February 9, 2021

New York… Or Elsewhere?

New York... Or Elsewhere?

New York… Or Elsewhere?

Back in September of 2020, I wrote this post about my feelings towards New York. Everything still holds true, but I’d be lying if I said my brain wasn’t all over the place. We’re almost one full year into this pandemic (HOW!) and it’s been one crazy, emotional rollercoaster. I wrote the below as a stream of consciousness and initially thought, “How could I publish something quite contradictory to what I linked above?” But it’s simply me being honest about some of the thoughts that have been running through my mind.

I felt that needed to be said before I shared the below.

Since March of 2020, I know of about 19 people that have moved out of New York. 19! That’s a lot of people. 

From that total count, 5 have moved from New York City to nearby surrounding parts like Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island. The rest moved to Florida (so many to Florida,) Nashville, Charleston, Austin and other various Southern spots. Of the people that have moved farther away, the majority of them were not originally from NYC. So I get it. If Keith and I weren’t originally from here, we’d probably be doing the same.

But our families and most of our closest friends are still here, at least for now. My love for New York City aside, that’s the major thing.

As two people with no current plans to leave (who knows what will happen in the future,) it’s been a very bittersweet thing to witness. On one hand you’re excited for your friends, even if they’re social media friends, and this new chapter that they’re beginning. On the other hand, you feel like everyone is slowly slipping away. There’ve been times when I felt like I was back in High School, finding out what college everyone was about to go off to. With some, I don’t necessarily care one way or another. I know they’re leaving and it’s something I take note of, but I’m not overly emotional about it. And then there are those whose decision to move makes you feel like you’re mourning a pretty big loss.

For example, I knew Keiko & Bobby (her boyfriend) had plans to move back to Florida eventually. They’re from there and their entire family, whom they’re incredibly close with, all live there. It was only a matter of time but like for most people, the pandemic sped things up. Even while I haven’t seen her in well over a year (we had plans during the week of the shutdown, which never ended up happening,) I get sad thinking about them no longer a drive away. In the past year, so much has changed and I often have a hard time wrapping my head around all of it.  How did our life change so drastically in less than a year? HOW?

I’ve always been a daydreamer by nature and I often find my thoughts wandering off. I think, “Should we also be involved in a big new, grand chapter?” & “Is this the time?” These thoughts never really crossed my mind before but like everyone else, COVID has made my mind go to places it has never gone before.

I’ll find myself wondering if we’re doing our children a disservice by not living in a home with a large, sprawling backyard (ours is a smallish, yet charming Brooklyn backyard.) Or if not a backyard, a place where the weather is less harsh for almost half the year.  Witnessing all of these moves as a 3rd party observer, particularly to places with a lot more space or warmer weather (even though I absolutely love climates of seasonal change,) has made me question whether we should be doing the same?! Whether I actually feel this way or if it’s because “Everyone else is doing it,” – I’m not entirely sure. If I were to guess, it would be the latter but again, who the hell knows.

This past year has bought a deep sense of mourning over the City that we had just one year ago. We’ve witnessed restaurants, where many of us made countless memories, close down indefinitely. We’ve witnessed friends move away. And we’ve seen people lose their jobs. The homelessness population is increasing due to economic insecurity. There’s been a massive rise in trash all over the streets due to budget cuts. It’s been a very heavy year, to say the least.

Yet, I don’t know if I’d be truly happy elsewhere. It’s not to say I wouldn’t eventually make the move to the ‘burbs’ because who knows, that may happen down the road. But I wonder if making a big, grand move to somewhere else, outside of New York, is in my future or not?

Realistically, our goal is to stay put (at least for awhile) and to have a home in the country. It’s something we’ve been trying to do but with everyone fleeing the city, those homes are getting harder and harder to come by. Seriously, how do so many people have FULL cash down payments/offers?! If we had a place that was filled with nature, additional space and a bit more serenity, coming back to the city would be the balance we all need. These days, when we spend a couple of days in the country, we realize just how much our family needs that.

All this to say is that my brain is kind of all over the place. What’s the right decision? Again, I’m not entirely sure. One day I feel one way and the next, I feel another.

How about you? In the past year, have you made a big life decision or move?



  • Brianna Rooney

    we’re looking to move from philly to the surrounding suburbs where our families are/ have more space/ etc BUT the market is so crazy. Losing out to houses with 20+ offers, going so far over asking, cash only, skipping inspection, etc. It’s truly insane and defeating but we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads for now, even though philly looks different these days.

  • Jackie Korey

    I live in NYC & have since I graduated college. I never saw myself here “permanently”- and honestly still don’t know if this my forever place. But this pandemic has given me a newfound love of the city. After spending 3+ months with my family in NC, I couldn’t wait to get back to the city I called home. My love for the city has only grown in the last year. In fact, my fiance & I are planning to get married in Brooklyn next summer. I never saw myself as a NYC bride, but this year only made me want to support the city I love & show everyone why we think it is amazing. It hasn’t been an easy year, but to me, there is no place like NY. And this year has only made me more determined to help make this city what it used to be.

  • Sarah H

    Hi Helena, I couldn’t agree more with this post. My feelings exactly. Like should I be moving? The idea of a big adventure of a fresh start does sound super exciting. As of now, my husband and I live in New York, after calling NYC home for so many years, I can’t even envision what it’s like to live somewhere else entirely. We don’t seriously think we’ll leave as of now but the city is going through a tough period of time where things are depressing! The best businesses and restaurants are closing, homeless on the rise, even petty crime. I love New York and am committed to her comeback but you definitely can’t help but wonder…

  • Abby

    My fiancé and I moved from NYC to Seattle at the end of March (packed in two days and moved early). Been here in his parents guest house and are miserable at home in this weather. In 2 weeks we will be moving once again. This time to Florida which is where we both went to school. Very excited for warm weather and more space. Two cross country moves in 49 weeks eek!

