On Leaving New York

leaving new york

I realize this has been done before. I don’t think anyone could do “leaving New York” better than Joan Didion did in 1967, and I certainly don’t intend to. Also, I’m about two months late on the matter, so maybe it’s irrelevant.

This is less about my decision to leave – I have my reasons – and more about one specific benefit. Spoiler alert: it has to do with money.

In the past I’ve questioned, distrusted, friends who declared they wanted to leave. When one friend said over drinks once that she’d had it, “enough was enough,” I squinted at her from behind my beer. “But your apartment’s in such a great location. And besides, where would you go?”

And now, here I am. In Connecticut, with my parents. Things are, well, what you’d expect them to be.

Remember high school? For some reason, emptying the dishwasher was always my duty, and it seems that since I’ve returned, so has the chore.

My mom has reminded me every single day, for the past 60 days, that I need to get health insurance, because I am no longer employed by a corporation. Last night she asked me to empty the dishwasher. “Oh and while you’re at it, you really should figure out your health insurance ASAP. You need to have that, you know.”

What does that have to do with emptying the dishwasher? I wondered.

And yet there are positives. Take money, for example. I’ve saved thousands of dollars in the past couple of months. Effortlessly.

See, here at CTK we don’t think money can buy us everything, but it can buy freedom. Freedom to design our lives the way we want them to look, and spend time (which we believe is actually more valuable than money) the way we choose.

I couldn’t afford to be in control of my time in New York. Someday, yes. But not right now.

I’ve been reading these money diaries on Refinery29, have you seen them? They document one week in the financial life of women in different careers with varying income levels. They’re entertaining because they’re relatable, but also make me cringe, recalling $17 avocado toast and coffee (damn you, Le Pain).

I had completed a similar activity before I moved, while weighing some pros and cons. Here’s the approximate weekly tab I came up with:

Groceries (I was fortunate to have breakfast, lunch and snacks provided at my office): $50
Coffee/tea (I usually had one morning cup at my office and one from a local shop in the afternoon): $15
Happy hour with coworkers or friends (1-2 nights per week): $60
Bottle of wine to bring home (for the weekend, usually): $15
Fresh flowers: $10
Laundry: $10
Weekend dinner/drinks: $60
Cab home: $30
Manicure: $10
Friend’s birthday brunch: $40
CVS run (out of paper towels again, etc.): $20
Average weekly total: $320

Let’s say, just for kicks, that it’s the first week of the month. Tack on:

Rent: $1250 (New York makes it easy to forget that an apartment directly next to the highway would be both unappealing and unaffordable)
Electric bill: $25
Gas bill: $25
Internet bill: $30
Lucy’s daycare: $700 (yes, you read that correctly)
New total: $2,350

But this list doesn’t include clothes/home shopping, concerts or movies, haircuts or waxes, books (I still buy way too many of them), occasional weekday lunches out, date nights, Ubers, Lucy’s food and insurance, travel, Seamless, Netflix and other typical expenses. I gave up my gym membership (more on that later), subscription boxes and cable. And like I said, I had some great work perks (in addition to food: monthly transit, massages, chiropractor adjustments). All things accounted for, my average monthly spend in New York was somewhere around $3,500.

The outstanding ‘pro’ among reasons to move was quite simply to save money.

I don’t think it needs to be so drastic for everyone (although just so you know, if you’re flirting with the idea of making this sort of change, I’ve saved about $10,000).

You don’t need to quit your job or head home like I did. But maybe it’s time to decide what you want your life to look like, and figure out what it’s going to take to make that vision happen.

It may mean re-evaluating your personal finances, and the first step is a reality check. What’s your current money sitch like? We’ve got a super simple manual to help you with that, by the way. We know finances can be stressful so we’ve got your back. Just pop your email in right here and we’ll send you our free guide:

Also published on Medium.

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