New York, California, or bust

Via Flickr user Grufnik

Via Flickr user Grufnik

Everyone I know either lives or wants to live in New York City or California.

New York is probably because of my age group. I’m 21, and it’s a given that most 20-somethings want to pack it all up to share a two-bedroom apartment with five other people in New York. The city is always alive, fast-moving, and it has anything you could ever want.

California is for the people who don’t want the pressure of New York. People discuss California in a weird way, like they forget it’s a large state with places other than San Francisco/Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, and San Diego. People act like the entire state — all 163,696 square miles of it — is the promised land of milk, honey, and just being cool. Also, it’s near a body of water, so you can go to the beach any time you want, right?

It’s strange. How could it be that so many people want to live in these places? I’ve spoken with people before who had never been to New York City or had never been to California — but inexplicably still wanted to live there. Based on what?

Many people who want to live in these places desire this based on an image, whether it be real or imaginary. California is beyond hip because everyone on TV is so laid back. New York is the nexus of culture because that’s what every movie teaches.

In reality, not everyone and every place in California is easygoing and near a beach. And the only way you’re getting in on any of that New York culture is with a thick wallet. (I’m not joking. Check out this cost of living calculator. In order to achieve the same buying power as $35,000 in Atlanta, I would need to make more than double that amount in Manhattan — $78,705.)

I think a lot of people are aware of these realities, and if they choose to live in New York or California or — gasp! — any other location in the world, it’s up to them. Go where you wanna go. I’m just talking about that sect of people who think these places are magical. Who close their eyes to some of the truth.

I’m not sure what this proves about people. Maybe we’re influenced by images we see in the media. Maybe we just want to go somewhere different where life seems to be happening. Maybe we want our lives to be a little more like TV, where everything is a happy ending.

But I do know that if you move to New York, you better have some money saved up.

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