Leaving NYC

Dear patient readers,

I wanted to give you a heads up that your humble blogger is leaving NYC at the end of June, probably permanently. I could sublet my apartment for up to two years (my landlord is surprisingly cooperative with this sort of thing) but it may make more sense to get out of Dodge for good.

The immediate driver is that my 91 year old mother is having home health care aides in daily for a few hours. That’s overkill relative to what she needs now, but better to err on the side of caution. But it’s not great to have this happening when she has no family anywhere nearby…and my brother who lives nearest (in Charlottesville, meaning not near at all) is looking to move to the Northeast next year. Plus when she dies, I have to deal with the estate, which would be a nightmare long distance.

On top of that, NYC isn’t remotely the city it was when I moved here. It was grittier back then but also much more vibrant. Many of the interesting people, like artists and writers, can’t afford to live in Manhattan any more. More so than ever, the city seems mercenary and most people socialize with others in their professional circle. One of the few venues for non-commercial mixing is the private schools, where parents get to know other parents But aside from scholarship kids, the adults are still staying well within elite circles.

This isn’t just my opinion. I spoke to a born and bred New Yorker, older than I am. He deplores how taking advantage of customers and counterparties is widespread and seen as normal, and said he would leave if he didn’t have lots of family here. Another long-standing contact, to my surprise, is also leaving this summer, not liking what the city has become. A successful service provider says that his upscale clients, many of whom he has had for over a decade, feel they are on a treadmill, working even harder just to stay even economically, and are looking into when to depart the New York. It’s been surprising that no one who lives here tried defending remaining in Manhattan, or even saying I should think twice, I’d miss what was here. Too many of them find that the city offers less than it used to, and they take advantage of it less frequently as well.

Despite Alabama having a very bad image for some legitimate reasons (the state government is impressively corrupt), Birmingham has the best med school in the South and the health care industry is now the city’s biggest source of employment. My mother lives in Mountain Brook, which is a small affluent suburb that looks like the better parts of Westchester County. It is also in the top 100 communities in the US in terms of population density of college graduates and there are reasonable services in the area. More generally, Birmingham is bucking the trend of smaller cities and has been getting better over time. For instance, it has high caliber restaurants out of proportion to its size.

But I have a lot of sorting out to do….like an apartment with big pieces of furniture that may never find big enough rooms to live in well again, and other things where I should consider what to try to sell or give away versus move and store. Oddly my 1980s-1990s wardrobe is more marketable than the French Art Deco furniture. But I hardly have time to figure all this out, let alone handle the many tasks associated with a relocation. So I am going to be even more overstretched than usual.

The pending relocation means that Lambert and Jerri-Lynn will be doing more of the regular content-provision in May and June than now. Rest assured that isn’t a permanent development, but necessary for me to make the time to uproot myself.

Rest assured I plan to visit at least twice a year, so readers probably won’t notice the difference in terms of frequency of local meetups.

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167 comments

  1. cgeye

    Good luck — leaving NYC is hard, but not stepping up for kin, when you know honor and love demand it, is harder.

    Reply
  2. Sein und Zeit

    Congratulations!
    Moving around keeps your mind agile.
    Great to be around your mother too!

    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

    A time to live in NYC, and a time to live in Alabama.”

    Reply
  3. Clive

    It’s an awful feeling, but an unfortunately inescapable one. For the longest time, I planned on working still at my wretched TBTF for a couple more years or three until I can take severance at the maximum terms (I’ll need to be between 52 and 53, I can then draw my pension early at 55 so I’d just need something to tide me over between one event and the other) then have a second career. Something I’d really enjoy and be prepared to do for pin money. I’d do (or would have been prepared to do) Japanese translation work for more-or-less free, for example, I like it so much and find it so rewarding just as a task, never mind as a way to earn money.

    No longer. I’ll work ’til I’m 55, maximum, then that’s it. I’m grabbing my loot while I can and then I will be calling it a day. I’m out’a there and I will never, ever, ev-errrr, work for anyone in any paid capacity no matter what nor be in any sort of position where I *have* to do anything at anyone else’s behest. I plan on avoiding most people unless I know them exceptionally well and can trust them without any question at all based on lengthy, verifiable experience. To put some numbers on this, that’ll be two, maybe three people.

    It’s not, I have found, that people start off intending to let you down, exploit you or, worse, out-and-out rip you off or attempt to abuse their positions of either direct authority or otherwise some influence or other (whatever those positions are and however I — and they — came to occupy these). It’s just their desperation creeps in and you can see how, despite a wrestling with their consciences, sometimes momentarily, sometimes lengthy, but regardless, it becomes a question of whether it’s going to be them or it’s going to be you and they conclude — reluctantly maybe, but conclude they do — it’s not going to be them.

    I was in central London yesterday doing various things (some practical, some leisure) and spend (or wanted to spend) some time at one of the few free-to-access venues where you can see some interesting things and do a spot of work (I had various bits and pieces I wanted to sort out and thought it would be more enjoyable to do them outside the house). While I was at the table I’d nabbed for myself, a “parent and kids dance and music club” set up in the foyer / open space right next to the supposed quiet area (you get people painting, writing poetry, having small informal meetings etc.) where I and many others were sitting. The sound system cranked up to what must have been 90+ dB and twenty to thirty parents and their offspring basically took over physically and psychologically the entire floor of the building with either their presence or the noise. I and about 10 other tables / small groups had no choice but to flee. The look in the parents faces was perturbing. They were haggard, desperate, tried and, far worse, clearly couldn’t care less. They wanted to pursue this activity, I suspect they felt the seemingly inevitable pressure that is placed on parents in our culture to keep their children constantly stimulated and entertained no matter what. This is not the first and not the worst example of despoiling of the commons I’ve seen. It’s not only not getting any better, it’s getting more pronounced by the day.

    I’m saddened greatly by the increasing atomisation and push-me pull-me towards individual isolation which our societies are suffering from. But it’s beyond my ability to fix it and I can only conclude that I’ll have to put in place steps to avoid the worse excesses of it, certainly for the foreseeable (like, 10 years) future. Keeping as far away from London is one, probably the most important.

    Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      My solution to the problem you describe was to take up guitar. Since youtube provides so much information about playing every instrument one can actually become good in a few years. In London, I would check out the traditional Irish sessions and ask around for a good teacher.

      Reply
    2. Expat2uruguay

      People are very civilized in Uruguay. Perhaps you can visit sometime. I find it to be not at all like the US. The word for every occasion here is Tranquilo…

      Reply
      1. Clive

        My neighbour who is originally from Colombia is far more attuned to how to live in a community and be communal. She has never engaged in the casual badmouthing you get in a typical English street, has a far more relaxed attitude to people when they visit her house (none of your typical English petite bourgeoisie stand-offishness and la-di-dah brand snobberies like letting it be known you’re being served Waitrose organic fair-trade recycled packaging coffee, to which you have to, tiresomely, make reciprocal coo’ing noises about) and respects boundaries, appreciates when you’re in a mood to talk and when you’re in a hurry and can’t stop — and doesn’t mind either situation. She also is modest and unassuming (unlike the son of the lady who lives opposite who has just turned up in his bloody new Aston Martin and parked it ostentatiously and is showing off to any unwary passers by which means I can’t go out and do the tidying up of the front garden I was going to do, as I risk having to either markedly ignore him or else think of a backhanded compliment that isn’t obviously rude but at the same time makes it clear that I’m hoping for lightning-fast karma which will mean it befalls an unfortunate fate involving an oil supertanker crushing it and he finds his insurance is voided because of a hither-to unnoticed clause that says policy holders can’t be total dickheads).

        If Uruguay people (Uruguayans?) are anything like my experiences of Colombians, you’re very lucky.

        Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          …oil super tanker crushing it…

          No one wields the manic sentence sword like Clive!

          Rant on, sir, rant away! It’s a pleasure to read.

          Reply
        2. Susan the other`

          Funny how people usually don’t know how miserable they are. you do because you don’t kid yourself. boiling frogs. I’m glad to hear you are planning to leave London even if it is the once most fabulous city. And I’m glad Yves is planning to move to Alabama. There’s a lot of very interesting history down there. I think you probably won’t look back. And this isn’t even to mention that London is going to get much worse before it gets better, if it gets better. Just climate change alone is a challenge that probably can’t be met. Not to mention paralyzed politics. Good luck. but just to be safe, choose high ground for your destination.

          Reply
    3. flora

      Your description

      It’s not, I have found, that people start off intending to let you down, exploit you or, worse, out-and-out rip you off or attempt to abuse their positions of either direct authority or otherwise some influence or other (whatever those positions are and however I — and they — came to occupy these). It’s just their desperation creeps in and you can see how, despite a wrestling with their consciences, sometimes momentarily, sometimes lengthy, but regardless, it becomes a question of whether it’s going to be them or it’s going to be you and they conclude — reluctantly maybe, but conclude they do — it’s not going to be them.

      is a perfect description of drowning men. So many are economically drowning now in our neoliberal “paradise”.

      As for formerly quiet places for contemplation or work being taken over by parents and children allowed/encouraged to be loud and expressive… that’s happened in my town’s fine art museum and library. (The art museum finally put some of it’s oldest and finest pieces into storage to keep them from being damaged. )

      Reply
      1. flora

        adding: thanks to tax cuts for billionaires there’s less public funding going to libraries and art museums. The art classes and library ‘events’ are for paying customers (parents) as a way to generate income.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          Yes, same with my local library — it runs a weekday morning (my favourite time for having a break and browsing books which are out of print or otherwise unusual and I would not find them in a chain bookstore) parent-and-toddlers “reading club”, which it charges for hosting, that sounds worthy but is in reality just cheap daycare. The wretched government here defunded a program called Surestart which provided the same but in an appropriate setting — some were even run in new custom designed centres (subsequently sold off). Low income parents got practical help and support in an environment appropriate to the activities undertaken. It was a popular program and the people who used it apparently valued it highly. It nipped in the bud any issues and saved high cost social services needing to be brought in when a situation got too bad for the parent or child.

          Now, we have fend for yourself volunteer community support which doesn’t do the job correctly and creates a problem for people trying to use a public space which isn’t designed for the purpose it now has to be put to.

          Reply
      2. Tom Bradford

        My wife has a casual job at our local library whereby she’s called in to relieve if the get short-staffed. Just yesterday she was complaining at how noisy the library was with unrestrained kids screaming around the place unchecked and the corner where free wi-fi was made available to tourists plus machines ‘for research’ for those who still don’t have internet at home was spilling into the body of the library with people on the lap-tops or smartphones chatting away and laughing, and even gaming with all the resulting clatter, music and explosions, utterly careless of the impingement on others.

        When I was younger silence in libraries was the rule and and enforced for the same reason it is in churches. Knowledge in its medium, books, was sacred and one approached it with the reverence. In a library one communicated with it on a personal basis in one’s personal space, and respected the right of others to do so.

