Friday, December 08, 2006

I Heart "Out-of-Town"

LT of DaBoysof905 writes an excellent post In Praise of Small Communities. I think that for most people, small communities would better suit them, they'd be happier, they'd be more comfortable, they'd live easier lives, and they'd be much "better Jews" as well. I find it rare that people who have lived in both the tri-state area and "out of town" feel that the former is better; most wariness of small communities seems to come from people who have never lived in one, or who don't give themselves enough time to acclimate. In contrast, people who are from "out of town" but now live in NYC (such as myself) do get used to NYC and enjoy its conveniences - but would much rather be living somewhere else, and feel that the positives elsewhere far outweigh any of the ones here.

So, if you live within 50 miles of Manhattan, you probably should give other communities a shot - whether they're in Baltimore, Silverspring/DC, Cleveland, Memphis, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Waterbury, Milwaukee, Omaha, or wherever. Your cost of living will drop, your taxes will drop, and the time you spend at work or in traffic will drop. Your salary will drop too, but you actually will come out way ahead, so get over it. You'll have more time with your kids, you'll meet more people who are genuinely nice and polite, your own manners will improve, you won't always feel so rushed, a lot of the materialism will disappear, and your kids will learn how to interact with all different kinds of people. You can even walk out the door without carrying a cellphone! Amazing.

Just leave all that "New York-y stuff" behind. :)


  1. Or you can move to Chicago and be in the best of all places

  2. I actually have a number of New Yorker friends (i.e., Greater NY area, including Monsey and most of NJ) who readily admit that they would love to live "out of town", but they're too spoiled to do so--they can't handle not having all of the conveniences and ameneties that they're used to. Having grown up in Yehuppetzville, USA, I can take stuff or leave it--while it's nice, and convenient, to have access to all-kosher supermarkets, pizza stores, restaurants, clothing stores (yeah right, like I shop in those overpriced frummy clothing stores anyway?), etc., it's not an essential part of my existance.

    Granted, especially if you live in a very small community, it can be a lot harder. I was the only frum kid in my class in day school; I chose to go away for high school because there was no Jewish high school in my hometown. And there were certainly plenty of places in the timeline of my life when I had the chance to go off, and if not for some very special people and a LOT of siyatta d'shmaya I probably would have. B"H I turned out nice and frum--some parents might fear that one might come at the expense of the other. It is possible to be nice and from NY; it is possible to be frum and from the back end of nowhere. It's getting them to go together that is the tricky part. And to be truthful, while I don't want to raise a family in the NY area, at the same time, I would hesitate to live in as small of a community as the one I grew up in, for exactly that reason.

  3. Mine too (I also commented on the Daboys' post).

  4. DAG - Chicago is okay. Not great.

    PT - Yep.

    Scraps - Exactly. What's funny is, if they gave it a shot, they'd realize that there really isn't much of a difference. It's all perception.

    As for frumkeit, it seems to me that people in decent-size OOT communities do better than those in big cities; but I don't know enough about tiny cities. (Though Harrisburg, PA, where my sister-in-law is from, seems to do pretty well.)

  5. Apparently living OOT isn't that easy and convenient for many people or people like YOU wouldn't be here.

    Would the OOTs please get off of their pedestals -- especially if they're living in NY.


  6. Apparently living OOT isn't that easy and convenient for many people or people like YOU wouldn't be here.

    Completely wrong. Firstly, most of the people who are "on pedestals" are here for school and/or dating.

    We were about to move, as you know, until I got the offer to work where I am. They emphasized in the offer that I would be able to transfer when I wish to basically anywhere - and without that, I would never have taken it. I'm willing to sacrifice living in NY for a short period of time to open up far greater future opportunities... but that does not make NY a better, or even good, place to live - especially as compared to other communities. It simply serves a purpose for the short-term. As you well know, we should be and plan on being out of here within a few years.

    NY is a decent resume builder in some industries, especially the section of my industry that I'm in. Other than that? Advantage OOT.

    Are there reasons why people need to be in NY? Of course - check the post I based this on. But is it a better place to live for most people? Uh-uh.

  7. a big problem in many small communities is the quality of the schools.

