I never thought I would be all right saying that I hate New York. I thought to say such a thing was equal to being a failure, like somehow I had given up on my lifelong dream of living in the city. I haven’t given up. I just can’t live here. I cannot afford to live here, I am always on edge, and I am unhappy.
For less than the price I pay for my 11 x 14 bedroom that has no window or air conditioning while I live with five other people, I can have a one-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, bathroom, hardwood floors, washer/dryer, and air conditioning to myself in St. Louis. (Missouri is my home state.) Or I can have a two bedroom with all these features for $800 a month and add a roommate—it would still be cheaper than my sad, tiny bedroom in New York City. Search for apartments in NYC or the surrounding areas and try—just try—to find an $800 apartment. You can’t. The cost is not worth it. Sure, it sounds cool to say you live in New York City. It sounds so glamorous and romantic, but that’s only because I leave out the “…in a tiny bedroom with no window and limited access to the kitchen or bathroom in a really sketchy area and it costs me 70% of my monthly pay, but HEY, I LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY.”
It’s not only rent that is absurd. Biweekly grocery shopping is a nightmare. How is it I can spend $60 and have a single bag of purchases? Oh, yeah—because bread is around $4 or $5 a loaf. A 13-ounce box of cereal? Goodbye, $7. Where I’m from, a box of cereal (a family-size box, mind you) costs $3. Bread costs 88 cents a loaf. You have to really know where to go to get good deals, and when the nearest Target is two hours by train away and there are no Walmarts in all the area, you have to suck it up. Or just live off dollar pizza every night. I know people who did that. Either way, it sucks. That’s the price you pay to be able to say, “I live in NYC.”
Living in New York City means physically touching hundreds of strangers every day and feeling their sweatiness on you. I wonder how many germs I come into contact with every day. There is no such thing as personal space in this city unless you’re able to pay for it. The tourists on the street have no sense of direction and stop in the middle of the street in groups of ten, causing you to push through numerous bodies. That guy on the subway who is breathing into your hair smells bad and his armpit is right over you. What about those people who take up the entire sidewalk and won’t let you walk past because they are swerving all over the place? Hey, here’s an idea—get off your phone. It’s impossible to relax or unwind when you’re always dodging someone. Most of the time, I want to scream and push someone out of my way. This is a real test of patience.
Basically, I am not meant for this city. I don’t have the right personality. I should be devastated or disappointed in myself. After all, it had been my lifelong dream to come here. But honestly, I am more unhappy than I have ever been. I need space, and I need to be able to relax. I need to live in a place I can afford that is not a dump. I need nature. I need to be closer to my mother. I need breathing room. Some people thrive here; others do not. You don’t have to live in New York City to be successful or to impress others. Don’t let anyone convince you of that.
I’m sure many people reading this are going to think I’m too weak for New York. Maybe I am, and that’s OK. I don’t care about making New Yorkers happy; I care about my happiness. I know all you native New Yorkers are thinking, “Well then leave!!!! We don’t want you here, you ugly, ungrateful Missourian!” Don’t worry. I am leaving and saying goodbye to my dream city. I truly appreciate this city, but living here is a whole other story. If you can make it here and be happy here, well, good for you.