January 27, 2014

You can take the woman out of the city… or can you?

Things are super crazy at work right now with a huge go-live – and I’ve completely flip flopped my schedule. I’m basically on Switzerland time – going to bed at 2pm-3pm CT and waking up at 11pm CT to get to work by midnight. (Too bad I had to work normal hours for the three days after my trip to Paris, or I could have just stayed on the same schedule since then and I would have been all set.)

So perhaps it’s just the exhaustion that comes with sleeping when it’s bright out and heading to work when everyone else is drunk and partying (or at least that’s what the rest of the guests at my hotel seem to be doing), but I’ve been really stressed out lately – and freaking out about my upcoming move to Colorado.

It started on Thursday night, when I was frantically trying to finish up some last minute work preparations before a one day apartment-hunting trip to Denver. I considered postponing the trip for a few weeks, when I’d have more time, but I just feel so unsettled right now! I’ve moved completely out of New York, but I haven’t yet nailed down my plans for moving into Colorado – I don’t have a place to live or even a target move date. (March? April? Later than that?) To further exacerbate the situation, most of my friends have been really distant lately (both literally and metaphorically), so I feel like I don’t really fit in or belong anywhere. It’s not a fun feeling, and I think having concrete plans of where/when I’ll be in Colorado might help me feel less transient.

But when I mentioned to a few friends that I was stressed about the scouting trip, they took that as cold feet about the entire move – and started trying to talk me out of moving to Denver. Um, that ship has sailed! I’ve already spent several thousand dollars moving all my stuff across the country; there is no way I’m going to either send it all back to NYC or suddenly choose a new home somewhere else. Besides, I still think Denver is the right place for me. (I think? Ugh, since when am I one to second-guess a decision I’ve thought long and hard about…)

So when I headed out to go apartment hunting on Friday morning with my friend Kelly (who made the move out there a few years ago), perhaps I already wasn’t in the best frame of mind. (And, I was tired.) We saw several awesome apartments but nothing that was a complete home run – each place had a few things I liked and a few things I didn’t. So I decided to go back in a few weeks to make a final decision. On the one hand, it’s awesome that I get to return, since I’m eager to spend as much time as possible there. (I can’t wait to start living in Denver rather than just relying on these sporadic trips!) But on the other hand, I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet managed to square away my living situation.

While driving back to the airport, I finally had a chance to catch up on the phone with my coworker Mike – who was also in Denver. We started at our firm together and got to be friends during our onboarding/training. Unfortunately, since we haven’t ever been staffed on a project together, we only see each other once every year or two (if we happen to attend the same company events). Luckily, that’s soon to change! Mike is moving to Denver too, and he seems to be on the same time frame as me: move there early this year, rent for a year or so, then find a place to buy once he’s more familiar with the area.

Where we’re not on the same page, though, is in where we’re planning to rent. By pure chance, Mike was apartment hunting on the same day as me – except he was looking in uptown Denver, whereas I’m looking in the suburbs. He told me that he sees it as his last chance to live in the city before he ultimately buys in the suburbs… and that set me off on second guessing my own gameplan.

I have never loved living in New York City (at least not the same way my lifer-NYC friends do), and any friend who’s been to my apartment there could tell you that I picked pretty much the least city-like, most suburban block of Manhattan on which to live. Yes, I lived in a typical high-rise, but under me was a gym and a grocery store, and around me were just dog parks, more grocery stores, and other apartment buildings, with the nearest sit-down restaurant or bar at least a ten minute walk away. But I loved it! I loved the peace and quiet of running along the river or in Central Park, and I didn’t mind having a bit of commute to get to the real hustle and bustle of NYC. My neighborhood definitely wasn’t for everyone, but I said that I wouldn’t leave that neighborhood until it was to move out of NYC entirely – and it was so easy to keep to that because it was so perfect for me.

Hudson River
My favorite running path in NYC, right along the water. (And far, far away from either traffic or buildings.)

