Editorial

So Long, New York

It’s official. The answer to the question “Is It Time To Leave New York?” is Yes, at least for me. I signed an early termination form, giving my landlord 60 days’ notice for ending my lease early. By the end of November, I will no longer be a New Yorker. After 22 years, it’s a lot to think about.

The simplest explanation for my departure is money, or, more accurately, the lack of it. New York has always been about status and been more expensive than any other U.S. city, but the end of rent regulations, the drastic reduction of crime and other enabling factors have opened the floodgates and made things profoundly different now. Manhattan, and now its outer boroughs, has become a free-for-all for the very rich. New studio apartments in my neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen go for $3,000/month. A brand new building on my block offers studios for $4,000/month. And the new development at the Hudson Rail Yard? Fuhgeddaboudit. It’s greed on the grandest of scales in the form of real estate rape, without the courtesy of a reach-around (which is available for an extra fee, though).

Coupled with skyrocketing housing costs is a shift in work. For the past 13 years, I’ve been a designer, art director and content creator of sorts, providing an extremely detailed and very personalized service that was intricately custom-tailored to each project, like a bespoke suit. Nowadays, people want a Mercedes-Benz – or something that looks like one from a distance – for the price of a bicycle. It’s a fast-fashion world, and from the smaller boutique outfits to the major media players, people want it cheaper and cheaper every year. That doesn’t really jibe with the cost of living in Dubai on the Hudson.

Another thing I’ve noticed is a rapid rise in the sheer mass of people. This town has always been crowded, but ask anyone who’s lived here for a long time and they’ll tell you the same thing: Who are all of these people and where are they coming from? (And where are they getting the money it takes to live here??) Within a three block radius of my apartment building, thousands of new apartment units have been built in the last six years, and more are under construction. The sheer mass of bodies on the sidewalks going to and from work and out and about on weekends is nuts. At the current rate of growth, one look at the 1/2/3 subway platform in Times Square at around 6pm leaves no question as to why an already-stressed mass transit system is headed for even more challenging times.

As the wonderful Emmy-hoarder Julia Louis-Dreyfus said on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast earlier this year, “New York is so expensive, so crowded… and full of very rich people.”

I will miss it, though. I got to do a lot of things and meet a lot of people that would not have been possible in any other city. I got to act on stage, television, and film because I lived here. I got to meet, dine with and get to know some of my idols because I lived here. I’ve been published and featured in magazines, photographed for a popular New York coffee table book, recorded for voice-overs and audiobooks. The sheer proximity to everybody else here enabled me to get connected to some of the most interesting, most exciting, and most hilarious people I’ve ever met. I got drunk here (a lot), fell down here (a lot), and ultimately got sober here. I fell in love here, a few times. One of those times was with a man who might have been the love of my life. And then he died. (I don’t talk about that much.) I’ve buried good friends here. Robert, George, Kevin, Merle, Norm, Austin, and others… And, of course, the best boss I’ve ever had: Joan. It’s been a wild ride. Everything I built here, I built it on my own name, which is also my father’s name. I’m proud of my life here.

New York is where I became a grown up. I learned who I wasn’t, I figured who I was, and I accepted and became that person. You can’t really bullshit here. People are too close together and we can smell it. Grandiosity and nonsense get snuffed out pretty quickly, and your smarter types have no tolerance for it.

You also learn to be efficient here. Deadlines are real, the pace is fast, and people want things yesterday. In order to survive, you have to be quick on your feet, graceful under pressure, and very decisive. There’s no time to linger and belabor. Go, go, go. This town moves like a 45 rpm record. When you step off a plane in another town, a New Yorker can immediately feel the speed move to 33 rpm. New York City is exhausting, but the rush can be exhilarating and intoxicating.

All that said, my decision to leave New York reminds me of my decision to stop drinking. When I hit my bottom, the time had come for me to acknowledge that alcohol was the problem. Drinking wasn’t working anymore. Over the past year, I’ve hit a different kind of bottom, but a very real one nonetheless. Ludicrous housing costs; plus trying to keep up with laughable pay; plus no money left at the end of every month after working until I’m half dead; plus drunk bridge and tunnel trash fighting, yelling, pissing and puking in front of my building; plus proximity to boast-worthy New York features like Broadway shows, good restaurants, shares on the island and other amenities that I can’t enjoy because I can’t afford them; plus continuous exasperation with all of the aforementioned and more equals “maybe New York is the problem.” Like I did with alcohol, I’m taking New York out of the equation and working on what remains.

On a bad day, I’m a mess about it. Earlier today, I had another one of the many breakdowns I’ve had since I made the decision to go. “What have I done?” “What’s going to happen?” “What do I do now?” As I mentioned earlier, I’ve built my entire adult life here, and so much of how I identify myself is tied to this place. It’s a bit of an existential crisis.

On a good day, I’m able to see things very differently. I often compare trying to survive in New York to pining for the affection of an indifferent lover who doesn’t care if I spend the night or go home. Because that is what New York is: an indifferent lover. She doesn’t care if you spend the night or go home. She will gladly take, but she won’t necessarily give back. Loyalty is one luxury that this luxury town seldom offers. I don’t matter here. I’m not essential. With exceptions, we’re all replaceable, certainly by younger legionnaires who are willing to do what we do for a lot less (though not necessarily better), which makes profit-hungry business owners and shareholders much happier. I certainly have an ego with a generous dose of vanity, but I also have the wherewithal to understand that when I leave, few people will care or even notice. New York will grind on, without a blip in her pulse.

The few people who will notice are the precious true friends I made on this Gotham journey – the kind of friends who stuck by my side even when I wasn’t useful to them, which is a rare bird in a town of opportunist climbers and takers. It’s a small group, but a group that is dear to me. I love them and I will miss them in ways immeasurable. Most of them come from my beloved tribe of sober folk who saved my life and selflessly taught me how to show up and to live one day at a time without a drink. They will be the hardest to leave.

What I won’t miss is the feeling of debilitating and demoralizing impotence in a city tricked out for people with superhuman spending powers. Since I don’t do hedge funds, daddy’s money, or luxury real estate or ride in the wagons that circle those camps, I’m going to try a different land where I can still do work I really enjoy, where I can actually have some money in the bank, where I can afford health insurance again, where I can avoid having a panic attack at the end of every month, where my dogs can sniff something other than heaps of garbage bags and sleeping homeless people, where I can walk and not get steamrolled by growing herds of blow-dried drones staring into their iPhones, where the real estate market hasn’t lost its goddamn mind, where the local government hasn’t completely fucked over the class of citizens that made the city interesting in favor of the dull rich who are surfing the shiny hollow wave of a city they’ve smothered.

