Both New York and New Jersey top the list as states with the most outbound moves in 2020. Ironically, I moved between them.
When my newspaper dissolved due to COVID, along with it my steady paycheck, I picked up my suburban life from The Hamptons/Nassau County (I regularly bounced between the two) and rented an apartment in Hoboken, NJ. It turns out, I wasn’t alone. Over 3,000 NYC residents crossed over the Hudson River to the Hoboken and Jersey City areas. However, in contrast to my move, 6,500 city residents headed to my heartfelt East End community.
So, why did I pick up my, seemingly much preferred, spacious life (personal backyard included) and head to the more condensed city of Hoboken during a pandemic? I needed a change, I wanted to grow, and I saw it as freedom.
There’s No Stopping Change
Prior to the eternal lockdown we now seem to live in, I felt alone. Not in spirit but in physical distance. As a career writer, most to all of my work is done remotely and living in a suburb, where I had to drive to see anyone or do anything, was isolating. In early 2020 I was ready for a change of scenery. I needed to close the distances within my life, but I didn’t know how.
When COVID took down my newspaper it broke the thread that tied me to Long Island. I likely would have held onto that tread my entire life, if it wasn’t for the pandemic, creating excuse after excuse about why I had to stay. It was a fear of change, of the unfamiliar. So when the connection dissolved so did my reason to remain. Change was inevitable. Finally, in October of 2020, I put aside my fear of the unknown and headed to Hoboken.
An Opportunity For Growth
Stay in any single place for too long and eventually it becomes monotonous, ask anyone who travels. And for creatives, especially, routine can be lethal. While there was no shortage of community where I was, I hit a plateau in my writing. Ideas recycled themselves. Same story, different angle. Then when the pandemic hit, social distancing sent me into a creative dry spell. With nowhere to drive to I had no reason to leave the house. My already distanced social life was cut down to nothing. It became suffocating and my ability to advance, personally or professionally, drowned in loneliness.
When I found my apartment in Hoboken I saw a whole new world of opportunities. I could walk to parks along the Hudson River for fresh air, pass countless [masked] faces and personalities on a daily basis, discover a whole new community. Heck, if I wanted, I could reinvent myself entirely (I haven’t, and won’t, but the possibility was there). Hoboken quickly became an empty vase that I’d fill up with new stories, connections, and memories. Plus, if I was lonely, or needed a new idea, all I had to do was walk out my front door.
An Apartment is Freedom
After living with housemates, and back home with my mother to save money, I thought I’d be lonely living alone. In a turn of events, I feel less alone than ever.
My [roughly] 750 square foot apartment is freeing because it’s all mine. I decorated it, I’m in charge of all the expenses, and I am in full control of what goes on inside of it. I don’t have to share a single thing (only child syndrome) and it thrills me. As stressful as it can be at times, financially and emotionally during the pandemic, I designed a space that is comforting, quiet, and truly feels like home.