So now that I’m heading to a place with actual livable suburbs, I thought it made sense for me to move to them. I am so excited about having more space, and being able to entertain at home instead of being stuck going to a bar/restaurant all the time. I can’t wait to walk out my door and not hear traffic or be faced with a concrete jungle, but instead see the mountains in the distance. And, as stupid as it sounds, I’m really excited about driving to the grocery store and to do errands, rather than having to schlep everything around on foot. (Though I’m sure I’ll be using B-Cycle, Denver and Boulder’s bike share program, pretty often too.) I really love the driving I get to do when I’m in Dallas (yes, even when traffic gets horrible on 635 or the Tollway), and I’m excited to get to drive in my new hometown as well.

But every single person, from my friends to my coworkers to strangers I barely know, asks the same question: “why on earth are you moving to the suburbs?” And proceeds to tell me how much I’m going to hate it. Which is not really the kind of reinforcement I need when I’m already kind of scared about making such a big life change to move 1800 miles from my family and most of my friends for no reason other than the selfishness of “I like it here.” I like to think I know myself pretty well, but I also know that when everyone thinks one thing and you think the opposite, it’s worth at least reevaluating your position.

I just hope that reevaluation doesn’t lead me to running back to NYC with my tail between my legs.


24 thoughts on “You can take the woman out of the city… or can you?”

  1. A. this answers my question about a post where you were working a night shift.
    B. If I move to Denver it damn sure isn’t for city living. I tend to believe that’s why you are moving there too.
    C. It’s a huge scary leap and totally normal to be thinking holy shit.
    Now because I am also over thinking all kinds of things right now, I say to us both…just do 1 thing today that moves you closer. Don’t decide the entire future, just 1 thing. Whew I needed to hear that, ha!!

    1. A – Ha, yeah, perhaps it was pretty obvious 🙂
      B – Exactly, which is why I think I’m okay with the suburbs?? If I wanted city living, I’d have stayed in NYC!
      C – Working on it!!! This week has been crazy but I’m starting to feel lots better. And even if I live in a place I don’t love, it’s only for ONE year – which isn’t that long.

  2. Listen to your gut and your heart. You know what’s right for you and the second guessing is going to get you no where. Everyone can have their opinion on someone else’s life, no matter how close they are to that person. But the only one that truly knows what you want is you. You know what YOU want. You know what YOU are looking for. If the ‘burbs are speaking to you, go for it.
    I have never been to Denver so I can offer no opinion on city versus burbs there. From my own experience, moving to the outskirts of San Jose, yeah I wish I was a little closer to my favorite stores and work etc, but that’s for purely selfish convenience reasons. I wouldn’t trade living in my area for anything else (well maybe a home out in Santa Cruz or Sonoma, haha) but I’m happy in my home and it’s exactly what I wanted.

    1. That makes me feel a LOT better! I know that all my friends just want me to be happy and don’t have any ulterior motives, but it scares me that maybe I’m missing something about myself.

  3. If you think you want to live in the suburbs, it is better to try it out now while you are renting rather than later when you decide to buy. If you don’t like it, then you can easily move into the city (or to another city) after a year. No harm, no foul.

    1. I think what everyone is worried about is the fact that I’m single and moving to the suburbs. I know I will definitely want to live in the suburbs eventually (when I’m married/having kids/etc). I just look at it as, why should I have to wait till then if it’s where I really want to live? I think my friends do have a point that it may be harder to meet someone if I’m living solo without as many social opportunities around, but when I think about my NYC life, I never randomly just wandered around and met people – I still planned events/outings and would leave my apartment for those.

  4. I live in Denver, so I was compelled to comment and give you some encouragement/suggestions! First of all, I absolutely love Denver and Colorado. My whole family lives on the east coast, but I moved here almost 7 years ago right when I graduated college and knew right away that it was the place for me. I met my now husband here and we recently bought a house and love it. We have lived in both Boulder and Denver. So many spectacular places to run and play in the mountains, I think you will really love it here. Don’t let other people make you second guess your decision, because there was a reason you wanted to move here in the first place! There are many cool places to live in the Denver area, suburbs included, but I think some suburbs would feel more isolating than others. There are some really cool neighborhoods in Denver that aren’t downtown that you might want to check out as well as some of the suburbs. Stapleton is really cool if you like a some-what suburb feel (has its own town center, beautiful park, running trails, and nature center), but is still technically in Denver (4 miles from downtown). The Highlands is another great neighborhood closer to downtown–a bit trendier. Washington Park is close to downtown, but has an amazing park and a good vibe. Anyway, there are lots of great places to live and I’m sure you will find what works for you. Good luck!