In spite of all that, I conclude this schizophrenic missive with a very heavy heart. I love this insane town and the dear friends I leave in it. As one of those dear friends once said to me, “New York is a c#%t, but she’s my favorite c#%t.” I couldn’t agree more.

Once I’ve sold all my possessions except for my clothes, my bicycle and my dogs, I’m off to an exotic land called Cleveland. Wish me luck.

141 Comments

  1. Congratulations, George. I completely get it as you’ve pretty much summed up my experiences and feelings about Los Angeles. And I’m starting to eye Palm Springs.

    • Amen George…… And I am no religious fanatic.
      This also sums up London. It’s fast becoming a city devoured of character but highly clinical and boring….. And I am just describing the people. Art and architecture are not far behind!
      All the best in finding a new home.
      Keep up writing for the rest of us……

    • Steve Smith Reply

      Palm Springs is great! I recently left Chicago for similar reasons!

    • Mark Thorsen Reply

      As someone who has lived in both New York and California, I’m happy to now call Austin home. I highly recommend a visit. Great people, great music scene, affordable real estate, and no state income tax.

  2. Congrats to you, George. I know that was a very hard decision to make. I understand how you feel, and I was born, raised and went to school in New York, but like you, I feel that now at the age of fifty, it’s time to go. Very recently having a conversation with a friend among the many things that you’ve mentioned, which is a part of your decision to leave New York City has been come a disposable city. What I mean by this, what ever people don’t want they quickly get rid of it and that includes people. I believe that it’s time for me to leave this city, and I am thinking about Greece. I’ve met a wonderful Italian man, who has invited me, so we’ll see….
    Congrats to you again, and all the best to you.

  3. I guess its the end of an era, but one that had to end. Im looking forward to hearing more about your move and your new life. Incidentally, tomorrow just happens to be Rosh Hashana or the Jewish New Year. (A time for new beginnings) Whatever you do I hope you will be happy.

  4. Joseph Crangle Reply

    Gotham’s loss is Cleveland’s gain. You’ve got your creativity, talent, your canines and a dramatically lower cost of living. An exciting new chapter in the book of George. Wishing you wonderful adventures on the shores of Lake Erie.

  5. Can’t argue with any of those points George – best of success with the move. I am a native of Queens, but have been a country mouse for several decades… for so many of the reasons you cite. Enjoy the land of Cleve…

  6. Nicole OShea-Holohan Reply

    George, I’ll miss you..and the ability to hear your perspective on a City I love so much. It’s a shame I also see the same changes in her that you do. Cleveland is about to gain a whole lot of positive energy. Good luck!

  7. George, I enjoyed reading your post. It reminded me of myself 14 years ago. I have been in a similar situation to yourself, but mine was fueled by the fallout of 911. There was a voice inside me told me that I was done in NY, yet it was hard because my life was there and I grew up there from childhood. Long story short, it was the best move to make! I’m happily weaned off of the NYC pace and lifestyle, but it took time… We were there a few weeks ago visiting friends and family and I was amazed at how much has changed. I’ve settled down in Florida and have become content with NY being a great place to visit, but I don’t want to live there anymore. All the best to you on the new chapter in your life. Time for you to explore! Chris.

    • George Reply

      Thank you, Chris. 9/11 was, of course, my worst day in NYC. I recently went to the 9/11 Memorial. I had to duck out. I couldn’t get through it (though it was so beautifully and respectfully done).

  8. Thank you George for this great article….I too was a lifelong New Yorker until 2 years ago….I now have an affordable apartment not far from the beach with a balcony and washer and dryer…..and finally have a nice bank account, a job I love and a boyfriend…but I still can’t help loving New York. She sure messes with your head!

  9. Good Bye Mr Hahn, Manhattan is losing a good one in you.

    Even though I don’t know you I feel sad.

    More and more original and genuine folks are being driven out.

    I work in Real Estate and it is sad to see what has happened here in NYC.

    To think a walk up 500 sf 1bed in your neighborhood is around 2500 is nuts but the truth.

    Manhattan has really lost most of its flavour, every area has the same bars, restaurants and grocery stores.

    The Lower East Side is not much different then the UES now.

    I could go on and on about how much this town has turned bland and hollow but I am preaching to the choir.

    I wish you all the best in Cleveland.

    Anthony

  10. George, as someone who the city three months ago for parts north, and who just took the 1:15 train ride into see a preview of an off broadway show, who spent the morning traveling around to the 16 community yard sales, we don’t miss it. The people we meet at the yard sales were engaging and diverse and excited to be this town. We have friends that call us to go out. There is a vibrant arts scene and talented people. It might look like a scary step now, we asked ourselves for weeks if our choice was right, but I can say there is a life after nyc and its pretty great. You story is on the mark, the big apple is rotten now, your just being wise and will start eating healthier!

    Oh and it helps that we the BEST Chinese food (as in really fresh, not canned) in all of westchester! Lol

    • Pray tell where is this chinese food haven in Westchester? 🙂

    • “…have friends who call us to go out…”

      – This is one of the biggest things that has me seriously considering finally leaving. You cannot grow older without community, and the people coming here and who have been here for years now, just don’t seem to get that. They allow the city to run their lives until they are ready to return to wherever they came from after having their “New York years.” Because the only people who can afford these crazy prices they’re charging for new places are either the wealthy investors who are parking their money here, or people who don’t intend to stay for the long-term.

      Best wishes for what’s to come! You will undoubtedly be happy with your decision once you settle in.

  11. George, I’m so saddened by this writing, but I understand you. I was particularly impressed with how you compared your disillusionment with the complete bottom you faced while drinking. That brought your decision into clear focus for me, and I truly mourn for you. I almost fell off my chair when I read the last sentence; Cleveland! You know my entire family is from Cleveland, and I spent many a summer and Christmas holiday there. I myself moved to Houston, as you know, and I never in a million years thought I would ever move to such a place. However, I found a life here that I’m very fond of now. I believe you can make your own happiness wherever you go, and I have faith in you. May you find joy in the new chapter of your life. I hope one of these days our paths will cross again. Love you!!

  12. Kevin McGinty Reply

    Well stated George! Everything happens for a reason. You had a great run there. Time to move on and start a equally great run in CLE!

  13. Great article. I live in St. Louis and was considering moving to New York! I have friends there and have visited many times. Though in my heart I still want to move there once I considered all I would have to give up to live there just isn’t worth. Plus as you mentioned the cost to live there overall is insane!!! It is definitely a city for the rich. I will just continue to visit. I’m considering relocatung to Dallas, TX. now. How did you come to choose Cleveland? I’m sending you great vibes on your new journey and hope you adjust well.