  8. I kind of want to start a new community. After all, how did NY and its surrounds get to have so many kosher restaurants, schools, shuls, etc? Because there was a "market" for them.

    I just need to a) get married, and b) find 9 or so other couples willing to move out with me. Anyone takers?

  9. ->Are there reasons why people need to be in NY? Of course

    ***tap,tap,tap***is this thing on***testing,testing***(clears throat)***

    thank you, that is all.

  10. -->how did NY and its surrounds get to have so many [kosher] restaurants, schools, shuls, etc?

    For the same reason that you can make that staement for just about any other demographic in this country...


  11. Please take Baltimore off the list. NOBODY should ever live there!

  12. so true!
    i'm very very out of town and while NY was fun, it isn't somewhere i could see myself living.
    but i am currently visiting a different australian city (perth) which has a much smaller jewish community and it's actually been really lovely. i've had such a nice shabbat and people are just so friendly and enjoy living here. granted, it's not for everyone, many young people move away due to limited social life but for families it's so nice. and it's seriously relaxed (quiet, the traffic is nothing, even compared to my home town!!

    shavua tov!

  13. AriK - I haven't seen them to be any worse than NYC schools; in fact, often, I've seen them to be better.

    Bob - Amen. When were you in Indy? My parents lived there for a year...

    Annie - You have no idea how many times I've said that to people...!

    G - There are. They are rare, but they exist. Usually, it's to help them live elsewhere in the future.

    And so true on the boat.

    MordyS - Most people who read this blog would disagree with you. I had my issues with Cleveland, but for many, it is still a great place to live. The same is true for Baltimore, whatever you and DGEsq might say. :P

    Sarah - "NY is a great place to visit, terrible place to live..."

  14. Anyone interested in moving to Palm Beach? They're starting a day school down there and the houses are really nice and affordable in the burbs just 20 min. out of the island.

  15. Ayelet - Is Chof Chaim opening a new branch?! ;)

    Too hot down there. If I'm going warm, I'm going to SoCal...

  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Waterbury is part of the Tri- State Area.

  18. everyone is talking about the disadvantages in yiddishkeit/Jewish schools in small communities. Ezzies post, in my humble opinion, is not talking anout small communities, in the middle of Yihupitzville- its talking about OOT communities. Just becuase a community is OOT dosent mean it is small or lackong a jewish community/ school (baltimore, silverspring, dallas, etc).

  19. I read the daboys post but since Im more loyal reader of your blog im posting my comment here:)

    After living in a few cities (including NYC) I really belive that some people are leaders and some are not. There is room for everyone no matter how big the city. Perhaps you get more recognition in a small town but you can be equally important in terms of mitzvot in a big city. Case in point you constantly read about gmachs and chesed organizations that started recently and are being started in NYC -- meaning theres still room for more. Another way to look at this is the bigger the community the more the needs.

    We live in an OOT community now. One mentioned manytimes in your post. We like/love it. Life is slower, family time is valued more. Commute is more sane. Plenty of people here do nothing to help the community - its the few who do for the many in NYC or Baltimore or Miami (think of the 80/20 rule. Perhaps the 20 stand out more ina crowd of 100 then in a crowd of 100,000 and in that case is the concen of lack of recognition or really lack of things to do????

    Sorry for hijacking the comments :)

  20. Excellent comment, Mr. Anon.

  21. "Anon1" - Waterbury is part of CT, but the people there don't generally work in the NYC area, which is what I meant by it.

    Anon2 - Exactly. When I say OOT, I mean any non-large city, really. Hence the examples I gave. While I mentioned some tiny ones, those are generally ones with a nice infrastructure.

    Anon3 - I agree with the leaders point completely. You will always have those who are out ahead and really building a place up. But I think DaBoys made the point well in his post (and you can comment there, it's a great new blog): In a smaller community, there is *more* opportunity to accomplish something, and to some extent, you're often forced to rise to the occasion.

    A person could live in NY and not only never volunteer to do something, but never even really be asked to. There simply isn't that need. In a place like Baltimore, that support from each individual is far more necessary, and you're forced to really rise up. Is there more that can be done in NY if you really look hard? Probably. But there's so much more that can be done that has a greater impact in a smaller community.

