Reader Stories: Taking The Leap


The other week, one of my best friends from LA was in town looking at grad schools. She’d just been accepted into her dream program at Columbia, so we spent the weekend planning her potential move to the city.

We met our mutual friend Joy for dinner at East Village classic, Cafe Mogador, and found ourselves on the topic of how we “knew” it was the right time to move here. I talk a little bit about my own story in this post.

Which got me thinking. Does every city transplant have a “NYC or bust” epiphany? Is there always a moment of actively taking the leap or do some people find themselves here through a series of random occurrences? Does a move to New York City require more deliberate planning than the average city simply because the stakes are higher across the board (more…expensive rent, competition for jobs, challenging weather, landlord horror stories, coupled with more…opportunities, culture, energy—the list goes on.)

Either way, I figured anyone who’s landed here has a story worth sharing, so I took to Instagram last week and posted the question: How Did You Take The Leap To Move To NYC? I received so many amazing replies (note: it was one of those rare moments where the internet successfully managed to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside rather than stressed/envious/distracted) and I’ll be sharing them in a few posts over the next month.

How did you take the leap to move to NYC?

I moved here with my first month rent and $100 to my name. I lived off hors d’oeuvres from events at my fashion editorial internship, ghostwriting food reviews, and $1 pizza. I don’t know how I did it and I wouldn’t recommend my way of moving to the city to anyone—yet I also wouldn’t have it any other way.
— Ella, @ellacajayon
Turned 30 and realized I’ve been putting others before myself. It was time to focus on myself!
— Jane, @noplainjanekz
People always said I belonged in NYC, that I had more edge than your typical California girl. So, after dating my boyfriend for several years long distance, I made the jump. Even after being apart for so many years, I still wanted some autonomy so we lived “together” in the same, one floor above him. NYC is everything and more—art, fashion, and design at your fingertips. Chaotic, frenetic joy—the city literally vibrates beneath you. Will never regret moving ❤️
— Kaia, @kaianyc
I am an actress that has finally taken the leap to get here and BOY has it been a struggle. I am still in the process of getting settled but am so lucky to call Astoria my new home. My roommate, friends, and family have been so supportive. Through finding the right side hustle, to getting out there to get seen at auditions, my mentor says it’s all about the process and perspective. It has been so terrifying but there are a lot of new doors to open. Strength and vulnerability don’t have to be separate. You will need both to pursue a dream.
— @thewandering20something
On January 1st one year ago, I woke up and declared that I was moving to New York City. I didn’t have a rational reason why, just an aching feeling in my heart that my chapter in San Francisco was drawing to a close. I loved my life in there, but I needed a fresh perspective and while I’d miss my family and dear friendships, I knew I needed to do this for me.

At first I only shared my dream with strangers—people I had just met at a party and even Uber drivers. Then I slowly shared with friends and eventually family—that was the hardest. The funny part was, I had decided all of this without having actual concrete plans of moving! I knew that if I affirmed and spoke about it as if it were real, I was going to make it happen.

Then the day came. I was told by my manager that there was an opportunity to work with luxury brands in Facebook’s New York office. With a range of bitter-sweet emotions I said “yes” to a new beginning. On the the last day of the year, I booked a one-way flight to New York City.

Although it’s only been 2 months, I already know without a doubt, that this was the change of pace and energy that I had been craving. Even though living here is by no means easy, I try to give New York City a little bit of my California sunshine every day—even when it tries to break me.

As Mary Schmich writes in her essay, Wear Sunscreen: “Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.” While not in that order, I intend to do just that.
— Katie, @katewiddowson
I told myself, ‘Just go for 1 year and if you hate it you can always go back home...’ 6 years later and still going strong 💪🏼
— Hillary, @hills_a_dahl
I was born in Ukraine, grew up in Germany and studied in Holland. I told everyone I was going to live in NYC and work for the United Nations even though I had never been to the USA at that point. Everyone laughed.

Long story short, in 2009 I packed my two suitcases and departed to NYC, graduated with 3 degrees, worked for the United Nations and then opened two businesses. The best decision ever. It’s hard, it’s tough, but New York cracks you open, makes you come out of your shell, and shows what you’ve got in store.
— Olga, @olgadanceclass

Thanks to all the amazing women who shared their story! For the chance to be featured in the next Reader Stories post, be sure to follow @5thfloorwalkupblog on Instagram. I’ll be posting a new prompt every month!