Author Topic: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?  (Read 10008 times)

RichWard

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Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« on: February 01, 2015, 06:12:20 PM »
I grew up in a small town in the midwest (less than 5,000 people) and was never really exposed to city life until college.

During college, I earned an internship in Manhattan and I had an apartment overlooking the Manhattan skyline from New Jersey.

While I was there for a summer, I noticed I was extremely motivated. Part of it was due to the drive to prove myself in a new position, but it seemed like the environment had a major impact on my well being. It was fast paced and the city as a whole seemed to inspire me to push myself. Every morning I woke up to an amazing view of Manhattan and I felt like I could take on the world.

Currently, I'm back in the Midwest (now in a city of 75,000). From my various apartments, I've mostly had views of parking lots because most apartments are two to three stories high. Recently, I've had job opportunities in major cities and living downtown definitely appeals to me. It is unclear if the pay increase will offset the increase in cost of living, but for the purpose of my question, let's assume they offset each other.

Has anyone else experienced a similar effect when moving from a small town/city? Is there a 'price' you've put on the motivation factor of living in a large city?
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 06:18:04 PM by RichWard »

sheepstache

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2015, 06:32:57 PM »
Having lived in New York City for over ten years, I am motivated to get out of the city :) So, yes?

thedayisbrave

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2015, 06:36:06 PM »
Oh yeah, your living environment can definitely affect your state of mind.  I know what you mean about feeling like you can "take on the world."  I think that the environment that brings on these feelings though depend on the person.  For instance, I am the opposite - I've learned I'm not a big city girl.  I enjoy New York when I visit, and honestly I could probably live there a year or two.  But I'm soooo much happier in a calmer environment.  I grew up in the South, for what it's worth.  For some reason, if I walk into a coffee shop and it's busy, there's a pretty big chance I'll walk out (happens less in my home town than it does in other cities I've lived in, but it does happen here occasionally too).  I just dislike lots of noise and people and things going on, especially if I'm going to a coffee shop to get work done in a more peaceful atmosphere.  Just an example, but something I've picked up about myself.

If the pay offset the increase in COL, but I was still able to save some AND live/work in a city I truly enjoyed and made me happy, then yes it would absolutely be worth it.


RichWard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2015, 06:44:18 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

caliq

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2015, 06:49:23 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I was born in a rural environment and I can enjoy a city for a couple days but I really can't handle being that packed in with so many other people for an extended period of time.   My sister would love to live in NYC, though.  I think it's more individual than just where you were raised vs the opposite. 

sheepstache

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2015, 06:57:38 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I do take your point about the downsides of ex-urban living. When I visit family in the suburbs I get a bit claustrophobic not being able to get anywhere without finding someone with a car to take me. Finding an area navigable under human power does factor into my ER plans.

RichWard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2015, 07:12:53 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I do take your point about the downsides of ex-urban living. When I visit family in the suburbs I get a bit claustrophobic not being able to get anywhere without finding someone with a car to take me. Finding an area navigable under human power does factor into my ER plans.

I agree, I've been trying to lose the car habit for a while, but the environment I live in isn't walking/biking friendly. You're essentially dependent on your car, which I do not enjoy.

innerscorecard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2015, 07:29:22 PM »
It's motivating in that I see a lot of human misery, which I want to avoid.

rmendpara

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2015, 07:39:13 PM »
Part of it is surely the novelty. Being in a city is much more stimulating than less busy areas.

So long as you aren't giving up an arm and a leg to get a job in a city you like, I'd fully support that. Being in a new environment, whether it's NYC, LA, Chi, Houston, whatever, is good for personal development as much as it is a professional decision.

Most mid-sized or larger towns can be stimulating in their own ways... especially if you live closer to the urban areas with lots going on. I visited Nashville recently and some of the new development areas look great. Lots of people around and places to go in walking distance or very short taxi rides.

RichWard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2015, 07:41:30 PM »
It's motivating in that I see a lot of human misery, which I want to avoid.

Well part of the motivation was for career aspirations, but also, running along the shore line was motivating. What misery do you see in large cities compared to rural areas?

I see a lot of human misery in my current city and even more in my home town. People are commuting 45min to 1hr to get into the closest city for work. Large cities have their own problems as well, though.

capital

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2015, 07:47:29 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I do take your point about the downsides of ex-urban living. When I visit family in the suburbs I get a bit claustrophobic not being able to get anywhere without finding someone with a car to take me. Finding an area navigable under human power does factor into my ER plans.
There are a lot of rust belt cities with walkable neighborhoods that are still very affordable— Pittsburgh is one of my favorites.

