not a new yorker

not a new yorker 1New York is one-of-a-kind. It has a flavor like no other. Rising skyscrapers. Dazzling advertisements. Honk-to-honk taxis and cars, rubbing shoulders in the steamy streets - like the people on the sidewalks.

Yesterday, we drove into the city in a minivan with friends from Jersey. They navigated the streets like pros, swaying between buses and crowds.

After a day at Central Park and FAO Schwartz (our girls danced on The Big Piano, made famous by Tom Hanks' "Big"), we waltzed our way through the streets back to the outrageously-priced parking garage.

On our way back to PA, I said, "I'm definitely not a new yorker (although I do like to visit)."

I prefer wide open spaces, ranch style houses, vegetable gardens, mountain air, and dinners around wooden tables with lively conversations.

I want to let my girls run wild in the outdoors, blowing dandelions and making wishes on stars. I want to rock on a porch swing at sunset, eating homemade shortbread with strawberries. I want to go to sleep with the sounds of outside in my ears, to look out the window into the milky dark quiet.

I like many things about city-living - healthy commerce and competition, plentiful resources, and lots to do. I like architecture and art, murals and theaters, universities and innovation.

We have yet to find that "sweet spot" for us - a city that isn't too city-ish...a place to grow a business AND grow a family.

Did you grow up in the city or the country? Have you ever been to NYC? What are your favorite things to do there?

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44 comments on “not a new yorker”

  1. I grew up in medium sized town, about 200k people. I thought it was a great size city to grow up in, enough going on to keep you busy, but not too much to get into trouble. Honestly, I'm really loving where we live now, minus the whole winter thing. We have oodles of farms nearby to get fresh produce from in the summer/fall. We have very little traffic. We are close to both NYC and Philadelphia should we want to visit or do something extra fun (which we do quite often). We have low crime and space to grow a large garden. My husband has a stable job which he really enjoys. There are tons of good schools. We are a little over an hour drive from my in-laws, close enough to visit often, but not close enough for them to stop by uninvited. Now if only I could find some friends.

    I love NYC. I don't think I would like to live there with kids. Pre-kids, I think it would have been a great place to live for a few years. There is just so much to do that we will never be able to do enough on our short little trips. I love that my girls get to know NYC and visit while they are still young. While we plan on visiting every year near Christmast time to see all the nights and hoopla, I think we will have to hold off this year, since new baby is due at the end of December, but we hope to resume our anual trips next year.

    1. PA is a nice place. We enjoyed our stay there - particularly Lancaster County and then w/ our friends in Phoenixville. (I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to meet! I think our families would have had a lot of fun together).

      I agree that NYC would be an interesting place to live if you were young, single, and business-minded...but it's not as appealing for a family with small children.

  2. I'd love to visit New York someday. I was offered a job there once but turned it down because my husband was still in full-time vocational ministry and we weren't ready to pick up sticks just yet. But I never visited! I would love to see that city, for sure.

    I do need trees and wide open spaces myself. That's one reason I love Canada - even if you're in the "big city" you're never far from total solitude if you crave it. What about the Seattle or Portland areas for you guys?

    1. We're highly optimistic about the Pacific NW. Maybe...just maybe...we'll find a wonderful community there.

  3. I am definitely NOT a city girl either! :) After a year in Seattle and a semester just outside the capitol of Costa Rica I really do prefer a slower pace! Although with technology now sometimes even this pace isn't slow.
    I do love to visit the city for all it offers (and DC was AWESOME last week!), but would prefer not to live there. I find that it's harder to get to know people in a city too and I love living somewhere that you can run into friends all the time without trying!

    1. Isn't DC fun? We really enjoyed our time there a few weeks...despite the miserable heat. How was the weather when you were there? Did you go to the Smithsonian museums? I'd love to hear about your experience.

  4. I <3 NY! I grew up outside the city (yes, we call it 'the city'), and it was wonderful. The Hudson River Valley is spectacularly beautiful, rolling hills, tons of history, and just a hop on the train into the city. The best of both worlds! I hope you get/got a chance to travel up that way. The Catskills are lovely, and the Adirondacks are my favorite!

    But I did love living within easy reach of New York City. The museums, the shows! I still have vivid memories of Yul Brynner and Constance Towers careening about the stage in the "Shall We Dance" number of "The King and I."