    • Connie Wingo Reply

      I left NY kicking and screaming because my husband’s job relocated. I an African American woman was terrified to leave my home in Clinton Hills Bklyn for a land unknown…Cleveland. It’s been 18 years and I raised an amazing son who I was able to send to an independent school; and afford to give him give him piano lessons, art lessons; and, a home to grow up in where he was able to forget his bycicle outside, wake up the next morning and find it lying in the same spot it was left.

      Like any American city Cleveland has its issues (most recent for me police shooting of 12 y/o Tamir Rice). Nonetheless, I love living here my West Side 100 year old home near the lake and a six minutes drive to downtown. I often travel NY to work or visit family and friends (Who thankfully still live there as I could not afford to visit otherwise) I am more convinced than ever, we made the right choice.

      So from one born and bred ex-NY transplant to Cleveland Ohio, welcome. I hope to run into you on the Mitchell ‘s ice cream line.

  14. Good luck, George…Try not to dwell on the door that closes, but all the new doors that will open. Thanks for all your work.

  15. Why did you choose cleveland? I chose Detroit for my reasons. I have a web development business that I took from Atlanta to Detroit and the rpm definitely slowed down.

  16. Juan Cruz Mathus Reply

    George, hello from the very south end of our very same continent. Argentina, that is. I fully understand what you said and your feelings, too. You started your text explaining all the things that you will miss from New York and finished it with the things that you aim now in which should be a new, different approach to your life, excepting for the sort of work that you will do.

    Your friends must be this most difficult part to deal with, but think that -because you love both them and the city- with the money you will now save, you can pay a 2-3-5 day visit to them and the city a few times a year.

    You are going to Cleveland, which looks good from the films and TV and magazines or books I’ve read. It should not be the mayhem NYC is and maybe your dogs will appreciate that. Probably, even though it is still a big place, it will give you more chance to spend a little more time to dedicate to the spiritual side of your person. providing that you have a faith or religion to pay attention to.

    I am from Córdoba, second largest city in Argentina, a good 700 kilometers from the capital, Buenos Aires. B.A. is 10 times more fancy than my place, but 50 times less fancy than New York, yet it faces absolutely the same sort of disgusting problems you are telling about the Big Apple. Maybe in a smaller scale to New York, despite Buenos Aires being an almost 7-million people city. I love the place, I have tons of great friends there, it’s quite cosmopolitan for the South American standards and eveything is attractive and funny, but you eveytime I go I have to carry a wagon of money notes…that I don’t have! I used to go very often in the past, when that was not exactly the case. Now I go just a handful of times. It’s a similar situation.

    Back to my own town, with less than 2-million souls, the renting side is the one affecting me the most, just like it happened in your NYC neighbourhood. Nobody in my family have a house. I have to rent a very, very, very small apartment in Córdoba. Argentina goes, as usual, a terribly hard financial time with the ghost of inflation never ceasing, so every 6 months, I pay more and more and more. Figures that I never manage to raise to my customers as incomes. We also, among a longer list, have insecurity problems. Crime is just around the corner in so many places that, in order to get away just a little bit of it, my girlfriend and I search neighbourhoods that are not 100% safe but at least keep a little lower in the violent statistics. And the real state agents who get our monthly payment (over 60% of my total incomes) know that as the lady who owns the flat does, so they charge you for that without any mercy.

    I am not trying to tell you this only for consolation, but just to make you see you are not alone in the world regarding this kind of feelings which rather often than not leaves us weak and a demoralised. I consider myself immensely lucky to have a God to believe in, so the strength I don’t naturally have inside me in the moments I think about that, He gives it and faith helps quite a lot in the hard task of surviving to the global rules of 21st century. my friend.

    In 2012, I was taken to Europe for a few months to work alongside a client (I am a motorsport journalist since 1990 and by then I was also doing the management role for this young driver). He raced a car from a Swiss team, so he decided to rent an apartment in Bern. Locals were as frustrated as us concerning the flat rental costs). And that was not only Switzerland, but all around Europe, with just a handful of exceptions. Call it globalisation if you want. It’s pure crap, but it is everywhere. Different proportions, same problem roots. The world is still moving to a no end street, where only the richest (or daddy’s boy and girls) can make their dreams, too, most of the times.It’s not only New York, but I guess you will be fine and doing very well in Cleveland. I will continue reading your posts when you put your laptop to work from Ohio. In the meantime, please receive my best wishes for this new chapter in your life! Juan

  17. Well, the elegance and collness factor of Cleveland is about to skyrocket. Congratulations to Clevelend for such a get.

  18. You hit the nail on the head with this one, George. Not only is this piece well written for the personal touches alone, it also draws on what many people are experiencing globally as cities like New York continue to push out the impecunious. I’ve always thought of New York like a drug. Experiencing it for the first time is both overwhelming and intoxicating. After a while, the drug loses some of its potency and you become addicted. Breaking away from this fix is like trying to go cold turkey.

    On the bright side; Convergence and connectivity make where you live less important than ever, less distractions make for more focused writing and New York is always easy to visit and perhaps made that much more enjoyable for it.

    Best of luck to you, sir. You are a pioneer and a profit of past lives no longer profitable enough. You are, however, paving the way for all those who will come to the same hard decision; self reinvention results in a less-costly life leading to an array of unimaginable opportunities.

  19. Hi George,
    Loved what you had to say about leaving NY. So much of it rang true for me as I had many of the same thoughts and experiences before finally making my own decision to leave a few months ago after living there for over 25 years. It wasn’t easy, I was very stubborn about staying and finally threw in the towel after yet another month of scraping by. I’m now in Los Angeles and though it’s not without its challenges, I am so happy I left to be in a place that’s slower, more relaxed yet still interesting. I don’t miss the daily trials and tribulations of living in NY at all although I do miss my friends. But they now have a reason to come out and visit and best of all I now live in a place where I actually have room for people to stay over.

    In any case, I wish you the best of luck and happiness on this new adventure you’re embarking on.

    Brad

  20. Thanks George — I’m going through a similar existential crisis. A bit further south, MiamiLandia in my case. The parallels between Dubai on the Hudson and Dubai on the Bay are uncanny.

    Is hard to ignore the fact that with the exception of taking my little one to school I hardly leave my house. The squeeze between the expenses of living here, and the effort and energy it takes to almost pay for it all has become suffocating. While not panic attacks it manifest as crippling depression and loss of focus. Both are a terrible conditions for a fellow Art Director. And never mind my rage at the stream (sudo) clients asking for speck ads just to see if I like to devalue my work a bit more today.

    The rich kids have squatted on the party I helped along; and now I — along with all my friends — can only look on from the outside as I fight the unwashed masses and bargain hunting tourist. Is like trying to swim in a toilet that refuses to flush.

    Best of luck in the land of Cleveland — let us know how you get on!
    G.

