As a native New Yorker, deciding to move home after college was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. I already knew my way around the subway. I already knew where to get the best latte. I already had a network of friends and family in place. The transition was (somewhat pathetically) seamless.

Because of the ease with which I was able to nestle back into this perpetually weird, often wonderful, bustling urban cocoon, I have a deep respect for people whose “moving to New York” stories required a far greater leap, both mentally and geographically.

There’s a particularly special mystique that surrounds the narrative of people from small towns across America who pack their bags and relocate to the Big Apple to follow their dreams. It takes guts to take that kind of risk. It also takes honesty — honesty with yourself about who you are and how you see your life evolving.

To close out Honesty Month on Man Repeller, I asked five former small-towners to tell me their stories about moving to New York. Read on for the modern version of a fairytale chapter book, with all the triumphs, failures, pep talks, emotional Band-Aids and revelations you might expect.

Rebecca Alaniz

Rebecca is a fashion stylist living in the East Village. She is originally from Magnolia, Texas (population: 1,985).

What was it like growing up in your hometown?

Have you ever seen the show Friday Night Lights? That’s my hometown. Everyone was (and still is) completely fixated on the local high school’s Friday night football games. Local businesses would close down early on Fridays and post signs like, “Gone to the game! Go Bulldogs!” The whole town attended the football game on Friday nights, and church on Sunday mornings, followed by an afternoon of NFL and grilling. That was the weekend routine.

In high school, everyone worked at the local grocery store, including me. My first car was my dad’s pickup truck. I’m 5’2″, so you do the math on that one. Speaking of transportation, I had several friends who would ride their horses to school. Seriously. They wanted to save money on gas.

Fast forward to my life in New York. I love when Manhattanites ask me if I own cowboy boots. Well of course I do — two pairs, to be exact! What about a cowboy hat, you might ask next? You bet your bottom dollar. I have tons of pride for my state. Texas forever. Beyoncé and I were born in the same town, thank you very much.

When was the exact moment you decided you wanted to move to New York?

New York was always the dream. A year after graduating college in 2012 and a few weeks before Christmas, a relationship I was in came to halt. Minutes after it ended, I called my mom. I said, “Mom, it’s over, but that’s not why I’m calling. I’ve decided it’s time for me to move to New York City.”

At the time, I knew God was up to something. I just wasn’t sure what. In hindsight, I now know my “failed relationship” was a door that needed to be shut so I could open another one. That failure was, in fact, the start of my real success story. I left Texas two months later with only two suitcases to my name. I sold everything else.

What was it like when you first arrived?

When I arrived, there was no blueprint, only an objective: Find a job. At the time, I was still very private about the dreams I had for myself and my life in New York. I was too intimidated and insecure to openly admit that I wanted to be a fashion stylist. It seemed too absurd for a small town girl from Texas to try to do something like that.

Despite my reservations, I decided to meet with a fashion agency that was placing candidates in the industry. When I arrived at their offices, I felt like I had been dropped into the scene of a movie. The reception area was all white everything, with accents of hot pink — including the hot pink stilettos worn by all the “fashion agents.”

An agent, along with her hot pink pumps and matching clipboard, greeted me and asked for my resume. I explained the vision I had for my career: styling stories for fashion publications, maybe even attending fashion week — in Paris, if I was lucky. Then we sat in silence for a few minutes as she went over my background. When she was finished, she looked up and said, “Oh sweetie, you just aren’t qualified for that.” She went on to say that based on my credentials, the best I job I could get in the industry was a sales floor position at H&M or Zara.

Well (*SPOILER ALERT*), I just got back from attending my fourth season attending Paris Fashion Week, and Milan before that. Over the past few years, I’ve styled stories and fashion content for major magazines — the same magazines I would read during my lunch break at the local grocery store back in high school.

I think about that fashion agent often. Part of me wants to visit her again to let her know how wrong she was — you know, “Pretty Woman” her — but at the same time, I wish I could thank her. Her underestimation of me and my abilities was all the motivation I needed to prove her wrong.

How has your time in New York changed you?

Living in New York has changed my story completely, proving that the “small town girl moves to the big city and makes her dreams come true” cliché can actually become a reality. I feel privileged to set an example for other people who want to do the same. On that note, before I moved to New York City four and half years ago, there was a girl who followed me on social media. She followed my entire journey to the city and was so inspired that a year later, she decided it was time to follow her dreams, too, and move to the Big Apple. Now she’s my assistant.

