Five Things I Learned Taking a Break from New York City

The Value of Travel

My husband and I just got back from a fun visit with some friends in Cincinnati, Ohio. As usual, the trip was frugal. Staying in our friends’ fantastic, mid-century modern house cost us nothing. We ate out at a fancy place just once. We paid a little over $200 total for the plane tickets.

What was unusual was the reason for the trip. This wasn’t an adventure trip, exotic international vacation, or life-changing journey. Our friends used to live in New York and we see them when they visit, but we’ve never gone to see them in their home city. It was about time.

But besides a friendly visit, this was just as much a scouting trip.

In case I hadn’t mentioned it before, I want to be financially independent someday. That means that if I front-load saving and investing just the right way I’ll have enough money to cover living expenses for decades. Which means I can retire way earlier than the usual 65.

Not having to work if you don’t want to? To me, that’s the ultimate luxury of having money.

But those living expenses vary depending on where you live. With New York’s cost of living, becoming financially independent here isn’t going to fly. Well, it could. But I’d have to work many more years to cover expenses. A life that costs about $25k a year in another city could cost double here. So when I’m ready to become financially independent, there’s no question what the easier choice would be: to move somewhere else.

But where? Simple question, difficult answer. And though I won’t be financially independent for at least another five years, the gears are turning in my head.

Every place I visit is now going to be filtered through a new lens: the could-I-retire-here lens.

So a two-hour flight to Cincinnati might seem run of the mill to someone else, but to me, it was immensely exciting and full of possibilities. Could it be the city for me?

Another reason I looked forward to the visit was because I like taking a break from the city every now and then. My fellow city folks, I think you know what I’m talking about. I love it here, but sometimes it feels like a gigantic playground for rich people. When everyone else around you seems happy to drop $2,300 on membership fees for a women’s club, or working out at the same gym as Victoria’s Secret models, it’s easy to think you need to be doing that stuff, too. Yes, even for me. So it’s nice to get out of the city to help keep my perspective in check.

Anyway! My husband and I had a great time relaxing in our friends’ peaceful backyard, going thrifting, drinking beers at a baseball game, eating Oprah-approved ice cream twice, and driving through all the neighborhoods in the city.

Even though I was technically on vacation for a few days, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have any personal finance-y thoughts. Here are some of my observations from the trip.

1. There’s value in travel.

To me, travel doesn’t have to mean hanging out in a resort in the Bahamas, or flying to a remote country, or checking off every sight on your list, or paying hundreds of dollars for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Any sort of travel, near or far, fun or boring, cheap or expensive, has value to me as long as you get to see how other people live and do things. For example, I noticed that the friends we were staying with produce a lot less trash than my husband and me. Did I have to go to their house to know they care about reducing waste? No. But by staying with them I could observe the lifestyle that goes into it. They buy mostly fresh ingredients with very little processed goods. They don’t even have a box of tissues in their bathrooms. In our house, tissue boxes by everyone’s bed and in the bathroom is a must, but maybe now I realize that we could stand to reduce our consumption of paper products.

2. Moving to a new place isn’t a magic cure-all for your problems.

If you don’t like where you live, it’s easy to think:
“If I move I’ll have more friends.”
“If I move I’ll have more space for hobbies.”
“If I move we’ll stop having money problems.”

There have been plenty of times where I fantasized about how perfect life would be if I lived on the set of Gilmore Girls. A cranky guy at the local diner to give me free coffee every day? YES. But a change in setting is just that.

Our friend in Cincinnati used to live in New York, too. She said that her social life in Cincinnati would be way less active if she didn’t volunteer at bookstores and music events. So, even if you move to a “friendlier” city and continue to stay home, friends aren’t going to magically appear at your doorstep. You might also feel like having a dedicated room for your hobbies will result in working on projects more. But ask yourself if the space is the problem, or if you just aren’t prioritizing the time in your schedule. And if you and your SO have money issues now, moving to a less expensive place isn’t going to solve underlying communication and compatibility problems.

3. Never let go of simple pleasures.

When we grow up we tend to get jaded over time. This happens to me, too. For example, I go to the movies all the time. Because I do it a lot it’s not that special, and I don’t get particularly excited about going anymore. But over the weekend I’ve noticed I still get excited about simple pleasures. Like when I found a true vintage shirt for $0.29 from the thrift store. True vintage! Twenty-nine cents! Unheard of! Or when I saw mini Yoo-Hoo bars (not something I see regularly where I live) in a candy bin at the grocery store and bought two for $0.27. Or just sitting outside with the trees and the stars, building a fire. Some simple pleasures in life don’t have to cost much at all.