        But these days nothing is sacred.

        Reply
        1. flora

          This is true in my local library. I abhor the change but can well imagine the library board thinking this ‘community event space/ free for all’ is a necessary pr move to prevent local govt from cutting the library budget even more than it has; get enough parents (voters) using the library and they’ll complain if more cuts to library are made. On the other hand, the contemplative use of the library for study is slowly being destroyed. Ah well. They still have books I can borrow. (I miss the older library ways, where a librarian would shush you if you made too much noise, but financial needs have changed things I suppose.)

          Reply
          1. Math is Your Friend

            Our local libraries all have wifi and public internet terminals (a couple of thousand of those across the system)… if you go into a branch there are people with laptops everywhere (probably 50 to 100 in a larger branch), being very, very quiet.

            And there are still a lot of books in circulation, as well, both physical and electronic copies.

            There are rowdy moments, but they seem to be dealt with fairly quickly.

            In general, it seems to be adapting in a constructive way.

            Reply
          2. P

            Here libraries seem to be almost a sort of hell that sinners would devise to torment the righteous. Basically every “worthy” noisy activity imaginable systematically put into as close a proximity to the pitiful would-be scholor as possible so that one is basically being dared to object and cast oneself as the heel.

            It reminds me of the scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Giles objects to Anya and Xander having a loud quarrel about their sex life in the middle of Giles living room:

            Anya: This is important!
            Giles: Yes it is. But why is it here?

            Reply
  4. Disturbed Voter

    Faced the same thing 10 years ago. Eventually had to provide assisted living to my mother, by myself. Couldn’t move where my mother was, so she agreed to move to where I was. It was a sacrifice for both of us, but did bring us together which wouldn’t happen otherwise (we lived half a country apart). A octogenarian/ nonagenarian’s health can decline very quickly, so your timing is apt. Be sure and get as many helpers as possible when you get there who are pro-bono, occasional nursing support won’t be enough eventually. Full time in-home nursing is $12,000 per month. If the fates require it, don’t avoid getting her in a nursing home, if you can’t afford that, as nursing home is only $6,000 per month. Good luck with your relocation, and mission of love.

    Reply
  5. Wat

    I completely agree, you would be just accepting the inevitable even without your Mom’s sitch. I moved away 10 yrs. ago. I miss the food and the late hours, but I had seen nothing encouraging since they enclosed Thompkins Sq. Park in… ’89? New Yorkers who remember the E. Village of the ’70s and ’80s might enjoy my blogpost about it.

    Reply
    1. Lou Mannheim

      I think the Tompkins Square riot was either 91 or 92. I had just moved to the city. Who knew 10 years later I would be living in Alphabet City!

      Reply
  6. PlutoniumKun

    Best of luck with the move, Yves. There are few things more stressful than moving (and you need to do it right – I once tried to do a ‘minimal stress’ move by hiring movers and it turned into a hugely expensive and, yes, stressful mistake). So I’m sure everyone is quite happy to have a more low key NC for all the time it takes.

    It sounds like you have your priorities right. Since I briefly lived and worked there when I was in my late teens I’ve loved NYC and love visiting when I can, but its changed beyond all recognition. Yes, its vastly cleaner and ‘nicer’ than then, but I honestly can’t understand how anyone who isn’t earning seriously big money can have any type of a good lifestyle there. I’ve found the change in tone (for the worse) very noticeable over the years as I’ve visited, even with my relatives there. I’ve a relative who has an amazing apartment in a good part of Manhattan thanks to an astute/fortunate investment in the 1980’s (she is a nurse on an average income) and even she is now looking to move away.

    And moving for your mother is a good move too. Years ago I did the same thing, quit my job in the UK and moved home as both my parents were ailing and none of my siblings were nearby at the time. I was very fortunate that I was able to slip immediately into a good job at home, so it wasn’t that difficult a decision economically, but I certainly don’t regret doing it, even though it seemed odd at the time for a thirty-something guy to move back in with his parents. I did my bit for a few years, I think I’d always regret it if I’d stayed so far away during their last years.

    Reply
  7. The Rev Kev

    Congratulations on the move out of New York. You have written before how the city that you knew years ago was no longer the same and its deteriorating character. Moving to be near your mother sounds like the best move to make and will bring you much peace of mind. My commiserations though on having to go through the whole moving process. That is something that I wouldn’t even wish on Dick Cheney.
    I was reading about the experiences on another New Yorker’s move to Alabama at https://www.al.com/living/2016/12/xx_things_no_one_tells_you_abo.html and it sounds like a good place to move to. The place is more relaxed and from what I can see the food looks great. If I had to live in America, it would probably be on a short list of places to move to. Alabamans reading this page may pipe up about places to go and things to see.
    And since some jacka** will sooner or later pipe up with a link to the obvious, may I be the first jacka** to do so?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye5BuYf8q4o

    Reply
    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      *places to go*

      BOURBON ST, BAYYBAYYYY lol

      Im sorry about ur mom. My grandparents moved into a swanky ass ole folks called Lambeth House after my grandpa had a stroke. I haven’t visited in a year and i feel awful. Im such a coward sometimes. Seeing my grandpa not being to speak normally and write (hes a Classicist) is totally fn crushing.

      Glad ur coming to Alabama!
      Look forward to organizing the South with you :)

      Ps DRINKS ON ME

      Reply
  8. Ignacio

    Take it easy with the move Yves and good luck in your destination! I concur with PK that caring one’s family is good decision. Seeing and caring our aging parents is somehow bitter but it is also a good learning lesson for us. My mother is 87 and the elder she is, the closer we are. I have noticed that when I cross my neighbours while bringing mom home the instant eyes message I see is respect and warmth.

    Reply
    1. rivegauche

      May all the pieces of your move fall easily into place, the best wishes of your readers nudging it along!

      Reply
  9. Norm de plume

    Moving can be hell but it sounds like the destination will be worth the journey. You may even find a ‘new lease on life’ or a ‘sea-change’. All the best with it Yves.

    Reply
  10. oaf

    Good luck with your move, Yves….Mothers are precious! Make the most of it; and please; when you can; continue to grace the meetups with your presence!

    Reply
  11. allan

    Elder care at a distance is so difficult. And, as you say, the decline of NYC as a place to live (or even visit) is
    not only in absolute terms but also relative to other metro areas where one can find a lot of culture, eating and amenities that have diffused away from the coasts. It will be stressful – take care of yourself – but in the end
    you’re surely making the right decision.

    Reply
  12. nyc transplant to south carolina

    Good luck. I myself moved 7 yrs ago to South Carolina and love the climate and the living. Friendly people, mostly, and good to not have cold, cold winters. But sadly I’m moving back but nearer my daughters in NJ. I’m 80 and daughters facing similar issues in dealing with possible estate issues at a long distance.

    But good wishes to you.

    Reply
  13. Janie

    It sounds like the right decision. Mountain Brook is lovely (I’ve visited friends in Pelham). Restaurants are good – Frank Stitz’s and BBQ joints, and many others. Access to Gulf oysters and shrimp is nothing to sneeze at, people are friendly and you’ll learn just when to say, “bless his heart”. But you know all this – just remembering good times. Good luck and more thanks than I can express for the knowledge you have shared and the community you have fostered.

    Reply
    1. Svante Arrhenius

      Yeah, but be careful of folks’ tendency of pushing you through the intersections; there are cameras now and presuming you’ll end up with a plug-in hybrid, as gas prices jump this summer. You’ll get the ticket, as the church lady in the Nissan Titan speeds off, texting? Aldi’s, Big Lots, Bessemer Flea Market… all liquidate stuff like Tahini, legume & Jerusalem artichoke pasta, Turkish “organic” pomegranate juice, tree nuts and Indian MREs for pennies on the dollar. I believe the locals are terrified of the lurking horror of Kosher, Halal, Vegan or any food lacking in HFCS, rBGH, antibiotics or glyphosate… without a garish smiling pig on the label?

      Reply
  14. Dave

    I was born in NYC but could never stand it later. Maybe I was inoculated as a baby. At about day 2 in NYC the stress overwhelms me and I escape. Too crowded, not enough space inside or out. Too much money that is required for absolutely everything. Like a prison. Life is better on the outside. Go for it. Escape!

    Reply
  15. Svante Arrhenius

    Well, I do love Niki’s West… and Gud Pep’l and actual pizza, sort’ve. But we couldn’t find decent kasha knish?
    Several coworker friends have only just “finally” bailed from the Birmingham area (two, to Panama City, just in time for the storm) do to income disparity/ gentrification type issues taking desireable enclaves upscale, out of the reach of retirees. One of our media employed neighbors is returning to our hometown of Pittsburgh (several others preceding her) where I’d noted my peckerwood Mississippi coworkers felt the town had gotten “kinda scary, for such friendly folks” just before the Tree of Life shootings. We’d all noticed my former university/ medical neighborhood now felt like the buildings has just landed, the “America’s Most Livable City” was jamming largely Asian kids into urban neighborhoods where working class Blacks had once mostly owned their homes/ businesses; simultaneously drawing hep retirees into 130 largely eastern European hillbilly streetcar suburbs, long decaying all around. It’s easy to meet people their. Folks I’d known, working to keep medical insurance. Millenial immigrants thinking of moving on before the ethane crackers and wet-gas wells all started spewing. Felt like Tolkien, describing the industrialization of his pastoral childhood home (or Dickens’ calling mine “Hell, with the lid off” nearly a century before that? Well, aside from all the self driving Ubers, rifle-totting rednecks dying from fentanyl, exploding fracked ethane pipelines and cult-like DSA infighting, folks are kinda sweet and friendly, compared to NYC, but don’t rile them none! https://www.weknewwhatwehadfilm.com/

    Reply
  16. Eclair

    Yves, it sounds like this is the right decision for you at this point in your life. And in the life of your mother. Moving is stressful, so allow yourself time to breathe. And, moving to a new place is exciting too.

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Yves best of luck with your Tree Change (that’s what they call a sea change to the country here in Australia). You can keep the old idea of New York alive in your head and visit it there anytime you want. Meantime you’ll have less of many things: crowds, pollution, icy roads, noise, and more of many things: birds, trees, smiling people, warm winters. Courage! (pronounced “koo-raj””)

      Reply
  17. Sam Adams

    You won’t regret the move after the first year. I left and found, surprisingly that there is life on the other side of the Hudson. Artists, art. Writers, write and some very interesting lives get lived. Better et at the end of the month there is something left in the accounts. Enjoy your new adventure and your time with your mom.

    Reply
  18. SJ

    I remember visiting NYC back in 1977 when, I think, the city was bankrupt and garbage was piled up on the streets. 4 in the morning walking to the port authority for a bus to Vermont being followed by two black guys wearing white suits until a cop car appeared – felt like being on the set of Shaft.
    I suppose it is all different now.

