Moving to a new city is often an exciting adventure filled with endless possibilities and new experiences. When I made the decision to relocate to the vibrant and bustling city of New York ten years ago after an incredible FMTY experience, I envisioned a life surrounded by iconic landmarks, incredible nightlife, and the fast-paced energy of the Big Apple. However, my journey took an unexpected turn leading me to Newark, New Jersey, which is a mere 23 minute train ride from Newark Penn Station to New York Penn Station. Newark was NEVER on my radar, but it turned out to be a hidden gem that daily captures my heart.
In late November/December of 2022 I hired a broker as suggested by friends already living in Manhattan. The goal was to find a place in Midtown or the Lower East Side by March 2023 once my lease in Scottsdale, AZ ended. Filled with nervous excitement and anticipation, I started receiving listings only to find that no sooner than I received them, they were rented damn near immediately. Everyone else wanted to live in Manhattan too! She suggested that I fly into the city prepared to be competitive. Translation: I needed to be prepared to write a check for $14,000 or more to secure an apartment. Remember when California was getting snowed in, the Texas grid was buckling once again under ice storms, and there was a blackout and flights were grounded? Yeah...I was searching during that time and flights to NYC from Phoenix, AZ were upwards of $1,200 for economy. That made traveling in-person out of the question. So, I waited until February 2023, however; by that time I was frustrated and apathetic about finding a place and had mostly given up. What I thought would be a grand adventure starting over in New York City was hitting multiple roadblocks. One morning, I awoke with a new thought and I found myself looking in a different city: Newark, New Jersey.
Initially, I was disheartened by the sudden change of plans. Newark was not the city I had envisioned--it also sounded dangerous--and doubts crept into my mind. Would I miss out on the opportunities and excitement that New York had to offer? Would I regret this unforeseen detour? However, instead of dwelling on my disappointment, I decided to embrace the situation with an open mind and explore what Newark had to offer.
To my pleasant surprise, Newark has a charm of its own that I had never expected. The city boasts a rich history, vibrant arts scene, and a diverse culture that is often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor. As I delve deeper into the community, I have discovered the Newark Museum of Art, a hidden gem housing an impressive collection of art and artifacts and I had the pleasure or experiencing @vibesafterdark (check them out on IG) there recently. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), a world-class entertainment venue, is quickly becoming my go-to-place for theater and music. Lastly, the Ironbound neighborhood, with its authentic Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine, has held my palate captive and has become a frequented culinary haven.
What also amazes me about Newark is the strong sense of community. I have found myself surrounded by warm and welcoming individuals in my new home near NJPAC who are passionate about their city. People from the northeast have the unfortunately reputation of being viewed as rude. They are not. People here are kind, but don't have time for idle chit-chit as in the South and get straight to the point. It's all in your perception. As someone who prefers pointed exchanges, this is welcomed. From community gardens to local festivals and events, there is a palpable energy that connects people and fosters a sense of belonging. It has been refreshing to witness the collective efforts to revitalize the city and create a city that many can call home.
Proximity to New York
One of the significant advantages of living in Newark, NJ is its proximity to Manhattan. While I may not be a resident of the Big Apple, I am just a short 23 minute train ride away from all The City has to offer. I have ventured over multiple times to dance until my feet hurt at a Brooklyn block party and to dine at Russ and Daughters the morning after. I've laid in Central Park on a lazy Wednesday afternoon reading the latest book gifted me and had drinks later at The Mark. However, what I like most is that at the end of the day, I can retreat to the quieter streets of downtown Newark, appreciating the balance between city life and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Sometimes, life takes us on unexpected detours, leading us to places we never imagined. Planning to move to New York and ending up in Newark, New Jersey was one such twist in my own story. Although it initially seemed like a disappointment, Newark daily reveals its own magic, capturing my heart. I wake up in awe each day that I have actually made a long held dream finally come true. This has taught me that sometimes the best experiences come from embracing the unexpected and being open to new possibilities. So, if life leads you on a detour, don't be afraid to explore the uncharted path—it might just lead you to a hidden gem like Newark.