4. Think twice about unpractical purchases.

I’ve seen our friends’ house on their Instagram, and since it’s a legit 1960s architectural gem, I was so psyched to stay in it. It was set back in the woods with floor-to-ceiling windows that made you feel like the house and nature were one in the same. “This is an amazing house!” I told our friends. But then they told us how the house is freezing in the winter because of the windows, and how they spent $900 on heat in three weeks. Since the walls were so thin, when I was upstairs I could hear conversations from downstairs. And late at night when I had to use the bathroom, those same windows that were so dreamy during the day became downright creepy. Our friends told us that if they had to do it all over again, they would have put more thought into buying the house. At the time, the price was a steal, and the vintage charm was irresistible, but they’ve had to pour a lot of money to maintain it over a newer, less interesting house.

5. Buying a house seems way too expensive.

When I was growing up, I thought $300k was the price you paid for a “rich” house. Fast-forward to NYC and for that price you’d get a tiny studio in a far flung neighborhood. Owning a house seems like it’s not in the cards for me–at least, not where I live. I’ve only lived in cities after college, and I can’t bring myself to pay $800k for an 750 square foot apartment that has fewer amenities than the ones I’m renting now. If I ever want to own for less, I’d have to buy elsewhere. So I noticed houses in Cincinnati. While we were driving around neighborhoods, every time I saw a house for sale I’d plug the address into my phone to check sale prices. Not one was less than $450k. And that’s after I had people telling me that Cincinnati real estate was “super cheap.” And then there’s upkeep costs, too. Back at our friends’ house, I liked watching the leaves fall from the trees in the backyard. But then someone would need to rake those up later. I loved how there were stone steps leading up to the house. But a couple of them were loose and would need to be replaced. It seemed like there was always something on the list to fix or update. I wonder, factoring in renovation costs and maintenance, how many folks actually end up coming out ahead. Everyone says that buying a house is an emotional “investment” purchase. Or how it’s dumb to not “build equity.” But I’m clearly not ready to buy a house yet. And that’s OK for now.

What about you? Are you aiming for financial independence? If you live in an expensive city, are you planning on moving? Do you have any favorite lessons from traveling?

Image: Unsplash

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  • Great post, Luxe!

    About homeownership – if I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have bought a house (or I would’ve bought one for 1/2 the price). We love our house, but it was absolutely an emotional, sentimental purchase.

    Even though we got instant equity by buying the house for less than valued (and much less than the original owners spent), math-wise we would have still come out way ahead by continuing to rent.

    My husband is way too attached now and has no intention of ever going back to renting.

    • Thanks, Ava! If you and your husband love the house, then I’d say it’s worth if it doesn’t make you house poor. Interesting how the math in your case favors renting. Would love to see a post on that, since conventional argument favors owning, but I haven’t seen any posts that actually do the math to incorporate maintenance costs, as well.

  • Part of me dreams about moving so that I can reach FI much earlier. But it’s tough since I grew up in NYC. My family and my wife’s family are also here…so it is a lot harder to leave. We’ve considered upstate NY (since we work in government and might be able to transfer there)…plus my wife went to school there but it’s too cold. I don’t think we would want to move to a small town though…too used to the big city. I think Philly is a good option…pretty big metropolitan city, close to NY, but lower cost of living. I’ve also heard Charlotte/Raleigh would be a good option.

    • I actually think it could be harder for my husband and I to move pre-FI because our salaries and jobs are mostly tied to NYC. Family is definitely a big factor in where to live. I know someone who bought a duplex with her sister in NJ, and their parents live close by, too. That’s the best of both worlds, imo. You get to live close to NYC, pay slightly less, and be around family. My mom still lives in the same small town she first got dropped off in when she emigrated here, and I’d like to live near her someday. The problem is, housing in even “cheap” places seems way overpriced!

      Re: upstate, I know many ppl who either move upstate, or rent here and buy upstate. I don’t think living in a small town in the middle of nowhere is for me, either. I like how you’re thinking on cities. Medium-sized ish to offer value, but not as expensive as Boston or DC. When I went to Philly a year ago it looked like there were definitely some deals to be had in up-and-coming neighborhoods.