  5. Your last sentence really resonated with me. That's what we have found in Chattanooga, and what my bff and her family have found in Durham, NC. If Chattanooga were closer to the beach I'd go ahead and declare it the perfect (small) big city!

  6. I visited NYC after my sophomore year of high school, with a leadership group. It was QUITE the culture shock for this Tiny Town girl! I'd love to go back with my husband sometime, and experience the "overload" to our senses, but I could never live there. I love being able to send my kids outside. They walk to the library on their own, ride their bikes to the swimming pool, go to football practice with their daddy. This town isn't perfect, but it's perfect for us right now. ;)

    By the way... have you scheduled your stop here on your trip yet? :)

  7. Good for you guys! I've never been anywhere close to NYC or the Northeast. The closest I've ever come is Washington DC a couple times. I'd love to go someday.

  8. I love NYC! I only go a couple times a year but I always have a great time and am amazed by all the goings on. However, I don't think I could live there for very long... maybe a year, but then I'd be longing for the quiet spaces, and long drives in the car, and just the alone-ness.
    What I love are places like The Peanut Butter Co restaurant and fun spots like that - most of those are in Greenwich Village which I find to be full of great spots!

    1. I do love peanut butter, but I usually stick with the natural brands that have only two ingredients - peanuts + salt!

  9. I love visiting NYC, but I don't think I would flourish if I lived there. Minneapolis is the perfect city for me! It is wonderful here. There are semi-affordable homes with yards. There are parks and lakes everywhere. We have more theaters per capita than any other place in the US except New York, so we still have the culture and arts. It is a big city with a small town feel. It's really awesome here.

    I grew up in rural Michigan and I always felt trapped by the small town environment and I left as soon as I possibly could (and I kind of hate going back and remembering that feeling). Minneapolis has been a great bridge for me into another world.

  10. The best part about New York City is the FOOD! The Pizza, The Bagels, The Cuban-Chinese food (?!) we loved every morsel:) My husband and I went there on my honeymoon and had a blast! Glad you got to experience it! Prayers for you and the family as you continue this amazing journey.

  11. NYC is great. If we were to live in NY, it would be Brooklyn. I grew up in suburbia, moved to the country and after college lived in Boston for years and now I am back in suburbia. I miss not having to get in car every time I need something at the store, I miss the diversity, something always happening, the excitement.

  12. Grew up in Suburbia but within an 45 min drive of a large city (traffic makes it long not the miles.) I'd like to try city living at some point in my life, but I have a feeling it wouldn't be permanent. Never been to New York City, maybe one day. I've heard the rest of New York state is very pretty and could possibly satisfy some of your wants.

  13. I spent my entire childhood in the suburbs. For us, it's the best of both worlds. We now live about a 15 minute drive outside of Milwaukee, so it's very easy for us to enjoy the amenities of the city without the hassles. We have a very large yard, lots of parks nearby, and awesome neighbors.

  14. I'm originally from New Jersey but now live in North Carolina and I have to say, I miss a couple of things about the NJ/NY area but I really feel like NC is home. I love the wide open spaces here and the CLEAN air!

    In NYC I enjoyed Southstreet Seaport and the great museums.

  15. Yeah, I hear ya. Every time I go to NYC, I'm like, "it's a nice place to visit but..."

    I grew up in a smallish city in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. I really like where I am right now. We are close enough to Philadelphia to have the benefits of the city, but we are far enough out that I can breathe fresh air and the cows greet me when I run in the mornings. It's the best of both worlds.

  16. We just moved from az to coloradp springs and love it here! It's the perfect mix of the outdoors and the city life. I hope you make it here when you head back across the country!

    1. Tim & I visited Colorado Spring once pre-kids and loved it! I hope we get a chance to stop there on our RV adventure this year. I'm also very interested in visiting Denver (my little sister was just there and she said it's a super fun city).

  17. I grew up in the city (Vancouver.) New York is fun to visit - when I lived in Philly my sister was going to NYU, so I used to visit her there on weekends. In college I won a scholarship and got to go there for a full week and see a musical every night and visit other attractions. So fun! And of course, New York City Ballet is there. I like living in San Diego though. It's a fairly large city so there's lots to do, but to me it has a bit of a small town feel as well. Best of both worlds! You should come visit and see what you think :)

    1. San Diego is nice, but also...very expensive. How do you keep costs down despite the high cost of living? I'd love to hear your tips!