Not quite as walkable as NYC, but still very good. You can get much further with a bike. A car enables you to do a bit more, but it's not required.

capital

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2015, 07:57:08 PM »
It's motivating in that I see a lot of human misery, which I want to avoid.

Well part of the motivation was for career aspirations, but also, running along the shore line was motivating. What misery do you see in large cities compared to rural areas?

I see a lot of human misery in my current city and even more in my home town. People are commuting 45min to 1hr to get into the closest city for work. Large cities have their own problems as well, though.
There are plenty of outer NYC neighborhoods where people commute 45min to 1hr to get to work.

That said, the depth of opportunities in NYC in essentially every field, and the realization that the people pursuing them aren't all that different from you, is pretty motivating. You can also move up pretty fast profesionally. The culture opportunities are also unparalleled. And there are excellent dating options.

Moreover, the basic cost of living for a young single person is only a bit higher than many places, and salary generally more than makes up for it— a bedroom in shared apartment in a decent neighborhood costs around $1000, and transportation costs $100 pre-tax/mo., or significantly less if you have a bike. That's maybe $500 more per month than a basic apartment and an older compact car in a small city in the Midwest, but your salary should more than make up for it. If it doesn't, and you can't see a realistic route to fast advancement, NYC probably isn't for you.

Obviously NYC gets more expensive fast if you want to own an apartment or house in an area with a short commute and good schools. But you don't have to live here forever,  and if you're a sensible spender you should leave with a lot of money in your bank account.

(Remember that a lot of media portrayals of how expensive NYC is come from 20-somethings ekeing by on a tiny media salary that nevertheless were acculurated at fancy liberal arts colleges towards wanting to live in certain neighborhoods and eat at certain restaurants and wear certain clothes.)

Dimitri

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2015, 09:01:18 PM »
I would absolutely love to live in NYC.  I did back in 88-90 until the high yield market collapsed.  Regretfully I never got back into that game.  I had a BS from a very good school but I didn't get into a decent school for my MBA and couldn't find a reasonable job back in the city after graduating.  So now I'm stuck making the best of it in another market.  Now a quarter century later the game is essentially over for me.  I'm where I am and what is to be is to be.  I haven't been back to NYC since 1995 and probably will never visit again out of pure spite that it isn't for me.  I had a chance at the golden ring but couldn't get a grip on it.  And that is a terrible feeling.     

Josiecat

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2015, 03:00:43 PM »
Oh absolutely!  I moved to the DC area from Kansas City.  I was never more motivated and successful than when I lived in the city.  The city has a vibe that the suburbs doesn't have.  I now live in Kansas again.

I am making plans to move back to the DC area.  I work from home so I won't have to contend with the traffic.

sheepstache

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2015, 03:17:36 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I do take your point about the downsides of ex-urban living. When I visit family in the suburbs I get a bit claustrophobic not being able to get anywhere without finding someone with a car to take me. Finding an area navigable under human power does factor into my ER plans.
There are a lot of rust belt cities with walkable neighborhoods that are still very affordable— Pittsburgh is one of my favorites.

Not quite as walkable as NYC, but still very good. You can get much further with a bike. A car enables you to do a bit more, but it's not required.

Ugh, I would love to move to Pittsburgh. I'm originally from PA (albeit the pricier east side), so I feel like it would totally be my wheelhouse.

madgeylou

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2015, 03:25:34 PM »
You both brought up a great point I thought would arise in this discussion. If I was raised in Manhattan, would I find country living more peaceful and enjoyable?

Maybe it's motivating just to CHANGE your environment?

I do take your point about the downsides of ex-urban living. When I visit family in the suburbs I get a bit claustrophobic not being able to get anywhere without finding someone with a car to take me. Finding an area navigable under human power does factor into my ER plans.
There are a lot of rust belt cities with walkable neighborhoods that are still very affordable— Pittsburgh is one of my favorites.

Not quite as walkable as NYC, but still very good. You can get much further with a bike. A car enables you to do a bit more, but it's not required.

