Frank Bures recently wrote a fantastic article in Thirty Two magazine on the fall of the Creative Class. The article is a well-written exploration of the holes in Richard Florida’s argument that young, innovative people move to places that are open and hip and tolerant, and that they, in turn, generate economic innovation. It opens with Frank’s decision to move to Madison, Wisconsin, because it was liberal and open-minded, a college town with bike paths and coffee shops. It ends with Frank’s disillusion with both Madison and Florida, and his decision to move to Minneapolis. As he puts it, “This time, we moved as wiser, more reality-based people. We researched it carefully. We picked the place we wanted to live not because of any trendy trope, or because it was high on any particular list, but because of the cheap housing, jobs, family and friends, as well as the arts, the biking, the public transit and quality of life.”
The whole article made me think about why Jeremy and I chose to live in New York. Why we packed up our car and drove from Chicago to New York with no apartment and no jobs lined up.
I know the reasons that we gave ourselves:
- It was nearer my family (and at least a couple hours closer to England)
- It was a place where things ‘happened’, the heart of the publishing industry and a breeding-ground for startups.
- It was somewhere that we wanted to experience, a city that we expected to be gritty and adventurous and ideal for our late 20s.
We ended up in our flat in Brooklyn because we fell in love with the mismatched original floorboards, the tree-lined streets, the sense of community and the plethora of amazing restaurants. I’m glad we did. Our place feels like home, it feels like somewhere we have put down roots.
And yet I wonder how much longer we will stay.
We both miss the access to the outdoors, we miss peacefulness and we lament our once existent bank balance. We are perpetually exhausted by the city.
I wonder if we will move to the countryside some day, or a different city, or a different country even. I expect that we will and yet, when I think of leaving, I dwell on all that I would lose in leaving New York. More than anything it is the people, the friends we have made and the family we have here, that I would miss. I balk against giving them up.
Ultimately, I do not think that any place, any city, is perfect. Everywhere is flawed in some ways and beautiful in others. As Bures puts it, “It may be wiser to try to create the place you want to live, rather than to keep trying to find it.”