I’ve lived most of my life in Bronx, New York. However, I’ve always felt like the city life wasn’t for me. Recently, I’ve made the decision to break free. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years now, but i have never really made any solid plans.
I grew up in a small 1 bedroom apartment with my mother and my brother. My mom was a very hard-worker. She used to work very long hours, making $5/hr just to be able to put food on our table and a roof over our heads. Unfortunately, she sustained an injury that left her physically unable to work. Thank goodness for Section 8 Vouchers, Food stamps, and SSI; without those public assistance programs, I don’t know where we would’ve ended up. Money was tight for a very long time. My mother could never afford to buy me the things i wanted and this forced me to start working at the age of 15. That way i could have the brand name clothes and sneakers like all the other kids.
I had attempted moving out many times, but i always ended back with my mom. Most of the time, it was due to financial difficulties. I was so depressed. I just wanted to leave the nest and start my own life. I had been working full-time for 8 years at this point and i had nothing to show for it. At the time, i was making $12 an hour and i STILL could not afford to have my own apartment. I had several roommates, but that always turned out badly for me.
Out of desperation, i went back to school for Medical Assisting. It only took me a year and a half to get an Associates degree because i had previous college credits. I graduated summa cum laude, and was hired right after graduation. I managed to get a job as a medical assistant starting at $18/hr. Which, is way above average for Medical Assistants in NYC. Within the same year i was promoted to office manager and i now make $21/hr.
I finally felt like I was financially stable enough to move out on my own. $21/hr might seem like a lot, but rent in NY is obscenely high. I was LUCKY to find a great apartment at $925/mo that is right across the street from work. One bedroom apartments here start at $1,100 and they are crappy! After taxes, utilities, food expenses, phone bill, and loan payments, I barely had enough money for myself. I no longer qualified for Medicaid and I can’t afford private insurance. Who the heck has an extra $200 a month for health insurance?! Not me. Luckily, I have my boyfriend with me. That kind of helped with the expenses. Though not by much, as he only made $7.25 an hour plus tips.
What I thought was my dream apartment, turned out to be a prison. The neighbors are the worst. I can’t even move a chair without them banging up at me. Still, that’s what happens when you live in an apartment building. You have to be mindful that you have others around you. Even then, you could be one of the unlucky ones and end up in a “fish bowl” apartment. It’s an apartment that has paper-thin walls, ceilings, and floors. In that case, it doesn’t matter how hard you try to be mindful – they will hear everything. You’ll feel like you’re always being watched – stuck in a fish bowl. Apparently, I was one of the unlucky ones. I’ve been stuck in this apartment for a year because i have been unable to get out of my lease.
My life is work, work, work. An endless 9-5 grind. I’m only 25, but i feel like I’m 40. I have no energy for anything. I don’t ever go out because I’m either too tired from work, or because I really need some “ME” time to unwind and relax. I really feel like I’m working myself to death. I feel beaten down by the stress and financial heaviness of living in the city.
I’d often try to escape by taking vacation at another state. Each time, I’d come home AMAZED at the fact that they have apartments in other states for $600/mo. Almost all the apartments are huge, and they have washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers in the unit! We don’t have that kind of luxury here. We do, but you’d have to make way more than $35,000 a year.
The bottom line is, while NYC has a lot of great things about it, the cost of living is very high. It’s crowded, it stinks, and there’s barely any nature around unless you go to designated areas or escape upstate.
I’ve just been longing to break free from the city life. I just want a comfortable life. I want to live in a house with a yard. I want to be able to have a dog if i wanted. I want to go outside and see trees everywhere around me. I want to be able to see the stars at night. I want to be able to have a garden. I don’t want to be confined to an apartment and an endless 9-5 job. There just has to be more to life than that and I’m going to find out.