. I’m a city boy at heart, and I miss it terribly.

As I re-read my original posts about leaving New York from three years ago, I’ve had to ask myself some hard questions about what would be different if I went back. I can’t just do the same thing or have the same outlook and expect a different result. I still stand by the words I wrote then, but I’m sitting here with three years in Cleveland after twenty-two years in Manhattan, which has inevitably created a different lens and a considerable shift in my perspective. Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until we lose it.

Yes, New York is crowded. But I miss that density where you can hear five different languages in the span of a city block. Yes, New York is dirty and messy. But it always has been (it’s kinda in the brochure). Yes, New York changes. But it always has and always will, which is part of what makes it work. Yes, New York and its residents have an attitude. But so do I (even though the myth that New Yorkers aren’t nice is just that: a myth). Yes, New York is fast-paced. But I’m decisive and impatient. Yes, New Yorkers say the F-word a lot. But “fuck” is one of my favorites.

During my last weeks in the city before I moved back to Cleveland, I was out with my cousin at a television premiere. We were all dressed up and starving, opting to leave the party and head to Veselka in the East Village for some quality late night delicatessen. When we got there, we were joined by the show’s director and some old industry people I hadn’t seen in ages, laughing and sharing stories about new projects, insider dish and whatnot. It was like a scene in a Woody Allen movie. I shared a cab home with an old friend who was with us. In the cab, before I dropped her off, we talked about hanging out more and possibly working together. (She didn’t know I was thinking of leaving New York, and I didn’t have the gumption to bring it up at the time.)

So many amazing things that happened for me in New York were sparked from nights like that. Acting gigs, other work opportunities, friendships… It’s a city about connections, opportunities and relationships. And only in a city with a density like that, where you can be walking with a friend and run into another friend and get invited to something that could change your night or even your life, can that happen. Yes, one needs the skills and the wherewithal to pull off the opportunities that came from those situations. But the keys are the opportunities, and New York is loaded with them if you know what to do.

After I dropped my friend off on her street, the cab continued up Tenth Avenue to my apartment. On that ride, looking out the window at the city passing by, I felt unbearably sad, knowing that that kind of night – the most recent of many – would never happen in Cleveland. But at the time, I had to go.

Surveying the terrain beneath the gorgeous Terminal Tower, the crown jewel of the Cleveland skyline.

I love Cleveland. I really do. But my time growing up here, until I went away to college at 18, was time I associate with my father, who died during my freshman year. Since then, my visits had been Christmases, a week or so in the summer, the occasional wedding and several funerals, the hardest of which was the burial of my beloved stepfather, Bob Scott, in 2015. Cleveland often feels like an emotional cemetery for me, full of emotional landmines that blow up unexpectedly. Just the other day, I started to cry as I walked past my dad’s old office in the Hanna Building in Downtown Cleveland, remembering the days he used to bring me to work with him when I was little. That kind of thing happens more than I’d like to admit.

I’ve also mourned my mom’s decline. Even though she made a miraculous recovery from the health scare that propelled me back here, she’s “getting up there,” as we say, and is declining in other ways. It’s hard. But she’s doing alright, all things considered. As for help from her children, my two brothers and their wives live within a mile of her house, and my oldest sister and her husband are just a few miles further. (I, the one who lives downtown, am actually the furthest away.)

So here I am, missing New York and wanting to go back. Overall, my Cleveland Experiment has been totally fine, truly. I just miss the city. This places a great deal of work in front of me and a lot of feelers to put out. If I had an opportunity that enabled me to trade my beautiful 1,000 sq ft converted warehouse apartment in Downtown Cleveland for a 500 sq ft studio in my old neighborhood in Hell’s Kitchen, I’d start packing tomorrow. For the moment, my job is to find or create such an opportunity. And I will. An upbringing in Cleveland and two and a half decades in New York taught me how.

Stay tuned.

34 Comments

  1. Richard and I were talking about your essay this morning, and, as always, we found ourselves nodding in agreement about so much of it.

    Let’s face it: We’re part of culture who mostly moves toward the work, not away from it. And while great exceptions like needing to look after family in need exist, you have to be able to harmonize with the soil in which you plant yourself.

    And we all have to check whether there’s “somewhere else” we might be able to thrive. Hell—given the tenor of our national political dialogue (and wondering how the hell we can grow old in this dumb “bootstraps” mentality), our discussions usually land us somewhere well outside the States. I am usually wont to say there’s nowhere outside of Gotham where we could function in the U.S., and it still holds true.

    We’ve been the privileged audience for your experiment, dear George, and the resulting testimony has jibed quite well with your overall ethos for self-sufficiency, editing one’s life to invite ease, and re-thinking how we do just about everything in pursuit of that QOL. So no loss for you whatsoever; no doubt you’ve grown to know yourself that much better.