    Reply
  19. Tony Wright

    Good luck with the move Yves – given what you and others have written about NYC price gouging I hope you can find an Alabama removalist to backload your belongings rather than having to pay a NY company.
    My father in law in Adelaide( the nicest cityin Australia) died suddenly last week so we will be moving there to be close to my mother in law later this year. A big change after 20 years on our rural lifestyle property in northern NSW , and I will miss my small herd of milking goats and the wildlife here. Very mixed feelings.
    But, one set of doors closes, another set opens, and change and the need to adapt to it is good for slowing brain ageing, as well as likely being uplifting for the spirit.
    And it sounds like you should be settled just in time to enlighten us all about the next round of Brexit cagefighting next October when they run down the clock to the next “deadline”. The farce continues, although I think the EU may be somewhat changed by then following the upcoming elections, as well as economic “developments” between now and then.
    Best wishes for the move.

    Reply
    1. Mael Colium

      Plenty of small properties in the Adelaide Hills, 45 minutes to the city, so you could recreate your lifestyle and bank the difference in property values. A great time to buy while the market is in the doldrums. Adelaide is growing quickly though and I’ve moved further out to the South Coast to escape the city.

      Reply
      1. Tony Wright

        Thanks for the advice, and I agree that “Downerland ” aka Adelaide Hills is nice, but we have decided to go for a real change and become real city slickers and rent in North Adelaide – lots of nice old houses, cafes, restaurants and only 30 minutes walk to the great central markets and less to the Adelaide Oval and cultural centres. Then if the manure hits the fan economically and house prices crash as many predict ,we may buy. The idea is to be largely car free – f… Suburbia – I lived in it in London as a child and Perth, W .A for over 30 years before moving to our lovely 78acres. And we won’t be selling where we are now – we plan to return after our daughter finishes high school.
        And hopefully I will be able to find a nice goat farmer in the Adelaide hills – a good excuse for a weekly motorcycle ride to buy unpasteurised goats milk, which I give credit for my relatively good health and vigour at 66.
        And Yves – you will have to learn to sing “Sweet Home Alabama”.

        Reply
  20. ChiGal in Carolina

    Wow, good luck with everything. I held onto my place in Chicago when I came down here for my mom in 2016, couldn’t let it go cuz it’s home. Had to give away a bunch of furniture and being a long-distance landlord sucks. It has been hard.

    But 2 1/2 years later my mom is still here and we are both very grateful for our time together.

    In our atomized individualistic culture, many of us retain the commitment to family and friends, to community, that sustained us in previous generations. It will stand us in good stead in the hell-in-a-handbasket future bearing down on us.

    You are setting a great example, showing that great intellect and warm heart need not be mutually exclusive.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      >many of us retain the commitment to family and friends, to community, that sustained us in previous generations

      But you’re supposed to move and move and move and movemovemove to that always better job… and your sig-other must work too, it’s the American way! and thus at least one of you winds up commuting 45min one-way on a good day (no working from home, sayeth the Marissa Meyer’s of the world) but you can finance a really fancy SUV to do that so it’s a plus actually, right? If you’re not happy then have some kids, everybody wants kids, childcare is just a cost that you will learn to accept.

      And ignore the fact that you seem to lose big money on housing each time you move, because it must be some sort of misconception on your part (you apparently can’t add, or more aptly, subtract) as all the real-estate agents trumpet what a good investment a house is! As they and the rest of the financial industry take 10, 15, 20% of the cut in every move you make….

      What a dream modern life is. Well, maybe a bit bumpy at the moment but we will for sure be working 24-hr weeks and commuting in flying MuskMobiles before we know it. Just a few more long Saturdays and we’ll get there.

      Reply
  21. anon y'mouse

    welcome to Alabama, fellow transplant.

    since you live in the city of cities, it is going to be a new experience for you. even in B-ham.

    the people are generally very nice. can’t speak for B-ham itself, but the best food is in someone’s home. family, and sunday dinner, means something here.

    be well. don’t let the move stress you out. maybe you could sublet the place furnished?

    Reply
  22. David

    I have moved 30 times in 65 years ( military career & Army Brat).

    You will find good people everywhere.
    Wonderful that you have the integrity to care for your mom

    Reply
  23. Juneau

    Good luck with your move and with your mom’s situation. I have worked there for 30 years and hope to ease my practice out of NYC in the next year or two. The ridiculous commuting expenses (72 dollars to park in midtown???) and generally less friendly attitude have worn me down. I no longer feel a part of it. I used to enjoy the grit. I bite my tongue but cannot avoid saying you may not be missing much by leaving. Best wishes and thank you for all you do.

    Reply
  24. urblintz

    I left NYC, after 28 years, in 2011. I had a wonderful duplex apartment on the UWS (which I had shared with my partner until his passing and where I remained for 20 years after) that was becoming too expensive, and a great career in music that was fading at the same rate I was losing my hair (the two are more connected than you’d think). The city had changed immeasurably from the one I’d moved to in 1983 and all for the worse. Everything that was touted as “improvement” during those years further stripped the “gritty” edge that had made it so vibrant (some might say dangerous) from the Time Square Disney facades which replaced the porn shops and small businesses to the upgrade of Carnegie Hall, which ruined its legendary acoustics. We “saved” Symphony Space and the Thalia theatre only to see it filled with upscale events replacing the pot-filled atmosphere of art house and unfunded street culture. The jazz clubs closed , Greenwich Village was taken over by wealthy celebrities, CBGB too and on St. Marks, where the punks had colonized there now were Gap Stores and unaffordable rents. And my entire life there was dominated by the regimes of Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg (Dinkins was a cypher).

    And yet leaving was still hard, especially moving to my birthplace in the drowning red-state of Florida. My instinct to return to the city – because there’s no city like it, really – was controlled by my bank account more than anything else but I consider it fortunate to have had that barrier because it reminded me why I had to leave. I regretted needing a car in my new home and seriously underestimated how much I would hate driving again. But I adapted.

    And over the years I have found my peace about it all. My less frequent trips to the city no longer fill me with nostalgia, rather with an urge to get out of there as soon as possible. And whereas there is much to displease in Tampa Bay (it too has transformed from sleepiness to urban congestion) leaving NYC when I did was the right thing to do and I know our brilliant and incomparable Yves will make her new home south the “right” choice too. Maybe now there will be more “meet-ups” closer to me so that I can participate and finally meet our host, who has created such a vibrant place here at NC for us all.

    Immer weiter! Alli delante! Life doesn’t stop no matter where one lives.

    Reply
    1. Svante Arrhenius

      I’d written my somewhat less than startled comment, as I’d waited for my partner to escape Zabar’s (cart & backpack loaded, no way to squeeze inside). There was a tiny guy holding two Brazilian flags, screaming at 110 dB through the door. We’re surrounded by new brutalist construction (picture Clinton Era for-profit prisons, elsewhere). All the folks who fled here in the eighties, now too poor to make it in co-ops full of 28yr olds pulling in $320K, replacing Audi Q7s with Chinese Volvos while bludgeoning oldsters with prams, while texting about mindfulness, yoga & Ilhan Omar. Yonah Schimmel, Russ & Daughters survive… Azuri’s GONE! Crime will return, this summer… along with electric scooters, but they had to shut down MTA stops and ferrys due to crazed crowds… cherry blossoms!

      Reply
  25. Dichotomus

    We will miss your insights here, Yves, once you’re busy with the move, even though Jerry-Lynn, Lambert and the ever insightful commentariat will provide plenty of fat to chew on while you’re at it. Moving always risks physical and mental stress, especiallly when we’re older (I’m 71 and now live with my sister who suffers from middle stage dementia). My best advice is to label, label, label every box, in detail if needed. On the other hand, letting go of certain things- furniture, art, books- you no longer prize as much as you once did- is very liberating.
    Just as leaving Manhattan will certainly be.

    Reply
  26. Dalepues

    Good luck with your move. I don’t know much about New York City (three visits only) but I believe that houses in Birmingham will be larger than NYC apartments, especially if you look for something built before 1940 or so. Birmingham will also be much less expensive, though that may be starting to change. Summers will be longer, winters shorter, with the best weather coming in Spring and Autumn. Pollen can be a problem but generally the rain keeps it washed down. The people are nice, polite…you probably already know all this….welcome to Alabama. I hope you have the chance to visit Mobile, a beautiful and historic city.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks but the issue is the room size. My living room is 23′ x 19″ with 10.5′ ceilings. Unlikely you’d find that in anything other than a very big house….which makes no sense for a single person, and certainly not in a condo.

      Reply
      1. ChrisPacific

        You might get that in an open plan layout, which are popular in modern houses/apartments, at least around here. But if the furniture is particularly idiosyncratic or specialized for its current environment then it may make sense to get rid of it anyway.

        Another easily overlooked problem with big furniture is how to get it into the house. People don’t always design houses with considerations like that in mind and it can rule a lot of places out if it’s a factor (or worse, force you to get rid of the furniture on short notice if you run into unanticipated problems). I once had to turn the largest room in a rental into a bedroom and use a tiny room near the entrance as the lounge, because the hall was too narrow for my sofa. Later I noticed that there was a large picture window in the big room that could open all the way and was obviously intended for moving furniture in and out, but the apartment was on the third floor, and movers don’t come equipped for that kind of thing unless you give them advance warning.

        Reply
      2. rd

        Good luck with your move. I think you will like living outside NYC. Many of the most interesting areas in the country are not in the big coastal cities.

        You can consider building your own small to medium sized house. The nice thing about fly-over country, is that is affordable, the lots are available, and the architects and engineers are affordable. The permitting is simple, compared to the NYC quagmire that is its Department of Buildings.

        Reply
  27. remmer

    I left NYC in the 1980s, and by the time I realized what a big mistake I’d made, I no longer had a job or apartment to go back to. I went back frequently, to see friends and do research for whatever I was writing at the time. But those visits tapered off as my old circle of friends split up and scattered to the suburbs. I still regret leaving, but the NYC I fell in love with was the dirty and dangerous one of the 1970s, when subway cars were covered with graffiti, Con Ed left a thin film of soot on our windowsills every morning, and you never went out at night without having enough money to satisfy a mugger if you were held up. That city was cheap, too, and full of smart, creative people who made it feel like the best place I ever had or ever would live. Luc Sante’s “My Lost City” captured the feeling I had when I moved there. (https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2003/11/06/my-lost-city/) But that NYC is gone forever. Even if I won the lottery I don’t think I’d move back to the city of Billionaires Row and Hudson Yards.

    But you are leaving for the best of reasons, Yves. Good luck to you and your mother.