Ugh, I would love to move to Pittsburgh. I'm originally from PA (albeit the pricier east side), so I feel like it would totally be my wheelhouse.

eh, pittsburgh's okay ... but the sports obsession and 6 months of gray skies can weigh on a person after a while.

in terms of the OP's question, i think big cities are motivating for some people at some times in their lives. when i lived in new york, i found it very motivating and energetic -- it felt like most people were there for a reason, they just didn't end up there.

but as time goes on, i am starting to find quiet and trees and mountain breezes a bit more energizing for me. might be age, might be that the work i'm drawn to now is more introverted (writing) and what i used to be into was more extroverted (rocking out on stage), might be a variety of factors. but, for me anyway, my relationship to "big cities" has changed a lot over the years.

oldmannickels

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2015, 03:54:56 PM »
I moved from the country to the city back to the country and now back to the city.

I will say the COL arguments were highly exaggerated in my situation. I make around 30% more in the city and if anything my COL is lower through a combination of low supply of housing in the country and no driving in the city.

The country was nice and it was close to the beach, but this ended up being the best decision for me and my future spouse.

Totally understand how motivating a city can be. If I have an idea and want to run with it, I can easily find a dozen or so like-minded people. In the country that was a bit harder.

MrsPete

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2015, 04:06:58 PM »
No.  I enjoy visiting cities, but I would never want to live in one. 

Lia-Aimee

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2015, 04:27:03 PM »
Absolutely (well, by "big city" I mean 1million+, not NYC big.)  For me it's not the atmosphere, but the people.  Perhaps I am biased since I grew up in a small, low-income town, where women either have children at a very young age, or drink a lot.  Cities, in comparison, offer me a lot more choice.   

GoCubsGo

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2015, 04:53:07 PM »
I could totally see being motivated by your environment, I'm either black or white though.  I love the energy of big cities and feel compelled to work harder and I also love the solitude, quiet and laid back nature of the country.   I do however HATE the gray area (ie the SUBURBS).  It sounds like you have a similar mindset.  The burbs are kind of the worst of all worlds to me... congested with traffic, but very difficult to use anything but a car, more land than the city but still on top of people.  Better job opportunities in the burbs than rural but still involves a lot of commuting.

I also like that you can mind your own and be anonymous in the city or the country but in the suburbs there always seems to "things" you need to be involved in to be part of the "community".  My wife likes those type of things, while I don't.  I could totally live on a farm or live in in downtown Chicago/Manhattan.  I would vote for the city and ditch the gray area of a 75,000 person burb.

Gerard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2015, 05:01:18 PM »
eh, pittsburgh's okay ... but the sports obsession and 6 months of gray skies can weigh on a person after a while.

Oh man, it must be awesome to live somewhere with only six months of gray skies!

Ricky

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2015, 09:00:20 PM »
I could totally see being motivated by your environment, I'm either black or white though.  I love the energy of big cities and feel compelled to work harder and I also love the solitude, quiet and laid back nature of the country.   I do however HATE the gray area (ie the SUBURBS).  It sounds like you have a similar mindset.  The burbs are kind of the worst of all worlds to me... congested with traffic, but very difficult to use anything but a car, more land than the city but still on top of people.  Better job opportunities in the burbs than rural but still involves a lot of commuting.

I also like that you can mind your own and be anonymous in the city or the country but in the suburbs there always seems to "things" you need to be involved in to be part of the "community".  My wife likes those type of things, while I don't.  I could totally live on a farm or live in in downtown Chicago/Manhattan.  I would vote for the city and ditch the gray area of a 75,000 person burb.

Spot on. I hate sprawl! I could never see myself in suburbia. I either need to be living within a few miles of where everything happens, or live completely isolated! Both are absolutely great and are basically the inverse of one another. The appeal of suburbia is being able to have everything you want but in reality it doesn't work like that.

stlbrah

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2015, 09:05:44 PM »
For sure, but I feel like an upper-class suburb gives the same vibe. Everyone is lean/in shape, well dressed, ages better, self-respecting, etc compared to the lower-middle suburbs

innerscorecard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2015, 09:09:18 PM »
It's motivating in that I see a lot of human misery, which I want to avoid.

Well part of the motivation was for career aspirations, but also, running along the shore line was motivating. What misery do you see in large cities compared to rural areas?

I see a lot of human misery in my current city and even more in my home town. People are commuting 45min to 1hr to get into the closest city for work. Large cities have their own problems as well, though.