    Anon3, Moshe - I don't think it's about lack of recognition. In the smaller communities I have lived in and spent substantial time in, nobody really gets 'recognition' for what they do beyond what they should. They get thanked, as they should, maybe honored by the school/shul in their small annual banquet if they did a ton, and that's it. The recognition stuff is what happens more in NY/NJ, possibly because there's a lot more money being thrown around, or possibly because there *are* so many people. I don't know. But I don't think DaBoys' point was that people can get more recognition for what they do - it was that they have a much greater impact, period.

  22. Hmmm.. Ezzie, are you talking about small Jewish communities or just any community that is not New York?

  23. Avrom - Basically excluding NY/NJ, Chicago to some extent (even though I like it), LA to some extent (at least the city), and I don't know how big Miami is.

  24. The last time this topic came up over here at SerandEz, I was a lot more (defensive) vocal. After some time and distance, I can definitely concede to a lot of Ezzie's points, although some of the pro-OOTers do still, in my opinion, seem to paint NY life negatively with a broad brush.

    One issue I feel I am constantly thinking about lately is the strong sense of materialism/getting ahead, and I'm wondering if any OOTers, past or present, can give me real insight as the the extent that this is also true OOT. By this I mean, are people as snobby/brand-conscious/cliquey/focused on who's remodeling-buying-driving-wearing-etc. in all frum communities, or is this exclusively a 5 towns, brooklyn thing?

    I feel like it's starting to pervade my community too, and I always felt like things were so down-to-earth here. Without sounding like a tourism website for an OOT frum community, what do you guys think?

    p.s., if I can figure out what I'm really trying to ask, I'm considering blogging about this over at RM. Thanks, Ezzie, and I hope I'm not hijacking this post either :)

  25. RaggedyMom -
    I don't know if there is any place in the world that is totally blind to the materialism that the world seems to find so important. However, I definitely see a huge difference in the NY mentality in the emphasis put on such things like size of home, clothing worn, appearances, etc. I honestly don't feel it as strongly living in Passaic (probably because Passaic isn't an especially wealthy community), but when visiting other communities such as Brooklyn, the UWS, and even Lakewood, I definitely feel the pressure to step up my dress and appearance and feel like everyone is much more focused on that.

  26. Ezzie, because some of the communities on your list are not what I think of as "small". Baltimore isn't small. Your native Cleveland isn't that small. Do you consider Toronto "small"?

  27. Shoshana, thanks for your answer. I know quite a few people who have moved to Passaic in the last few years. I've never been there (or to Teaneck, the other "it" destination), but from what I hear, it's grown by leaps and bounds.

    Do you feel like it's just a matter of time before it is overrun by ex-NYers and our shtick, or that those who move in assimilate and adapt to the more normal standards of Passaic? (Readers, I know these are big-time generalizations.) We have no plans to move anywhere at this point, but I wonder.

  28. RM - There probably is some broad commenting, but that's also the nature of blogging to some extent. To put everything in a nuanced fashion is a bit tough... but we probably go a drop overboard on occasion. :/

    Don't worry about "hijacking". I love good discussion.

    There is definitely a greater sense of materialism throughout NYC/NJ than "OOT" (a term I hate, btw, even though I used it). Is it worse in some areas than others? Yes - as Shoshana noted, it's always worse in wealthier areas. Often, though, it's not the big things where you see the difference, even though you do see that; it's often by the little things, from certain styles of dress to the way people carry themselves to what they focus on, etc. And I don't think most of it is done in a snobby fashion, even though it often comes across that way to the rest of us - I think people simply are used to things being done a certain way, to having a certain set of values, etc.

    It not only has spread within other areas of big cities, but where people from certain areas move out to (say) Baltimore, you have begun to see it there as well. I think I wrote about that in the last post on this...

    For what it's worth, as a whole, KGH is still pretty normal. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it is primarily younger couples who often can't afford to be too trendy, and that many are looking for friends and aren't going to be snobby. Also, a nice chunk are from "OOT" themselves, and are not used to the whole concept.

    Avrom - Again, I think it's more of a "not-big" community as opposed to a small one. Toronto is actually fairly large, though still quite pleasant. Even there, though, it seems like it's starting to have its own growing pains lately, if I'm not mistaken.