    Gotham, as always, opens its chiseled and tattooed arms wide to you, George. It may kick your ass some days, but it will still hold open a little space for you and applaud you when you win. C’mon back—the (filtered) water’s just fine! Xoxo

      • Et moi aussi, je t’adore, cher George!

        People don’t realize that New York is as much a village as it is a teaming metropolis. We form our tribes—within our own neighborhoods, or otherwise; and no matter how they’re comprised, they’re loyal and there when you need ‘em. When you go missing, for any length of time, your neighbors notice—and they ask whomever might know something. Or if you feel crappy and just need to be around anyone with an open ear, you can have that, 24-7. Hell—if it really gets bad, the corner diner always has a light burning, and the manager throws in a rice pudding—even if it’s only his fax machine I need at 4 a.m. In how many places can you say that’s true?

        I once had need of a plunger I didn’t own at 4 a.m. Guy who owned the corner bodega handed his over the counter, said he’d help if I needed it. “Solve problem, then go to bed. Keep plunger—every girl needs one! You got mop?” He was right; and he was as kind as they come.

        It’s an absurd place, and it’s not for everyone, but in few other places in the world can you both delight in being incognito—or resolve that lonely feeling, in just about the same amount of time.

        It’s brassy, loud and opinionated as hell, but it’s home. Like Grace Jones, I can be anywhere in the world, but coming home, I’m pleased to be breathing bagels and pollution.

        I got plunger when you need one. Xo

  2. Sabine Anton Reply

    Oh boy, I just moved back to Berlin/Germany after 23 years in NY. I moved for the same reasons you pointed out for yourself. But Berlin is a VILLAGE in comparison. I‘ll give myself three years. And it better gets better every year. If not? I am moving back to NYC.

  3. Sabine Anton Reply

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  4. I get it. I could so be a New York city person, if I were in the professional fields I’d love to be in (acting,writing,music). But born and bred as a country girl, I also need my space, and green stuff, lots of green stuff. I get homesick for green stuff when I’m in LA or Arizona or somewhere else not green. I need to see fields and horses and cows and trees, but I also need people, because the fields and horses and cows and trees don’t always get my jokes.

    But for you, this is a hard call. It’s only your mother keeping you there, and she could be around for a year or ten, nobody knows. It may be time to move her into a transitional place, where there will be care available if she needs it. Been there done that and it’s tough no matter how you slice it. Talk to your mom and see what she thinks. I’m sure she only wants what’s best for you.

    And as for crying when you passed by your dad’s office, I guess it’s time to face your past and deal with the emotions shoved deep down inside you. Says the girl who’s never visited her dad’s grave (he passed when I was 16), and hates setting foot in the church we had his funeral in, even if it is the “family” church. I can’t practice what I preach and fully admit it. Woo-hoo for emotion suppression! 😉

  5. anthonyjohn350gmailcom Reply

    It’s admirable what ultimately brought you back to Cleveland, helping your family. I’m happy to hear your mom made a miraculous recovery and your time there in Cleveland can be contemplated in a way that will spur your next venture. It’s definitely a lot to consider and you’re right – it’s like a relationship you’ve given a shot and something needs to be addressed. I can’t wait to see what your next move is, George. I chuckled when I read you felt “like Will Smith in I Am Legend” – I can relate with living in small towns where walking my dog feels like I’m the only person alive. I, too, prefer the city life and wish you all the best!

  6. Michael Snook Reply

    I wish you well in whatever you decide to do today, tomorrow, the next day or the next year.

  7. I worked in downtown Cleveland for a few years, but left in 1986 and eventually wound up in Chicago. New York City is what it is, but Chicago is cleaner, the people are friendlier and much of what you are looking for exists there. Lincoln Park, Albany Park, Belmont area might be something to look into. Not as expensive to live there as NYC, but still loaded with opportunity and the means to live well. Good luck with your decision!

  8. A very well written piece with elegant points to both sides. I appreciate your courage to share this deeply personal inner dialogue with the world. Of course you should go with your heart and with your gut. It has been my experience that when the time comes where a decision needs to be made, the right choice is usually obvious. And the only “wrong” decision is one that is based in fear.