  • Gina Carpellotti

    Once upon a time, I wanted to retire at 40. My finiancial advisor invested a ton of my money into tech stocks. I’m 52, and I’m still working.

    One other thing (at least) to consider: Walkability
    Yes, the NYC MTA can be a pain in the ass, but it’s easy to navigate, and you can get from borough to borough quite easily (especially if you’re willing to take the bus instead of the subway). Not every city has great mass transit.

    I moved back to Pittsburgh in 2009, and I am still griping about the cost of owning a car —
    the initial purchase, the maintenance, the registration, the inspection, the parts, the license renewal, the cost of gasoline, etc.

    To date, I have spent $1,086 on transportation. Granted, $25 of that is for a bus pass. BUT I am super stingy with gasoline. I often stay at my parents’ house 1-2 times per week, which cuts my commute distance in half, and I use their points for cheaper gasoline. Also, that is the cost of my transportation. My husband owns a car, so we have 2x the expenses on everything except the car insurance. We save a bit there given that we’re on the same plan.

    • I hear you on the walkability. That’s one of my favorite parts of city life! I think that’s one reason why I haven’t been able to fall in love with Los Angeles just yet. I like to see people walking on the street, rather than driving cars. Not a deal-breaker, just a preference. And you’re right, NYC has an amazing subway system. There isn’t anywhere I can’t get to, and one of the few cities where a car isn’t required. (Even in Boston, having a car was super handy).

      Re: commuting costs, I think I’ll spend maybe $300 on local transportation this year. Subway pass, plus random cab rides to the airport, etc. But yeah, the trade-offs need to be thought through. When I was in Cincinnati, we drove everywhere, and I was wondering how much gas we needed to cover all the places we went to. It can add up, for sure, and I can see how all those car-related costs are super annoying.

      Sorry about the bad luck on the tech stocks, ugh.

  • Even though our city is super expensive and we’ll never be able to live in a SFH, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Fiancé’s family is out here, our dearest friends are here, and it’s just a place I enjoy being. So many smart folks from all the nearby universities, eminently walkable, get to experience all the seasons. On bad days I do think about how much sooner we could quit our jobs if we just moved out to the Midwest or South. But ultimately I think staying is worth the extra effort.

    • I get really tempted when I watch House Hunters and I see an adorable house in Texas that costs only $80k.

      I really love where I live, too, but at some point, it can be unsustainable, particularly if you want to FI or have kids. We do get a good deal on rent, and I think that’s part of why we’ll stay for a while. If we bought here we’d have to pay at least $1,000 more every month. So my compromise right now, as long as we invest that $1,000 every month then I feel better about it.

      As you mention, family and friends are important. Our family is outside of NYC so as my mom gets older I think I’d move closer to where she is so I can check up on her. Although the jobs opportunities there are limited, so I think that would have to be post-FI.

  • As a resident of NYC, this post hits home more than most. I get everything you are saying as well as struggling with, because I have similar thoughts.

    Move to a lower cost city, but would my job be there or the same salary? Will life be easier or just a different set of problems to complain about? Will this more affordable city have great pizza, a 24-hour donut bar, etc etc.

    Not sure there is ever a right answer and maybe whenever your find true clarity and happiness, then you are exactly where you need to be.

    In the mean time, it’s one beer (or glass of wine) at a time and enjoy the ride.

    • “24-hour donut bar.” Who cares if I never actually use it? I just like knowing I have the donut option if I want it, ha.

      I actually met up with a friend from used to live in NYC and moved to LA. I asked her if she missed it, and she said she didn’t at all. I think it depends on what life stage you’re at. If you’re wanting kids and space, etc., then a tiny apartment in NYC isn’t going to cut it anymore.

      I feel you on the new set of problems to complain about. I was thinking about that as we were driving everywhere in Cincinnati, how much gas and car maintenance would cost. I do think there are trade-offs to anywhere you live. You just have to find out what’s most important to you. I don’t have full clarity on it yet. I could sit and make a list of wants, but at the end of the day, wants are different from needs.

  • Yes, these are truly great tips. I had a weird dream last night where the leather jacket I purchased through thrifting started talking to me. It said “find an use for me” or something like that. It was weird. I mean it didn’t talk but it had a talk bubble…I know I’m weird….

    $450k is pretty steep, that is also the price range of a cheaper house in Seattle. Maybe we’re nearing another bubble. NYC does seem to be a rich playground, it’s not where I want to live unless I’m in the .001 percent.