    Reply
  28. annie

    moved to nyc in 1965 thinking ‘this is the only city in USA i can live.’ married, in succession, two brookyn bred men, bought first brooklyn house in ’70 for less than $50,000 thanks to robt kennedy act giving low interest mortgages to veterans, raised brooklyn kids. we were among the lucky.
    now we are retired but ‘the house’ is now in manhattan where the west view news’s recent headline ‘eviction by property tax’ applies to us. so we rent out nyc and live most of the year in rural italy enjoying best set of local friends and whole new realms of knowledge. our few months in nyc each year, seeing sons and grandchildren, are also spent lamenting the ruin of our once gloriously grubby working (workers’) city, despising what has been, is being, done to it.
    you will not regret leaving. your incredibly valuable work follows you and new places and experience will enrich all of us.

    Reply
  29. Mael Colium

    Ah …. trying times. First your feline friend and now an aging parent. Best wishes for a good outcome.

    Reply
    1. nycTerrierist

      Yves, not much to add to all the insights here but my best wishes
      for a smooth landing and peace of mind in your new stomping ground.

      Someone said a true NYer is someone who is always losing their NY.
      I’ve lived here for most of my adult life and am appalled by the accelerated
      hyper-gentrification that is sucking everything good out of our town.
      A few years ago I moved from downtown to Astoria. When I go back to the old
      ‘hood, I must say, I can’t miss it because it is gone — replaced by glass boxes, chain stores, rowdy bars and perpetual construction of more of the same…

      Moving is arduous and I hope you give yourself ample time and space to recover
      and regroup. We your appreciative readers will be here when you re-surface.
      Good luck with the shlep!

      Reply
  30. Carolinian

    Welcome to the south. It’s not the place it used to be either. Decades ago when I was growing up the local radio station would sign off by playing Dixie. Now we have gay rights parades. Some of us have tried the opposite move–I once spent the coldest winter of my life in NYC–but I missed all that pointless (New Yorkers would say) southern politeness. Being the Bible belt isn’t all bad.

    Just hope you like rain….

    Reply
  31. Fazal Majid

    I’m relocating from San Francisco (same cultural coarsening you observe in NYC) to London (because I am a glutton for punishment), and downsizing in the process. I’ve had good luck selling excess furniture through a local consignment store (nothing fancy, just Room & Board dressers/sideboards), got basically 50% of the original purchase price back

    Best of luck with your move!

    Reply
  32. Michael Fiorillo

    Everyone loses their New York. And, with some exceptions, most of the people I know who’ve left the city never look back, since there’s less of what made NYC special everyday, and many of the things once available only there, can be found elsewhere.

    As you correctly say, the city is cleaner and safer, but it’s also become little more than a playground for global wealth, lumpen-bourgeois actitude is everywhere, and social solidarity is disappearing.

    Good luck on your move, and consider posting how your transition to life in Alabama is going.

    Reply
  33. Susan the other`

    Our kids left NYC 3 years ago. At first my daughter was homesick. She was slow to adjust to life in Portland. But she finally has. I’m not worried about her anymore. So don’t be surprised if you feel homesick for NYC. You can always visit. It sounds like your mother lives above the water line – seriously think high ground. I bet you’ll love the weather compared to your former northern exposure. About the logistics – box up your important papers, there will be more boxes than you think. Be draconian and shred the rest. Select only a few pieces of furniture. Cherrypick your closet. Itemize the rest and give it all to a garage sale broker. Really. My sisters-in-law cleaned out their mother’s house that way. What didn’t sell was donated and they took it off the taxes. It was a very efficient process. Keep us posted please.

    Reply
  34. XXYY

    Best wishes and good luck with the move and with your mom, Yves. I’m certain it will be a great comfort to have her wonderful and accomplished daughter close at hand.

    Change is always good in the long term, though sometimes painful in the short term!

    Reply
  35. DJG

    Chicago, here, and I can sympathize. I was born in Chicago, and I find myself in a dragged-out divorce from the city, which suffers from horrifying gentrification amid economic decline and not-so-subtle expulsion of black people. At least in NYC there is money: Too much, badly distributed, but not the zero-sum game that dominates every aspect of life here in Chicago. Yet as a native, I have to pull each root arduously out of the ground before putting my decisions into effect.

    The main thing to keep in mind is that a move does not change what we are at our core. You are taking your insight and accomplishments with you. (And at the same time a move is no escape from our own personal histories.)

    Best of luck. Keep us posted as you put the furniture on sale and send your wardrobe off to a consignment shop and look for housing in Birmingham. Location, now there’s an issue…

    Reply
    1. newcatty

      Of course:

      Wherever you go there you are.
      Confucius

      There will be a new adventure. Best wishes for your move.

      Reply
  36. polecat

    Take care Yves. Moving can be stressful for sure, but you’ll no doubt feel more liberated as you adjust to your new environs. Just don’t try to do it all .. save the heavy lifting for the moving crew .. ‘;] Here’s to a relatively benign transition to a better place, and leave NYC to the Ferengi !

    Reply
  37. jake

    It may be too easy to romanticize the past — I recall when you couldn’t get through the night on the UWS without hearing a gunshot or two, and clothing after a day out smelled like future cancers — but the attractions of the place are now mostly superficial, an illusion persisting from an earlier time.

    Manhattan actually accommodated people whose chief preoccupations weren’t real estate, finding a personal trainer or the latest 800% markup wine bar — years when you could flourish on part-time temp work, get to off-off-Broadway or City Ballet once or twice a week and have the Rembrandt/Vermeer gallery at the Met all to yourself at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday.

    Between Donald Trump, JPMorgan Chase and Duane Reade, there’s nothing left of that life.

    Reply
  38. thoughtful person

    Good luck with the move and managing your mom’s care. My daughter lived in NYC a couple years recently and now much prefers Richmond Va (rents alone are <1/2 the price for +2x the space). I just moved my mom (early 80s with memory loss) over the past year from Portland Me to Charlottesville. No way i could manage care from a distance and she is very set against trying any institutionalized care, though that day may come. Finding compatible helpers has been a huge plus and making things as much of a routine as possible seems to help.

    Take it all step by step, take time to rest, and keep working on improving things…

    Reply
  39. The Rev Kev

    For what it is worth. When you have finished packing, have the final one well-marked and containing stuff like a kettle, mug, spoon, coffee, sugar, snacks, biscuits, etc. That way, when you are in Alabama and the removalist van has pulled out of the driveway leaving you with all those boxes to unpack and sort through, you can unpack that particular box, make yourself some coffee or tea while having a snack and give yourself time to assess what you have and where it has all go to go without hitting the deck running and stressing out later. Did it once and it works.

    Reply
    1. ChrisPacific

      Yes, this is good advice (eating take-out curry with a measuring spoon isn’t an experience I care to repeat any time soon).

      Reply
  40. Michael Hudson

    Well, Yves, I grew up in the midwest and never have acclimatized to New York and the feeling of rush and lack of friendliness it has.
    The one thing keeping me here is that everyone comes through New York. After all, that’s where we met, and it will feel as if there is a loss not having you here to get together occasionally when there’s someone of mutual interest coming through.
    But “coming through” is the key. Just on Friday I was talking to a journalist from London (now moved to a suburb with his kids) about where in the world we might want to live. Slovenia? Austria? Neither NYC nor London is where one would really CHOOSE to live, if not for the contacts with people who themselves are just passing through rather than living here

    Reply
  41. Olivier

    Birmingham, AL, like many down-at-the-heel cities, is trying to resuscitate its downtown (what’s left of it). See this BBC article. This might be a good time to sample the city.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This isn’t quite an apt characterization. Despite being a post-Civil War industrial city (hence a bit grubby), Birmingham ‘s downtown isn’t modern (relatively few flashy recent office towers) but its stock of buildings has been very well maintained. A friend who was a city planner before going into finance recently visited Birmingham for the first time. He said that even though he’d heard me say good things about the city, it was better than he expected, and he was struck by how well the downtown area had been kept up (as in it was clean even if also dated).

      Reply
      1. Olivier

        There weren’t enough pictures in the BBC article to form an opinion of the general condition of the downtown but it did say that the historic train station (which looked like a landmark building) had been razed and that most of the movie theaters had either disappeared or rotted, so that didn’t sound too encouraging.

        But if there has been little modern construction (with its attendant plague of mandatory giant parking surfaces), then the revitalization might be successful.

        Reply
  42. sd

    Interesting timing. I left NYC in 1998 after living there for 15 years. I had some regrets about leaving over the years. A few trips back for work and to visit. And then a long stint away until several months ago when I returned once again for several months for work. The city has changed drastically in the last 10 years. I could catch glimpses here and there of a city I once knew well, but what’s in it’s place now, is just soulless. It’s bright shiny and bland beyond belief.

    I used the time to catch up with old friends. No one likes what the city has become. Friends who live outside of Manhattan do everything they can to avoid going into the city. That’s just unbelievably sad.

    Inequality creates boring cities. Zaps out all of the vibrancy and creativity. I don’t regret leaving at all. I feel like I escaped just before the city died.

    Good luck with the move. Recommendation – if you need to order packing supplies, try Uline. In particular, their book boxes are great for moving.

    Reply
  43. Olivier

    Also, in my experience, the second-hand furniture market is absolutely dreadful: only a tiny number of signature pieces are worth the effort of flogging them. Once you factor in, e.g., the unpleasantness of eBay, the rest has almost negative value. So why don’t you instead create a store of good will for future use by gifting your art deco pieces to friends?

    Reply
  44. Jason Boxman

    If you’re into used books, I liked Reed Books in downtown Birmingham. I think that’s where I found Angel in the Whirlwind, a book about the American Revolution that ultimately led me to drive up to Boston where I live now.

    Railroad Park is nice and Good People Brewing isn’t that far away. Collins Bar downtown has nice cocktails. It’s a very walkable downtown area, though maybe not during the summertime.

    Reply
  45. barefoot charley

    All these comments are so grimly familiar–best wishes to you, Yves, on your Escape from New New York.

    We’re leaving our hilltop hideout above redwood country for Chicago today, where my 90-year-old dad still remembers who we are, if not much else. We feel lucky that he has the resources for us to help him long-distance, mostly, so far.

    “Inequality creates boring cities” indeed, and craters suburbs too with its cruel effluents. All that’s said about NYC applies equally to the Bay Area (and prettified, bankrupt Chicago too), where SF refugees are now driven even out of Oakland, and native Oakies are BARTed to the farthest reaches of . . . you don’t even want to know, insta-slums where yesterday bourgeois perfections had beckoned, 50 miles away, once upon a California dream you could even stand to drive there.