What makes you homesick?

Can I be real? I want to pack up and move home at least once a month. Sure, I’m lucky to have a success story, but there are still lows that come with the highs. I have moments of weakness where I think, There must be an easier way of life in Texas. When work is slow because I’m freelance, or I’m stuck in the rain with no cab in sight while carrying four shopping bags and six garment bags as I text a client I’m going to be late to her fitting during fashion week — I just want to quit! I fantasize about a Texas-sized apartment (vs. my shoebox of a New York room), and life with a car, and the whole picture looks so appealing. During those lows, my parents usually step in and remind me that New York is uncomfortable for a reason. Those who really want it put their heads down and persevere.

What makes you want to stay forever?

New York keeps me hungry. There is always a new level to reach and a new line to cross. It’s a city tailor-made for underdogs, and I’m addicted to the hustle.

Matt Little

Matt is the Head of Operations at Man Repeller. He currently lives in Hell’s Kitchen and is originally from Springboro, Ohio (population: 18,452).

What was it like growing up in your hometown?

It was definitely Quintessential Smalltown, USA (picture Leave it to Beaver meets Married with Children). There was a literal Main Street running through the center of town, and Friday night football games were very much the place to see and be seen. I always appreciated how safe it felt growing up in Springboro, thanks to the strong sense of community you might expect from a small town, but it was also very homogenous as a result.

When was the exact moment you decided you wanted to move to New York?

I’m not sure there was a pivotal moment, but moving to NYC was a top priority during my job search post-college. I had spent the previous summer interning and living in Louisville, Kentucky, and that just wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for the big city (no shade to Louisville).

What was it like when you first arrived?

I remember feeling a sense of belonging immediately. When I mastered Seamless by day two, I knew I’d be alright. I actually experienced reverse culture shock going to my first gay bar in the Big Apple. It was like that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel finally gets her legs.

How has your time in New York changed you?

I don’t know about “changed” so much as “allowed me to find myself.” I remember crying on 8th Avenue after a rough day when I first moved to New York, and a friend told me that I never, ever had to worry about people gawking at me on the street (or in the subway), because there’s always someone doing something zanier or more ridiculous than you. That anonymity, and the community of diverse eccentrics the city attracts, has helped me to step into the person I am today. That, and I wear a lot more black now.

What makes you homesick?

Being sick.

What makes you want to stay forever?

The energy, the accessibility and the feeling of never quite knowing what the day will bring.

Madeline Grandusky-Howe

Madeline is a senior at FIT and works at Ars Nova Theatre. She currently lives in Williamsburg and is originally from Fairport, New York (population: 5,406).

What was it like growing up in your hometown?

I’m from a town outside of Rochester, NY, close to Canada. Fairport felt a lot like a typical American suburbia. In high school, everything revolved around sports, gossip and clique behavior. The community had a “family” mentality, but I never felt like I fit in. I was more into theatre and art than sports, and I loved reading blogs as means of escape. I was ambitious but lazy as a student; I was always bored by school, and I knew I wanted to leave home for college.

When was the exact moment you decided you wanted to move to New York?

I originally wanted to move to New York because it was the only big city I had ever been exposed to. I was very lucky to have family members who took me to the city once every year or so. I would save all of my money as a kid and skip out on having a birthday party because I would rather visit New York City. As I got older and tried to figure out my college plans, I was set on moving to Manhattan to study fashion at FIT and intern for my favorite fashion designer. I felt positive I was going to be a fashion designer, and that goal got me through high school.

What was it like when you first arrived?

I experienced a lot of anxiety and stress during my first semester of college. I was fresh out of high school, trying to get by in a very high-stress program. I hated my classes, living in my dorm and how isolated I felt. Even though I was surrounded by so much action, I felt helpless, uninspired and overwhelmed. In high school, I was always very independent, so my initial reaction to living in New York was totally unexpected. I had definitely idealized what fashion school would be like, and I wasn’t happy until I found new reasons to be in New York.

How has your time in New York changed you?

I changed my career path completely and no longer study fashion. Now I want to work in the nonprofit arts industry and run the business side of a performing arts organization, or eventually run my own space some day. Living in New York put me within reach of opportunities that I never would have had elsewhere. I’ve forged incredible friendships and connections while working for theatre companies here.