  18. I am from AZ, wide open spaces and little traffic. I now live in Long island an hour drive from NYC. I hate it, its beautiful and there is so much to do. There are to many people, not to mention most of them are very rude. I live on a main st here and I hear literally 50+ honks a day. Prices are outrageous here, groceries, rent, gas, extremely high.

  19. Hi! I have been reading your blog for about three years and have never commented. After reading some of your post about places to live and what type of life style you want I always think you would love Portland, Oregon!:) It is an amazing city! It is very big on family, community, service, sustainable living, breastfeeding, gardening, out door activities, pretty much all of the things that you write about wanting and more! I really hope you can spend time here and experience what an awesome place it is!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Brandy! We are definitely hoping to take a long pause in Portland when we pass through there this fall.

  20. FAO Schwartz is just so awesome, I love it. I did all the tourist things in New York. Love the metropolitan museum. Loved the tour through NYSE but they closed it to visitors now,
    I think I could live in a penthouse in NY :)

  21. You'll find your niche.

    And, when you do, I'll dream about my family relocating to around the block, down the road, right next door to there.

    1. Wouldn't that be fun? We'll tell you when we find it...and then you can move into the neighborhood. We can work-out together and have each other over for dinner..and hopefully never have any dental emergencies. ;)

  22. I would like to live in a "wide-open-spaces" area and vacation in NYC if I could afford to do so. I live about 4-5 hours drive away now, and if we could one day have real estate there or like a time share or something, I would be content to vacation there often. There are endless amounts of things to do, and it would be an adventure to taylor each trip uniquely to see different things each time!

    Glad you got to travel there with some "natives"! Definitely makes the experience nicer!

    1. Yes - I'm so glad we were with locals! We wouldn't have dared to drive into Manhattan on our own. ;)

  23. So fun that you guys got to visit the city! I will NEVER ever ever forget the trip we took there with our brood, a few years back. We were so overwhelmed (in a good way) with the sights and sounds and smells, but I'm with you; so not a new yorker. Unforgettable vacation experience though. And with those prices, most likely a very rare treat!

    1. I remember when you took that trip! In fact, I can still picture the photos in my mind. I thought you were so brave to fly cross-country into the heart of Manhattan...with small children in tow. I'm sure you made a million memories.

      I agree about the prices - ridiculous! A rare treat indeed.

  24. I grew up in an urban area and while pregnant with my oldest child moved to the country where I didn't have a neighbor within hollering distance. Not so anymore. In the last 34 years my country space has become crowded and noisy. First chance we get we're moving to the "country" again. ;D I do love NYC and love spending time there but would be quite fearful to take my young grandchildren. Perhaps one grand at a time. hehe
    Maybe you'll find your sweet spot to live while doing good everyday!!

  25. NYC is on my wish list of places to visit - I think it would be like San Francisco for me, a city I love to spend time in, but don't want to live in. I too prefer the open spaces and country air! I grew up all over the place - my favorite places though were those that were out in the country - maybe near a small town but not in the middle of the hubub of a city.

  26. I grew up in a small town...not far from a city (Grand Rapids). I like NYC, but I agree...I couldn't live there. We like to go to the shows, people watch, and it's eat fine selection of foods.

    Have you tried Portland, ME or Portland, OR? I think both offer a nice slice of city and outdoor life.

    1. We're fairly certain that the east coast isn't for us...but Portland, OR is a definite possibility. Can't wait to visit there and soak it all in.

  27. I love New York! We'd live there if we could honestly justify the amount it cost to live there. In the meantime we're figuring out how we can live there for about a month, soak it all in and then head back to the Carolinas!

    Glad you had a great time :)

    1. I remember you writing about a possible "temporary move" to New York. When do you anticipate this happening? Soon?

      You're right. NYC is impossibly expensive, but it's also a city unlike other.

  28. You put words to my heart's desire, too. We struggle so much with wanting to be active in the problems of the city (there is a lot out of the city, too, but so much work of reconciliation and reconstruction in the city), and yet feeling like we just want to live simply. To create our own little world and grow more and more towards a self-sustaining lifestyle. Maybe living in a city of 25 million burned us out a little! :)
    New York is a fun place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live their either!

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