    1. This makes me feel so, so, SO much better! I am looking at the Broomfield area, because I love the idea of being reasonably close to both Boulder and Denver, and it’s right on the bus line if I wanted to go to one of the two downtowns and be able to drink rather than drive. The apartments I found are gorgeous, and the more I think about it, the more I love the idea of living in that area… but what do you think? It’s definitely a lot further than the Highlands, Wash park, or Stapleton, but maybe that doesn’t matter.

    2. I think if you want to spend a lot of time in both Denver and Boulder, and are excited about the suburbs, then Broomfield is a good bet, especially if you already found some apartments you love! Denver and Boulder offer different things, so it’s all about what you want to do. Feel free to email me if you have any more questions or need more advice 🙂

  5. I moved to downtown Denver after living in a smaller town in Indiana my entire. It definitely isn’t the same “city” feel as you would have in NYC. It’s much smaller and feels much quieter and calmer. The good thing about that area is whether you choose to live in the true suburbs, right downtown, or somewhat in-between (Stapleton for example), it won’t take you long to get anywhere else. You are going to love Colorado and I am so excited to watch your journey unfold!

  6. I’m a city person, but I know plenty of people (my husband included) that much prefer the suburbs. There are definite advantages to both.

    1. I’m pretty sure that’s how I am too! (A suburb person, that is.) I just realize it’s a little bit weird for my age, and that’s what my friends keep calling me out on.

  7. Laura,

    I’m the one that posted on your original “I’m moving to Denver” post — the one who moved from Dallas. I lived essentially in Addison while I was in the Dallas area, and now we live right in between LoDo and the Highlands in Denver, so I feel I can speak to city vs. somewhat suburban life. I’d call where we live now “city light” as we live right along the Platte River with tons of running/biking paths and there’s plenty of grass.

    Just my two cents. Ping me if you want to talk.

    1. Thanks, Stacey! I was originally looking at LoDo/Highlands but decided I wanted to at least TRY suburban living for a bit… though I could definitely see that being a great place to settle. The biking/running paths sound heavenly!

  8. I read this last night and was thinking about it again today, when I realized I could weigh in. Have you ever seen any cards or prints by Emily McDowell? I just bought one that says: Remember that there is no such thing as failure. There is only learning. Sometimes you will end up learning what doesn’t work and that’s okay. Sometimes what seems like a terrible failure will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you and the result will be better than anything you could have imagined. So freaking relax already. I sort of love it. Trust that you know yourself and what’s in your heart. You got this.

    1. That is a really, really, really great point. Even if I hate where I initially live, it doesn’t mean I can’t move – and I’ve definitely seen previous “failures” be exactly what I needed. (See: when I got laid off in 2008, which completely changed my career path into something much, much, better.) Thank you so much for sharing that quote!

  9. As another person who made the move from a big east coast city (DC) to Denver, thought I should chime in. One of the nice things about Denver is that you can be within city limits and it feels very suburban (especially compared to NYC!). When I first moved here, I lived in West Highlands and now I live north of there in Berkeley. In both neighborhoods, I had a house with a yard and a garage, drove to work and the grocery store, and was near great running trails.
    If you want to be closer to Boulder though, moving in between is a really good choice. The drive from Denver to Boulder can be miserable. Louisville is another cool suburb you may want to check out.

    1. Liz, my top pick is about 3 miles from downtown Louisville – and Louisville is where one of my college friends lives 🙂 Definitely looking forward to hitting up all the eateries there! I’m guessing that once I’ve been in Colorado for a while, I’ll develop a preference for either Denver or Boulder, but right now I don’t know enough to tell.

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