Living in New York also gave me the resources I needed to work through issues with my sexuality, and the friends I needed to support me during that process. I had a lot of internalized homophobia growing up, so I’m really grateful to finally live in a place where my girlfriend and I can hold hands in public and not feel weird about it. You get an education in this city just by learning how to live successfully while still being true to who you are. New York has taught me the value of a side hustle and how far work ethic can take you. This city can take a lot out of you, but it gives back what you put in.

What makes you homesick?

I get homesick when I think about my family and friends that still live in or around Fairport, especially my siblings. Not seeing my dogs. Diner breakfasts, thrift stores, abundant space, driving in the summertime and drinking lattes from the best coffee shops in the state (my personal favorites are Ugly DuckJava’s, and Glen Edith).

What makes you want to stay forever?

Bodegas, my creative and supportive friends, my girlfriend, the amount of restaurants and culinary choices, exploratory walks, the New York Public Library, rooftops, crossing bridges, picnics in the park, and all the ideas being born here at any given moment. I could go on and on. New York is full of endless possibilities!

Naa-Sakle Akuete

Naa-Sakle is the CEO and Founder of Eu’Genia Shea. She currently lives in Bed-Stuy and is originally from Hyattsville, Maryland (population: 18,449).

What was it like growing up in your home town?

My version of small town life was epitomized by community traditions:  the haunted house, the sock hop dance (which is why I know every Golden Oldie ever), the strawberry picking festival and even an annual musical. The most epic tradition was the May Fair. There were tons of rides and games — as many as the local school’s black top and soccer field could hold. Each year, the child stars of the annual musical would lead the May Fair parade through town in an old convertible, and every year, I dreamed of the day I would be one of them. I never was, but New York is where dreams come true, right? Please?

When was the exact moment you decided you wanted to move to New York?

New York won me over in spite of myself. When I graduated from college, I got a job in generic finance based in New York, so I migrated to the big city. First I was in Stuyvesant Town (living on a blowup mattress), then Hell’s Kitchen (which earned its name), then Brooklyn.

What was it like when you first arrived?

When I first arrived, I spent most of my non-working hours taking advantage of my Blockbuster unlimited DVD pass to watch Lost from start to finish. I somehow managed to miss out on all the legitimately cool things about living in New York, instead experiencing the myriad ways in which you can get by by being a complete sloth (that’s what I wanted to be anyways because of my job, and post-college burnout).

Even though I didn’t get out much, I was still eating fantastic food. It was ludicrous to me that I could eat so well without even trying, but that’s New York for you. In Hyattsville, Red Lobster and Chili’s were my only nice dining options. In New York, I can wake up and have Himalayan food on a whim. I still sometimes go to Uno’s on the UWS, but that’s because chains will always feel a bit like home.

I didn’t truly fall for New York until I started exploring it. My boyfriend (now husband) and I began a tradition of ambling through Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill and Williamsburg before crossing into the Lower East Side and into the villages. We’d stop for drinks or food or to see friends scattered along the way. In the city that never sleeps nor moves slower than an Olympic-paced speed walk, we meandered at our leisure, discovering new spots, people-watching and falling in love with each other and our new home.

How has your time in New York changed you?

For better or worse, everywhere that’s not New York feels quaint in the kind of condescending way that makes people refer to New York as  “the city,” which I always hated, even though I do it too, now.

What makes you homesick?

I have my own start-up: Eu’Genia Shea, a line of all natural shea butter-based balms, and all of our operations are in Ghana. As a result, I travel a lot. I have so much family in Ghana, both literal relatives and my work family, that my time there feels warm and energizing, which makes the return to New York particularly jarring.

Also, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like all the gateways into Manhattan are designed to repel. Taking a bus into Port Authority or a train into Penn Station always makes me want to about-face and never return.

What makes you want to stay forever?

I spent a few months living in San Francisco for work. Somehow the weather was perfect the whole time. I made new friends, caught up with old ones, ate healthier, worked out and saw daylight more than I had in all my New York finance years. But one night, I tried to order pizza to my apartment near the financial district, and no one would deliver. Not to start talking about food again, but that’s when the West Coast scales fell from my eyes and I realized I could never live there.