  • Jill Dorr

    I’ve lived in Chicago for almost 14 years and have been spending the last year traveling back and forth from my parent’s house in Michigan. Prior to Covid, I had never spent more than a week at my parent’s house since graduating college. I spent a combined 13 weeks there in 2020! While I don’t think about moving back to Michigan (I hate winter) I’ve thought about how wonderful it would be to own a coastal cottage in South Carolina. I don’t need nothing big, just something comfortable with some outdoor space to plant a garden and take a swim. How wonderful it would be to play tennis year round! My quality of life used to be fantastic – I live and work downtown, restaurants and bars are a close walk, Michigan Avenue shopping is 2 blocks away, but now it’s almost impossible to live here. I know rents in NY are significantly higher than in Chicago (my 1 bedroom is $2500/month), but I could buy a really cute little house in SC and have a mortgage payment less than what I pay in rent. This work from home environment is killing me mentally and if we can’t get back to the office soon I will need to move to be able to creat a separate work space. There are just so many thoughts running through my head, sorry this isn’t more coherent and concise!

  • Jemma

    We were in the same boat as you – living in a decent sized Brooklyn apartment with some outdoor space. But not enough. We’ve had a rental in Long Island this past year (with a view to then buying a second home) and it’s been heavenly to escape to, but setting off every weekend with a 4.5 year old and a baby, not so heavenly. Finding the best time of day to travel, traffic wise, kids sleep wise, school wise, returning to Brooklyn every Sunday scouring for parking – arghh. We’ve decided two homes are not a sustainable life for us right now, so we’re leaving Brooklyn to have just one house, one place. Sad about it, but I’ve long since learnt, being sad doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision. For us anyway. Hope you figure out what works for you x

  • Marie P

    We moved from Chicago to the Boulder, Colorado area about a month ago. I was born and raised in Chicago for almost 40 years so the move was a huge change! We relocated due to a job opportunity for my husband but truly he had wanted to leave for a long time. Chicago, like New York, is really changing and is not the best place to live anymore for many reasons. I miss my family and friends but love the milder weather and mountain views here. Crossing my fingers it starts to feel like home soon!

  • Zoe

    We live in Brooklyn, and are in the same boat. We have actually tried spending extended time away on the west coast once in the past (about six months) and it only made me love New York more. We missed the energy, the skyline, even the weather. You never know how much you’ll miss the seasons until you move somewhere there’s only two and it drives you mad (think Groundhog Day…every looks and feels the same).

    I think we eventually want to do the same (have a home in the city and in the country), but maybe once this is all over so we can make a good rational decision.

  • Olga

    Hi Helena – much like you, I am an immigrant from Russia who grew up in Brooklyn for the past three decades. Now that my daughter is of school age, the drastic changes to the NYC landscape (both on the education front and otherwise) made me reevaluate what kind of life I envision for her. Everyone I know is fleeing and I honestly can’t blame them. I love this city, but seeing its demise has been heart breaking. Sure, it’s NYC and it will bounce back but the education reform alone is troubling and makes me question what kind of future my child can have in this city. As I’m as I will always love this city, I feel like it’s time to move on and start a new chapter elsewhere (for all of our sake). There’s obviously private school, but I’ve always envisioned my daughter going to public school and it seems that is unrealistic in the imminent future. All this to say….this topic resonates with me and has been on my radar for the past year and as sad as it is …. it’s time to move to greener pastures for my daughters sake.

  • Alina Wy

    I moved to the States from Germany in late 2019. That move was big to begin with. Moving from living in a big(ish) city to the country in Michigan was super hard. I always told my husband we would have to move to a city where at least I could take walks and not be dependent on my car. However, when the pandemic hit that has drastically changed. I cannot imagine not living out in the country with 2 acres of land and woods and state parks around me. Being able to move freely without being close to other people is a blessing.
    Of course, that perception might change again in the future once life is back to normal (whatever that will look like).
    Knowing you only via social media, but following your journey since a really long time, I feel the idea of having a house in the country as a retreat and second home next to your Brooklyn residence would be the best idea. You can enjoy the best of both.

  • Melissa Greene

    I have an apartment in Brooklyn and my bf bought a home in CT in Oct. I was so excited—it needs work, it’s on two acres, the most perfect pandemic project. And it is! But I do have to say, when I’m in CT, I definitely miss Brooklyn. I love them both so much, for such different reasons. I think you’ve got the perfect plan: home in BK, home in the country. It’s such a privilege to be able to live that sort of life. But I think you’ll love it.

  • Georgia

    I believe living in different cities is one of the greatest experiences you can ever have. Life is too short to stay in one place forever. Its all part of life’s beautiful expected journey. You dont need to define one place as being home. Home is where the heart is and your heart can be in many places. <3

  • Julie E

    Oh how I envy people who have been able to move to new areas. We are stuck in NYC due to our jobs but if I could I would leave in a second. As much hate as the south gets, whenever I go there people are so content and after a year stuck inside the NY way of life seems to have lost its luster. Best of luck making the right choice for your family!

  • veniceblair

    Maybe it’s the midlife crisis like some call it. Maybe no matter where u live this indecisiveness would had happened at this stage of ur life. Who knows, that’s something to find within yourself. Your priorities and standards in life with defined what u do and where u want to be, now and in the future. Personally, I never liked the state where I live as much as others I’ve been to, on vacation. Even though my husband & I can work from anywhere in the country and we are free from kids, it’s hard to compromise and leave behind both sides of the family in a different state. I didn’t care about being close to family or some friends in my 20’s but now 30yo. my perspective and plans had changed and I don’t think about moving as a priority anymore, I finally understand that Home and Happiness is not a place or exact perfect moment. It is a way of living, a mood, a behavior, ur vibe, ur mindset, everything u do is a reflection of ur mind. If you’re not happy where u are, U won’t be happy anywhere else. To make a change first u must change ur mind. Everyone’s priorities and standards and expectations are different. I learned there’s no comparison between individuals even when they seem so similar, U can’t compare urself to anyone else, not now not ever. With kids, it’s a different story. Maybe u should ask them what they want, they have an opinion too. Their childhood is the prime stage of development, this is their cornerstone for the rest of their life. That’s why when ppl make the decision to reproduce they have to take all this in consideration before even trying. U need to have a plan and think of the worse case scenarios, what would benefits ur kids best, what would make them happy, how can u help shape their future for them to have a better life than yours. Once u give birth to a life, u give up ur life. Sad but true, even when ppl don’t behave that way, they are just in denial.