  21. Great article for those of us who remember our own departures from that great city we love so dearly. I’m now in Columbus and happy as a clam. I think, I hope you’ll come to love Ohio as I do. The people are phenomenal. Great culture. Fantastic theatre. Amazing food and friendships. And you can’t beat the cost of living here. NYC is only an hour away and we all vacation there. Come visit me in Columbus. You’ll only be a stones throw away. 🙂

  22. Gregory Moore Reply

    As a fairly new follower of your blog, I’m saddened to hear you’ll be leaving New York. I was hoping I’d bike past you one day…but with the nonstop mass of CITIBIKES everywhere, I guess that would be needle-in-a-haystack-ish. I totally get all your points in moving elsewhere. I’m a strong proponent of ‘shaking the tree’ when things are stagnating by moving to new surroundings. And, here’s the good thing: A move is not an irrevocable severance from New York. I left NYC in the early 90’s when it was atrocious…filthy, crime-ridden, homeless everywhere, et al. Spent 8 years in California, where I recharged and came back to a very different New York (in 2000). You can always return, if that’s what you need….though I predict you will take Cleveland by the shoulders and make it your own. But should you decide one day to return, New York will still be here. Whatever you do, do NOT view this as “giving up”. You are turning the page to your next chapter, which I’m sure will be brilliant. Best of luck, George! I look forward to following your future progress!

  23. Mitchell Teplitsky Reply

    Wow, I’m going through everything you wrote, and you expressed these feelings so eloquently, I barely can think of anything to add, except thank you.

  24. Jay Lesiger Reply

    Wow, George, you encapsulated so many of the things I’ve been feeling and thinking. I have lived in NYC my entire life (first 20 years in a then-lower-middle-class Brooklyn, the next 48 in Manhattan). We remain in New York State part of the year, but now the majority of our time will be in Pasadena (chosen for climate, ease of getting around for this lifelong non-driver). So I’ll be sort of bicoastal, but the pull of NYC is still very strong (the change just happened in May), and I have meltdowns periodically as I try to find my way (and retirement adds another layer to the many changes). Not clear how this diehard New Yorker can ever be a Calfornian, but I’m gonna give it my best shot. Good luck, thanks for your help over the years, and I know you will survive splendidly.

    • George Reply

      Thank you so much, Jay. Much love to you and Tom! I adore you guys so much.

  25. Great piece, George. I, too, left NYC back in June after almost 15 years, for pretty much all of the same reasons you outline above. Currently (temporarily) ensconced in Maine, though – as I’m trying to be self-employed and follow my bliss at the moment – I’m planning to just float around for a year or so, until we see if the business takes off and until I decide where I really want to land (though Palm Springs is currently at the top of that list). Next stop: NW Ohio with the family for an extended visit. Then… who knows?

    I miss NYC and all the potential she offers. But all I did was go to work and then go home and repeat the cycle endlessly since my rent and basic living expenses most often ate up my six-figure income and left me with little else to spend on the glorious amenities of the city. The frustration was just not worth the always-looming potential.

    So… here’s to whatever is next. Best of luck to you in Cleveland!

    Peace,
    Kerry

  26. And thus completes the third panel of a triptych painted by the magnificent word artist, George Hahn.
    (Two NYC sides that framed the angst and desperation of ‘Sad Faces’ center panel.) Leave the rich bitch behind. Move on. Find some love, and flourish.

    (I lived at 343 West 46th, so easily identify with the life and ‘hood.)

  27. Alex Matas Reply

    I’m hearin’ ya. Couldn’t agree more. And I made good money. GOOD LUCK!!

  28. We move out of Manhattan 2.5 years ago and relocated to Cleveland. I lived in NYC for 25 years, my partner Samuel Botero since 1963. We both saw the dreary gentrification spread inexorably. Chase and BofA banks and Walgreen or Duane reeds knocking local businesses off the map. The city population slowly shifted from interesting and exciting to drab and style less. Comfortable, gracious or quirky and charming restaurants gave way to slick jumped up places populated by pretentious nouvea riche vulgarians guzzling high priced wines with palates made for swill, passing judgement on dishes the names of which they couldn’t pronounce. Impassable traffic gridlocks both automotive or human made getting around impossible. We decided to pack it in. We came to cleveland because I lived here once. When we visited together for the first time 5 years ago, we really liked what we saw. I will always remember NYC with love. It was so wonderful once. Maybe in twenty years, when the trolls move on because there will be no reason to live there, a new generation will revive it again, making it the crown jewel of world cities it once was.

  29. John Bence Reply

    I made the same decision two years ago. I had worked in NYC for over 30 years as a television producer. When the work dried up, I had to make the decision to move. I’m now teaching high school English in Las Vegas, NV in a Title 1 school. Most of my students are English Language Learners or the children of immigrants. The work is challenging. I miss my group of New Yorkers, but not New York because of the crowds and the cost. New York is not alone in this respect. Every major city I’ve traveled to over the years has been flooded with the offshoots of globalization: high costs, huge crowds (often tourists), and overwhelmed infrastructure. Maybe I should have left earlier, but basically I have no regrets about New York. It offers an experience that no other American city does. Please keep us informed about your adjustment to Cleveland. It has a great art museum and perhaps the country’s finest orchestra…but oh those winters….

  30. Leila Zogby Reply

    Well, George, you’ve put in your time. You’re entitled to want to try The Next Thing. Just be sure to take your woolies. Cleveland in January … BRRRRR. And, please, don’t lose your sass.

  31. Wonderful piece, and the metaphor of sobriety perfect. Ever wonder if we were just jumped up on fight or flight adrenaline, or was it really that exciting? I moved to Lake Worth, Florida, full of artists walkable, warm Winters Big Trees quirky architecture. not scrubbed, ungentrified. I have a lovely tropical garden and real friends who have time for me. I wasn’t chased out by high rents because I own property in Manhattan and honey, I still don’t like it. All those smug suburban Millennials everywhere, it is just not interesting anymore.

  32. I went through this. It was difficult and I miss NYC every day. However, I also like my four-bedroom house on a golf course that has a mortgage waaaay less than my rent was. In Minneapolis btw which is a great city with a huge amount of culture and a number of Fortune 500’s. Good luck!

  33. A great read and I wish you only good things for the next chapter of your life.I too was born,raised,lived and worked in NYC up until 1986 when my company moved me to Asia.After 5 years in Tokyo and 24 years in Hong Kong every time I returned to the NYC for business meetings and to see my Mom I felt that the city was changing, feeling more like an alien.The things I found exciting or humorous now annoyed me and by nature I am not a bitter person.Hong Kong too had changed after the handover in 1997 but it was livable until the government (one country 2 systems yeah sure in words only)decided to open the floodgates to Mainland Chinese.It was always an understandably expensive city but turned into a ridiculously expensive city even with a 6 figure salary such as mine.So I left the corporate world of the fashion industry which makes Dynasty looked like the Disney Channel and where kind words are about as common as water in the desert.Mom passed,I closed her life and my book on NYC and moved to Taiwan 7 years ago where my partner of 12 years lived(long distances relationships don’t work).Life is good and there is nothing I miss about NYC.Sadly it has become a city without a soul.