Because I’m my own boss at Eu’Genia, I could technically work from anywhere. In Ghana, I’d be closer to family and our company’s 1500 registered shea nut pickers. In Europe, or anywhere else, I could be expanding sales. However, it’s hard for me to imagine raising children away from the diversity of New York. If you want to expose your children to millions of different people and things with minimal effort (which I do), there’s no better place to do it.

Chad Ellis

Chad is an accountant. He currently lives in Hell’s Kitchen and is originally from Wildwood, Missouri (population: 35,756).

What was is like growing up in your home town?

If I ever needed absolutely anything, my mom’s step-second-cousin-in-law’s barber knew a guy. That pretty much sums it up.

When was the exact moment you decided you wanted to move to New York?

I was deciding between job offers and thought, why not try New York? I was young, the opportunity may not have presented itself again, and I figured I could always move back home if it didn’t work out. Plus, I wanted to live out my Friends fantasy.

What was it like when you first arrived?

Where I’m from, if you pass by someone on the street or supermarket, you smile and the other person reciprocates. In New York, smiling at at a stranger results in awkward stares, a disgusted face or verbal assault. Verbal assault only happened to me once, but I quickly learned to commute like a New Yorker: headphones in, bitch face on and walk like you have somewhere to be.

How has your time in New York changed you?

I came out in New York, so this city has had a pretty profound impact on my life. Even if I move someday, New York will always be a special place to me.

What makes you homesick?

Thin, St. Louis-style Pizza. On Friday nights, my family would always order pizza along with toasted ravioli and a salad with a cheese-to-lettuce ratio of 5:1. We often played board games at the kitchen table afterward; winning Mouse Trap gave me front seat privileges in the minivan for at least a week.

What makes you want to stay forever?

TWENY-FOUR HOUR COOKIES. Delicious food at all hours is a major selling point. More seriously, though, it’s the people, and the diversity of perspectives that foster an environment in which a suburban Midwestern boy can be who he is, and order what he wants, when he wants.

From a small town? Share your story below.

Photos by Savanna Ruedy. Follow her on Instagram @savannarr

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  • Kristin

    This was so, so fascinating to read! I’ve visited New York and it just completed amazed/terrified me. I’m from a small island in Hawai’i and the population of the town I grew up in (I had to google it) in 2010 it was 6,400 people. Not sure what it was back in the 80’s/90’s when I was living there. Anyway, I don’t think I’d have the chops to make it in NY, but maybe I would, who knows. I would at least like to visit again when my daughter is a little older to give her the opportunity to see if she’d like it there someday (aka a place for me to crash for frequent visits). Thank you for this story, fun read!!!

    • LawGeek

      Take her to see the Nutcracker if you are here at Christmastime. My grandmother brought me every year and as a child it was magic.

  • Rachel

    Like many people I had this dream of living in New York and then I actually visited when I was 16 for a long weekend and had a little breakdown on the street at night. I found New York to be too loud and busy and everything was so tall! It wasn’t until I went to Central Park the next day that I felt relaxed. I really needed that green space! I live in a city of a million people in Canada but there is so much (green) space everywhere, even downtown that it doesn’t feel like it. As much as I love visiting big cities I learnt that weekend that I’m not cut out for a city like New York. Even Toronto gets to me because it has a similar vibe to New York. I really admire people who can pick up and move from their small towns and thrive in in a city like New York.

    • gracesface

      My husband feels the same way. he is NOT a city person but whenever I float the idea of moving to Washington DC in a few years he says he could maaaaybe tolerate it.

    • Adrianna

      It’s interesting that people still define New York City as a small section of Manhattan. I lived in Manhattan for ten years, and recently moved to Brooklyn after I spent my weekends in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn for five years. My current neighborhood is quieter and less crowded than the one-square mile town I grew up in in New Jersey. New York City includes neighborhoods that are nothing like Midtown, like Bay Ridge and Jackson Heights. The subways are filled with regular people wearing jeans and sweatshirt trying to get to work on time.

      • Rachel

        I think that very specific idea of New York City definitely comes from media. TV and movies often just depict Manhattan and as a tourist when you visit such a big city like New York you often don’t make it out of Manhattan. I’ve visited New York twice now for short periods of time and as much as I want to make it out to other neighbourhoods that I might be more comfortable in it’s really hard because there is so much to do in Manhattan.