  • Kaitlyn

    I feel this deeply! I rode out the pandemic from March-December in NYC, but have been in FL since the start of the new year. I have to admit – it is very appealing when thinking about my long-term plan. We just resigned our lease in NYC, so will be there for a while, but the warmer weather and more freedom have been a very welcome change after 2020.

    We also tried to look for a home to buy all of last year in Westchester County, and sure enough, the bidding wars were insane. We were even the highest bidder on our last offer, but because someone swooped in with 50% down, we lost it. A terrible market for buyers right now.

    Good luck with your decision!

  • Jinnie Lieb

    We are in the same exact boat! We do have a house upstate (rural upstate), but have been toying with Miami for a year or Stockholm (where my husband is from). It seems impossible to come to a solid conclusion right now 😕

  • MarIna

    I don’t know if anyone who’s stuck around feels this way, but I find myself feeling almost abandoned by people moving far away from NYC. I have some friends that moved to the suburbs which with marriages and new children seems like it’s just a speed up of the inevitable. But with the friends that have always seemed like ride or die New Yorkers moving to Florida especially, I can’t help but feel like they’re just “fair weather friends” in this case quite literally. We all know the city is going through a lot but how can we expect it to ever recover if those who still have their jobs take their income elsewhere, leaving restaurants and businesses even more abandoned? The compassionate side of me understands that everyone needs to make decisions based on what’s right for their situation and families. But I still can’t help look twice at people who had a pretty comfortable life here and still chose to leave it permanently. (Vacation homes aside, that’s just smart investment)

  • Lisa

    I feel your dilemma. I am going through the same thing. So many friends have left it makes me question my love for New York. I am also trying not to get wrapped up in others decisions and do what is best for my famly. Still trying to figure out good luck to us both.

  • Lauren

    For me/my network, these moves are more motivated by the stage of life (same stage as you – two young kids!) than they are by the pandemic. We’re moving from San Francisco to Minneapolis early summer so we can be closer to our parents/family. We’ve lived in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco over the past two decades, and I will always love each of those places (can’t argue the merits of each – they’re all wonderful)! I hope to end up in a big city again after our kids grow up, but we’ve decided it’s more important for our kids to see their grandparents with some regularity.

    I know the winter is going to be ROUGH at times, but I do really miss the seasons. I look forward to the variety they will bring to the flow of our lives!

  • Ranya ElB

    Originally from Toronto, my husband and I moved to live and work Singapore 5 years ago. We’d always planned to move back home around the 5 year mark, but Covid put that plan on Turbo- esp since Singapore was one of the earliest impacted countries after China (this was back in Jan/Feb 2020). We moved back to Toronto(literally packed our whole life within a week or so) right around the time the whole world went into the first lockdown.
    Honestly, our city is just not the same. We can’t do all the things that make Toronto fun and we can’t see our family and friends (which was the main reason we always wanted to move home). I now miss Singapore dearly.
    I also had a baby mid pandemic, so the questions around relocating, where to live and city living vs. extra space are on my mind as we plan on buying something in the near future.
    If we no longer get value from being in the core of downtown Toronto, should I still compromise on space just so I can be downtown? If WFH persists for the foreseeable future, is it better to establish a comfortable home base and Uber downtown on the weekends to go to local restaurants/cafes/gyms (if they survive)?
    All in all, the past year really forced me to slow down, accept things that are completely out of my control, and savour the mundane things in life. I hope, whatever our decision is, that it comes from a place of introspection and true conviction on what matters most to our little family.

    • Vasilika

      My husband and I moved to Houston back in 2015. Our families are still in Brooklyn. When we first moved and probably first few years, I was regretting the move. Especially after we had our son. I was so sad that he won’t see his grandparents regularly and there is no family nearby. I also missed nyc so much and really didn’t feel like I belonged here in TX. It’s such a different culture. However, with the pandemic and with my son getting older I started to appreciate our big home and backyard with pool more and more. Winter became my favorite time of the year as well because it’s so warm. I think seeing how much my son loves his house and space makes me happy and grounds me to stay here. I gave up on the idea of moving back to the city and finally got a few good friends that make this feel more and more like home. It definitely took some time for me to come around but I realized that my sons comfort and happiness brings the same to me.

  • Sasha Jeter

    Hi Helena!

    I’ve followed you for years and I truly love and admire your authenticity/ vulnerability especially through a clouded and very biased platform such as Instagram. I follow you for the fashion and just because of you. My entire family are from Cuba and landed in New Jersey. I still have family in Jersey but most of us have moved to Florida. With that said I truly feel based on your comment above or question actually is how did our word change in a matter of a year? and I truly believe it’s all a political agenda. I think people have seen a difference in who is the governor/ the leaders and making your state decisions. I’m very blessed that my family decided to move to Florida for that freedom. And to live better lives. But of course a better life to you may be different to someone else in your definition and perspective. But that’s my answer to your question above. It’s really answering how happy you are in your current life/ state. I know things may change but we also don’t know it if it. And I know in Florida we are grateful and thankful for our leaders of the state. I have three children now and see the importance of this. Especially now. The life we are living in now.

    • Jane

      THIS. I just pray all of nyc doesn’t move to Florida and vote Florida into becoming nyc. Would break my heart and I don’t get how they don’t see what they’ve done.

      • GH

        I have lived in NYC Amy whole life and could not have said it better. It BREAKS any heart what has happened to the city, but saddens me even deeper that people don’t seem to understand the true impact of choosing leadership.