  34. Great piece, articulates much of how feel about the “new” New York. I was born, raised and still live here. Step out on your right foot and don’t look back. Best of luck. You have courage.

  35. This is one of the best “Goodbye NYC” letters I’ve read. I left after 16 years and the only thing I truly miss is the people. I look forward to hearing that you find yourself happier, healthier, and enjoying the things NY couldn’t give you. Bon voyage!

  36. L.A. is no different, and were my main client not here and Im still making a decent living, I would’ve left a while ago.
    It seems there are a few key cities this has happened to; NYC, SF, DC, Boston, Seattle and to some extent, Chicago.

    The investor class, their offspring, the expats, tech and finance guys and visitors all came to this game with far more resources than we’ll ever know.

    Then there’s this…an acquaintance who paid cash to buy his son a condo in one of the most luxurious buildings in Pasadena to live in during college.
    I don’t begrudge him for this…but who among us has such resources, or thinks it’s a good idea to spend them on their kids.
    His son (Ive met him) has had three different jobs in three years. Got fired out of two. Can’t keep track of his money, and from what I can tell, can’t appreciate anything that’s been done for him.

    Multiply that by hundreds of thousands more like him…all moving to these cities, and you can see one big part of the problem.

    No idea how to make money. No idea what things really cost, and almost zero empathy for anyone who has to work for a living.

    Sorry…I see a second or third tier city in my future…since the big cities keep showing us exactly how they feel about ‘average’ working people without investment accounts.

  37. Best wishes, George 🙂 It’s always good to move forward. I’ve got my eye on Taiwan or Tokyo next 😉

  38. George, I’ve been an avid follower for a couple years now and your fears about employment strike a chord (we are about the same age). I somehow feel like LA could offer possibilities on the creative side for you but dealing with car based society and the slower pace may not be to your liking. That’s not to say that it isn’t possible here (anything is possible in the movies right?) I think Cleveland will offer you chance to regroup and some perspective on the insanity of Gotham. What ever happens don’t give up on this site, its like a small island of class and style in the land of douche hoody wearing hipster disrupter wannabes.

    • George Reply

      God bless you, Eric. And don’t worry: the blog continues. And thank you.

  39. I’m a born and bred native New Yorker who is extraordinarily lucky to have a rent stabilized apt. On W. 57th street. I loathe the mallification and mid -westernization of my hometown – but can’t fathom leaving it. Nothiing will live up to this town and what it offers …but one has to make do with what one has to make do. Stilll the finest American city there is. Nothing can compare.

  40. We made the move to Pittsburgh after 14 years in the city. We’ve been here 3 years… It was a hard move, but it was worth it! Good luck!

  41. Scott Kirschman Reply

    Awesome article (“blow dried drones…lol). Once in Cleveland, try dinner at Sokolowskis, and pair the chicken paprika with a $3 draft. You will have a great sticker shock at the value and price. Congratulations!

  42. Welcome to Cleveland! I moved here 20+ years ago from CT and have never looked back. People speak to you here, even in elevators! So come with an open mind and an open heart and you will grow to love this place!

  43. Joel D. Arndt Reply

    Well, the bar on style and class in Cleveland has been raised considerably with your announcement George. Another very well-written and heartfelt piece in one of the most literate and best blogs on the internet.

    Having worked in NYC and visiting many times, I share your dissatisfaction with the massive gentrification that’s been happening there which has taken over almost every acre of real estate in Manhattan and elsewhere in the city. I believe your timing to move to Cleveland (along with your sense of style) is impeccable as the city has been enjoying a renaissance, so this will be your opportunity to take full advantage of it.

    All the best in this next major step in life’s journey. I’m sure you’ll do very well here. New York’s loss is definitely Cleveland’s gain and I look forward to reading your wry observations on living life in a smaller city.

  44. You will be back!! I’ve been forced to leave because of similar circumstances, but when you spend your formative years building your authentic self – staying away is impossible. I am back for a second time and while struggling to find my footing in the city that once gave me all the opportunity I didn’t even know I could have I am up for the challenge of getting back on top. Maybe it will never be the same, but that I’m sure is the point. Chicago was not for me New York is where my heart. I think what New York need is more people like you and I. People that remind this city that the struggle and the git is what makes this city great. It isn’t about the people who have it all. This city needs to be thought a lesson in not bitting the had that feeds the streets, the soul, and grit of this melting pot. Leaving is letting the rich win besides this city does not belong to them. Do you know why I know that? I know that because those f#&35s travel and leave the city any chance they can.

    See you soon.

  45. I’m reading your article while in Amsterdam. I moved out of my apartment in the East Village in April, got rid of most of my stuff, and put the little I have left in a 4x4x6 ft storage. I’m telling myself I haven’t made up my mind yet about leaving New York, but everything you write so well about have been my thoughts for so long and I needed to throw a monkey wrench into my life to shake things up. Like you, I’m a graphic designer, web designer, … , and what’s going on in New York in that regard also happens everywhere, unfortunately. I’ll be back in New York at the end of October for two weeks to see my friends. I hope I also get a “feeling” for what to do next. Good luck to you, good luck to me.

  46. Welcome back! My GF is a New Yorker living here as well. I own a lounge called The Velvet Tango Room, and we have some very delicious NA “cocktails” so I hope to meet you someday!

  47. Larry collins Reply

    Cleveland welcomes you, George. Look me up when you arrive. I’ll give you the dime tour

      • By the way, might I suggest Lakewood as being a wonderful inner-ring suburb of Cleveland? Larry’s neighborhood is also excellent, but I’m really loving the spirit and vibe of Lakewood.

  48. I welcome you to Cleveland! I moved back to Ohio in 1994 after almost a decade in NYC and it was hard at first, but I love it now. I was back in New York in March and May of this year and the pace was still heady, but the soul was gone for me. Soho is a giant mall and the artists have mostly escaped to Brooklyn. I much prefer my town on the lake and the boom it is experiencing now. Cleveland has a lot to offer and if you have any questions about your new home, feel free to send me an email.

  49. John Gorman Reply

    You may not find everything you want in Cleveland. You may find everything you need in Cleveland. It has become less parochial. There was a time when everyone you met was related to someone else that lived here. That has change as well. Cleveland wants and needs fresh blood, new ideas, and change on every level. So far, so good.