        • LawGeek

          There is nothing wrong with staying in Manhattan. So much there is important – the museums, theatre, Ellis Island, and the historical neighborhoods like the LES. And Times Square is unmissable – it’s crazy and loud and annoying but you feel like you’re in the center of the world. There are definitely touristy things to skip, but the things you would most regret missing are in Manhattan.

          Just don’t go home and think you know NYC or what it is like to live here. Don’t bump into other tourists and deduce that all New Yorkers are rude.

          I love living in Queens. There is nothing like knowing the owners of every other place you shop, having a tiny grocery store crammed with the best international and health food (that I can never find in those sprawling supermarkets). I adore sitting in the park and chatting with my neighbors, meeting new people there every day.

          I love the diversity, the sense of community only density and walkability can impart. And the anominity – those same neighbors never gossiping, or expecting you to conform, or thinking you’re weird if you don’t feel like making obligtory small talk. I love the crazy amazing restaurants with cuisines form countries most people have barely heard of, the places so authentic that folks train out from Manhattan when they are homesick for their countries.

          But practically none of that can be experienced on a visit. Perhaps if you’re an adventurous foodie, but even then. If you’re only here for a week do you really want to spend half a day trekking to the best authentic Thai or Phillipine restaurant when the ones in Manhattan are also delicious?

          If you want to do a trip out to Brooklyn to see an historic hood, or spend time exploring an ethnic neighborhood, and it’s your third trip, by all means. But for most people it is not worth skipping the Guggenheim or missing Les Miserables. I love my home, but Manhattan is what drove me to NYC. Without spending my weekends in museums, or at drag bingo, or burlesque shows, or a random free ballet show, life here would get pretty boring.

          • Rachel

            Aww this is like a beautiful little love letter the NYC, all of it.

    • Kiks

      I lived in downtown Toronto for four years during grad school, and I had weird side-street-and-alleyway routes to get everywhere because the busy main streets gave me panic attacks. I mostly took streetcars if I needed transit, because the subway presented the same problems.

      I love going back to visit, (I’ve since gotten the anxiety disorder under control with medication) but I still think I could only live there again if everything I needed was accessible on foot.

  • Hayley

    I’m also from a small town, but I don’t think I could ever live in a city as large as NYC. It was nice to grow up 100 miles north of NY though, so I could visit on a whim…

  • Ginger

    I love this article! I’m from a small town called Denver (not Colorado…North Carolina – Pop. 2,300) I celebrate my 6 months of living in NYC this November. Rebecca’s failed relationship story speaks to me, as I about stayed in NC to be closer to my college ex which would’ve been SO regretful. I never was a small town girl, and everyone in Denver worries about me getting eaten up by the big city…but I’m deff eating it up. I know I want to stay forever because I can finally dress the way I want without being judged for being too “weird” or “trendy”. I feel like I’m a new me up here. Thanks for spotlighting the small-towners Harling!

    • Stuart Pennebaker

      I’m from a tiny town in South Carolina and about six months away from graduating and moving to NYC! Makes this small town girl feel so much braver to hear that another small town Southern girl is loving the transition!

  • Rhiannon

    I’m from a very small town in upstate NY and I’m moving to London, England, in two days. While it’s not quite the same, as London has its own special vibe, this article was just what I needed to read today!

  • julia

    do a story on native new yorkers now!

    • Andrea

      Yes!! I’m a fellow native and I’d love to see a story on people who grew up here. It’s a very different experience– I didn’t come to New York to find myself, I became myself here.

  • gracesface

    Aw this was so sweet! I visited NYC a couple of times as a kid (field trips, church trips) but when I was 15 my mom made the decision to go to seminary and attended GTS in Chelsea. At first we floated the idea of me moving with her, transferring to a school in the city and all that. It didn’t materialize but at least every few months I’d go up to visit or we’d all go as a family (my mom came home every two weeks or so – we lived just 3 hours south in Maryland) for those three years. I have so many fun memories and it gave us a chance to spend a lot of time there! I would take the train up for a visit, go window shopping, and I even saw Ethan Hawke sitting outside a restaurant we were eating in one time! The weekend of her seminary graduation I remember me, my Dad, and my youngest brother going to Time Square (yes!!) at like 10:30 pm for ice cream. It was so fun. When my mom’s favorite bodega closed a few years after she graduated we all went up to say goodbye to the owner.