  • Diana

    Last summer when our lease in the West Village was up, we decided to put all of our stuff in storage and live the nomadic life until we found our forever apartment in the city. Now 7 months into a plan that was supposed to be only 2 or 3 (having lived in both city and suburb) we are now currently living in Miami with our dream NYC apartment still not in sight. Coming from the perspective of having moved out, I will say it has only made me realize that NYC is where I should be. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss the convenience of everything. I miss the grit and the beauty and the culture (that is really unparalleled.) I’m in gorgeous weather here in Florida, yet I see the snow in NY and wonder how people can live without seasons! What I’ve gathered is that partially, the grass is always greener on the other side, but more importantly, home IS where the heart is, and my heart will always be in NY. We can travel for newness and experience, but for a place to call home, there is none other than the best city in the world. 

  • Jana

    We live in Midtown Manhattan and everything around us has changed so much over the last year. Still, I love living here and I don’t want to move away at all. Ever.
    Despite all of that, this is New York City. It also would be boring without change. I think one big question the pandemic raised was if we can adopt to change.
    Besides, I grew up in a village of about 150 people in the middle of nowhere in northeastern Germany. So living in t h e City is one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me.
    Now that the suburbs are even more expensive and my husband just got a job offer in Midtown, I (and also my teenage me) hope that Murray Hill will remain our forever home.

  • Mila

    I grew up in the same building as you, eventually moving to Brooklyn and then Long Island… I couldn’t dream of living anywhere else other than NYC but I met my other half who lives in Canada and as sad as I have been to leave NYC, I much prefer it as a place to visit then to live in. Just realizing how much time was wasted on commute whereas now I get an extra 2 hours of my life back to enjoy with my family. I love NYC, but the New York I once knew is gone and the people gone with it. Everyone has moved elsewhere. So it is now just a collection of wonderful memories to me. The NYC I knew remains only in my heart.

  • Laura

    As a child I never had a big outdoor space/yard, or even a big house to grow up in – I never did, and I still don’t think I missed anything. We were middle-class income household so we could’ve afforded to live in a bigger space but my parents didn’t feel the need for the extra space. And to be honest, it’s been good as an adult, as I save a lot on the rent as I now love smaller apartments and spaces rather than big ones. 😉

  • Tessa

    I feel this–it’s hurting my heart seeing so many people move away! All the time I spent outside of New York over the past year ultimately just reinforced my love for it. Yeah, it’s not the same right now. But I’m committed to riding this out and helping the city recover.

    Additionally, my boyfriend is actually moving up next month (from a southern city). People have questioned our decision, but right now, we can’t name a place we’d rather be. Charleston and Miami have their charms, but they’re just not New York…and they never will be. (That said I’m biased, I very much share your love of seasons! I lived somewhere without them for a long time and by the end, it was somewhat maddening.)

  • Jessica

    Sadly, NYC has lost its appeal for me. I moved here 4 years ago completely on my own at 26, and my entire family is in Western New York outside of Buffalo. I don’t feel safe in the city anymore as a single woman, and most of my girlfriends have left as well, and are on the west coast with family. I would love to move back home and be with family, but I work for the state and I cannot get a transfer. I am hoping NY recovers sooner than later, but I think it will be a while. I wish I could move down south or across the country, especially during these times. Helena, If your mind is wondering what else is out there, I say go for it! You’ll never know if you don’t try.

  • Tiffany H

    I will say this, I think we always crave what we think we’re missing. Here in Texas, I have been in suburban hell. I crave a walkable city like NYC. I hate driving and I hate how hot it is. It gets so hot, you don’t want to be outside so then you’re stuck in the house. When you want to get out, you have to drive everywhere. And yes, I wish we had four seasons.

    • Diana

      I lived in NYC for 16 years until last July. we had a 10 month old and living in a 2 bedroom with both my husband and I working full time when we’re on calls all day became too difficult. We looked at buying in CT a weekend home but the market was heating up and we were lucky that we found a one year rental. I don’t drive and never imagined we’d live in the suburbs. Living in a house in CT has been great during COVID but I miss the good restaurants and the ease of living in a walkable city. We plan to move back as soon as we need to go back to the office, I don’t want to commute. We are incredibly lucky we found a comfortable house to rent. I can completely understand how hard it is to be in the city during this strange time and the craving to leave – we felt it after 4 months of living in the city during the beginning of the pandemic. But being away has also reminded me of all the things we love about the city. Ultimately I believe we need to do what’s best for our mental health and therefore the health of your family. None of these decisions and questions are easy to grapple with.

  • Lauren

    This really hits home!! My husband and I have been agonizing over this for some time now. We have moved A LOT.. 4 cities in last 6 years but we have not found our forever city yet. We have a 1.5 year old now so really just trying to decide where we feel like would be the best place to raise him and give us the lifestyle we want. We live 6 hours from my family and my husband’s family lives in France and we don’t have pur close friends near either so our dilemma is move close to my parents or move back to France (we moved to the US from there 6 years ago). We have made pros and cons lists, talked to friends and family, and we are honestly no closer to a decision. Some days we are like yes let’s take the risk and go back to France and others we are like that’s crazy, what if that blows up in our face. And now it’s not just us – we have our son to think about! Ughhh.. my instincts usually point me to taking a risk but it’s hard right now when things have been so uncertain for a year now. I will say if we had friends and family around, we would stay put – we have learned just how hard it is without them close!

  • Heather Marie

    Love the honesty… making a life change takes lots of time and careful thought and consideration. For over 10
    years, I worked as a National Sales Director for a hotel management company and working on placing large conferences and events at our hotels. I derived such pride from my career. When COVID hit, things got bad and each day, I felt like I was failing at my job. It took me over 3 months of thinking about it, but I finally got the courage to leave and join my husband to help grow his growing real estate law firm. I ugly cried so hard on my last day, but each day after, I knew I made the right decision and I am so excited for this new chapter! Take your time and I hope you have your A-Ha moment of clarity of what is best for your and your family <3

    • Ronnie

      We’ve lived in Nyc for almost five years and I still like it. We’re from Chicago originally and miss it there so much. I would still want the city life for the time being

  • Hilary

    My husband got a promotion that moved him to Australia in January 2020. After doing long distance for almost a year, I finally made it to the literal other side of the world in December 2020. Moving is hard but even more so in a pandemic. For me, the travel was hard, but there is ZERO covid here so now life is more normal, but how do you meet people, find doctors or a hair place, etc., and learn and experience a new culture with businesses closed and a mask on? Also, finding a new job in this economy – exhausting.