  50. Cleveland will welcome you with open arms!! I’ve been here since the day I was born, and I still love it. I’ve seen the downs, and am absolutely loving the renaissance. We still have a ways to go, but we’re a scrappy bunch…we’ll be just fine. Let us know when and where you land (East Side **hint hint**), and you’ll find plenty of us more than willing to help you navigate the new landscape.

  51. Victoria Block Reply

    George,

    It takes a lot of guts to leave an abusive relationship, but once you do you will feel free and strong. Quality of life and distance will help the grieving process and new adventures will keep you busy and interested. As a native New Yorker now living in SoFlo I often miss the wonders of my hometown, but not the insane pace, crowds or expense. Even the Carnegie Deli is packing it in. You’re in good company!
    Go Bucks.

  52. Hey George I welcome you to Cleveland! Would love to know your plans! I work for one of the few High end boutiques in the area! Reach out if you’d like to talk!!

  53. Lawrence Kahn Reply

    “I’d rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth.” Steve McQueen. I left the NE for a tiny town in central California almost 30 years ago. I’ve never understood the attraction of city life. Congrats on starting to see the light.

  54. Larry Thompson, St. Louis Reply

    Same thing happened to me in Seattle! Quickly became too unaffordable! I’m now in St. Louis, happy, and breathing again. I think you’ll really enjoy Cleveland. It has tons to offer! It’s all about the attitude you take. NYC will always be there to visit!

  55. Noelle Celeste Reply

    When I left New York 18 years ago for Cleveland I thought I’d be here for about five years. Still, leaving was tough on good days so I came up with a mantra that I think New Yorkers especially appreciated. It was simple. It was true. And it ended all my doubt. “I am more than New York.” You see as much as New York offers, its not everything and I wanted more. Look me up when you’re back and I will make sure you get a good cup of coffee. Good luck!

  56. George , Good luck on your ventures.. i too left NY 3 years back after 18 years in the city.. started my business back in India running hotels and after a 2 more years i am back in Manhattan investing on real estate and running my own software business. You mentioned about fast pace and i know what it feel after working for an investment company and switching to hotel management .. Running it all by myself back home. I wish you all the best and as we grow older we tend to settle back home down south as NY can definetly take you by storm!!

  57. corrado loni Reply

    Hi George, don’t you worry, there is an entire world beyond New York. Good Luck

  58. Have you picked a place? Looking for people to hang out with? Don’t be alone with Yelp. Let me buy you a drink, and welcome you to Cleveland.

  59. Cleveland is looking forward to having you! You’ll be very happy here. Congratulations on your decision.

  60. Olive Persimmon Reply

    This article came right when I’m debating moving home to NE Ohio. After 6 years in NYC, I’m feeling burnt out. The midwest is wonderful. Fair warning, the weather sucks in Cleveland (it’s better in Columbus if you’re on the fence) but you won’t find nicer people. I think that’s what I miss the most about the midwest, community. People who SHOW UP, reliably. No matter what. It’s a really good feeling.

  61. Kate Matthews Reply

    George, I appreciated your essay very much and am sharing it on Facebook. My daughter lived in NYC after college for five years before moving to Orlando, where she’s very happy and working in her field. Our son still lives and works in NYC, and we love our annual theatre trips. (We chose to marry there two years ago.) I wondered about your destination all the way through your post and was thrilled to see that it’s here in Cleveland – a great place to live! I hope you will find a wonderful home here, with meaningful work, many friends and a fabulously affordable lifestyle!

  62. Cleveland will welcome you with open arms, Mr. Hahn!! The music, arts, and theatre scene here is strong and inviting! Welcome!

  63. Please do continue to write from Cleveland. As someone else who used to live in New York, I was surprised by how little time it took not to miss it.

  64. Hell’s Kitchen is a god awful place. Just move to Brooklyn with the rest of your kind dum dum. More trees and less ppl.

  65. I’ve never read your work before, but I and New York will miss you terribly–you and all the other artists, writers, mom-and-pop store owners, creators, and other interesting individuals we keep losing.

    I was born here and have lived here most of my life, and NYC feels like an old friend slowly committing suicide. So sad that you are leaving, but who can blame you?

    Oh, and there are lovely, supportive 12-step people everywhere!

    Best of luck.

  66. Hello George,

    I found your blog on a Facebook post. Congratulations on your decision, I think it takes courage and an adventurous spirit to make a move like this. Also, I assume since this is your hometown that there is family and connections from your past and that is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. It is time for you to reconnect to your past, the landscape and the people.

    This is my third time to move back to NYC. I live in Brooklyn now, a slippery, risky slope to move back after two years living on the Gulf Coast of Florida. I got an unbelievable apartment in the Ditmas Park of Brooklyn in one of the historic, old homes. An amazing neighborhood. After this I don’t think I would ever again be able to live in a typical NYC apartment. I have so much light, quiet and trees around me, a studio space (I am a painter). Some angel somewhere was looking out for me. A miracle in this day and age. Now I have to secure a good job and it has not been easy.

    This brings me back to you. You know what is important for your life. Perhaps you are searching too and have the freedom and ability to do so. You will find yourself on the road, driving, walking in nature….taking hikes, traveling to the west coast, making connections and discovering beauty.

    This experience will affirm and challenge you but you will thrive and move on to a new phase of your life. One that you created by making change happen.

    We only have this one experience that we know of and making a change like this will add to your life. Somehow after living in NYC one becomes attached to the soul of the city and it is difficult to let it go, but leaving is a great experience as it creates contrast and we learn so much from it.

    All the best for the road ahead George.

  67. Hi George! You will love living in Cleveland! The people here are great !!!
    I can help you find a rental if you need one. I suspect you already have a place to live, but just in case you don’t, I can help. Unlike in NYC, there is no charge to you for having the services of a realtor here in the CLE. The owner of the rental pays the fee. There are many, many options and areas here you might enjoy. You can call me. Good luck !!!
    Carol Nunez
    216-702-1854
    Howard Hanna Real Estate & Mortgage

  68. Chris Lewis Reply

    Best of luck, George. I completely relate to your situation. We left the city five years ago for Indiana. (Still sounds weird to say!) But as much as I miss the city, our quality of life is better now. All the best!

  69. Best of wishes to a talented man. I needed sartorial advice — you provided it and changed my professional life. Thank you. BTW, I’ve never been to New York — people tell me it is nice.

    Fritz

    • George Reply

      Thank you so much, Fritz. New York is a great town you should definitely see.

  70. George, I am a recent reader and have enjoyed your blog a great deal. Now 49, I have been picking up my style game in my full-blown middle age. I think you are making a good decision here. From catching up on your older posts these past few week, I can say that I am not surprised that you’re going back. The writing was on the wall. I myself moved to NYC 19 years ago, two years after sobering up and getting my act together. Like you, I have seen the city change into something I no longer recognize. I know that your future has many unknowns but I am sure that once you are back in Cleveland you will settle in to a new and exciting life. Remember that a life of style and elegance does not have to be limited to places like New York and LA. Please keep up the good work in your new life, and don’t stop with the writing.