    It’s still worth the megabus ride when I’m home on the east coast every few years or so. Texas Forever, Rebecca! 🙂

  • I guess I cheated. Growing up in PA just an hour from the city, I visited a bit growing up. When I had the opportunity to move here for work, I took it. But I knew my boyfriend (from the wilds of Western PA) wouldn’t transition so well to the concrete jungle. So we live in NJ with a grassy yard and quiet, tree-lined street, and I get to work in the hustle and bustle of the city every day.

    That commute though…ugh.

  • Emily

    I had this experience! i grew up in a small college town/beach town in california, near silicon valley. it’s getting hip now but wasn’t at all when I was growing up, and I felt like the odd one out for being interested in art, alt. culture, etc. still, I got to new york by accident — I came out for a summer internship a year + ago which I applied to on the strength of the organization, and fell in love with the city, and met my bf too which didn’t hurt. I spent last year visiting, and came back for another internship last summer. That time I felt more homesick, which had more to do with graduating and starting my adult life than new york, but by the end of summer I was ready to stay and i actually am about to move, permanently, for an amazing job! I do miss home when I’m in New York, but I love the city’s personality, intimacy even in its grandure, and

  • Adrianna

    I grew up in Bergen County, NJ, close enough where I had already gone to NYC several times. The skyline was literally in the background. I lived in Pennsylvania in high school, where I hated living in “the middle of no where.” Therefore I considered universities located in cities.

    I moved to NYC when I was 18 to attend New York University. I think living in NYC during college is a specific experience in itself – my NYC life was drastically different after I graduated college, and I didn’t even move away from the NYU neighborhood for the next six years.

    I applied to NYU because campus life didn’t appeal to me, but otherwise I didn’t have a specific dream or impression of NYC. I wasn’t trying to replicate something I had seen in a movie or TV show. I moved to New York City because NYU gave me the most financial aid (ironically), not because I wanted to live in NYC. I’m an immigrant from a blue collar family, and I hadn’t been to many places. I don’t know if I really knew about San Francisco or Los Angeles. Basically, I ended up here because I didn’t know where else to go.

    I’m still here ten years later. I recently moved to Brooklyn after I got tired of living in the middle of an amusement park in Manhattan. I still wonder if it’s the right place, but I strongly identify as a New Yorker. I’m very defensive about New York City, even if someone voices the same complaints I have.

  • Alessia

    i wanna move to ny 🙁

  • tmm16

    “I left Texas two months later with only two suitcases to my name. I sold everything else.”- replace Texas with Philadelphia and this was me 4 months ago! I’m originally from Pittsburgh, so still not a small city, but moving to NYC from a smaller city definitely changes you and what you value in life.

    I love these stories. More human interest-type stories please, MR!

  • patyof

    god i miss it!!!

  • Allie Lee Coppedge

    Wow, this just made me cry. I mean I cry all the time, but really I needed this. I live in Chicago, not NYC, but the feelings are mutual in many respects. I especially enjoyed reading the homesick sections. I always dreamed of living in New York, and maybe still I could do it for awhile, but living in the city obviously has its drawbacks too. It might also be the fact that I’m currently going to school/still transitioning to adulthood, but last year was particularly rough for me. I was constantly homesick and thinking about how life back home (Indianapolis) was so much easier. Only problem is, there’s no job opportunities in fashion. Although I constantly still question my choice to move here for school, I have to remind myself it’s for the better. I’ve met amazing people and had opportunities I wouldn’t have, had I went to a state school. And luckily, I still have time to explore where my next home will be. Maybe New York, maybe the west coast, maybe Nashville? I don’t know, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  • Andrea Alyse Pillaro

    I grew up in a town of 7k people, I live in a larger college town now (still not that big) and I’m literally about to do the same thing as Rebecca. I’ve always wanted to live in New York and I’m finally doing it.

    No job, no apartment, just going with a few suitcases and selling the rest.

    I’ve been planning this since the beginning of the year, but it is imminent, my last day at my job is December 22.

    Needless to say, I’m feeling a lot of things and this article pumped up the good feelings!

    • Emily

      good luck!!!

    • Kiks

      That’s so exciting!!! Good luck!

