After nearly 25 years, 2 degrees from NYU, 13 apartments, 2 boroughs, 5 neighborhoods, 2 cats, 1 husband, three kids and one dog, we packed up and left my favorite apartment (a four-bedroom! In Brooklyn Heights!) in Summer 2019.
Why Did We Leave NYC?
Many of the usual reasons …
Our kids were stressed out and so were we. We wondered why we were paying NYC expenses when we both worked from home anyway. It’s ironic how these reasons would have been even more true today. (Read More: Is it Time To Leave NYC?)
Do We Miss It?
Over a year later, I still belong to the neighborhood mom’s groups and see the flood of posts about leaving the neighborhood for greener pastures in Westchester, Long Island, Bergen County or the Hudson Valley. I see the “should I stay or should I go?” posts and hope our story will be helpful for someone.
I have to say, I do not miss it at all. But I have been feeling nostalgic and even having dreams about walking around Manhattan. But I also feel nostalgic about the small-ish town where I grew up in PA, and I don’t want to live there.
But perhaps I’ve learned a few things from our move to the exurbs that I can pass along.
Make a Decision and Move On
Deciding is the hardest part. Or at least it is the most time-consuming. We had thought about leaving the city for years. But after a hellish school year for our younger kids, I basically just woke up one day and said, “I’m done.” We actually broke our lease and lost our security deposit, though I offered to find a sublet.
Many of our clients are wrestling with this decision right now. That’s the stressful part. Others have either committed to a new home or rental outside the city, or actually doubled down on NYC and seizing this opportunity to buy or upgrade while interest rates are low and prices may be more negotiable. Either choice can be a great move for you.
Moving is Expensive
We had a complicated series of moves. We temporarily moved to our vacation home, which was actually smaller square footage than our apartment, and already full of stuff. So we moved some things to the house but much more to a mystery storage space somewhere in Central Long Island. Then we moved again, to a right-sized house for our family. This ending up lasting longer than I planned, but I am grateful every day that we got it done before COVID.
What did it cost? Our (somewhat astronomical) moving expenses included:
- Movers from Brooklyn to storage ($3904.50 + $600 tips … they quoted a base fee of $852)
- Movers from storage to Long Island ($1837 + $600 tips)
- Storage in Long Island ($651.75 a month for 7 months!)
- U-Haul van rental for small things (~$150)
- POD rental to clean out old house (and show for sale) ($1128 over 4 month period)
Wow, did we really spend $12,782 on moving over the course of a year?!? Yes, we really did.
If you are planning a move, hopefully you can do it for a lot less. But be advised that it will probably cost more than you think.
Childcare is Different
Our options are fewer but also less expensive. Back in Brooklyn, I could post a babysitter job on Urbansitter or Care.com and be flooded with applications in a few hours. Here I posted my little ad on Care.com and …. crickets.
We have had some helpers over the last year, but frankly, we had trouble using up our Dependent Care FSA (like many in this crazy COVID year) and chose not to contribute again for 2021.
Schools Have More Flexibility
Our twins have a late November birthday, which would have made them among the youngest in the class had they started Kindergarten in NYC last year. For a variety of reasons, I knew they were not ready for Kindergarten last year.
In the suburbs of America, “holding back” for a year is pretty common but in NYC it is just not done. Believe me, I researched this thoroughly.
In fact, the advice I was given was to send them to Kindergarten, let them fail, then have them either repeat K with the permission of the principal OR send them to private school and sue the Department of Education for tuition reimbursement. This is a thing that NYC parents do. I don’t blame them one bit, but it just sounded awfully painful.
Anyway, when I was obsessing about leaving NYC in Spring of last year, I toured the (then potential, now actual) school. I remember hesitantly telling the principal that I don’t think our twins are ready for Kindergarten and … could I send them to Pre-K instead?
His response, “Well, that’s up to the parents”. I almost fell off my chair with relief.
Fast forward a year. The twins repeated pre-K, have had wonderful teachers and support from the school, and are now doing just fine in Kindergarten.
Our Spending Has Changed
Of course, our spending was cut by thousands because we no longer pay a second set of expenses in Brooklyn. But it changed in other ways as well.
Where did we spend less?
Without multiple great restaurants around the corner and hundreds of takeout options on Seamless, eating out became a much more occasional thing. This saved us a TON of money. We also spent less on childcare because we went out less (and I couldn’t find willing babysitters, LOL).
We actually spend less on electricity because the new house has solar panels!
Where did we spend more?
We got a second car. Now that we are in and out of COVID lockdown, we don’t really need it, but at the time, I thought I’d be going to the city at least occasionally! You can tell than I am not a car status person, because we leased the KIA Telluride for $649/month and I love the “soccer mom” vibe.
Lawn care. Pool maintenance. Post-COVID, we’ve bought a bunch of gym equipment, including my beloved Peloton.
In Conclusion, No Regrets
This has been a tough year for what I mentally consider “my city”. I hope to be back to visit sometime soon, but it is unlikely we will live there again. It feels a little sad to say that out loud.
On the other hand, I see no reason to leave our current home until after our kids graduate from high school. It is really good to feel settled in this way.
The air is fresh. I can tell the kids to “go play outside”. We are all more relaxed, even the dog. In a trying year for everyone, this has been absolutely priceless.
Planning your next move? Contact us to schedule a free Introductions Call.