  • Aleksandra

    I totally get it! I spent most of my life in NYC and it’s definitely home and the place where most of my family and friends are. We moved to Austin in August with our 9 and 11 year old. It wasn’t an easy decision and something we had gone back and forth on for years. Like you, I love NYC but we just couldn’t afford more space and were less and less happy there. We were always looking to get away from the city and figured what do we have to lose by trying, worst case we can always move back. So far, we are all more happy than we’ve been in the last few years and feel really great about the decision we made. It’s not an easy decision to make, just do what you feel is best for your family!

  • Vanessa DiMaria

    I can’t tell you enough how much this resonates with me. I also wonder where everyone is getting the cash to put down for houses these days. As a healthcare workers, no amount of OT can compete with that! My husband and I love NYC the way you describe, and all of our friends also left. While we want to make a plan to move to the burbs, we also wonder if waiting it out is the best option (esp for the market to calm down). Thanks for being so real and sharing what EVERY New Yorker is thinking (whether they admit it or not). xox -V

  • laura

    Same-ish boat. I’m contemplating a temporary move. I came to New York in April 2019. My first year with a Manhattan address was spent almost entirely out of town for work. And my second year has been mostly alone in my Chelsea apartment. I love the city more than anything, but this isn’t the experience I dreamed about when I moved here. A big part of me wants to move back to Chicago for a year or two. An apartment 4x the size for $1k less is so attractive right now. Plus the freedom a car would provide and 10+ years of friends still there. Then once things really open up into the new normal I would return to New York. But a part of me also feels so guilty even thinking about moving, turning my back on this wonderful place in its moment of need.

  • Kate

    I won’t assume your intentions at all, but I found the way you referred to “rise of homeless and rise of trash” really off-putting. I experienced homelessness in my youth so maybe I’m sensitive, but I would suggest words such as “more folks are experiencing housing insecurity” or even saying “the homelessness population is increasing due to economic insecurity” or something other than just “homeless” and then linking that with trash on the street. Many people who are without homes are families and in the shelter system, many are on the streets, and much more in between.

    Lots of us are struggling with these kinds of decisions, good luck with yours.

    • Helena

      Hi Kate,
      I apologize if you found it off-putting. Absolutely not how I meant it, but wasn’t entirely sure how to go about wording it. Thank you for alternate suggestions – I appreciate that as rather than attacking what I said/wrote, you provided helpful feedback I can learn from. Thank you for that!


    Thank you for this piece. I’m way over in Australia and I’m experiencing exactly the same feelings.

  • Janine

    Such an interesting read, thank you so much for sharing! I absolutely get your thought process here. Myself, I have not made any major life decisions during the past year – I know, everyone is talking about how the pandemic sped things up, but I kinda feel like it is even slowing me and my life down?! I agree, it’s just crazy what’s been going on and I just want to say that I think it is completely valid to feel confused and even contradict one self during these times 🙂
    Xx Janine

  • Alison d

    We live in the upper east side with my 11 and 2 yo daughters. My husband and I both work in the city and have gone through the same exact feelings you have all year. In fact reading this i totally connected with what you are thinking and the emotions your going through. I’m originally from NC but moved to the city almost 20 years ago at the ripe age 23. It has been a year of emotions and what to do all year. We actually almost moved to CT in aug and backed out of an accepted offer. There are pros and cons and we try to think beyond the pandemic. My daughter still has all of her friends here but even she goes back on forth on what she would like to do. We definitely get anxiety when we see another moving truck or hear of another family moving out. I have had a love/hate relationship with city all year. One day I’m supporting this place with all my heart and doing everything we can to support. The next day I see vagrance and homeless with trash all over the street and want to move out. We decided to stay put and just see how we feel in the spring. Highschool is a couple years off for my daughter and burbs even without a pandemic may be better but this has also changed the public school landscape so burbs are even more of an option unless we privet to private.

  • Justine

    People moving out of NY shouldn’t make you question, it should be your own life wants and needs. Once NY is thriving again all those people in FL will want to come back.
    I am born and raised in nyc and am absolutely in love with it. Looking at the city skyline makes me feel like anything is possible! I’m a professional dancer and have spent months at a time living in very different places. I lived in PA for two months and I hated it! I lived in India for 3 months, Dubai for 2, vegas for 1 month and LA for a month. These moves were short but one thing they taught me is how I never want to live anywhere but NY!!! My life needs the energy of the city. People walking down the streets, the hustle and grit. Now I don’t have kids so I’m thinking very one sided but one thing that’s always been in the back of my mind is when I have kids what will change? me and my bf are both born and raised in nyc and he’s from the UWS so he really had convenience. I grew up in a part of the bronx that’s spacious and quiet so it almost feels like the little break from the city you need. I think of what’s important to me and the values I Want to instill in my kids. For me of the most important is being surrounded by all types of people! All races, religions seeing 2 mommy’s or 2 daddy’s and it being normal! I want my kids to see all walks of life and not judge! I think NYC has directly inspired me, instilled values, gave me that hard working hustler drive and given me a humbling that I’m so proud of!
    No where like NYC!

  • Libby

    I loved reading this post. I live in the middle of the country and have never lived in a big city. My dream has always been to go to New York City to visit. Over the past several months I have watched what has happened to NYC and other large cities across the country, and it makes me very sad. Your post gave great insight of what it really must be like in NYC right now. My heart breaks for all those that are suffering, loss of jobs, businesses closed, homeless, and also for those who are just at a loss with everything that has happened. I hope things look up for NYC and the country soon. Everyone is in need of a little happiness. Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt post. You and your city are in my thoughts.