  71. This piece is beautiful beyond words. As a native Clevelander who has often toyed with the idea of returning after 16 years in NYC, your words truly touched my heart and made me think. Cleveland will welcome you with open arms.

  72. Great article and while very unfortunate, I think the move will put about 20 years back on your life. Having moved out of Murray Hill NYC 14 years ago for the land of Columbus OH and then Chicago, I can say for me personally it was the best move I could’ve made.
    What I have learned having been to 46 of the 50 states in last decade is the following: if you can make good friends, are close enough to your family (Cleveland is a quick flight to most places), take advantage of what your city has to offer in the limited free time we all have, and not break the bank, these are things that truly make you enjoy wherever you are.

    Despite Clevelands sometime less than stellar reputation, it has dramatically improved in the last several years. You may not have 25,000 restaurants to choose from, but the culinary scene in Cleveland is fantastic and who truly needs that many anyway. Cleveland has hundreds to check out from amazing Pho at some hole in the wall to a Michael Symon upscale eclectic American destination spot.

    I feel that NYC, while being one of the best cities for food in the world is somewhat overrated. Your service experience by kinder people in Cleveland will almost always trump that in NY and the fact that leases are so expensive in NY, many amazing chefs would rather set up shop in cooler smaller cities where they also won’t be a dime a dozen.

    Cleveland has theater (you may have to wait on Hamilton), but you can always find something cultural to do.

    Cleveland has the reigning national champions in he NBA and one of the best teams in baseball. Parts of the lake are gorgeous and you can swim in a lot of it unlike the east river and Hudson where you are destined to contract E-Coli, Montezumas or Ebola.

    The weather can be rough as Cleveland doesn’t see nearly enough sun. That being said, nothing in life is perfect and for a gorgeous apartment for around $1,500, wonderful people (many just as hip as ny’ers since the rest of the world is catching up), it is a fantastic choice.

    NYC has some of the best people on the planet, nevertheless, it is also overly populated with such a homogenous group of crazy wealthy, affected and out of touch people as well. It is almost impossible in NYC to even find time to stop and smell the roses, unless you are lucky enough to be in Central Park or some quiet street in the West Village.

    People have important and busy jobs in the rest of the world as well, but the attitude and delusion in NYC of “I have 5 minutes for you” makes everything more difficult and stressful.

    I wish you the best of luck. The adjustment may take time, but your dogs will be much healthier, happier and thankful that they no longer have to breathe in whatever god awful, uncirculated air that NYC pumps through their lungs everyday or get sick from eating someone’s leftover taco or vomit on the street from the night before.

    I go back to NYC every few months to visit family and friends for a weekend and have a blast, but that is plenty at this point in my 42 years of life. Getting out back to civility and relaxed deep breaths feels just as good after 3 days in the Big Apple.

  73. Well written George! Cleveland rocks, New York is a state of mind! I wish you well and look forward to reading you in the future…

  74. Excited to have you in CLE! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all there is to discover here. If not, at least you’ll have the money to travel. 😉

  75. This sounds like a very good idea, and I imagine you may have a pretty good chance of finding happiness there. 15 years ago, I almost moved back to Ohio, after the painful end of a relationship with someone wealthy, the loss of what little financial security I had, and little idea of what I could do in the world.

    But then I had some very good luck: finding an affordable apartment, and discovering enjoyable and stable/reliable work that paid enough for me live a life I enjoy; but I acknowledge that luck (which we can’t control) had a lot to do with finding these things (or, rather, finding the people who could help me find these things, as thanks for favors I did for them – and this is a great rule to live by: never hesitate to do someone a favor; you have no idea what they might do for you).

    That said – Good Luck!

  76. I read your blog on a Facebook friend’s news feed. This particular friend and I grew up together on the West Side of Cleveland, and we still share a lot of love for the homeland. Of course … I still live here. My friend lives in New Jersey and commutes into NYC for work … Hence, the “connection.”

    And, yes, I said I “still” live in Cleveland, but there were many younger years when I didn’t. I’ve been all over the country – and the world – so I’ve experienced lots of other places. I lived in Seattle during the boom of the “Grunge” era. I also lived for a little while inside “the Loop” in Chicago. So, yes, I’ve been to “sexier” places … But, for me (like you apparently), this kind of “sex appeal” waned … I eventually wanted a “real” life with “real” people again. I came home 20 years ago after a fairly long and impressive run of failure. I haven’t looked back since … I can tell you without hesitation that I wouldn’t consider “settling” anywhere else.

    And, no, Cleveland is not without its fair share of problems … Race relations are tough in the city … We’re still myopically “blue collar” in a lot of ways … Hey, property is very, very affordable – but that’s because it’s never really been worth that much to begin with … But, man, it feels good. Its “warm,” even in the dead of winter. We like our drink, and we love our food … “Family” really, really does come first, and it never takes a stranger long before he/she is a member of one … We’re quiet about our sophistication, but we definitely have it. It’s a genuinely “good” place.

    So, welcome, stranger. You’ll be able to breathe here, and, assuming you’re not already, you will soon be loved by scads of Clevelanders. I hope to run into you on the streets some day …

  77. Theresa Barrett Reply

    George,
    I hadn’t even heard of you until a fb friend linked your piece about leaving NY (Daniel Mark Duffy). After a little gentle internet stalking, I just wanted to wish you luck and peace. It looks as if you’re in the mental midst of a generous life change. Reading some of your previous pieces, I think its safe to say that NY is losing a treasure. May its loss be Cleveland’s happy gain! All the best to you and your 4-legged companions. Onward and upwards!

  78. Funny to discover you only in your leaving (thanks to a FB repost from a friend). But here we are, on the same damned page. Only I have just hit the age of 60, and now looking with deadly seriousness at the prospect of leaving this bewitching, bothersome and bewildering city after fist moving here at 25. For me, the decision is, do I move somewhere close enough that I become a 90-minute-or-more commuter, so that I don’t have to add insult to injury in trying to find work in a new place, as well as trying to find life in a new place? Or do I take the plunge and make a clean break of it? I’d prefer the latter, but there are some very real obstacles in that path at this age. It’s daunting to consider, which is one reason why I so applaud your decision to move away-away. Good luck with all of this, and keep us posted on the transition and the new life. I am encouraged by your move, and need all the help I can get!

    • George Reply

      Thank you so very much, Keith! I’m looking forward to the transition and I will keep you posted!

  79. I could be in the same boat if I lost my home, I’d prob. leave NYC. The world is big, people are people everywhere. You’ll be fine. And your dogs will be very happy.

