I had a nice long chat with an old friend the other day about moving out of New York. He and his wife have spent the last 3 years looking for the perfect community to call home. They visited Dallas, Denver, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cherry Hill and many other frum communities. They looked at the quality of life, schools, jobs and all that other stuff normal people (I look at bike lanes and ease of escape to the mountains) look at when figuring out where to live. In the end, the decided to move to Passaic – I was so let down and my friend then explained to me the sad truth of the frum communities view of those who live outside of the New York metro area.
That anyone who lives out of town is weird.
It goes a little deeper than this, but in a nutshell, my friends wife didn’t want people to consider her weird for moving to an out of town community. In general, I find that much of what goes on in the frum community to be done based on what others think. This is usually the case when it comes to education, hashkafa, shidduchim and community finding. I have also found that frum women are less willing to move away from family and friends. In this case my friends wife is not even from New York and they already knew people in one of the communities that they were seriously considering.
I have noticed that when it comes to anything in the frum community, no one wants to be first, it’s understandable. People in the frum community love to bitch and moan, but when it comes to action – all you hear are crickets. One of the biggest problems for frum people moving out of town is that many of them are unskilled (used to getting jobs from relatives or friends) Friends of mine ran the San Francisco community booth at past OU Community Fairs and they told me that a large percentage of those who visited the booth asked them if they have job offerings or can find them a job. Granted, if your resume is kick ass and you actually have a skill, the job market is quite good here, but my friends told me that these people were mostly black hatters looking to work in “business”. This is one of the reasons why the Nebach population is so low in the Bay Area, because it’s just so darned expensive and filled with intellectuals that Nebs have no breathing room.
So while New Yorkers continue to complain about the high cost of living in New York (the rent here is quite high, but my car insurance is $40 a month and avocados are 50 cents a piece in season) I fail to see a large portion of New Yorkers moving out of town. Add to this, the fact that anyone normal (I was 27 and single when I moved out west) who is looking to get married almost always moves to New York, adopts that mentality and ends up settling there rather than moving back out of town.
I understand the draw, even though I hate New York and the east coast in general, it;s hard to deny the Jewish factors that draw people to New York and drew me away. While I tend to be less religious when I’m in larghe Jewish communities because convenience makes me forget how hard it is to be an orthodox Jew, most people do not think in those terms. Until yeshiva tuition becomes so expensive that parents actually (they threaten all the time) have to pull their kids out in order to feed their families, or when frum girls stop worrying about what their friends think – I doubt most frum people will move out of New York.
Find out more about out of town on 4torah.com