  • Alexa

    I moved abroad from NYC 3 years ago, so before the pandemic. I miss the city I left every day, but I feel like that city no longer exists. Everyone I knew and loved has left or will leave soon, to Connecticut, Long Island, Maryland, Hawaii, California. I don’t blame them. It’s impossible to justify the high cost of living when you can’t enjoy being in the city any longer, and now that it’s possible to work remotely for many jobs. I know that the lifestyle we have here (fresh air, beach access every day, enough space for a dog not to mention my kids) is better for my children, but I do miss the cultural diversity of NYC and the intellectual and creative stimulation. I was born in NYC, and I truly believe I will be back someday.

  • Katie

    Thank you for being authentic and vulnerable in this post. As a long time fan of yours it makes me like you even more and touched my heart.

  • Heather Reed

    The fact that you and other New Yorkers like you are being forced to even THINK this way, makes me mad/sad because it’s been forced on you. All of it was avoidable. None of the shut-down actually helped. So the city was destroyed, and you are forced to deal with the fall-out. I’m SO, SO sorry. I guess the decision is more “do I want to stay, step up and make it come back to its former glory” or “do I let it all burn because no one in power seems to be willing to make hard decisions.”

  • Sel

    I find that I worry about where as a society we are heading and what my/our children will need to deal with. I am very much concerned about their future on all levels – physical, economic, social and moral. I feel like the world is falling apart.

  • Susie

    I have lived everywhere. I left home friends and family behind at 19 years old and never looked back. It builds a resilience to move and not knowing anyone make a life for yourself. I have lived in San Fran, Tulsa, Dallas, Houston, Charlotte……. I am looking at moving to Europe now. If you don’t like it, you can always go back. Plus everyone is only a flight away. There is nothing wrong with trying something new.

  • Mp

    Wow. I could totally feel your emotions on this post. Best of luck to you and your family on whatever you decide to do. New York is really special and there truly is no other place like it. Sending all the love from California!

  • Sara

    I definitely feel you on this one. We live in downtown Vancouver, in a pretty small two bedroom townhouse (with two kids same age as yours). I think the pandemic has us all feeling squirrelly – like we need a big change, and we do! We need the pandemic to be over. lol. My husband is constantly looking at suburban real estate but I will NOT! 1) a global pandemic is not the time to be making big life decisions like this – it will end (I think?!? 🙂 so I am committed to waiting until then to make a decision like this. and 2) the suburbs are not conducive to quality of life! Yes you would have a yard, and more space between you and your neighbors, but this is not how we are meant to live. Density creates amazing communities, walkability and an overall improved quality of life. Suburbs breed isolation and car dependence. Anyway, as you can tell I feel very passionately about this topic. I can’t say that you shouldn’t move and experience another city etc, but you definitely should wait until things return to normal to make a huge decision like that. Of course this is just my opinion. lol

  • Amy

    I think it’s totally normal to feel how you’re feeling, just know that everyone in the world is adjusting to the new. I currently live in CT, have recently been traveling a bit, was in Atlanta for a few months, and will get back on the road for a little bit, but I love NYC, and I love being able to go in to the city at a whim. However, I moreso love the nature here in CT, the shoreline, going to the beach in any season, there is something healing and calming by the water. And all of the animals, the deer, the birds, oh the beautiful birds, the silly squirrels even. If you love the serenity of the country and nature, and you also love the city, and the 4 seasons, why not move to CT, that way you have the best of both worlds, you’re always close to the city, can go at anytime, yet you would have the peace and beauty of nature as well! Whatever you decide I pray the best for you and your beautiful family!! 🙏🏻💞🕊

  • LaurEl

    From a different perspective: I am originally from the Catskills, born and raised in Woodstock. This pandemic has completely destroyed our small town in a completely different type of way. All of the people moving to our small town to get away from the city turning it into a mini city. Snatching up houses in cash, eliminating the possibility of locals to own houses in their own home. I get that everyone wants to love, but at the same time they are not even considering the people who are from there. Renters are being kicked out because landlords can make a killing on selling. Our small town lost its small town charm. You can’t walk down the street and no everyone anyone. Everyone is a stranger. Everyone is rich whereas we used to be just a small, middle class town. I hate it so much. Home doesn’t even feel like home anymore and it’s breaking my heart.

    • LauRel

      Sorry for the typos!! I mean live and not love and also know instead of no!

  • Christina

    Helena – I have loved watching you raise your beautiful family in NYC. I temporarily left the city in March and am planning to move back soon. I miss the city with all my heart and seeing you stay put has given me a huge sense of relief! Like NYC cannot be “dead” if you are there. I would be so sad if you ever left the city TBH. I can tell you from living in the suburbs with my parents the last few months that there really is nothing like nyc! I am feeling hopeful for the future and hope that if anything, NYC can become a slightly more affordable and less crowded place after the pandemic.

  • Lori

    I’m a Queens native, too. This pandemic has brought out so many of the same feelings about “where next?” And should there even be a “next”? I recently spent a couple of months in New Jersey and the difference in my stress levels was significant. I was so much more relaxed with some outdoor space and a porch. As soon as I drove back to NYC, the stress immediately returned. Maybe it’s some PTSD from hearing sirens every day early on in the pandemic. Maybe it’s the fact the homeless situation is out of control and the mentally ill aren’t getting any sort of attention and help. Maybe it’s all of the luxury development still breaking ground despite the crazy inequality and homelessness. Maybe it’s all of the retail blight and the sadness I feel for all of the business owners who have lost their livelihoods or are still trying to hold on. It’s definitely not the NYC I grew up in. While I hope things do turn around, I’m still not sure what’s “next” for me.

  • J

    Born and raised in NYC and I’ve left it several times only to come back. The city itself has taught me so much and made me the person I am today. This city is resilient and the Big Apple will have her comeback!!

