How Leaving LA For NYC Was The Best And Worst Decision Of My Life

by Alexandra Brown

You’re in college, living under your parents' roof in the same city in which you grew up and all you can think about is how amazing it would be to spread your wings and fly away.

Whether that means backpacking through Europe for a month or moving as far away as possible, you’re willing to give it a go!

“I just need a change!” suddenly becomes your catchphrase and nothing sounds quite as nice as starting fresh in a city you've never been. Sound a little something like you? Well, you’re not alone. This person was me two and a half years ago.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, I didn't know how truly good I had it. There were beach trips every weekend to Malibu and Santa Monica, hiking trips to Runyon and Griffith and the most perfect weather all year around. And, yes, I mean ALL. YEAR. ROUND.

But, just as any unfulfilled 20-year-old young woman, I somehow still felt like something was missing.

After months of contemplating where to move, convincing my parents I needed to move and ultimately convincing myself, I made the huge leap from the City of Angels to the Big Apple by transferring colleges.

The moment I landed in New York, I felt a dramatic change in my energy, mood and environment.

New York City is a whole other world, and I didn’t fully understand that until I arrived. As any excited, young, rambunctious Millennial would, I felt excited and anxious and kind of wanted to throw up, all at the same time.

New York was new; it was fresh, and I was here. I had arrived!

My first couple months as a New Yorker were thrilling, to say the least. I made new friends, went to delicious “hole in the wall” brunch spots and experienced tons of secret gems the city had to offer.

I remember thinking to myself, “LA is amazing, but New York… New York is something else.”

The next few months after weren’t so wonderful. I began to realize things I never noticed during the “honeymoon” stage of my move. First off, I may as well have been the only person on the planet who didn’t fully understand exactly how cold it gets on the East Coast.

The moment I learned I had to buy gloves (something I had obviously never worn in LA), I immediately felt overwhelmed with sadness. I soon learned that the crop tops I wore in the dead of winter back in California would only exit my dresser for about three months a year on the East Coast.

Second, that horrible smell on every corner suddenly became more apparent to my ever-so-pampered-by-fresh-Los-Angeles-air nostrils. Somehow, each corner I turned gave way to an abundance of garbage bags spread out on the ground, with raccoons or stray cats clawing through.

Third, I noticed the truth in the famous stereotype that New Yorkers have a tad of an attitude problem.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve met some incredibly kind and friendly New Yorkers over the years, but at the end of the day, more people honk at you for no reason and few people have the patience to deal with your bullsh*t.

If you accidently bump someone’s shoulder, be prepared to recieve the death stare for at least 10 minutes straight.

While I slowly but surely came to realize little details of this city, somehow, it became less dazzling and more aggravating. I found myself giving the dirty looks and death stares. Was I finally becoming a real New Yorker -- attitude and all?

I thought to myself, Californians do everything differently. Life is slower, patience is high and the word “chill” is redefined.

It was then and there I realized not only was I born and raised in LA, I belonged there. An overwhelming nostalgia of missing the warm weather, winters on the beach, my parents' cooking, the smell of fresh air and driving my car everywhere came upon me.

I wanted Los Angeles back -- everything about it. My experience in this city wasn’t all bad, however. Fast-forward two years: I still live in New York, graduated from college and work full-time at my first grown-up, real-world job.

I’ve accomplished a lot, learned a lot and experienced more than I ever imagined I would. On top of everything, I met the love of my life out here, so you know, not all is lost.

Long story short, when I initially decided to move across the country, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I knew I wanted change and I knew I felt some sort of urgency to get it. These days, I don’t crave change, nor do I crave stagnation. All I want these days is happiness.

Ideally, I’ll be living back home, in the City of Angels within the next two years, and I'll sweetly be able to kiss the concrete jungle goodbye for good, but one thing is for certain: I’ve grown more in these past two years of living in NYC than I did over the 19 years I lived in Los Angeles.

Despite my questionable thoughts on this place, I consider my time here to be an amazing success.