  • Katie M

    I’ve just moved back to Australia after a year living in NYC, having come from a town of about 13,000. It’s these kind of stories that remind me of why I made the move, to seek out opportunities that aren’t available anywhere else and meet some of the most ambitious and hard working people I’ve ever come across. I also found that Americans are much more mobile within the U.S. and open to moving cross-country to pursue their dreams than Aussies who stay at home in Australia (not to be confused with Aussies who move overseas, there are tonnes of adventurous expats making the rounds worldwide). I had friends who were planning to stay in NYC for a couple of years and then head to Chicago, or LA, whereas very few of my friends back home have that same mentality, of wanting to move to different cities in Aus, just to experience living there. It has definitely been an adjustment moving to Sydney where people are very set with their high school or college friends, and suburbs/areas where they grew up, where, at least in my experience, New York is so transient that people aren’t as bound by college or school ties 🙂

  • Dawson Acorn

    This made my heart soar. I loved it so much. This will be me in a year.

  • Emily O’Reilly

    One of my favorite posts so far!

  • There needs to be a community for broke small towners who can’t rely on family to pick up the slack. We should all team up and support each other for that big NYC move lol.

  • deee_cue

    Shout-out to Madeline! I grew up one town over from you. 585 Pride!

    I still feel like New York is my place, and I found my people. And other times, I have this weird anxiety that everyone is going to discover how truly un-cool I am.

    • LawGeek

      That is what Queens is for. Once you are east of Astoria, no one worries about being cool. But you still get to be as weird as you like.

  • dayman

    So interesting to read! I grew up and still live in a small town, but always wanted to live in New York as a kid. It kind of makes sense in that it can be hard being remotely weird/artsy in a small town, but I’ve really come to appreciate small town life over time. Every small town is weird in its own ways, and once you can appreciate that and if you can find your own spots and good friends, it can be great. It must be so different now that we have the internet too–you really have access to so much from anywhere as long as you have wifi! I still think I’d like to experience living in a city while I’m still young, but have no doubt that I will miss home a lot and think I will probably end up somewhere less populated long term.

  • L Winfree

    I grew up in the midwest and always dreamed of living in a big city and traveling. When I was 16 we took a class trip to NYC and ever since then it was a goal of mine to live there. 2 years after graduating from college and working in my hometown, I was bored to death and decided it was time.

    I quit my job, my mom helped me pack a suitcase, and my dad helped drive me…I lived in NY for 3 years. It was hard, but a period of intense growth for me. I would live in NY again, but only if I was making a 6 figure salary (yes you can do things on a shoestring budget in NY, but everything is easier when you have $$$). And even though NY is great, I know I’d never settle down there forever–anytime I saw parents struggling with screaming kids and strollers on the subway my brain just went NOPE.

  • I can see why the big city gets to people but as someone from Toronto who works downtown I’m used to the hustle and bustle and I enjoy it. To each their own (although I imagine a number of comments saying how rude we are, its so crowded, so much smog, traffic, how expensive it is, our disgusting housing market etc etc etc) LOL

  • Jay

    I love New York. Loved it from the first second I set my foot there. So basically when I stepped out of the Chinatown bus that brought me from Pennsylvania Campus to big city… Whoa!!!

    Though I’m from a mid-size middle class town in Germany, and though I loved growing up there and would want a similar childhood for my kids one day, I was drawn to the big cities ever since I was about 14 or 15 when I discovered arts, literature, theatre, music… etc.

    First trip to Berlin during those days and I was hooked.

    Have lived in quite some places nowadays, and am finally settled in Berlin. Which I love. Not quite as much as NYC. But that might also be due to romanticising those days back at uni…

    But, yeah. I do get homesick.

    Most of is is nostalgia though.

    Like for the small town in Pennsylvania. Or home in Germany. Or… like even the small holiday home at the lakes.

    And it goes away fast.

    Some days (like over the holidays) and I just wanna go back.

    Don‘t know what it is.

    Guess I find my calm in chaos.

    Same as why I run and don‘t do yoga…

  • Bee

    Just moved to the city yesterday, so this (especially Rebbeca’s story) was a perfect read for me. I wasn’t moving from a small town but from a suburb. I lived here for three months in college during a summer internship but, as expected, it definitely feels different this time around. It’s been exciting and absolutely terrifying, but I’m allowing myself to take things slow and ease into the changes.

    I wish someone would host a big get-together where people from all walks of life could come and talk about their “moving to New York” stories.