  • Leslie Mcelroy

    I live in Florida and let me tell you it’s not all its made to be. It’s hot almost year round. No change in seasons. No snow days!
    I would love to live in NYC. Pre covid I visited multiple times a year. Family obligations keep me in Florida. Personally I think people are moving to Florida because we don’t have as many restrictions as NYC. Not because its a better place to live. NYC will be back and better than ever. If you were to move I would stay close to NYC. Take it from someone born and raised in Florida, you wouldn’t want to live here year round.

  • toni

    as a native NY’er (just outside the city) I can’t imagine living anywhere else. NY is my home and my heart and she will survive this!

  • K

    I’m a die hard New Yorker, have lived in Manhattan/Brooklyn for 12 years. Not going anywhere anytime soon! But cannot wait to vote in a new mayor this year! I also have a toddler and have only recently understood why people might want to leave the city once they have kids. But I honestly think a lot of people made a hasty decision to move to the suburbs because of the pandemic and 50% of them will want to come back. I know a few people who ran to the suburbs without much thought and already miss the city. People will be back, New York always draws people back in.

  • Luisa

    I came to NYC for college and stayed for 11 years. It’s where I met my husband, started my career, got married, got our precious dog. It’s where I have felt truly happy. And 2020 only solidified my love for NY and my desire to call it my forever home. The restaurants on the street, the resilience of the people, the grit, the energy…there simply is no place like it. We had made the decision to move to Miami for 2 years at the end of 2019 to be closer to my family as my grandpa and my mom are going through some health struggles. We have been here for 2 months and while the weather has been nice, it has made us even more sure than NYC is our home. I hate driving everywhere, I’m *so* jealous of all the snow back in NYC (I cannot live without seasons), and the people are just one dimensional honestly. The cultural sights and museums are lacking in Miami, and it’s made me realize that is absolutely something I want my future kids to grow up around. I’m still glad we’re here close to family and embarking on a new adventure as a couple, albeit temporarily. We would never have been as sure of NYC being our forever home had we not done this, and it has really made me appreciate all the city has to offer.

  • marion

    I love being a city girl and for now I don’t wanna change it even though you for sure can’t compare even the biggest German cities to New York.
    The big thing the pandemic gave us time to think about is ending our fertility treatment. The treatment was paused last year back in april due to the pandemic. It was the firm time since we started it 4 years ago that we really had time to think and process everything. Not gonna lie it was the hardest decision we’ve ever made and I’m still crying and there is still a long way of healing. Maybe some scares will never vanish.
    But I still we feel both so much better with this decision. It’s kind of bittersweet.

  • G

    As a fellow native New Yorker I think we are all deeply aware of the fact that we would never feel truly happy permanently living elsewhere – it’s embedded in our DNA – our standards for things would just constantly be let down elsewhere – and because were New Yorkers we will be genuinely angry about those things!

    And something I think about a lot – I cannot imagine my children not being New Yorkers or not identifying with this city the way I do and even more so – this city/culture/way of life is tethered to our personalities and our children’s personalities as they grow! … and like who even am I if I’m not a girl from Queens? And what would my children’s personalities be like if they weren’t from here? Would they have the guts to survive here like we have?

    • Jessica

      I’m a lifelong New Yorker who moved to CT during the pandemic. It’s been eye-opening because so much of my identity was wrapped up in my localeS but this is what I’ve realized – being from New York isn’t a personality trait (identity is so much more than that!), and just because it’s hard doesn’t make it worthwhile. New York kicks you on your ass and makes you say thank you, may I have another. The leadership could do things to fix the quality of life but they just let it sink further & further. I’ve got one life to live and I’m done struggling to maintain a decent quality of life when I could do so much better literally anywhere else. Looking forward to visiting and being a tourist – but boy bye!

  • DanieLle

    It’s hard to believe it’s almost been a year since the city shut down. I moved here three years ago and am so thankful for the time I had pre pandemic. It gave me all of the feels that I only had when visiting the city. I don’t think my feelings have changed, but I like you, have my doubts. NYC isn’t the easiest city to live in, everything is expensive, it’s a pain taking my dogs out when it’s cold or raining and what I thought was the perfect two bedroom apt now feels like the walls are caving in. With that being said, I’ve never felt more alive in any city. I’m hoping it’s just the winter time blues that are giving me doubts because I don’t know where I’d go from here. Nothing compares to NYC. 🤍 on a side note, the overflowing trash cans… I can’t deal.

    Sending you love from the West Village!

  • Brittni

    Helena, I empathize so much with you, and your words resonated deeply with me. I was born in Manhattan, lived in Brooklyn, then Connecticut, then back to Manhattan, Chicago, back to Manhattan, then back to Connecticut. I was house hunting for single family home in Brooklyn three years ago with my husband and son when we found a house on the water in Greenwich CT within walking distance of an express train to Manhattan. The biggest deciding factors became: 1. Living close to family (all my family that was in Brooklyn had left for warmer climates, and my mom had moved to CT and never left). We tried Chicago before we had children, and the weather was too harsh and we had better job opportunities in New York. 2. Living near Manhattan: because of the latter, and because our hearts are in the city, particularly the East Village, and we love being able to go whenever we want, plus we love having 4 seasons. 3. Space and schools: We knew we wanted 3 children and hoped we would have them (and we did) and we wanted space and excellent, easily accessible public schools. The pandemic has curbed most of our plans to go to manhattan for dinners, day trips, and to see all the many friends we are still close with (of note: you will still be friends with your real friends wherever you go). We are not going as regularly as I would like because of Covid and it pains me. However, the plan has been to raise our children in Greenwich, and move back to Manhattan as soon as they move out of the house. If all goes well, we hope to keep our house as our summer / country / holiday house while residing back in the city full time. I don’t regret moving out of the city and I am loving raising my children in Greenwich. Manhattan is the greatest city in the world, and it will be back. I will be back. You can love two places with one heart.

