Smog hung heavy, obscuring the Manhattan skyline in the distance as I sat unmoving on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, thousands of New Yorkers honking away their frustration at spending a muggy summer afternoon in traffic. I was on the way back to my Brooklyn apartment from a 30-minute horseback-riding lesson at a barn on Long Island. As usual, what should have been a two-hour roundtrip was well into its fourth hour. I remembered that it could be worse; on one trip home to see my grandmother in the hospital it had taken over an hour-and-a-half to cover the one mile between the Manhattan Bridge and the Holland Tunnel. My fiancé had exited the car in the middle of the road, ordered and waited for a few slices of pizza, then brought them back to the car, all without me ever pulling over. It was time to move.
We talked about where our next home would be quite often. New York is an oppressive city, and we both worked long hours in finance and law. The pay was good, but I watched my forehead wrinkles deepen as our relationship and sanity competed for attention with our work emails.
My fiancé, Kevin, and I had lived in various East Coast cities over the past 10 years, from D.C. to Boston, Pittsburgh, and New York. We love trying new restaurants and walkable neighborhoods, but we also love to be outside. Not just on a sidewalk or in city parks, but really outside. He’s a triathlete and I’m an equestrian. We were ready to leave our city lives behind. At first we thought we should move to Colorado. Or maybe California. Or maybe outside Seattle. But we soon thought about our families, his in New Hampshire and mine in Pennsylvania. We thought about our professional networks, almost all on the East Coast. We thought about what we really wanted: access to mountains, a house we could afford, a politically active community, space to have horses, and good jobs. The more we thought about it, the more we began to hope that we could find what we wanted on the East Coast.
The appeal of New Hampshire became impossible to deny. The White Mountains provide ample hiking and snowboarding. Boston and New York are close enough that we could go see a show or bar hop whenever we want, but far enough away that cost of living was manageable. We also loved how politically active New Hampshire is, with its first in the nation primary. We did worry about job hunting outside of a city. Kevin is a lawyer by training and had grown up in the state, so we felt confident that he could find a clerkship with a judge or a rewarding practice at a New England law firm. I was more worried. There isn’t exactly investment banking in New Hampshire.
I needn’t have worried. A family friend put me in touch with Gray Chynoweth, a prominent
entrepreneur and investor in New Hampshire. After one phone call, Gray connected me with professionals across the state. Every single person I spoke with bent over backwards to listen to what I was interested in for the next step of my career, effusive in their excitement to bring more young people to New Hampshire. Ultimately, I accepted a job with Oracle in Manchester, New Hampshire working on Strategic Development.
In the past six months, Kevin and I purchased a home in the woods, started new jobs, bought a horse, biked through the White Mountains, visited superb New England breweries, went to a couple Celtics games, and attended some political fundraisers. We have found the greater Concord/Manchester area to be full of welcoming, ambitious people that have high hopes for their communities and the state.
I used to think of moving as this big choice to leave the city and settle down. And admittedly, I do miss New York City pizza. And Thai food. Good Thai food is amazing. But that’s it. New Hampshire has mountains, hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, camping, and awesome beer. So, sayonara, Brooklyn. This millennial is choosing her own path in the 603 and she has never been happier.
Christa Johnson is a young professional, big dreamer, and enthusiastic equestrian. This is her first foray into blogging. She writes to share her story in the hope that other millennials feel inspired to break the mold and pursue their dreams in New Hampshire. Christa loves her new job at Oracle in Manchester. She previously worked in investment banking and politics. She holds an MBA from Carnegie Mellon and a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She lives with her two special needs cats, Sophie and Nick; her horse, Hazel; and her wonderful fiancé, Kevin Scura, in Contoocook, NH. She has quickly become a regular at the Everyday Cafe.