  80. I’ve been a Londoner (nose-bleed rents!) in the staid confines of W2, and not the hipster capital- Shoreditch, this last decade. But having lived in Cleveland as a Grad at the start of the millennium, I enjoyed my time there. Cleveland’s a pretty cool place to live in – All the best! Do keep writing, mate.

  81. Eamonn O'Neill Reply

    Good luck in Cleveland George. You’re a class act and there is always room at the top. The best is yet to come.

  82. Taher Hassonjee Reply

    Welcome to Cleveland! I made the move from NYC to CLE two years ago. I couldn’t be happier with the move and, after reading the article, am opotmisitc that you will too. While reading it, I kept thinking to myself that you would love it in Cleveland, and much to my delight, you’ll get to find out if you will for yourself.

  83. George – welcome back home. Great article in the Plain Dealer. I hope to run into you when you get back.

  84. Charles Michener Reply

    George – Over my daily poached egg this morning, I read about you in this morning’s Plain Dealer. Two dogs at my feet (an elderly yellow Lab, a 3-year-old Labradoodle); all manner of birds (including a fat, scarlet cardinal) rioting in the window bird feeders, autumn colors getting yellower and redder. This is happening on the East Side of Cleveland. After 35 years in the NY publishing world, I came back home 8 or 9 years ago – to Cleveland. Of course, you can’t go home again, but it’s a great place to be, though the quiet is still a little hard to get used to. It’s in a good period right now, as you’ll discover – lofts downtown (with a a waiting period), bicycle lanes, those Cavaliers and now those Indians, lots of “young people” who wake up every morning as eager to participate in Cleveland’s revival as they are to get to work. It’s all manageable. All accessible. People are what they look like. No pretense. Give me a holler when you get here. It will be fun to compare notes.

  85. Hi George,
    Welcome to NE Ohio!
    Having had a variety of careers in the film world, academia, and senior level management on both coasts, I was a bit anxious about a move to the MIdwest, but I have found NE Ohio to be an enjoyable area that offers quite a lot socially and culturally.
    After several years living in San Francisco, and writing a monthly rent check for over $3000 (which made me take to my bed for a few hours on rent due days!) I decided to relocate to affordable and beautiful Lakewood, OH.
    Now, I live right on Lake Erie, with incredible views of the ever changing lake and downtown Cleveland.
    And my monthly mortgage is half of my San Francisco rent check.
    I would recommend living in Lakewood. This inner-ring suburb is experiencing a rebirth with many new restaurants, small retail shops, and a beautiful lakefront park. And the area’s first LGBT Health Center in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic will be opening soon in Lakewood.
    Lakewood’s Gold Coast area, where I live, has two amazing buildings with rental units = Winton Place and the Meridian. Both are well maintained, have excellent amenities, provide 24 hr. security, and offer the convenience of an easy commute to downtown Cleveland.
    So George, please feel free to connect if you have any questions regarding Lakewood/NE Ohio as you plan your relocation to the area.
    Ed

  86. George, I felt your agony when reading this piece. I understand the pull between. And I truly hope your boomerang is successful—a smooth transition.

    I boomeranged back to CLE from NYC in Oct 2011. Honestly, It was hard for me to readjust here, and I felt-like I couldn’t breathe (for about a year or two, or hell maybe it was three). Once New York has entered your soul it doesn’t leave you, ever; and people in the Midwest will not be able nor be willing to understand that.

    Hell, I didn’t mind being lonely in NYC. I liked being a nobody there, too. I didn’t even mind being poor in NYC. All because something wonderful and unexpected happened to me every single day in that fucking splendor of Gotham. Every day was a new treasure, a happy coincidence always wrapped in an opportunity.

    In Cleveland. Well, it downright sucks being lonely, a nobody, and poor and opportunities are not as easy to stumble upon (and you have to drive a car, EVERYWHERE). And no one here really cares about what you did in that city-that-never-sleeps. This town is all about CLE…

    It is ironic that I was never a jaded New Yorker until I moved back to Cleveland…

    Anyway, I have made it work for me—just took me a while, and for the most part I am very happy now.

    Best wishes for a smooth transition.

  87. George,
    I’ve been following your story since early summer as I, too, am a sober writer who recently left NYC for Cleveland, though I returned three months before you. I’ve been here since August and I won’t lie – it’s a helluva transition after 26 years in Manhattan, with a few years in London in between – but I don’t miss the monthly panic attacks or the fact that my Great Dane barely had room to walk on the sidewalks there. I do miss Riverside Park, the friendly doorman David at the end of my block, the restaurants, the nightlife, the culture, the friends, and the excitement. I miss a lot, I guess. However, it’s been nice to get my bearings again and be able to afford health insurance, an apartment that’s bigger than my car, and actually shopping again! Please feel free to contact me once you’re settled in the land of Cleve.
    A warm welcome and best wishes from Shaker Heights,
    Kristan
    P.S. Maybe we can be dog walking friends!

  88. Hi George:
    First time reader via Blair Sobel’s NY Social Diary column. Imagine growing up in New York City, father from Brooklyn, mother from Queens. I remember when the Christmas tree lighting was a “local, little thing”, that I would stop to watch, on my way to the subway. I also remember taking shares in the Hamptons and it was not a BIG deal. Yes, for me, it was 1994, I left for good. My Mom still lived in Queens, so I had that connection. But when she passed, I no longer had a reason to go back. We make the occasion holiday trip and I still get my New York Times and read New York SOcial Diary but I also recognize that New York City doesn’t want me any more. Life in New Jersey is not so terrible but haven’t had a decent bagel, pizza or Chinese food since I left!

  89. Dear George, it was such a great pleasure finally meeting you in person this weekend after following your work online. You are a delight. And it makes me that much sadder that we can’t be neighbors any more. I moved here to NYC in 1988, during rent stabilization, and am hanging on by my fingernails because I love this city (and so does my kid, who was born here). Your article, like you, was smartly well-spoken … but it is also heart-breaking…

    • Thank you so much, Jeffrey. It was, indeed, a distinct pleasure and privilege to finally meet you. Yes, it was a very hard decision. Fate coincided my move with a health crisis for my mother, which put me in the right place at the right time. I’m still trying to find my footing here, but I’m determined to make it work.

  90. Hello George,

    Wherever you may be, please know that you have your fans. In a world awash with time- and money-wasting fixations, your perspective is sobering, refreshing and ever-so-gently brutal in its honesty.

    I myself am making my own flailing attempt at middle-income bon vivant-dom. I’m from Long Island – not far from Dubai-on-the-Hudson, as you so aptly put it, so I can indirectly relate to your struggle.

    In due course, of course, I’ve become a rabid fan of your writings and musings on modern life. Thank you for continuing to enrich our lives with your insights, humor and (naturally) style.

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