  • Kim

    People have different priorities and often other cities can provide families and individuals access to these priorities. Many individuals moving to southern states value the cost of living, the taxes, the financials that can allow them to plan for their families futures and their futures, others value the idea of being closer to family because their parents may not be getting younger and that’s what matters to them the most. Others simply can’t handle the work mentality that takes a toll and has them questioning every day am I doing this right that NYC people often dwell upon but forget because they become energized by the people, the restaurants the scene.

    So it really just depends. If you want to be happy, be. It’s important to write down what brings you happiness – children with their grandparents, children with larger spaces to run around and play in the neighborhood with other kids then go for it! NYers can find incredible opportunities elsewhere and sometimes they forget that their resume as a NY has a big leg up on many.

    Now if you also chose to stay in NY because it inspires you and makes you feel alive and social life and restaurants is what is important than that is amazing to! It has a lot to offer but no places will ever have it all.

  • Sol

    I didn’t realize the quality of life I could give my children and my dog upon leaving, sometimes it brings me to tears.

    I am glad that I was able to experience both however I realize that NY for me was more about myself rather than my unit.

  • Olivia

    This is definitely tough! I left NYC for my parent’s house in the NJ suburbs last March, let my lease go and decided to ride out the summer. Moved back to NYC in September and it is 100% not the same city it once was. That being said, I’ve learned to love new aspects about it and am looking forward to the day it resembles “normal” again. I think in general, COVID has made people re-evaluate city living no matter what city… I do think (and hope) that there will be a large return to NYC though once we get more of a handle on the pandemic.

  • Corey

    It’s so interesting to read everyone’s comments on this post as well as your view on the situation. I moved back home to the South in Sept 2019, so a few months before the pandemic, and all I’ve done is obsess about moving back to NYC. With the rental market at an all-time low, I’m actually planning to take advantage and move back in a couple of months. I know that I will not be returning to the city I left behind but I also know that it will recover and I want to be there when it does.

  • FrAncis

    We live in San Francisco and this city is experiencing an exodus as well. But I’ve been here long enough, through the economic highs and lows, to know that IT WILL BOUNCE BACK. I understand and respect the many complex reasons people have chosen to move on, But SF and NYC are awesome and amazing cities. And when things start normalizing again, people will come back. Perhaps some of the people who left will miss the things they loved about the city and will return. Or maybe the availability of apartments and office space will lure new people. Either way, these are desirable places to live for many folks for a reason, and I for one can’t wait to be here when we are able to get back to doing all the things we love here.

  • FrAncis

    We live in San Francisco and this city is experiencing an exodus as well. But I’ve been here long enough, through the economic highs and lows, to know that IT WILL BOUNCE BACK. I understand and respect the many complex reasons people have chosen to move on, but SF and NYC are awesome and amazing cities. And when things start normalizing again, people will come back. Perhaps some of the people who left will miss the things they loved about the city and will return. Or maybe the availability of apartments and office space will lure new people. Either way, these are desirable places to live for many folks for a reason, and I for one can’t wait to be here when we are able to get back to doing all the things that makes this city special.

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  • aaaaa

    we’re looking to move from philly to the surrounding suburbs where our families are/ have more space/ etc BUT the market is so crazy. Losing out to houses with 20+ offers, going so far over asking, cash only, skipping inspection, etc. It’s truly insane and defeating but we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads for now, even though philly looks different these days.

  • Judith landgraf

    ugh. Someone sure likes to hear herself talk. Life goes on without you lol

  • Mitul Radadiya

    We have to try to stay and rich in all places to comfortable for ourselves.

  • Mary Denis

    Live in Westchester, NY AND I LOVE IT….have I thought of moving elsewhere…sure, we are all experience wander lust …lived in the west coast…spent a couple of months in Florida…yes, the warmth gets to you, but it gets monotonous, and the experience and the food , does not compare, ..while these places have their own brand of delicacies, I’ve found myself around ex NY’kers all craving a taste of back home!
    I’m proud of being a born & bred NY’ker, born in the NYC, bred in the boogie-down,attended 1 st year of college in the BK, …Tried the Jersey thing, nah, keep it Bon Jovi & Bruce … nothing compares to you NEW YORK! In Westchester, I get to enjoy the bucolic country feeling, with a Hudson River view & a quick drive into the city & it’s dinner in Chinatown, with a walk into lil Italy for dessert, Bagel & lox at Russ & daughters or one of the last true Jewish deli/ diners in Riverdale Liebman’s, Katz’s Deli, Eataly, Levain Bakery, MarieBelle or Jacques Torres Hot Chocolate, Yankees! ( sorry mets🤮), Oops, and I forgot how good Chinese Food is here & Fuggedahbouit, when it comes to Pizza!,,😍
    Central Park, the village , upper west side, soho…too many great neighborhoods to name in all the boroughs. I’ve looked at other places as I look to where I can afford to continue living in the future, but NY at the end of the day is where I want to be, drove to the city not long ago, for the 1 st time in a year… yep, sadly quiet, a bit of a ghost town, since most are inside- which killed the parking situation…which wasn’t too bad in the past( depending upon the neighborhood.
    To make a long story short NEW YORK, love it or leave it- it’s a hard habit to break!

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  • Angelica

    This hits so close to home for me. I am such a die hard New Yorker and it has been so difficult to see what has happened to the city and the masses that are fleeing. I truly hope it recovers and people come HOME.

    XX Angelica

  • Riya Dube

    Really amazing Post. I am really enjoying it.

  • David Porter Jewelry

    There’s no place like NYC, 🙂 Love your story. 🙂

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  • Ale

    I live in Houston, TX because of work. Ideally I’d love to live in a small city in the mountains of Colorado. If I could always work remotely this dream would come true.

  • Nancy Gonzalez

    I live in FL, born and raised actually. In Palm Beach County now. It’s beautiful, but if we could leave we absolutely would. FL is not the utopia people think it is.. even if you have plenty of money. The term “FL man” exists for a reason.

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