When thinking about living in New York, most of us picture a top floor apartment in bustling Manhattan island, minutes away from work or a cute townhouse apartment in a hipster Brookly neighborhood. There are other areas to live, of course, but for newcomers, these two choices emerge at first. There is a whole other world and crowd of people out there: those who commute from the neighboring suburbs.
At first, I thought this will be a less popular way of life and I will not find many other people, who would live this way, but I was wrong. It is perhaps an older generation that commutes, but surely it’s a large group. Some people move out looking for cheaper rents, which in certain areas it may be true, but areas that are nice and close to the train aren’t so much behind New York’s prices. Others spare no expense and they move out looking for more space, a deeper connection to nature. The luckier ones own houses in the suburbs and commute to their job “in the city” to maintain ther household with high paying jobs that would be hard to find elsewhere than Manhattan and often Wall Street.
I have lived in Hong Kong for more than 5 years. They call Hong Kong Asia’s world city, informally many people refer to Hong Kong, as the New York of Asia (as they refer to Singapore as the Switzerland of Asia). One thing is truly similar, soaring apartment prices and small footprints due to limited space. Just as New York’s business center is located in the heart of Manhattan, Hong Kong’s Central on Hong Kong island is home to the most prestigious offices of the city. There is a huge sprawl on the other side of the Victoria harbour, just like New York’s boroughs spread across Brooklyn, Bronx and further north, Hoboken, etc, but undoubtedly, the centre is the heart of the island. I have lived in tiny downtown apartments for 5 years and then I got my trainee program with Architec-US in New York, I knew from the start I wanted to live outside the city.
The area I live in is well served by trains run by Metro North. They run three main lines, one by the Hudson river, one by the Long Island Sound and one in the middle, towards White Plains. I live in Greenwich, which is part of Fairfield county by the Long Island Sound and I take trains every morning to Grand Central Terminal. The train ride itself is very comfortable and it’s about 40 minutes. That is really fast, considering the distance I travel, as Greenwich is not even in New York, it’s right at the state border in Connecticut state. I get to have a comfortable seat, as my train leaves from Greenwich, but trains from New Haven tend to be very crowded by the time they get here in the morning. The train is air conditioned, heated, clean and very silent. It’s an excellent time to read or write blog posts for Architect-US! This is an express that only stops at 2-3 stations until Grand Central.
Grand Central is located at 42nd Street, not far from 5th Avenue, so it’s right in the hearr of the city. Unfortunately, I have to travel further with the subway to get to my office. The subway is by far not as nice as the train, I have to admit. It often reminds me of the crowded trains of Hong Kong or Tokyo, but fortunately, they are slightly better. I get to have a nice five minute walk to Bryant Park every morning, which is a nice addition to my commute.
Commuting is not a cheap business, but I can surely save on rent this way, so financially it’s about the same as, if I was renting in the city. I get a whole different experience though! Did you know that Greenwich is by the sea? Every summer weekend I got to go saiing by the Community Sailing Centre in Greenwich Point, which is a wonderful peninsula, only available for Greenwich residents. A guest pass is only
$8 for a day and $35 per car, if you want to park. Let me know, if you want to join me for a swim sometime (next summer)! The park is free to visit from 31 October.
Greenwich has a lof of amenities that are available for free and makes living here wonderful. Besides Greenwich point, they also have other parks that are beautiful. Byram Park has a beach and a town pool as well, if you are tired of the salty water. They have an amazing snack shack with the the best lobster rolls! Summer is like being on holiday every weekend here, I look forward to next year again. Greenwich has a public library, which is huge and beautiful with tons of grear books and digital content. It includes Kanopy, which is a netflix kind of platform for art movies, but it comes with the library membership for free! The town also has a really good healthcare network, so I feel safe and in good hands. Fortunately, my insurance provided by the J1 program covers these providers, but healthcare is a whole other post!
Living the communter’s life can be tiring sometimes and it doesn’t allow much time for parties, but I wouldn’t change it at all. The connection to beautiful parks and the sea makes it all worthy for me.