I spent my early 20s renting in expensive US cities. Life isn’t cheaper for me in the suburbs, but it’s better and more fun.

I’ve spent a lot of years living in some of the most expensive cities. A few months ago, I finally gave up and headed to the suburbs of Pennsylvania.

I spent most of my 20s renting in very expensive cities for renters: New York City and Jersey City. Now, I rent in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. It’s not quite cheaper but I feel my money goes further.My social life is way more bustling and rich in my suburb than it ever was in a city. 

After spending most of my 20s living in some of the most expensive cities in the US for renters, I gave up and headed to the ‘burbs at 27.

I was born and raised in Staten Island, a borough of New York City, one of the most expensive cities to live in. I was there most of my life, except for the two years I spent in downtown Jersey City, New Jersey.

Jersey City — nicknamed New York’s Sixth Borough by some — has also become one of the most expensive US cities to live in. It’s close to Manhattan, so New Yorkers seeking cheaper living costs have driven up its rental prices even more.

To live comfortably in Jersey City or New York City, a single person needs to make over six figures. That’s not my reality.

Since I work remotely, I gave up on city life to move to a suburban area of Pennsylvania almost a year ago.

My cost of living hasn’t dropped as drastically as I’d hoped. After all, I live in one of the most expensive counties in Pennsylvania, and inflation is taking its toll on most Americans.

But although moving to the suburbs hasn’t really saved me money, it’s improved my life and made me wish I’d left cities behind sooner.

My living situation is better, and I get more bang for my buck

Living in Staten Island can get expensive.

When I most recently lived in Staten Island, I rented a 300-square-foot studio from a family friend at the discounted price of $850 a month. I was able to park my car on the street for free.

This was a great deal compared to other apartments in the area, even though it was a tiny space with no laundry. Although my rent wasn’t the worst, I also paid steep New York City taxes and higher prices for everything, from groceries to utilities to movie tickets.

Before this, I paid $1,275 a month for a rent-controlled two-bedroom basement apartment in downtown Jersey City. I was grateful to score a coveted rent-controlled apartment, but it had no laundry and minimal sunlight.

I also lived next to a park that was noisy all day and night, and my front door opened directly into the building’s garbage-collection area.

My building had no lot, and street parking downtown was limited and fickle, so I also paid $275 a month to park my car at a nearby lot.

I liked parts of living in Jersey City, but it was expensive and noisy.

Now, I pay $1,500 a month for a 950-square-foot two-bedroom apartment in a Pennsylvania suburb about 40 minutes outside Philadelphia.

My apartment has tons of sunlight and laundry in the building. My building has its own free parking lot, and there’s ample free street parking nearby.

For context, most apartment listings in Staten Island for $1,500 a month are 700-square-foot-or-less studios in someone’s backyard. In downtown Jersey City, I’ve seen nothing available to rent for even close to that price.

People are so kind here, and it’s brought me out of my shell

Though I’m very used to — and enjoy — the no-nonsense approach many New Yorkers and New Jersey locals have, I’ve been delighted to find that Pennsylvanians are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

Locals I’ve met here have been welcoming and quick to help strangers in a way I hadn’t experienced in the cities I lived in.

When I moved into my current apartment, each of my upstairs neighbors introduced themselves to me. I couldn’t tell you the name of anyone who lived on my block in Staten Island or in my building in Jersey City.

During a snowstorm here, two of my neighbors shoveled out everyone’s cars, and I thanked them with homemade cookies. It’s easier to be kind and friendly here when I know it’ll be appreciated and even reciprocated.

The friendliness may be, in part, because a lot of people I’ve met here have planted roots and plan to stick around. In Jersey City, it wasn’t uncommon to meet someone cool only to find they’d be moving somewhere cheaper (or going all in and heading to New York City) a few months later.

My social calendar has never been more packed, either

The value I get for my money is much better in the suburbs, and my county is bustling and full of life.

The cities I lived in were pretty bustling with lots of local events, and I was worried the suburbs would be as sleepy as so many people say they are.

That hasn’t been the case at all. I’ve already seen multiple local drag shows and live music performances and attended festivals that rivaled any I’ve been to in a major city.

I’m a regular at local game nights, I go to a monthly potluck club, I attend various meet-up groups, and I even run a book club.

As an introvert, knowing people here are generally friendly has made it easier for me to come out of my shell. I’m not intimidated by going to social events with strangers because I feel confident that people here will make me feel welcome.

I actually spend more time and money socializing now than I did before. I feel like a real part of my community.

Overall, I’m happier and more relaxed here than I ever was in the city

For the first time in my life, I live somewhere that doesn’t have constant foot or vehicle traffic right outside my window. I rarely hear sirens.

In my quieter neighborhood, I feel less tense throughout the day, which makes it easier for me to have energy for a social life. After struggling with insomnia for years, I find it easier to sleep through the night because I’m not hearing constant noise.

I don’t mind living in a less walkable place, either. Traffic isn’t as big of an issue here as it was in the cities, especially during rush hour.

I spend a little more on gas, but I save a lot of time. I prefer driving to and from the post office in 10 minutes instead of having to walk 15 minutes there and 15 minutes back like I did in Jersey City.

In fact, I now drive to most essential places — such as pharmacies or grocery stores — and local events in under 15 minutes.

Life in the suburbs has been good to me, and I can’t see myself wanting to go back to a major city anytime soon.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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