    I’ve thought of moving but hubby is against it. So we make a compromise by living in the crappier side of town lol.

    • I have had some super weird dreams lately. I dreamt that Gen Y Money posted my real name in a blog post, and I was livid. If the leather jacket is the one you talked about in your latest post, I would let it go!

      For 450k, the city better have some good amenities, you know? Anywhere else my husband and I would fit in the upper middle class category, but not in NYC. And definitely if you’re trying to save up a lot of your money.

      Since you have your rental properties it sounds like you’re doing something right by living on the crappier side of town!

  • Living in an expensive city like SF makes you want to look out of the area and see if it’s reasonable to move there. We casually look into cities like Sacramento(two hour drive from SF) and Portland but with family from both sides all living in the Bay Area it would be tough for us to move out. We are still house searching and one thing’s for sure, we are not looking for a buy home in SF. The surrounding cities around the Bay are not much cheaper but at least it’s not as high as the prices in SF.

    • Ha, I was definitely casually looking today. I may or may not have sent a house link to my husband.

      In your case, since you have family in SF, I think it makes a lot of sense to stay. At the end of the day, family is most important, right? Same for us, surrounding areas outside of NYC are really not that much cheaper because of taxes, etc. Sigh.

  • GYM

    I’ve never been to Cincinnati but your Instagram pics make it look so charming and chic!

    I get the same feeling in Vancouver where you have 16 year olds driving Ferraris with a “new driver” sign stuck to the back of their car. This city feels too “rich” for me. Our families are here so we are going to stick around for a bit.

    • Well, Instagram does have a way of making things look nicer 🙂 I was actually surprised by how many different neighborhoods there were, and our friends’ house was so fun to stay in.

      Staying in Vancouver because of family makes a lot of sense to me. Our family is elsewhere so we’d have to move to a random city altogether, or closer to our families in a small town. Or maybe I could move mom in with us!

  • It’s so cool what a mini vacay can give you in perspective. I’ve always struggled with the idea of home ownership so I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I’m going to ask a totally newbie question: what does financial independence mean to you? I’ve never actually read a definition of it anywhere, so I’m never sure what bloggers means when they use it. 🙈

    • It’s hard not to feel like you’re not missing out somehow if you’re a lifelong renter. Although yeah, it really sucks to have to fix and maintain things yourself. I just think of all the stuff my landlord has to deal with in our apartment and it’s not appealing at all!

      Oh, re: financial independence: that’s a great question! For me, it means having enough money so I could quit my job and maintain a similar lifestyle. It doesn’t mean I would quit or never work, but I’d have the option to, if I wanted. The idea is your investments would earn enough to cover your expenses. Example: say, your lifestyle costs about 25k per year. So, if you had $700k in investments, growing 5% each year, that would yield 28k annualy, which is enough to cover your expenses. This is a very simplified example, and you do have to navigate all your investment account rules, etc.

  • Wow – Would not have expected Cincy home prices to be that high. I guess it depends on what part of town you’re in, and how big the house is? In Minneapolis, our cozy but large enough 1500 sq ft one-story would fetch about 300K. And it’s in one of the best parts of the city. Maybe you need to consider a smaller house or consider bitter cold Minneapolis as a Plan B town? 🙂 To boot, there are very nice 800 sq ft homes in our city going for 180-190K that anyone without kids or with just one (or two sharing a room) would do fine in.

    • I think part of it was we drove through the more posh neighborhoods. Not going to lie, if I moved to another city, I’d want a baller house! I’m actually really interested in visiting Minneapolis. We currently live in a 750-800 square foot apartment, so 1,500 sounds perfect. 2,500 seems way too big. My husband and I are both from cold environments, but probably not as cold as Minnesota. May need to hit you up if I ever visit!

  • sforsaraho

    I love that I just found your blog and you just made a trip to Cincinnati where I live! I can say that’s definitely on the high end of prices for houses here, but not unusual for houses close to downtown or in certain neighborhoods. Finding a house under 200k is possible if you’re a little further away from the city center or in a more up and coming neighborhood. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in our neck of the woods. Your blog is such a refreshing perspective on personal finance! Looking forward to more from you.

    • Hey Sarah,

      I’m so happy you found my blog! YES. Cincinnati was great. I’m really jealous of those mid-century modern homes you guys have, and I need more Graeter’s ice cream in my life. We drove through the Mount Adams area and Hyde Park (?), so I think those areas were definitely a bit upscale?