    Reply
  46. GusBecause

    Good move! I finally sold my LA area house 10 years ago to live happily on my farm in the middle of Nowhere, NY, when I realized I loathed going back to Paradise to even check on it. I moved to southern CA in the ’70s and was charmed. The intoxicating aroma of orange blossoms! The ocean! Sitting in the sun gazing at the snow covered mountains! Heaven. By the time I left, I was spending 2 to 3 hours a day commuting to work and so angry I found myself screaming out the car window like a seriously insane person. My best advice on such a move is to move to a place with a barn, preferably two. One of my barns is packed with unopened packing cases full of god knows what, and I feel no guilt whatsoever about leaving it for my son to sort out after I go toes up. Best luck to you!

    Reply
  47. elissa3

    I think your’s is a wise move, albeit for a necessary family reason. Born in NYC, my biased opinion is that the city reached its peak around 1958; (I’m now 69). Post WWII, it truly felt like the center of the universe. Neighborhoods still counted. While having gone through several cycles since–1977 to 1980 was a low–NY, maybe Manhattan in particular, is now simply a money town. The same could be said for Paris, London, San Francisco, etc.

    If you ever think of relocating outside of AL, I can suggest Santa Fe. Once one accepts the tourist part, really only four months of the year, not overly annoying, and mostly concentrated in a relatively small area around the Plaza, it has a lot to offer. (Even a very good mayor whose last name is Webber!). Maybe the only place I could live in the US.

    Best wishes on your move, and regards to your mom.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There was a time I had friends in Santa Fe and visited a bit. I liked it back then. There were people who had moved there from CA and Texas, so there seemed to be a bit of Californication in the real estate prices, but that may be limited to the fancy parts of town. It seemed nice, relaxed, easy to get around.

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Your comment recalled to me the movie “the Apartment” which I believe occasionally shows scenes of NYC from around 1958 — a very different city.

      Reply
        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Go to YouTube and check out clips from the old cop show “Naked City,” from the late 50’s and early 60’s: enough incredible location shots to make New Yorkers of a Certain Age catch themselves.

          Also, the chase scene at the end of the film “Naked City,” shot in 1946 is also great…

          Reply
    3. AndrewJ

      Santa Fe and New Mexico has something deeply special about it. There is a deep and old magic in the air there. Maybe it’s the many millennia of human habitation, but the land seems to have a separate spirit all it’s own. In my time in Colorado, I could only visit, read, and marvel at it. If I wasn’t a still-young man at 34, planning out where I can put down roots that’ll last for the next fifty years, I’d live there, Jackpot be damned.
      Best of luck with the move, Yves. Thank you for all you do.

      Reply
      1. dimmsdale

        Santa Fe does indeed have magic about it. I’ve had family out there since WWII (bomb-related work). A couple of my cousins are transitioning out of town, though, due to proliferation of the super-rich and their trust-fund babies (and consequent through-the-roof effects on the real estate market and the loss of small-scale existence). I’ve always loved visiting my cousins, because as a visitor you harvest a lot of the best the city has; unfortunately, real estate prices and the very real dilemma of securing a reliable water source (one can’t, I’m told, count on relatively recent years of lush rainfall to continue) make it a dubious proposition to live there (unless there are ways to do that that I’m not aware of).

        Reply
  48. Sanxi

    Yves, you live by matters of the heart. Thus, they take you where they will. That is good, it will sustain you. To leave one thing and start another there is always this sense ‘Now what?’, this too shall pass. What it will become is what you shall make of it, in every yes there are a lot of noes. I often think we do not tell each other how much we mean to each other, I have come to think if the only prayer one ever says, to another is “Thank You’, that is enough. So thank you

    Reply
  49. Wukchumni

    We lived on Long Island in the summer of ’69, as my Dad was in the stock biz in L.A. and the Pacific Stock Exchange wasn’t big enough for him, and he’d been flying to NYC 3-4x a month, and thought why not just be there instead where the action was. The stock market crash of 1970 put paid to those plans, and we scampered back to the City of Angels. Only being 7 years old, I was impressed with native New Yorker street smarts, my counterparts in the near Big Apple could be quite convincing that getting 4 Nickels for your Quarter was a good deal for you. I’ve visited dozens of times since, and remember one drive from a friend’s place in Fort Lee, over the GW Bridge into NYC, and seeing carcasses of cars on the streets with nothing left to plunder on them, like so many corpus derelictis.

    NYC was a fun, albeit scary place, full of odd whimsy.

    Now, it’s mostly got Wall*Street smarts, and has gone sterile, i’d contemplate a move myself, if ensconced there.

    We were able to slip under the wire and make good our escape from L.A. 15 years ago, as we’d grown tiresome of the place i’d grown up in, far too many people & cars, and way too much anonymity. My situation was the opposite of Yves, in that we were moving away from my then 79 year old Mom, who has had a charmed life in terms of health for the most part.

    We visit her about every other month in her assisted living place, and that’s where we’re at now, in Whittier.

    I counted 37 tents of various sizes on this one stretch of elongated grass near Whittier Blvd yesterday, this just a mile away from where she lives.

    Parnell Park-another place where those down and out dwell, where I spent many an afternoon as a kid, will have it’s homeless population ‘temporarily’ removed, so an Easter egg hunt can go on, and presumably they’ll be able to come back to their old haunts after the hunt.

    https://www.whittierdailynews.com/2019/04/10/whittier-will-temporarily-remove-homeless-from-parnell-park/

    Reply
  50. tegnost

    That rhymes with what has happened to seattle. Here’s to a new chapter. Thanks for all of your indefatigable efforts, and thanks to lambert and jeri lynn for providing material support to us all!

    Reply
  51. JerryDenim

    Good luck and congrats Yves!

    Not as long of a resident as yourself, but I moved out of NYC late 2014 and I haven’t looked back. I feel my quality of life has greatly improved. I get a lot more fresh air, sunshine and exercise now. I drink less and spend less on frivolous things and I don’t have that awful feeling of poverty/unworthiness/shame that used to haunt me everywhere in NYC, now it’s the opposite; I feel embarrassed of my material situation, which I feel is psychologically/spiritually better as it encourages me to be humble, grateful and a better human, instead of resentful and self-pitying. I still visit NYC routinely for work and check-in with old friends. I concur, it isn’t the same, and it’s not getting better. When I do visit these days I’m shocked at how friends who earn so much more than me are somehow living so much worse than I do in my new location, which is hardly cheap.

    Best of luck to you with this new chapter, I hope it brings you peace, joy and better living. I’m eating the last NY Bagel from a giant bag I brought home last week as I write this. BHM-LGA direct, two hours and change, two-hundred bucks. You can always visit any time you feel the need.

    Reply
  52. Joe Well

    Has NC published anything on the destruction of our great cities through neoliberalism? I am approaching 40 and can only just now begin to afford a one bedroom apartment in central Greater Boston, which I’ve wanted for almost 20 years. But the people in my age range there are now overwhelmingly divided between the rich and some few poor people who inherited public housing.

    So if I want to be plugged into the great events of the world, is there any place for me? I miss the conversations I can have in places like that.

    Reply
  53. crittermom

    Both of my parents left this earth before I turned 40 (5 yrs apart) & I wish I’d had more time with each of them. Although we kept in constant contact & had numerous visits, we lived far apart after I moved away in my twenties.
    Now 67 myself, I readily admit to still missing them but remain grateful for all they taught me & the time we did have together.

    Enjoy those precious moments you’ll now be able to share with your mom on a frequent basis, as I’ve no doubt she will relish the additional time spent with you.

    Look forward to the new & interesting people you’re about to meet in your new home, as well!

    Above all, take care of yourself.

    I feel very confident in saying we will all still be here once you’re settled in & return full time.
    In the interim, you’ll be leaving it in the most capable hands of Lambert & Jerri-Lynn.
    We appreciate them, too! :-)

    Reply
  54. David

    Good luck with your move, Yves, and I rather suspect that it’s the right thing, and even an inspired decision. No matter how much of a big-city type you are (and I was born and have lived in big cities all my life) a point is coming where they will be impossible to live in. It’s not our fault, even if we are getting old (or some of us are, anyway) it’s the fact that major cities around the world are not what they were, and that for the most part ordinary people do not live there any more. Those who travel to work there are stressed and rude, those who study there can seldom afford to live in the centre, and those who can afford to live in the centre are not, in general, people you would want to associate with.
    I watched the heart of London, my home city, being progressively torn out from the 1980s onwards, until I couldn’t stand it any more. Over the last decade or so, much the same has been happening in Paris. Only the very rich and the very poor now live there. A massive escalation in property prices and rents, driven largely by internationals and money-laundering, has made it effectively impossible for ordinary people to find a home there. (The monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment, say 60m square, now exceeds the typical salary of someone working in Paris). Paris now belongs only to the very rich and the very poor. There are parts of the city that are effectively dead, since no-one lives in the large apartment buildings for more than a few weeks a year, and other parts where you might as well be in Johannesburg, except for the weather and, frankly, the friendliness of the people.
    Last week I was walking through the rue de Rivoli on a Saturday afternoon, past the patrolling soldiers (being photographed by cohorts of Chinese tourists), watching a police car trying to force its way through an unbelievable traffic-jam (and also being photographed by cohorts of Chinese tourists) past crowds of homeless people people living under the famous arcades in the entrances of antique shops (not being photographed by cohorts of Chinese tourists), and down into the station at Chatelet, picking my way around the rivers of urine produced by the homeless people sleeping on cardboard boxes in the main hall, where Chinese tourists as a rule don’t go. Welcome to the City of Light, I thought.

    Reply
    1. flora

      It seems many once great US and European cities are slowly turning into something like Manila, Philippines; the very rich living in gated and guarded buildings/areas, and the very poor crowded in on the margins, with the shrinking middle being squeezed out in greater numbers.

      Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, this rings true (and see Joe Well’s comment along these lines).

      I was only in London briefly, in 1984, and I’d often be in the Sloan Square area. When I come back, I would stay in Knightsbridge and be sure to walk there, since it’s a very pretty area.

      It was creepy how deserted that area and Fulham Road near Sloan Square had become. Everything was too clean, too tidy….and no one was on the street. I don’t know how any of the local businesses survive. It was as if someone had taken a neutron bomb to the area. Someone who was smart enough to buy in Kensington before it was super bid up (and this person also did well financially otherwise) that I know a bit moved a few years back to Oxford because he’d found Kensington to have become unlivable.

      Reply
    3. Joe Well

      I did a few months in London on a working holiday visa in 1999. Coming from Boston, US, I was overcome by how affordable and humane the housing situation was. There were even weekly rentals! In central Greater Boston, anything less than a one-year lease was rare. I was able to rent a room in a house full of young foreigners for 70 GBP per week, no references or credit check, a 5-minute walk from the Drayton Park National Rail station that took me to my job at Moorgate in the City, financial capital of Europe, in 15 minutes.

      Fast forward and London has new housing towers that have been called modern day Marie Celestes since they’re never visited by their investor-owners. How lucky I was to have seen London, and the UK, when I did. I am happy to see the housing market is collapsing in London. May there be some contagion across the Atlantic, though I won’t hold my breath.