    However big Cleveland and even Baltimore are, the odds are that you still know a pretty nice percentage of the people throughout the city - and definitely know just about everyone who lives right around you. They're not all that big, even if they're a nice size. A good way to put it - you can play Jewish Geography pretty easily with people in Cleveland or Baltimore - but not NYC. :)

    RM, Shoshana - The way I've heard people term Passaic (and Mark Frankel liked it when we were talking about it at the BeyondBT melave malka) was "working yeshivish". They're not sitting and learning all day, but partly due to the backgrounds they came from [re: education] they're getting good but not "high-end" jobs. That translates into it being a stable, but not wealthy, community.

  29. ->are people as snobby/brand-conscious/cliquey/focused on who's remodeling-buying-driving-wearing-etc. in all frum communities, or is this exclusively a 5 towns, brooklyn thing?

    **cough**beachwood**cough** ;^)

  30. G - I thought about it, then stopped. Oy vey, what are we gonna do with you... :D

  31. Ezzie lies, life in the mid-sized non-new york cities is terrible. Really, just stay in New York. Please, do not under any circumstances move to any of these other cities. You have all been right all along, new york is the best, it's awesome, don't leave. Stay away, remain In Town. Why would you ever want to trade in the pristine exhistance you have for a crude backward life out on the fringes of civilization.

    We will both be so much happier this way :)

  32. You see what has happened in galus - not one of you have even mentioned the possibility of living in Eretz Yisrael.

    Every day you pray to Hashem asking him to give you health, but when you get sick you run to the doctor, every day you ask Hashem for Parnassa but you get up each morning and go to work, but everyday you ask Hashem to return us to Yerushalayim and to return us to OUR HOMELAND but you all sit in galus and don't even begin to seriously consider moving to YOUR HOMELAND. I know, you all are seriously waiting for Mashiach to arrive later today, or tomorrow, and you all have your suitcases packed, ready to immediately move to Eretz Yisrael.

    Unfortunately Mashiach isn't going to come in the near future for he doesn't want to be rejected, Hashem doesn't want for there to be such a Chilul Hashem - what Chilul Hashem? Well, can you imagine what American Jewry will respond when they're told its time to pack up and leave? Most will probably say Why now?, or I'm not ready, or can we move in a year or two?, etc. etc.

  33. RaggedyMom -
    Ezzie already kinda answered this, but I do think that when NYers move to the OOT communities it has an effect. I don't think that they necessarily just blend into the community in which they have moved to. I definitely saw this in Baltimore, where the apartment complex that I lived in shifted while I was living there to a much higher native NY contingent, and the focus on the specific strollers and clothing and dining room sets that the couples had got fancier and fancier (and interestingly, I was friendly with less and less people). I think a place like Passaic will also be affected like this (and probably has been already, I haven't been here long enough to be able to observe a change in the community), but I don't know if so many people who want that kind of life would move to Passaic, because there are many, much fancier communities not so far away (like Teaneck).

  34. Ezzie-Bravo. New York is a different world, a world I don't wish on anyone.

    Mordys-What the hell's wrong with Baltimore?

  35. For the love of all that is good and holy, "Silver Spring" is two words.

  36. I agree that an influx of ex-NYers affects the communities to which they move. Even if they aren't actually wealthy themselves, but come from wealth (a la many inhabitants of Lakewood), the stepping-up comes along with them. I personally think that NYers should only move away if they are willing to also change their mindset to a more "OOT" mindset.

  37. Ezzie- That may be true in Toronto where in some cases the "issue" (which I don't consider to be an issue, but some do) is in where you live in the city, classified broadly as "up north" or "down south".

  38. G - LOL

    Anon - Huh? Don't read just one post and think you know the people here. This blog has often mentioned our desire to move to Israel in a few years.

    Jewboy - Heh.

    Anon - You're right. :)

    Scraps - Interestingly, many NYers move to get away from NY and a lot of that. They just don't realize how much of it they do themselves. But they're in a different league than (say) your average NYer.

    Avrom - I meant more the recent divides between the different "types" of frum Jews. But I hear ya.