Gotham Gazette

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A Frustrating Apartment Search

  Ron Hunter
Rondrae Hunter in his Maryland office.

Leaving New York

While some New Yorkers are leaving the city, citing bad schools, high housing costs or the daily stresses of urban life, analysts debate whether the exodus is anything alarming or unusual, and what to do about it.

Why New Yorkers Are Leaving:

The City Is Too Expensive
by E.J. McMahon

City Schools and Housing Are Inadequate
by David Kallick

New Yorkers Who Left:

Allison Woods
Struggling with Strollers and Schools

David Bassine
Fear of Terrorism

Stefan Kochi
Bad for Business

My decision to move from New York came from a combination of things, but basically stemmed from the fact that the cost of everything went up. Everyone who works in New York is making the same amount of money but getting taxed more and paying more for things like the subway. And now all these crazy fines - I couldn't see myself living there comfortably.

What finally took me over the edge was the act of going out and looking for an apartment. I recently got married and had a son, so I needed to find a new place. I had lived in the same apartment for 26 years - my whole life. When I actually started looking I saw how hard it was to find a place to live. I only found one good deal, but even that good deal was a bad one. It was on Fresh Pond Road in Queens, right next to the subway station. Besides the fact that the subway was so loud that it would wake my baby, the floor slanted.

That was the last straw. I have a friend from Brooklyn who lives in Maryland. He had told me about how things were for him there. When he left, he struggled, but now he is a lot more comfortable. And he has kids too. So I said, "Why don't we try it?" My wife, my son and I moved down on July 4.

Maryland is different, and I am having issues trying to get used to it. The slower pace of everything is hard to adjust to. Compared to New York, anything is slow, but this is really slow. I get bored. My wife likes it less than I do, because she is at home taking care of our son all day. We don't get out much because we don't have transportation. No outdoorsy things -- really the only place we can walk to is the mall. Or we go to my friend's house. If I didn't have him out here, I wouldn't have come.

I have been back to New York once since the move, and it wasn't that great. My neighborhood - Williamsburg just outside the gentrified part -- is stagnant.

I felt that way before we moved, but when I came back, the feeling was magnified. It is the feeling that every day is just the same -- it never changes. When you are young, you hang out, play basketball -- all types of things to keep yourself busy. But when you grow up and everyone you know is older, people don't want to do anything. There's nothing to do, the basketball court is empty, no one is around. It's weird.

The way I look at it, if I can't live in Manhattan, then I won't live in New York. I'm from Brooklyn, but there's nothing good in Brooklyn unless you have Manhattan money. If I have to pay Manhattan money to live in a nice place in Brooklyn, I might as well live in Manhattan - or Maryland.

Rondrae Hunter was born in Brooklyn and moved out of New York in 2003. For three years, he was office administrator of Citizens Union Foundation, the publisher of Gotham Gazette.

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