      Reply
  55. EMtz

    All the best to you!

    I’ve lived and worked in cities all across the US – including Manhattan – and it is my sense that the culture as a whole has changed, especially urban culture. More materialistic. Less trusting. More divided. Less morally true. More coarse. Less genuine. So I left the country entirely. I gotta say, while Mexico has its issues, the difference in attitudes here compared to the US has been startling. There are very few gringos in the neighborhood where I live and many in other parts of the city behave with a horrid sense of privilege that turns me off never mind other Mexicanos, but I have been accepted here for the person that I am. People greet each other on the street with smiles. Friends greet with hugs and a kiss on the cheek. Less urbanized places in the US still have some of this genuineness. I hope you find it where you are moving.

    PS I sold or gave away about 90% of my possessions. Started fresh. It was a good decision.

    Reply
  56. Off The Street

    Yves,
    Best wishes and enjoy the gentility of a southern city. You may find spillover health benefits through the relocation that serve to smooth out the physical, mental and emotional transitions. It may take upwards of a year to feel more at home even with the familiarity of the place.

    Reply
  57. Antagonist Muscles

    From Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blue:”

    I started out on burgundy
    But soon hit the harder stuff
    Everybody said they’d stand behind me
    When the game got rough
    But the joke was on me
    There was nobody even there to bluff
    I’m going back to New York City
    I do believe I’ve had enough.

    It seems to me Dylan is angrily suggesting that “going back to New York City” will cause the same problems he already has.

    I hung around professional financial folks in my completely futile search for work in finance. I felt dirty just interviewing and attending networking meetings. Writing about Wall Street skullduggery must have its toll. Kudos to Yves for being helping all of us understand the dangers of the financial industry.

    Reply
  58. lordkoos

    Let me add to the chorus of best wishes for your move Yves. Similarly, after living in Seattle for 38 years we left the city to move to a small town about 100 miles away, to look after my 92-year-old mother. She’s actually doing great but needs help now and then, and of course eventually she will need a lot more help. We do miss the ethnic restaurants in Seattle, especially the Asian food (the Chinese places here are terrible). But otherwise, I do not miss city life at all, and similarly to other cities, Seattle has changed a lot, especially since the inequality has become so marked in the last 10+ years. Homeless people are everywhere. Here in the small town people know their neighbors better and there is much more community spirit. I think you’ll enjoy being in Alabama once you settle in.

    Reply
    1. neo-realist

      Re Seattle Chinese Food, have you tried Seven Stars Pepper?

      Anyway, I moved from NYC in the summer of 88–Burnout and toxic family relations. It got to the point where the noise in the street started to get much louder–the sirens, car alarms, the talking, the clanging, banging and the rush hour subway rides with the ridiculous crowds and hair trigger tempers of riders you bump into started to wear me down big time. I started going through an enormous amount of depression and started to stay in the apartment all weekend–and it was the East Village yet:/ At the encouragement of a homesick pre-wife, now ex-wife who grew up in Seattle, we moved here.

      As some NYC refugees have mentioned, I miss some of the glorious past of NYC–CBGB, Max’s, Irving Plaza, the Palladium, the A7 club, as well as the film art houses like the Thalia–where one could go to school on Godard, Fellini, and Bergman, as well as places like the Elgin, the St. Marks, the 8th St Playhouse, the Bleeker Street Cinema, and the Cinema Village and none of that or anything close to such culture is coming back:( I do think about moving back……If I win Powerball, but some of the comments give me pause even if I did. It’s still good for tourism–Museums and Art Galleries galore and good food to be had.

      While initially disappointed by the lack of diversity, racist slights while shopping and viewing art, Seattle had a good music scene and a less stressful physical environment as well as reasonable housing costs in the hip parts of town. Presently looking down the road a bit—In my late 50’s and thinking that I’d like to move–Seattle, as has been mentioned, is getting super expensive; big time real estate extraction is the norm which may not be all that good for living on retirement money and the region will have a big ass earthquake sooner or later and I’d like to escape before my resources are drained and I’m either starving to death or buried in rubble from the big one.

      I’m examining places like Lancaster PA and Asheville NC (and towns near Asheville) — Reasonable housing prices, culture, good health care for seniors and close proximity to NYC and DC for tourism.

      It seems like all the red states are the best places to retire–would prefer to avoid the southwest–unreasonable climate change heat and water resource problems coming to the bulk of those states and would prefer not to live in hard right whitey mcwhitey Idaho.

      Reply
  59. JEHR

    Best regards for your decision to move and may it be uneventful. Your mom will appreciate your moving I am sure. I will look forward to your articles in the future.

    Reply
  60. aletheia33

    it is inspiring for me to read of all the changes yves and other readers are stepping up to in order to take care of the elderly–as i at 64 am facing the prospect of doing so for the next few years (?) for my 87yo partner, who is now in the earliest stage of dementia (probably ALZ). it is quite a daunting prospect. yet caring for a loved one also brings the rewards of spending time together, of practicing respect and kindness toward those who are vulnerable, cooperating with others in all kinds of ways, and simply doing the works of caring themselves.

    NC is a place where appreciation of these acts joins with strong thinking and attention toward recognizing and addressing the demise of society/community/togetherness itself.

    so thank you, yves, for making even this post about your personal life an occasion for us all to compare notes on how we are coping with the current tragedy of the commons and what we are seeing on the ground of how others are doing so. what a valuable assembly for observation and information and so much more than just that.

    please take optimal care of yourself as you walk through this adventure,
    and allow others to help.
    safe journey!

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      From watching two of Phyl’s relatives go through the travails of caring for Alzheimers demented partners, I strongly urge you to set up a strong support group for yourself before the worst hits. Taking care of yourself is probably the most important thing when dealing with Alzheimers. When you break down under the load, the partner will still be there, blithely carrying on. So, neglecting yourself does no one any benefit.
      Sorry to hear about your burden.

      Reply
      1. aletheia33

        thank you ambrit. much appreciated. fortunately my small town (still) has a strong sense of community, i already have a reliable network for emotional support, and this good advice of yours has been offered to me already. actually setting up a “caring circle” for practical help, though, is still a task i dread. i feel almost more afraid of asking for help, and then “taking too much”, than i feel of carrying the whole load myself (even though i know that will simply not be possible). so thanks for the push! you are right that i must just jump that hurdle now and begin setting up support. two or three friends have already offered help. and i suspect some neighbors in my condo complex may want to add to the mix.

        one interesting twist is that he is absolutely, adamantly determined to “check out” before he reaches advanced stage dementia, and he has made a video and written statement of his criteria for when he wants to “exit”. the process of us looking together at this choice of his–with the help of the wonderful people at the town’s nonmedical hospice–has been enlightening, in all kinds of ways. and if he later changes his mind about that choice, fortunately there is a VA old soldiers home in our area that provides excellent, state-of-the-art care, so if/when i cannot go on with the caregiving, that is where i will take him.

        meanwhile, our continuing enjoyment of being together right now, as we learn to let go of what “has been” for us, and especially his unflinching courage and honesty in the face of what is coming, makes the current days a precious time.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Glad to see that you have resources available. That is not the case everywhere.
          Record as much of your Dad as you can. As a help to memory, voice and or video is of immeasurable help in recalling not only your past, but that span of time between your Dad’s birth and yours. If you have progeny of your own, or family in general, this resource will be available when some distant descendant suddenly wonders where they all started from.
          I always liked the author Fritz Leiber’s conceit in his ‘Fafhard and Grey Mouser’ fantasy stories of the Gods as needing worshipers simply to continue existing. As the cohort of believers shrinks, a God diminishes, until, as the last worshiper dies, it fades away. This can be applied to us and our dead and near dead. It might be vanity, but I imagine that most people would like to be remembered. In this, I accord value to the Oriental concept of “Family Elders,” both live and dead.
          More power to you and your Dad.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            My mom has been at an assisted living place for 3 1/2 years now and will turn 94 next month, and one of the side benefits for me-is the restaurant, where I typically break bread with other oldsters only too happen to tell tales.

            A commander of a battleship in the South Pacific turned 100 a few months ago, and his wife is 98 and both aren’t long for this world, but I heard his saga of a Kamikaze attack as if it happened yesterday, a few years back.

            Reply
            1. Dirk77

              I spent two years back home visiting with my mom in her rest home. She had dementia (from numerous strokes) and so did everyone else in that wing. Yet when they were coherent it was interesting listening to the other boarders about their lives.

              And I thank you, Yves, for sharing parts of your life with us.

              Reply
  61. Jeremy Grimm

    I’ve been trying to convince my daughter to move out of Brooklyn to some more livable place. When I visit her I have trouble understanding what it is she finds so attractive there. She works as a waitress, constantly worries over rent and hours and her job, getting along with roommates, and finding some time to do something other than work or recover from work. I’m going to email a link to your description of the decline of NYC. Maybe it will start her thinking. When the Jackpot arrives, which I fear will be sooner rather than later, I don’t think NYC will be a nice place to meet with it.

    I hope your mother continues long life in her relative good health. I wonder what stories she might have about her times, and what she might have to say about our present times.

    Reply
  62. Whoamolly

    The move sounds like a wise and loving thing to do.

    Having gone through end-of-life care for loved ones and then the institutionalizing of close relatives in last few years, here are a few things I wish I’d known beforehand.

    I was lucky in learning of the relative quality of nursing homes in the area. They are not equal. We knew someone who delivered oxygen bottles to the various homes. He told us that one home in our area was superb, above all the rest. Our relative is now there. She is comfortable, and has 24 hours a day care.

    The contact info for hospice organizations. Before we needed the services, I did not know that our county has an active, well run hospice organization. When my wife’s dad needed end of life care, they arrived at our house promptly, set up the bed and equipment, and sent a nurse to oversee palliative care. Good to know the phone numbers of these people, and how to get in touch with them. We were extremely fortunate in having a friend who knew a friend who worked at hospice.

    I wish I’d known more about medicare. Medicare pays for some of the costs of elder care, but not all. After a certain level, they have a claim on the remaining assets of the elder. I don’t fully understand this, and need to do my own research. The nursing homes and hospice organizations know how to deal with Medicare.

    Best wishes from the Whoamolly homestead.

    Reply
  63. Anna

    Good luck. Also left Mahattan for similar reasons. One thing that struck me after I moved to Portland OR is that nobody here asks me what I do (for a living). In NYC, it seems like that was always the first question when you met someone new. I like central Portland because like NY, I don’t need a car. I don’t think I’d have been happy going from Manhattan to a car dependent city in the US.