    As a fellow Clevelander, I can relate to so much of what you said. I have left (and returned to) Cleveland twice, once for the east coast and once for the west coast, both times swearing I would never return. I too feel ‘haunted’ by the emotional geography of this city and growing up here. This last time I moved back (fall 2016 same as you!) I chose to move to the west side, specifically to avoid the emotional spiderwebs of people and places I remember from my youth and young adulthood in the east side burbs. As a result I ended up with a semi-ridiculous cross-town commute which I curse every day (and think of you! Haha). Setting up a life for myself in Cleveland (i.e. the greater Cleveland area) means certain sacrifices, just because of how the city is laid out and some of the cultural history behind that geography. There are so many awesome things to do in Cleveland, but living without a car makes it hard to experience the full range of these things. Far and away my biggest complaint about Cleveland is the lack of effective public transit (side note: what’s up with that? I have thoughts). When I first read your blog post about “the war on cars” I practically jumped out of my seat and screamed “Yes!! Yess!!”. I admire your steadfastness in this arena and I admit that it’s awfully tough to really thrive here without your own set of wheels. I can see where this would make life here ultimately unsustainable.

    All of this being said, I would be sad to see you go. Just being honest. Cleveland has long suffered from “brain drain” where many of the smartest, most creative and most ambitious locals move away in search of opportunities that just don’t exist here. I can relate to some of the loneliness you expressed in your post, and feeling like your “people” are fewer and farther between here than in other places. Having moved twice in sobriety, I can also relate to that particular challenge. You are not alone. I know the importance of feeling connected to your community, and that that can make or break a place. I remember standing awestruck on the shore of the Oregon Coast, one of the most beautiful places on earth, surprised to catch myself thinking “this doesn’t belong to me, I miss Lake Erie”. In any case, I wish you luck with whatever adventure life takes you on. Listening to The Downtowner and reading your blog over these last three years has made my own transition back to Cleveland markedly more enjoyable 🙂

    XOXO Claudia

  9. The big question, I imagine, is “Can I make the numbers work?” I came to NYC in 1984 with $500, an offer to sleep on a friend’s couch for a few weeks, and a dream – I really don’t think that’s possible for anyone today. but… Good Luck!

  10. George, George, George….so much in your blog. As one who reads about urban density, it seems that Cleveland does not yet have it, or at least what you need. One quick thought, as someone from Kansas City who moved to Honduras, then back to the US and NYC and then to Boston and then to St. Louis and Los Angeles and now Dallas since forever, there is no geographic cure to be had. Look at some of the areas that are achieving that density you desire. But is the work that you desire there. Come to Dallas and see what we have to offer. Stay with us who work in the arts and creativity. Love to have you. Happy, joyous and free.www.inthenewsreport.com

  11. Maybe a different Midwest city would be a more workable solution? Minneapolis is gay-friendly, has a decent (but not amazing) public transit system (mostly buses, but with a couple light rail lines as well), and has a fair amount of bike infrastructure. It’s got great restaurants (though admittedly pretty meat-heavy), a world-class symphony orchestra, and an active local arts and music scene. I don’t know how it is as far as job prospects for creative types, but it is really a wonderful place to live. I left over 5 years ago for a job and I still miss it (even the winters!).

  12. Struck a cord with us.Lived in nyc for 35 years till garment industry jobs disappeared and mom got ill. 2009 economy, Oy. We find ourselves back in my home town of St. Paul, MM. Now my husband, who used to design menswear, sells suits at Von Maur. Now that he dresses in suit & tie every day, I am finding your posts very interesting. Love your taste in everything. Wish you all the best getting back to nyc.

  13. George Hahn,
    I wholeheartedly hear you!! It’s been 7 years since I moved from NYC back to my hometown of Cleveland (to the stultifying suburbs), and I still sorely miss New York, especially its walkability that encourages fluid make-it-up-as-you-go days or nights. Getting in a car, programming the GPS to reach one of those wonderful “disconnected pockets,” and seeking a parking spot dampens my soul too. Sigh. Your honesty made for a compelling read. Good luck to you!
    Hope you find that sense of home again.
    –Larissa K.

  14. Tim Joe Comstock Reply

    I actually quit reading your blog when you left NYC. Sorta. Ok, I skimmed. We cannot choose where we are born and raised, but we certainly can seek and find a place that is Home and where one’s heart says “Stop. We’re here.”

    You paid some admirable dues, lad. Now get your ass back where it belongs.

    yer ol’ pal

    tj

  15. Shawn Tolivar Reply

    George, love your work, have you considered a Patreon account? I know many content creators are going to that as a way to earn a living or pay the bills, IE. Contrapoints, WaronCars, etc.. I would love to contribute to your site and podcast!

    • Thank you, Shawn. And YES, I’m actually working on putting together materials for Patreon so I sound intelligent and somewhat worthwhile.

  16. The population of northeast Ohio is, overall, declining, we lack the blue collar jobs to support our existing population let alone greater density, and our state legislature continually hampers funding for infrastructure and public transport. To complain about lack of street life at all hours, lack of midnight bodegas, the need for a car, etc totally disregards the deeper underlying issues therein. These are surface level complaints that are, at best, naive. There are countless wonderful people in Cleveland that are actively being part of the solution so I’m sorry you didn’t find them and take part in that change.

