New Home Search: New York City

I am rediscovering my hometown. I am thankful for the opportunity to take a moment and plan what comes next. But as I’ve said like a broken record, I am a city girl.  I love it and miss it desperately. The burning question is which city shall I inhabit next?  When I moved to Los Angeles, it was  a blind and impetuous move. It had its ups, but mostly downs. This time around I intend to do more thorough research. Aside from my  general love of cities, I have other criteria. I am in search of a city that is economically feasible, creative job market (read: I can get a job in design or advertising), cultured with a strong art and craft scene, ethnic diversity, and restaurant scene. A tall order I know, but in a way Los Angeles has spoiled me. There isn’t a set timetable for my next move. In my ideal universe, it will be early next year, but we’ll see.

Near Times Square

March 11-16, 2010

Not even two weeks after my cross-country road trip, I was coerced invited by Cicely to meet her in the Big Apple.  NYC had never been a consideration for me as a place to live. That is, until I met Cicely. I’ve known her for almost 10 years. In that time, she has talked incessantly about NYC and how she’d ultimately like to live there.  I had my misconceptions about the city and always thought that I could never hack it here.  So, I moved to Los Angeles instead. We all know how fabulously L.A. turned out. Courtesy of Cicely’s and few of my other friends’ (Pamela, Amber, Karla, and Anthonine) strong suggestions, NYC made the list of cities to visit and consider as my next home.

So, I took a Chinatown bus to NYC. For those that aren’t familiar, Chinatown buses travel between major cities at a minimal cost. In this case, my roundtrip ticket between Virginia Beach to New York City was $60. The stops are either in Chinatown or a in front of an Asian grocery. A tad odd, but workable. The bus left Virginia Beach at 1AM. We arrived in NYC at 6:45AM. When you do the math on that travel time, it’s disconcerting. I’m glad I was asleep.

"The View" from our Studio Apartment

I arrived before Cicely and checked into the studio apartment in Hell’s Kitchen that we were renting for the weekend. The apartment was spartan, but comfortable and well-situated near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Times Square. I took a short nap and met the lovely Amy of ABCD Design for a late lunch in The Village. (Amy, do you recall the name of the place?) After lunch, I got a tour of the Village. Amy had me so enthralled with her stories of living in this part of NYC that I completely neglected to take any photos of the area. {Bad photographer:( } I did get to peek into some antique shops. After my outing with Amy, I wandered around the Village and parts of SoHo on my own. I was in design nerd heaven. I popped into several few furniture and design stores. I went into sensory overload at Paper Presentation. I am very proud that I didn’t buy a single thing. Then again, my strict budget had a lot to do with it.

Washington Square Park

Once Cicely arrived, the tomfoolery and adventures began in earnest. If you know anything about us, you know that things are never dull when the two of us are in cahoots.

Cicely and I, however, selected an inopportune time to visit. We happened to be in NYC during RECORD rainfall. Not just rain, sideways and windy rain. Of the 5 days I was there, it rained 4 days. 😦 The weather reports had predicted rain and I had arrived prepared with a raincoat and polka-dotted rain boots. We still spent a good part of the trip drenched. In spite of the deluge, we had a good time. The rain would not stop our fun. We traipsed all over town. We had delectable meals. Shopped. Ate cupcakes. Saw the Statue of Liberty. Ate some more. Shopped some more.  Had lots of cupcakes.  A torrential downpour was not going to stop us.

For part of the time, my cousin Rhed played tour guide. Having Rhed join us was a welcome relief. As much as I love my iPhone, it was cumbersome trying to read subway maps on my iPhone in the rain. As someone who lives in the city, Rhed was able to direct us to the most efficient subway routes and exits. The knowing the right subway exits is key. I can’t tell you how many times Cicely and I would arrive at the right stop, exit on the wrong side of the station and have to walk several extra blocks. There were moments when both of our patience was being tested.

Cicely and I even squeezed in a Tweetup (meeting with folks from Twitter). Serious subway delays caused us to be shamefully late. We didn’t get to see as many people as we would have liked. {Am really sorry to those that we missed}.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Cicely and I had more fun in New York than we did during our cross-country road trip. I was so sad when Cicely returned home on Monday. I stayed an extra day and half. Rhed and his roommate Dave generously let me stay at their apartment for that extra night. With that extra day, Rhed and I geeked out. We are gadget aficionados. As such, he indulged my requests to go to B&H Photo, first Apple Store in NYC, Lomography store, Muji, MOMA Design stores, etc., etc.  We did A LOT of shopping and walking around, which is good because we snacked a lot, too.

What’s the verdict? I am absolutely smitten with NYC. I felt like I belonged. The city simultaneously excites and scares the beejezus out of me. NYC is urban and gritty. L.A. was residential and glitzy. Of course, I am skeptical. Am I smitten because I was on vacation? When the vacation buzz wears off, can I live in this city? Besides, who falls in love with the first place they visit? Who does that?! So, I am going to check out other cities and visit NYC a few more times before I make any final decisions, but I gotta tell you NYC has set the bar REALLY high.

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4 thoughts on “New Home Search: New York City

  1. Anne, It sounds like NYC would be a great place for you to live. If you’re still searching check out Charlotte, NC. If I didn’t have so much family here in LA I would def. move there. It has city life but charm and class.

  2. It sounds like NYC is the place for you, but definitely check out other places before making any big decisions. Personally, Phoenix is a big enough city for me. When I visited New York last year, it was fun but waaay to crowded. Now that the shock has worn off I want to go back, perhaps in the spring, and try it again. I would say visiting multiple times and at different times of the year would give you a good overview of what it would be like to live there. http://www.luxurynewyorkcityhotel.com

  3. To me, you already have the hardest part of NYC down: being there without much money. As I think you mentioned when you came back, it’d be a great idea to go back a few more times…maybe stay in Brooklyn once, Astoria once, Washington Heights once (for example)–all places with a lot of artist-types and more economical housing situations. Maybe you can do the lonely planet-style tourist thing and just walk around a ton, take crosstown buses (to sightsee while sitting!), and even take a couple days to sort of simulate what your life might be like if you were really living there (i.e. commuting, setting a food budget, that kind of thing). Let yourself get exhausted and frustrated by the place and see if you still love it. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 8 years and in the process have realized that it’s really not for me, but I do still love it. I just need more space and more quiet. I think, though, that it could be an amazingly inspiring place for you. And it’s not forever if you don’t want it to be!!

    • Thanks for the suggestions. I like your idea of staying at different places throughout the different boroughs. I am definitely going to give this careful thought and consideration. I have a year to figure out what I want to do.

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