Thursday, June 18, 2009


Colleen Newvine has a seriously wonderful blog. It's called Newvine Growing - exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally. I told her in an email: "I like the combo of good information about personal and professional development, the way you are thoughtful without being fruity or crystal-waving. (Speaking of fruity, remember Jack Handy from Saturday Night Live? When you're in the right mood, it can be hilarious to read from his books.)"

Here's a recent post from Ms. Colleen; I know she welcomes comments.

On moving to Brooklyn
As I write this, I am surrounded by cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and old newspapers. We are preparing for a move in about two weeks and living in chaos in the meantime.
Manhattan map

Google "New York City map" and you're likely to get an image like this -- Manhattan, with perhaps the hint there there's something else.

We are leaving the city. Not New York. Just Manhattan.

For those of you not well-versed in New York geography, the city of New York is actually made up of five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. But informally, when someone refers to living in “the city,” what they usually mean is Manhattan.

Meanwhile, just across the East River is Brooklyn, which has about 2.5 million residents — about 1 million more than Manhattan. If it were its own city, Wikipedia says it would be the fourth biggest in the country. But since it doesn’t have Broadway shows, Central Park, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or Ground Zero, you might assume “New York City” and “Manhattan” are interchangeable and not think of the most-populous borough.

Borough populationWhen we moved to New York about three years ago, I felt strongly that if were were moving to New York, I would regret it if we never lived in Manhattan. Though many of my colleagues commute in from the suburbs, I was set on having the city experience.

That’s meant paying an astronomical amount of rent to live in an apartment smaller than where I lived my senior year of college.

Now three years in, we’re looking to make a change. It’s partially driven by finances, but it’s also motivated by a desire to have a different kind of New York experience.

There’s a sense that all the creatives have been priced out of Manhattan by years of booming real estate escalating both rents and purchase prices. Curious? Check out this search for three-bedroom rentals in Manhattan on Craigslist. A three-bedroom would hardly be considered indulgent in much of the country but here, if you learn that someone lives in that much space in Manhattan, you might ask in a whisper whether they got it under rent control in the ’70s or if they’re a trustifarian. It’s not uncommon for a decent one bedroom to go for $3,000 or so in Manhattan, and with bigger apartments more rare, they command premium prices.

Where have the creatives gone? Many of them are in Brooklyn, though now there’s talk that gentrification is pushing some of the pioneers out into Queens. But a story on NPR-affiliate WNYC a while back noted that for the second year in a row, Brooklyn had more winners in an arts grant program than Manhattan, which would seem to say that at least some artists are still there.

We feel that choosing a place to live isn’t just about square footage or the amenities inside the front door. Where you live determines much about your lifestyle. How long is your commute? What kinds of grocery stores and restaurants are nearby? Who are your neighbors? Do you socialize with people nearby or have to travel a long distance to spend time with people you like?

So while we were checking out new apartments, we were also shopping for neighborhoods and lifestyle. We want to unpack our boxes into an improved quality of life, not just a slightly bigger apartment with lower rent.

Have you chosen where you live intentionally? Does your neighborhood suit you well? How about your city or state? If not, would you consider leaving or are you held in place by family, friends or your job?

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