I spent a month living in Bushwick, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
It was an experiment. I’ve lived in Connecticut my whole life. A feeling of stagnation was growing inside of me. I craved change in my life. New beginnings. New locations?
But before I upended my entire life, and dealt with all of the associated consequences (like my house), I figured I’d try it out for a month. See if I enjoyed it. If it was worth the cost, both financially, emotionally, and logistically.
What I found surprised me.
New York City is Amazing
First, let me say it: New York City rules. I get why people love it. There really is no place like it.
The amount of culture, food, things to do, tourist attractions, public transportation, weird art spaces, performances, book stores, vintage shops, and everything else is truly something to behold.
For an aspiring comic, there are open mics all over the city happening seven days a week. If you hustle, you can get on stage several times a day, every day.
For a gamer, you can find an awesome eSports Bar in Bushwick where they serve frozen Cokes and let you play League of Legends with your friends on sick PC’s.
For a dancer, the Brooklyn Mirage hosts tons of great electronic artists and features an amazing outdoor dance party where I am probably the only sober person within a full square mile.
The magic in New York is in its massive population: With so many people pursuing so many things, it opens up so many niche possibilities. It doesn’t matter if only 0.1% of the population enjoys something: there are enough New Yorkers to warrant its existence.
I remember after a night dancing with some new Romanian friends at the Mirage, I got home and thought, “This could only happen here, in New York.”
But the question remains: Is it worth it?
The Cost of New York
New York City, as everyone knows, is prohibitively expensive. People complain about New Haven rents, but you can live like royalty here for the price of a shitty studio in a bad neighborhood in NYC.
Rents for decent one bedroom apartments in New York? You’re looking at $3,000 at the very minimum. Probably significantly higher.
Also, everything costs more. Jar of peanut butter? Six bucks. Pint of Halo Top ice cream? NINE BUCKS?! Come on did someone have to escape Squid Game to get this thing to me?!
Yet the greatest costs, to me, were not really the money (though it matters).
The greatest cost is in space.
You don’t realize how much space matters until suddenly you don’t have any. When you’re squeezing into tiny bathrooms and have nowhere to put your stuff in your bedroom. When you’re standing shoulder to shoulder on the subway. When every single park you go to is swarming with walkers, talkers, sunbathers, runners, people blasting music of every variety under the sun.
There is no escape. The only solace is in your own apartment, which is in a building with another 500 people squeezed in it. Every cough, every sneeze, every orgy is yours to hear.
What New Haven Has
One of the things I love most about New Haven is its strange combination of city and nature. It has its downtown, and its popular neighborhoods. But it also has suburbs and public parks of an enormous variety. If you want to see a ton of people, go to East Rock. If you’re looking for something more quiet, go to Edgewood Park or West Rock.
The beach? It’s not an hour and a half subway ride to Coney Island. It’s a 15 minute ride to Lighthouse Point. Or West Haven. Or East Haven. Or Branford.
You can go out downtown, play some arcade games at Barcade, get some food at Pacifico, some ice cream at Arethusa, and ride your bike back to East Rock and suddenly it’s quiet again. You can hear the crickets. You can hear yourself think.
Also, you can park a car. Listen. I know. I don’t love cars. But let’s face it: If you’re buying furniture at Ikea, you don’t want to bring that shit on the subway. You probably don’t even want to put it on your scooter. You want to bring a car, and you don’t want to spend two hours parking it. Which, you’re in luck! Not a problem at all.
Plus, we have comedy. I host a monthly show at Trinity Bar! You should come to that. Please come. I’m so lonely.
What New Haven Needs
Oh boy can I fill a book about this. And I will, in a future article. I have ideas. And I am ready to yell at whatever government official I need to in order to get this done in 5-10 years.