      Thanks for reading, and see you around here 🙂

      • sforsaraho

        Yes, Graeter’s is awesome! Perhaps I’ll make a stop after work….Ah yes, Hyde Park and Mount Adams are very pricey areas to buy in. I live in Fairfax which is a small neighborhood less than 10 minutes away from Hyde Park and much more affordable, albeit without the adorable square and gorgeous houses. Thankfully Mariemont, another super cute but expensive neighborhood, is within walking distance so I enjoy mooching off their charm!

  • I couldn’t help but wonder if no tissues everywhere what were they blowing their noses on? Makes me so curious! It always baffles me how much waste/garbage we accumulate and thinking about where it all ends up going sends me into a downward spiral. Sounds like your getaway to Cincinnati was really eye opening. I find that whenever I travel I learn something new about myself and find that there’s always some discomfort I’m faced with that I eventually learn to cope with through the trip.

    As a lifetime New Yorker, I’m often feeling sick of this city. I once thought I’d be happier in California but I’m not so sure about that now. I don’t know if I’d ever want to fully commit to maintaining a house, that just seems like a lot of money and work–especially if I like traveling so often. I already feel guilty that we have a cat and have to find someone to cat sit him when we’re away but I digress.

    But maybe eventually when I feel like grounding myself to one place, it’d have to be somewhere with lots of things to do but also a fine balance of city and country…maybe I’m thinking of a place like Stars Hollow 😉

    • I think they used either toilet paper or reused a rag. I’ll admit, in a pinch, I’ve used toilet paper, too! I definitely feel guilt about all this garbage we create.

      I agree re: travel. There’s value in getting out of your bubble every now and then. I think especially when we live in NYC. Some of the things we deal with on a daily basis are not the norm!

      I’m always so curious about lifetime New Yorkers and whether or not they are interested in moving elsewhere just to see if they like another city better. If you’re from the “best” city in the world, is there any incentive to move elsewhere? But anyway, you must have interesting insights on how the city has changed over the years.

      I feel you on the city/country balance. Some place where it’s quiet, but you have access to the city when you want. Best of both worlds, in my opinion. And yes, definitely a place with an adorable gazebo!

  • So THAT’S why you were looking up real estate in Cincinnati 😛 I still have eyes on Denver and San Diego not that the markets are cheap, but significantly less unaffordable than the bay area! The idea of buying a house here in the Bay Area is definitely daunting, but at the same time I realize I don’t have to buy a house the size of my childhood home which is in Albuquerque, NM (I think our 2 story 4 bedroom/3 bath “rich house” cost 200k!)

    I often struggle with thoughts of moving out of a HCOL area because I love the bustle but I don’t necessarily always love being a part of it. While I’m still torn on the issue, I have realized that good use of free time and weekends isn’t affected by where you live. Wherever you live, many times on the weekends, the default things to do are the same, and I’m sure that changes even more if you have a family!

    Sure in cities there are fun events going on, but I actually end up rarely doing them because it’s too far out of the way or it’ll be way too crowded to actually enjoy! I remember visiting friends in NY last year and heading out to go to Refinery 29’s 29Rooms in Brooklyn because it was free but we bailed out after standing in line for an hour because we were still 2 hours from the door! Or other city activities include spending money for exclusive shows, etc! Most of the time on the weekends, I just want to recharge by hanging out at a coffee shop working on the blog, occasionally brunch/movie, or workout!

    • Yeah, I like to imagine what it would be like to live elsewhere sometimes! I have never been to Denver but I do remember liking SD a lot. I also could have been swayed because I was staying a few blocks from the beach. I know what you mean by size. I’ve always lived in small quarters, and right now 1200 square feet sounds perfect. We live in a 750 sq. foot place now and even in our small space there’s a room we never use! So with a much bigger house I just see it as more spaces to clean.