I see people coughing their lungs out every day due to the extreme pollution. People living, working and eating in extremely unsanitary and crowded conditions. Human excrement, diarrhea, and urine everywhere on the streets. Animal abuse. Countless traffic accidents per day. Dust and rubble everywhere. The urban police intimidating and bullying the poor. Extreme rudeness between people. Scams everywhere. No trust and extreme unfriendliness.

Zikoris

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2015, 10:03:04 PM »
Meh, I live in a big city and am not particularly motivated. I just love living here, right in the downtown core. I grew up in small towns and would have a hard time going back to that.

deborah

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2015, 03:31:01 AM »
OP said:
Every morning I woke up to an amazing view of Manhattan and I felt like I could take on the world.
I have found that waking up to a view that inspired me, or planning my route to work so I always had a view that inspired me REALLY made a difference to how invigorated I felt. So while I worked, I made it a policy to find such a view, and use it. I don't think OP would have been nearly as invigorated if his total view was back street fences - even in NYC!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2015, 07:53:57 AM »
I occasionally have to work in Manhattan or Chicago for my job.

I come back home thanking the Lord that I live in Iowa.  (Though I do live in a large city, for Iowa. A tiny city for anywhere that has actual cities.  I COULD NOT do rural life.)

capital

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2015, 10:00:57 PM »
If you visit a city for work, you probably stay in the tourist hotel district and visit the super crowded skyscrapers-and-traffic-jams part. Midtown Manhattan, especially Times Square, is pretty unpleasant in my book— but I only go there once a year or so.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2015, 06:39:53 AM »
If you visit a city for work, you probably stay in the tourist hotel district and visit the super crowded skyscrapers-and-traffic-jams part. Midtown Manhattan, especially Times Square, is pretty unpleasant in my book— but I only go there once a year or so.

But the office is IN the super crowded skyscrapers and traffic jams part- so staying near the office (Not Times Square though. I avoid Times Square at all costs, so thank god it isn't there.) means I get the shortest commute to work! Though we are moving from UWS to downtown soon.  Downtown really isn't going to be better. It just means I'm more isolated from being able to walk to Hell's Kitchen for yummy food.

« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 07:17:04 AM by iowajes »

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2015, 07:06:58 AM »
I enjoy visiting big cities occasionally, but it's not somewhere I'd want to live forever. I'm more of a small-town/rural person, but I'm also pretty picky about my small towns. The one I live in now is a tourist destination with a thriving downtown filled with great restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, and bakeries - almost all of them locally owned, a boardwalk filled with shrimp boats and a spectacular sunset most  every night, miles of gorgeous beaches on the far side of town (which happens to be our side :), 4 public parks within walking distance of our house, and miles of greenway along a marsh. The locals love to complain about the tourists, but I appreciate them, because their money keeps the economy humming and pays for things that I find value in. Suffice it to say that I find this location motivating.

On the other hand, our previous residence was in the middle of a dying town with more payday loan shops than local restaurants, a failing school district, and palpable racial tensions. We lived there for 3 1/2 years, and it wasn't all bad, because we did make some good friends, but the location was decidedly NOT motivating.

k_to_the_v

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2015, 07:12:25 AM »
It's not necessarily an either/or proposition.

I live in a medium-sized city in the Midwest. However, the majority of my team and my office are based in Manhattan. I work from a home office and travel to NYC about once a month - when I'm not traveling to NYC, I'm often traveling to St. Paul, MN (which is very similar to my home town). You could say I either have no commute at all or a ginormous commute, lol.

I love NYC for 3-4 days. I get a huge productivity jolt while there that hangs on a while when I get home. At the same time, I could never live there - while I do get some happiness from doing well professionally, being outdoors is what feeds my soul - I have a horse boarded nearby, live close to thousands of acres of public forest land, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. At a low COL.

I feel very lucky to be able to live like this. (Doesn't mean I'm not working towards FIRE though, lol).

RichWard

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Re: Does Living in a Big City Motivate You?
« Reply #31 on: February 06, 2015, 07:26:01 PM »
Thank you all for the replies. Many different and interesting perspectives.

Reflecting on the experience and based on some of the comments, I think the inspiring aspect of downtown living is some of the great views you can obtain. Additionally, as Mustachians, we all love being in walkable/bikeable areas and being outdoors.

At the same time, country views of lakes, forests, etc are great/er and can provide similar impacts. It may not be the same type of motivation to work hard, but maybe motivation to relax and remember to enjoy yourself.

Always a trade off.