    Reply
  64. AstoriaBlowin

    Some amazingly blinkered comments here about NYC. The city is much more than a few neighborhoods in Manhattan and the very narrow upper class circles of people in finance/law, etc. There are still lots of terrible things about New York, the quality and cost of housing being the primary issue, but this city is better in so many ways than during its so called “grittier era”. That city was massively polluted, poor, and violent, and falling apart physically. Air quality is better, we’re making slow progress towards being a better city for walking and biking, the parks are clean and safe, there’s great food everywhere you go, especially in Queens, it’s the safest city in America. Anyone who has nostalgia for old New York must have been living in a bubble where crime, pollution and the collapse of social service provision had no impact on them.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Since 2007 there’s been a 47% rise in homelessness in NYC thanks in large part to gentrification and rising rents. – NYT, 12/17/2018

      This is happening in S.F., L.A., and Seattle, too. So, yes, probably still great places to live IF you’ve got the money and don’t mind all the homeless people (who used to be able to afford a modest home on their working class incomes).

      Reply
      1. AstoriaBlowin

        Gentrification and rising housing costs are happening because we build almost no housing in NYC have decades of under supply to make up for. People with more money can outbid those with less for the limited housing we have so yes prices are going to go up. Part of the massive housing shortfall is due to how awful a place the city was for 20-30 years and construction ceased in a lot of neighborhoods.

        Reply
        1. flora

          There’s that. Then there’s how it’s being addressed. Interesting article in today’s links includes this bit:

          However, among all the many reasons to feel salty about Hudson Yards, one perspective may deserve a place of privilege: the view from Harlem. Without their knowledge, the residents of a number of public housing developments helped to make Hudson Yards possible. The mega-luxury of this mini-Dubai was financed in part through a program that was supposed to help alleviate urban poverty. Hudson Yards ate Harlem’s lunch.

          Specifically, the project raised at least $1.2 billion of its financing through a controversial investor visa program known as EB-5. This program enables immigrants to secure visas in exchange for real estate investments. Foreigners who pump between $500,000 and $1 million into U.S. real estate projects can purchase visas for their families, making it a favorite for wealthy families abroad, namely in China. EB-5 is supposed to be a way to jumpstart investment in remote rural areas, or distressed urban ones.
          (my emphasis)

          The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed – City Lab

          https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/04/hudson-yards-financing-eb5-investor-visa-program-immigration/586897/

          Reply
          1. flora

            adding from the same article:

            Hudson Yards, of course, is nobody’s idea of distressed. Located at the source of New York’s High Line, it’s the most expensive real-estate project in U.S. history. It could not possibly qualify as distressed under the terms of the program, or any understanding of the word.

            Reply
      1. AstoriaBlowin

        Rents have definitely increased faster than other parts of Queens, it’s a short ride to midtown normally. But we as a city refuse to do anything about the most fundamental issue for everyone except the very rich, the cost of living. But like many other places, there is not enough housing for the demand, almost no new units in the past 20 years.

        Reply
    2. Joe Well

      Falling apart physically…have you ridden the subway lately? As for social services provision, when I was a school teacher in NYC, the biggest challenges their families faced all had to do with either housing or immigration…so I don’t know what social services could possibly have done for them except add yet more hardship to their lives. Some of the families were talking about moving to Pennsylvania and commuting into the city, which apparently has become very common! So no, it is not just Manhattan that is gentrifying. Saying NYC today is great except for the housing situation is like saying London in 1349 was great except for the Black Death.

      I hate it when people draw personal conclusions based on comments, but it seems unavoidable to assume that you somehow have stable affordable housing and are not living this horror first hand. When I lived in NYC, talking to homeowners and people with rent control (in 99% of cases, all individuals much older than I) was like talking about the city with someone from Omaha who’d only visited it on vacation. They had no clue what reality was like.

      I think there should be a maximum length of time anyone can live in Manhattan or the immediate vicinity, maybe 5 years. It is too important to the national life for the privilege of living there to be hoarded by a very few, and it is the only place in the US where hard real estate constraints truly prevent building enough housing. For Boston, SF, DC, and elsewhere, we just need to build high, like New Yorkers learned to do long ago.

      Reply
      1. AstoriaBlowin

        We have housing we can afford but it’s not “affordable”, we pay market rate. Housing is the driver of a lot of inequity in my opinion, NIMBYism is rampant and in huge swathes of the city you can’t build mulit-family or multigenerational housing, the latter being a big issue for many immigrant communities. In the 50s and 60s we built ten times as much housing in those decades as we have in the 2000s, we need to go back to that rate of production to get the prices back to the level where middle or working class people will not be rent burdened. The land is there for it in Queens and Brooklyn, just no politician is willing to take on local NIMBYs

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          @Astoria, I totally agree about the evil of NIMBYism, though NYC has the additional challenge that a large chunk of its metro area is in New Jersey and the previous governor destroyed the planned upgrade to the train link.

          Again, I just have to say, whatever the cause, gentrification is a blight throughout NYC. It has not been just a Manhattan problem for at least 20 years. The Bronx is the final frontier but winter may be coming. And one reason that city services might present the illusion of improvement is that there are fewer people who depend on them.

          Reply
      2. rd

        NY has some of the best bedrock in the world to found large buildings on and it is close to the ground surface. While earthquakes do happen in NYC, wind loads are still the largest load for most of the structural design.

        Cities like SF and Boston have deep soft clay deposits in many locations. That makes large buildings less economical to build and more challenging (recent Millenium Tower challenges in SF are an example of taking shortcuts in foundations). SF also has relatively frequent earthquakes of much larger magnitude than NYC which, combined with the poor ground conditions, make civil engineering a major challenge there in ways that are unheard of in NYC (except in made ground areas along the shore).

        Washington DC has elected to have a maximum height due to the large number of monuments and major capital institutions there. However, those restrictions don’t exist in Virginia and Maryland, so there are lots of tall buildings on the Metro lines there. The biggest issue in DC is that so much of the land within the city limits is non-taxable, that there property tax base is very limited – so they rely on income tax on people working in the city but living elsewhere to a much greater extent than NYC. The Federal government also controls a lot of decision-making and they are not represented in Congress.

        When I have to go down to NYC, I often joke that I am going to our own Third-World country where the city is structured for the 1% and most of the rest of the people are struggling to survive while putting up with long commutes etc. The infrastructure has clearly been falling apart for the past 40 years with only sporadic upgrades to many of the public elements. The really spiffy stuff is the private construction that very few people can afford to live in.

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          That’s a fascinating point about Manhattan’s schist. Have you read about the history of the subway? Quite a challenge to dig through that.

          Anyway, in Greater Boston the main obstacles to building are legal, not engineering. In the most prime real estate, this is largely because in the 1940s they put the airport waaay too close to the center of the city and now there are flight paths that would be blocked by tall buildings (and NIMBYism means that attempts to shift air traffic to a former US Air Force base have failed). But in most of the rest of the metro area there is just enormous opposition to new housing by the 1-5% (who in Greater Boston are more like the top 40%). The worst offenders historically have been affluent municipalities like Cambridge, Brookline, Arlington.

          Reply
    3. Yves Smith Post author

      I call bullshit. The city had tons of art cinemas, lots of funky music venues, and way more affordable theater. Those attractions were high quality, priced to be affordable to people of modest means, and are now gone. People of middle class and lower middle class incomes of all sorts used to live in the city. You’d see old ladies on fixed incomes doing their shopping on Broadway in the 70s and 80s, for instance. The East Village, Hells Kitchen, Midtown way west, and Little India were cheap and people like artists, restaurant workers, hospital orderlies, secretaries, and public school teachers, people on middle class or lower incomes, lived there.

      The subway cars are now better but the price of public transportation has gone up in real terms. The stations are still a disgrace. Housing is way less affordable. As I indicted, people are not just working all the time but hustling. The “social” aspect of business is too often mercenary, and people have less time for purely social activities due to the rising real cost of living here.

      Reply
      1. AstoriaBlowin

        Again, this city is much more than a handful of neighborhoods in Manhattan. There’s a lot of cultural life that is not very visible because it’s produced within and directed towards immigrant/ethnic communities. There’s much more to the city than shopping at Fairway and seeing some broadway shows. I said in my original comment that there’s lots not working in NYC, the biggest issue being the quality and cost of housing. We don’t build any so the price is going to keep going up. Working and middle class people are being squeezed harder and harder I 100% agree but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a much better city in a lot of ways than it was 30 years ago. I know my Bronx neighborhood is massively improved from when ai was a child, with new schools built, very little crime, lots of new immigrants bringing their foods and culture, way more jobs accessible.

        Reply
  65. Mattski

    We did. After SF and NYC we moved to a place where the cost of living was half what it is in those places. The world’s great cities are dying. The right-sized city, today, is a college town of a quarter million people–you will find the amenities you have come to depend on, and less stressful living conditions. Good luck.
    Living where we do has made it possible to visit many cities, and the money saved to travel. All of these things happening were the result of circumstance–my wife’s second tenure-track job forced our hand. But after a half-decade of complaining I feel myself a very lucky person.

    Reply
    1. Matthew Kopka

      Sorry, should have read the piece before spouting off! Had a friend who went to grad school in Birmingham and was surprised by how nice it was. We are in Tallahassee–if you ever come over our way please look us up! Am increasingly grateful for the existence of this site.

      Reply
  66. Arizona Slim

    Hmmm, Birmingham. Not too far from the Chief Ladiga Trail. One of the best rail trails in the United States.

    Would anyone else be interested in an NC reunion with Yves in Birmingham and a bicycle ride on the trail?

    Reply
  67. McWatt

    Best wishes Yves on your journey. My wife and I are caring for our wheelchair bound 92 year old mother on
    weekends while she has a caregiver during the week. Glad to see that you will be able to help her. It is far better for family to give the care.

    Reply
  68. Claudia

    My husband and I are caring for my parents (92 and 96) in our WA home- far from a similarly stale Seattle. Your comments are applicable to most large US cities especially on our left coast. Why anyone interesting still lives in them I can’t fathom.

    Reply
  69. Elizabeth

    I left SF last October after living there for almost 40 years. I would have left sooner, but I stayed there to take care of my mom, as I was the only family member there. Not for a minute do I regret being able to care for her – nursing home was out of the question. She lived to be 100 and was in her own apt. when she passed away.

    The cost of living and quality of life issues were what drove me out of SF – the homeless problem, the traffic, and even the endless fog in the summer finally got to me. The city seems very sterile to me now. I will say that moving is very stressful, and it’s hard to let go of things that you’ve kept for so long, but you know you’ll never need them anymore. A friend of mine suggested taking photos of things you love but can’t take with you. This may not work, though. There are still boxes here that I haven’t unpacked, but there’s no hurry – sometimes it’s good to just do nothing.

    Now I live in the upper Midwest (last winter was awful), but there are tradeoffs – no traffic, affordability, nice people, and if I want to go to a big city, there’s Minneapolis. I love nature, and being surrounded by lovely old oak trees.

