Where Should I Live?

Our lease is up in September. And I'm not sure we'll decide to stay in New York.

We might stay. We might stay because we haven't yet had enough of our New York experience. There's more to learn, more to do, more to absorb. Jordan adores living here. The romance of the Village is unparalelled, as are Russ and Daughters' lox and bagel sandwiches.

But.

It's EXPENSIVE. Am I the first person to observe that?? I'm not sure. And it's not that we can't afford it. It's that I'm not sure I want to work as hard as I need to work, to make what it costs to live the way we want to live here.

And even if we do very well financially... real estate in New York sucks. It just does. We pay a LOT for our Brooklyn apartment, and it took us months of searching to find it; it meets our needs (enough space for two work-at-homers, quiet, great subway access), but does it feel like "home"? No. It is not a homey space. I'm an artist. I want paint on my walls. I want a HOME. This feels like a rental space in an apartment building. 'Cause that's what it is.

(I'm not saying apartments can't feel like home, by the way - just that this modern, stainless steel, stamped out of the factory apartment does not. But in New York, the alternative -- the charming apartment in a brownstone, for example -- is often riddled with problems: you can hear your neighbor sneeze, you have roaches, etc. etc. The trade-offs are tough, tougher than I think they are in other cities.)

It's just an awful lot of work to live here. Summer is unbearable (see my ode to the Subway Sauna), and winter is so dreary... the joy of New York, for me, is walking around, getting lost in neighborhoods, but the number of days where the weather is conducive to such exploring is awfully low.

Also: I get tired of the hype. There's a way in which it's exhausting to live somewhere that's so obsessed with talking about how great it is. Give it a rest! It's a city. If it's great, we'll experience it as such. We don't need the constant pep rally / sales pitch. There's a difference between loving where you live, and the desperate need to convince everyone (yourself included) that where you live is the Best Place On Earth.

It makes sense, though. If you do what it takes to live in New York, then you've got to justify it to yourself somehow. Otherwise you might feel like you're living in a loony bin.

Ok. It sounds like I hate New York. And I don't. Here's what I love, other than the walking, and the Village, and the Russ and Daughters: The plethora of vegetarian food options. The plethora of delicious food options, period. The fact that I've gone to events here like a screening of the classic film Blow Up in an abandoned warehouse in Greenpoint, with everyone in 60s mod getup, or a Poetry Brothel in a speakeasy hidden in an alley in the Lower East Side. The people I've met here, and the characters I've encountered (or just observed).

But I've been fantasizing. Fantasizing about a lower cost of living. Somewhere we can have a small house, or a big apartment, and really make it OURS. More temperate weather. Maybe (if I dare to dream), maybe, somewhere by the ocean... or at least somewhere where I can really enjoy nature, especially water. An active creative community would be great, including a local improv scene...

So I ask you, dear reader: Where is this place I'm describing? Austin comes to mind... what do you think? Where should I live?

Photo above by Flickr user purplemattfish