  17. You’ll never find NYC in Cleveland. Each place has its own charm. That being said though, it seems you, not the cities in which you live, need to bend your will: you may need to take on more steady work in a different field to live in NY; live outside Manhattan; shop more frugally (MTM suits are NOT the norm for average well dressed men), etc. Or, stay in Cleveland, and invest more in finding/ creating the community you want. We can never have it all. It’s wise to learn that we, not the people or situations around us, often have to change the most to make things work. Move back to NYC where you seem happier; live outside Manhattan; get a job that pays your bills, and thank God that your First World problems leave better off than most people who live on this planet. Chin up, kid. You’re in a fine place!

  18. Patrica Schneider Reply

    NY is an insanely expensive city (duh). If you still have a passion for it, then perhaps you might think about taking a job that might not be anywhere near your dream role, and suck it up in exchange for stability (that’ll pay the exorbitant rent, etc.) and the opportunity to live adequately-or better. Most of us do that if we chose to make this amazing town our home. I’ve got an awesome rent stabilized studio that I’ll never give up but even I struggle financially here and there…I work in a full time job with benefits, and pursue my creative passions outside of “working” hours. It can and has been done. It’s the price one pays if you don’t want to live in a crappy, miniscule apartment with roommates when you’re past 30. Or (depressingly) 40.
    Oh and-btw, Veselka isn’t a “delicatessen”. It’s an Eastern-European joint (Polish). As a second generation native New Yorker, I can tell you that delicatessen refers to pastram/corned beef and the like-Katz’s is considered “delicatessen”. As is the (no longer on 2nd Ave.) Second Ave. deli. Just sayin’…
    Good luck in Cleveland or, if you return, in NY!

  19. James Slate Reply

    May I suggest you look at an up and coming city closer to New York than Cleveland? I moved to Albany from Brooklyn a few years ago and couldn’t be happier. Yes, it’s small (850,000 people in the region compared to 8 million) but it has just enough for me. The rent is amazingly cheap. You can choose from brand new downtown apartments or beautiful brownstones on the park for $1500. There are restaurants within walking distance and more to come. The downtown area is undergoing a resurgence with 300 new apartments being build right now. It’s the state capitol with really nice architecture and a rich history. There’s a vibe and it’s growing. In the summer, you’re an hour away from the Adirondacks with mountains and lakes. And the best part, it’s a 5 minute Uber to the train station and for $40 you can be in Manhattan in 2 hours.

  20. David Maderich Reply

    You should try my hometown of Minneapolis – it’s nicknamed the Mini Apple – tons of theatre, thriving art scene, full lightrail and bus public transportation, citibikes and scooters with bike lanes, some of the top advertising agencies and city is dotted with lakes and greenery. It’s a good middle ground between Cleveland and NYC – and NYC has gotten even more expensive since you left.

  21. Look out NY, he’s coming back. You better make room for him, culturally, commercially and emotionally. His talent is boundless and his resolve is endemic to the NY experience. Welcome home George, we’ll keep a light on for you. N & J

  22. Your Therapist Reply

    Is the most lasting impact you can have on your future to change where you live? I honestly don’t believe it is.

    Focus on your career. Pick a new one. For example some of the happiest people I have met are male RNs. Good money, job security, and you can basically live anywhere you want to.

    You’re whip-smart, hard-working, and people like you. Leverage these assets and stop settling for crumbs from the table of life.

  23. I was sick of NYC for all the same reasons you were and I moved to rural Japan for three years. I felt very much the way you describe, and so I moved back 8 years ago. Every single day I’ve been glad to be back. When I hear people complain about the city I just smile now, and stay quiet. I know what it’s like to be away. I never regretted leaving, but I’m glad I came back.

  24. A friend reminded me of a transit ad here that made the rounds a few years ago. I’ll paraphrase: “If ‘Netflix and chill’ is how you prefer your evenings, why the hell do you bother living in New York?”

    I get all the well-meaning advice to move to outer wherever—or to become an RN because it promises an exotic life wherever you choose (and anyone who knows you would never suggest such a thing). People mean well, but don’t know you’re not content with a consolation prize.

    Unless you can feel that every day you walk out is an adventure, that you know you never have to wait for something to come to town to be entertained, and that you can have a village of your own choosing comprised of delightfully mismatched souls who don’t need to always see eye to eye—but who all confirm they couldn’t live anywhere else—no third (fourth, fifth..) tier city is going to do it.

    Yes—you can go home. But be prepared to find you’ve outgrown it.

    Godspeed, dear George.

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