    Take care of yourself, Yves. Yes, remember to breathe. I’m sure we all look forward to your posts about your new home. Best wishes to you and your mom.

    Reply
  70. ChristopherJ

    My first thought, Dear Yves, was ‘leaving NC! Yikes.

    But then I saw the Y and I thought, yes, she’s moving back to Australia! Yes!

    Sadly, the news is less exciting and more practical, but I think your time in NYC is now past.

    Unlike you, both my parents have passed, but I retain responsibility for 85 yo brother of my dad, yes Uncle John.

    It can be a hard job, but I am glad that Uncle has me and your Mother, you.

    Reply
    1. ChristopherJ

      I will append that I left my ‘home’ 7 years ago. All my possessions fitted on a pallet and I sold almost everything else. You don’t need all that stuff and it can be replaced. Travel light

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Dats Right!!!

      The American South is the winner of the Yves Smith relocation contest!!!

      Next time, Australia…

      Reply
  71. Roquentin

    You’re making the right decision. I threw in the towel two years ago on NYC after losing my job. I’d been having to fight harder and harder just to stay afloat, and I figured I’d be better off spending the last of my money moving home, rather than trying to find another job, going broke, and then begging my parents for the money to get out. They let me stay with them until I got back on my feet, but it was the best decision I’ve made in a really long time. I live so much better in the Twin Cities (a suburb of St. Paul to get specific) it’s not even funny. I get paid better too, and I can actually see trees when I look out my window. If I regret anything it’s being too stubborn to call it quits sooner. Sometimes admitting defeat is the best thing you can do, but I digress.

    Even in the decade I was in NYC, it became a different place, although in hindsight it was never the place I thought it was to start with. It got more expensive every.damn.year and I knew I was playing a losing game long before I left. There are only a few things I miss. The literary/intellectual milieu, fresh seafood (too far inland for that..I haven’t had raw oysters in ages), and a little of the cultural/museum stuff. Other than that, everything has been better since I got out. It’s freeing to just not care about any of that, to realize there are a lot of places you don’t have to be rich to live well. Good luck!

    Reply
  72. paul akers

    my son lived in New York and was director and filmmaker with a lot of success .He just moved out to Los Angeles and all his contacts originally from New York have left for California as well,I used to visit the city two or three times a year but have not been in three years now as the theatre scene is all crap for th masses and the arts in general have declined and the whole city is too sterile .Good on you for your move ,I hope it works out well

    Reply
  73. petal

    Yves, Birmingham is a wonderful city. My favourite cousin lives there with her husband. When they moved there they weren’t planning on staying long, but they have come to love it so much there they have stayed. She is involved with fundraising for the symphony orchestra, and the Assistance League of Bham, two wonderful organisations. They are always out doing neat, fun stuff, meeting the most interesting people, and finding good food. If I had gotten into UAB for grad school I would’ve moved there in a heartbeat. She knows a lot of real estate people, interior designers and remodeling people, and banking types(hubs is a banker), among others(and she has a great vet). You will enjoy your time there, and I’m sure being closer to your mum will bring much peace of mind. Please let me know if there is anything they can do to assist. I know they’d be happy to help.

    Reply
  74. Siggy

    I am a native Chicagoan and have now lived in the Dallas Ft Worth area for the past 35 years. Over all of that time I have only missed the restaurants, the symphony and the ballet. I have not missed the weather, Lincoln Park and the Zoo. My wife has a serious heart condition and we are fortunate to have a Cardiologist who received his medical education at the school in Birmingham. He is a very good doctor, very much like the one we had when we lived in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. We are fortunate in that medical services in Texas are generally not top notch, yet we have a top notch cardiologist. My brother lives in Florida and we often talk about how Chicago has changed. The city in which we grew up is no longer there. The differentiation between suburban Chicago and City Proper is blurred and the reach of political corruption extends well beyond the City Proper boundaries. Your need to be a primary caregiver is moving you to a place where there are as many problems as there are in Manhattan, the problems are similar, nonetheless, they will be different. I offer no advice other than the empathy of what it means to move to a place where a corned beef sandwich will be offered with mayonnaise. Bon Chance and safe travels.

    Reply
  75. toshiro_mifune

    I was born in NYC, grew up in the NJ suburbs, moved around a bit and lived back in NYC until about 10 years ago. I miss it. I mean, I still work in mid-town but working there and living there are two different things.

    No, NYC isn’t what it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago. A lot of the coolness is gone and wont ever come back.
    It still has The Strand though, and the Met, and great bakeries just down at the end of the block, The Compleat Strategist, the Brooklyn Museum, The Cloisters, B&H, The Comic Strip and Standup NY, 92Y, the Angelica, Film Forum… well, you get the idea.

    As bland as it has become (and expensive) it still has a lot that other places don’t.

    You have family concerns and family has to come first. As a former NYer though, I still miss it.

    Reply
  76. run75441

    Well Yves:

    I am sorry to hear of the reasons for your move to Birmingham. I do look forward to reading your commentary on overall Alabama and the people.

    In the next two years I will be back in Chicago or at least in its suburbs this time. Family resides there along with grandchildren. They are only young once. I do not have anything to hold me in Michigan. The ignorance abounds here.

    I will probably continue to work and lecture at the university I received my Masters from on what I worked in over the last 40+ years, Purchasing, Supply Chain, Logistics, throughput, etc. Pretty much retired over the last two months and working part time.

    Best of luck in going forward.

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  77. Adams

    Kudos on getting ahead of the curve. I didn’t do so as my parents declined, always thinking that if this or that happened, then things would get better. There were still good times, but, overall, things never got better. My everlasting regret. You will do better. Best to you, mother, and family.

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  78. Left in Wisconsin

    Best wishes. I was able to look after my dad in his declining years and it was among the most satisfying experiences of my life.

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  79. Andrew Thomas

    I remember well that you shared the possibility this might happen with those of us you met with in Ft. Lauderdale a couple of months ago. I shared with you that I had moved to the Tampa area to be with my mother in Sept. 2017. In my case, I went from a much smaller smsa to a much larger one. But, really, it is not about Manhattan or Birmingham- it is about your mother and your decision that you need to be with her. And that is the right decision, regardless of where she resides, or from where you will move. I don’t regret it, and I’m sure you won’t, either. Godspeed.

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  80. Jack Parsons

    My dad spent my childhood building a house in Sacramento, and now mom is 98 and starting to wind down. My sister retired so that she could live there too and help Mom live out her life in the house that Dad built.

    This house is one of those idiosyncratic unique places, and so after Mom dies we’re hoping to find another crank who wants a 6-sided concrete house. But, there’s a secret selling point: Dad first built the Taj Mahal of suburban dad workshops and then built the house above it.

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  81. Tom

    Hi Yves. Speaking as a Bostonian, who could blame you for quitting NY. \joke

    But I think I know what you mean. A recent review in the Boston Globe of a restaurant is tipsy with nostalgia for the South End of 20 years ago that I suspect is analogous Devra First, I always want to be eating meatballs at Anchovies.

    The decline and fall of the Boston neighborhood Devra First remembers was hilariously and agonizingly documented 2006 thru 08 on this blog: The South End is Over. Well worth a dip from time to time as reality check.

    I think the root of the problem is that rich people are boring. (Perhaps a social scientist could make themselves useful by testing this hypothesis.) My attempts to make conversation with the gentry, i.e. those that gentrified, in any context almost always reveal humdrum consumerism decorated with unprincipled mainstream opinions from the Times, Atlantic and New Yorker. All the same, I cannot wish for a return of “vibrancy“;)

    Good luck with the move, Yves. I hope it turns out well.

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  82. Wukchumni

    And while we’re on the subject of the Big Apple, if it wasn’t for Wall*Street and the amazing bubble machine, wouldn’t it have ended up like Cleveland, sort of?

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  83. dimmsdale

    Well, Yves, I will miss you! This thread is timely and thought-provoking for me; I’ve lived in NYC since 1968, fortunately always in rent-stabilized apartments, always paid for with modestly compensated arts/publishing jobs (or corporate work, also modestly compensated, that helped pay for nonremunerative artistic urges). Having been laid off recently from the last corporate graphics gig, I’m attempting to make do on Social Security and whatever I can scratch up as a standardized patient and audiobook narrator. We’ll see…

    I wish you luck with everything. I was fortunate to be within hours-long driving distance of my mom, as she passed into frail old age, and beyond, but even at a shortish distance it was hugely stressful. I got a lot of help (and blessed relief) from a geriatric caregivers’ support group here at Columbia Pres., where the emphasis was mainly on self-care and mutual support. I wish you a similar outlet, if such is available where you’re going (geriatric units of teaching hospitals will probably have similar programs).

    I always knew, even when I lived with her (or in the empty house she had to vacate for assisted-living) for weeks at a time, that I’d be coming back here. I think what you’re doing is brave, though necessary and perhaps inescapable, and my best wishes travel with you!

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  84. Oh

    Pardon my late reply, Yves. I just want you to know that I admire your changing your priorities to put you mom first. I wish you the best in your move.

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  85. Harold

    Blessings on your wise decision to spend this last precious time with your mother, who must be a remarkable woman. As far as your leaving NY, I can understand it, but I do feel a pang of regret at the thought of your leaving us. Though I know you will continue your fine work on NC, perhaps enriched by your new perspective.

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  86. Aloha

    This has turned into a very entertaining little blog for me to read today and I am enjoying all of the various rants and stories of adventure, so thank you everyone! It seems that the one thing that we can count on in life is change. Good or bad, change is going to happen and it seems that the older I get the more I miss the old days too.
    I moved from San Francisco to HI and haven’t ever regretted it but there are many things/areas that I still miss. Although most of what I would like to revisit is gone anyway…
    I moved here 20 yrs ago because I was very ill, my Drs couldn’t find anything wrong with me and insisted that I was imagining my symptoms. I knew otherwise but was too tired to argue any longer. As I lost my job, my home and family (except my husband) I thought about where I would like to be homeless and die. HI came to mind because I could see myself living in a tent on a beach for a couple of months. We sold all of our possessions, packed a couple of suitcases and landed on the BI. Obviously I didn’t die and was eventually diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a couple of years later. Life has its ups and downs that is for sure and right now I wish that I could be living in a nicer community/world but will have to settle for the NC community until I find it in the physical form!
    Yves I wish you and your mom all the best in your new adventures together. And I also wish everyone else on here the best in life’s adventures too. A hui hou! (until we meet again)

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  87. Knute Rife

    I’ve watched every US city I’ve ever lived in homogenize and turn into American City (TM). Same restaurants, same stores, same architecture, same, same, same. Everything downtown is built for the instant gratification of touristas and commuters. Entering any American city these days is like entering Disney World, except there aren’t any rides.

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