      I totally feel the same way about HCOL areas. I really, really like having the options available to me, but you know what? There were 10 things I could have done in the city this weekend and I just stayed in my neighborhood the entire time. At some point you have to get honest about how many of the amenities you actually use. And having to travel to Manhattan can feel like suuuuuch a trek on the weekends, especially as I go to Manhattan every weekday for work. But yeah, I’m with you. Most of the time I spend my weekends relaxing, and that’s something I could probably do anywhere. I did ask our friend if she missed NYC, and she said the only thing she feels like she misses out on now are the literary events. I’m starting to think a suburb of a city is probably the best of both worlds.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    I was a lifelong renter and just eased into homeownership a few years ago. We upgraded to a bigger place this year with fewer community amenities (our previous place had an HOA and provided a gym, rec center, playground and other things like that) so there’s definitely a bit of a “toil” feel to home ownership in the wild without an HOA but it’s not that bad if you choose carefully. Knowing what you’re willing to put up with and not, and especially not overbuying, makes a huge difference in the quality of life. I don’t mind the few extra chores we’ve added to our weekly routine and the new minor inconveniences because we are so comfortable in our new space. Too comfortable actually, sometimes it’s hard to get ourselves to leave the house 🙂 good thing we have a dog who MUST go out a few times a day.

    I’m glad that I spent a three week stint in NYC back in the recession days, too – that taught me that while I love to visit the city, I feel too disconnected to be happy living there. Not that I could afford to live in San Francisco proper anyway but it’s nice knowing we don’t want the things we can’t afford 🙂 The thing that makes me sad about where we are is that younger folks are going to feel priced out even out in the more suburban areas and leave rather than finding a way to make it happen here and that always leads to a shift in the demographics.

    • It makes me sad that I don’t know anyone in NYC who was able to buy their apartment without financial support. The costs are so outrageous, that most people in their 20s could not afford a home unless they’re lucky enough to be born into a family that can help financially. Everybody else just moves further out to less expensive places, waits to buy until they’re in their 30s-40s, or just continues renting (like me).

      I’ve thought about it, and I would just want my house to have decent resale value. So, a good or up-and-coming neighborhood, etc. I don’t think I’d mind an HOA, because of some of the benefits you mentioned. Space to roam around isn’t a huge priority for me.

      If we didn’t live in a neighborhood where we have every amenity, I’m afraid we’d stay at home all the time, too! Like, literally within 20 steps, there are food options, laundry, animal vet center for our cats, etc.,which are nice to have. If we lived more remotely I’d probably just stay home 24/7 and order everything online, ha. I’m glad the dog gets you out of the house 🙂

  • What a great perspective! Yes, travel is so much more than just seeing new places, its the new experiences and ways of thinking about life that come with it. Plus spending time with true friends, seeing life through their filter, is so enlightening. And you’re making great memories and keeping that bond strong. Good for them for also teaching about environmental stewardship! We could do with less paper products around here too…

    Home ownership is definitely not the end-all-be-all of life! And yes, houses come with maintenance costs that as the owner are your responsibility, there’s no “call the landlord and hope it gets fixed this weekend”. But, if you’re smart about your requirements, stick to your price range, and are patient enough to wait for the right one, you can find your ‘diamond in the rough’! I’d recommend the way we home searched, and we did it from a state 1000 miles away (http://www.budgetepicurean.com/finances/living-the-american-dream-our-journey-home/)

    Also, if you end up in Ohio, the cost of living is pretty dreamy! As a native and 24-years-Ohio-resident, it does seem like a very affordable place to ‘retire’ to. Good for raising a family. My family is from the Youngstown area, way up in the northeast corner by PA. I’ve heard that cinci is a little rougher, but haven’t been to visit in years, they may have cleaned it up. I’d highly recommend checking into the suburbs of Columbus too. If someone put a gun to my head and said “move back to Ohio!” that’s where I’d go.

    • Agree with you–to me, the best travel has really been about the people. Particularly when I went to Southeast Asia and made some local friends. Those experiences of seeing how they do things was priceless.

      I think my problem is I only know my house requirements for NYC, but I don’t want to actually buy in NYC. And I’m afraid of buying a money pit because it seems like you can never be 100% sure you won’t end up with one. I just read your post. Sounds like you guys really had your act together in terms of buying afar–wow. I would be too scared and would have just rented/sublet for a while beforehand!

      In Cincinnati, we went to the OTR area, and the gentrification was pretty obvious. Like, huge cranes getting ready to make way for new condos, next to decaying buildings. Here in NY there is a lot of gentrification but I’ve seemed to have gotten used to it. Our friend also said that if she could do it all over again she’d actually move to Louisville in Kentucky.

      • Yeah, I can only imagine NYC is an insanely competitive and over-priced market no matter where you look. You’d have to fall into the perfect deal or know the right person, or be willing to buy a dump and put in the time and work to fix it up… but things have a funny way of working out 🙂