Good morning, lovely readers. I’m in a good mood because it’s sunny and in the 60s today. I will probably be brought very low later today when I try to go online shopping.

You, dear readers, I have put myself on a severe spending diet. SEVERE. I know you are probably all like, “No Ali, you have to gradually stop spending money! You can’t be that terrible at spending money.” No, no I actually am that terrible. I am that girl who got a job that was like “MONEY! I am going to buy all the clothes.” And then all of a sudden I couldn’t eat. Living with Dan has helped me budget a little bit better, because, you know, we have real expenses to consider. ‘Cause like if I didn’t budget, we’d be living in a box.

I spent an hour this weekend setting up a monthly budget using my monthly income as the base. Then I subtracted rent. Then PSE&G (public service). Then Cablevision. Then yoga. Then the gym. Then groceries. I even added a line for my “allowance." And after I did that all I got out of the practice was one thing:

It is expensive to live in NYC metro area.

Not that I’ve discovered anything revolutionary here, but wow. I have a bestie who moved to LA earlier this year and when I hear her talk about rent, I am supremely jealous. I saw her apartment last week while I was there on business and I almost cried people. She lives in a building with a pool and a gated garage for her car (no parking lot fees! A pool!). She has her own bedroom, which is about the size of my apartment in Hoboken. Plus she has a balcony (!) and a massive bathroom that she shares with one other girl. I cannot tell you for sure, but I think I actually turned green, ya know, with envy.

Now I don’t think LA is for me personally. And I’m not going to harp on how insane we all are for living in NYC and adjacent areas, because that territory has been explored by much funnier people. I can’t deal with the idea that I would have to drive everywhere. But there are some cities across our fair United States in which I could see myself and Dan (and our respective wallets) living happily.

Here’s my short list of cities, I could see myself living in a couple of years to take the bite off of the East Coast experience. These places are all cheaper than Hoboken/NYC (with the exception of San Fran, but hey this is MY LIST) but they still have a similar cultural and political vibe of NYC. By the way, this list is in a totally arbitrary and in no order whatsoever.

Austin, TX: Warm days, cold beers, excellent university, great music scene. Do I need another reason to move here? It’s basically everything great about NYC but at a much.slower.pace.

Portland, OR: I don’t think I need to explain this one, but I will. Art, music, food and culture are all on the up and up. Close proximity to nature – and I don’t mean Central Park nature. I mean legit get-lost-in-the-misty-wood-and-have-a-vision-quest kind of nature. Also, I can ride my bike everywhere. Also lumberjacks.

San Francisco: I want to live on a houseboat. Can we make this happen?

Lawrence, KS: I don’t really think I could live in the misogynistic state of Kansas for realz, but Dan loves the liberal outlier uni town of Lawrence. So yeah, there you go. If you don’t mind that the state is also home to the Westboro Baptist Church and recently made domestic abuse legal, this town is fabulous!

Northampton, MA: I just love this town so much. It’s so weird and vibrant; I almost applied to Smith just to be in the town. I could see Dan and myself (and my Volvo) here very easily…making dreamcatchers.

What about the rest of you NYCers? Could you do with a few years off the island?


  1. if it makes you feel better, the cost of gas really levels out how much cheaper the rent is here.

    <3, an angelino

  2. I justify my rent by saying that the cost of car payments, gas, parking, insurance, etc. makes it comparable, if not more expensive, to live outside of the nyc area :)

    I love the list though....Portland and Austin are my pretend to leave nyc fantasies :)

  3. I went on a spending freeze for Lent! NO new clothing (except a dress for our engagement party, which I planned as an exception from the start), and it's been easier than I thought. It's been amazing to see my bank account grow for the first time in....uh....way too long. One tip is to immediately delete (or unsubscribe if you need to) from emails from stores! (that was a little long-winded, but I'm really into this right now haha).

    As for amazing cities, Berkeley is adorable and less pricey than SF, and if you are looking for the most amazing area in California you need to check out the Central Coast! (Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara). I'm a little biased because that's where I live, but it's seriously amazing here and right in the middle of LA and SF.

  4. I've lived in NYC twice (with a stint in Chicago in the middle) for a total of about 12 years.

    Deciding to leave was difficult, but I realized that NY is a place I love being and will always consider coming back to, but I am a nomad at heart. Once I gave in to moving and trying new places as a way of life, I couldn't imagine staying there permanently like I had always thought I would.

    I've discovered I really love smaller cities. Providence, Portland ME, Minneapolis... I'm a big fan of these places. I'm about to move from rural RI to Somerville, MA (right outside of Boston) and I'm really excited about that.

    I have West Coast daydreams as well. Seattle is my ultimate houseboat dreamcity!

  5. Great post! I have given this way too much thought as well. What you get for your rent money in the LA area definitely owns NYC and even the NYC area in general (buying in so. cal is a different story-ugh). When Casey and I have our "California" talks (I would really like to go back one day and being a film editor he would really like to give it a try) we quickly realize the added price of car payments, gas and insurance for the both of us would pretty much even out to the same (or more)when it comes to our monthly living expenses here. That and the fact that NYC is in reasonable driving distance to both of our families (zzz boring, I know) usaully soothes the indecision. But only a little. Also, @Laura I love the central coast, agreed!

  6. Wow, love all the comments/advice here!

    I agree, car expenses + having to drive anywhere does take LA down a notch, but still, NYC is a little insane.

    I do love Berkeley! I don't know why it didn't make the list. In all fairness neither did Chicago, which I love to pieces as well ;) I think ultimately, I'd love to be somewhere a little less city-like in the traditional understanding. That's why places like Lawrence (although KS is scary) made it onto the list. Something about life moving a little slower is so appealing.

    I think ultimately it will come down to what Dan and I end up doing career-wise. If we follow our **dreams** (which I am keeping mum for the moment) we could really go anywhere. I haven't even VENTURED into the ex-pat realm yet haha.