I have lived in New Jersey my entire life. I grew up in Northern Jersey and went to school at Rowan University in South Jersey. For most of my life, I have loved living in this state. All of my family save a few live in this state and I love that I only have to drive a few short hours for a fun weekend down the shore. Like most people from Jersey, I love pizza and bagels and can be convinced at any time of day to stop in to almost any of our incredible diners across the state. (Pompton Queen FTW). I am close to New York City and can go in whenever I want, but I can always leave and feel at home in suburbs. We are part of the mecca that is the Tri-State area and are considered to be one of the more liberal parts of the country.
Alas, life in Jersey is not all Italian food and Bruce Springsteen concerts. We rank extremely low on the happiness scale, which is likely in part due to our insane taxes, without much rewards in return. Our roads are crumbling, our bridges are falling and each year the price of living here gets higher and higher. Personally, I am thoroughly unhappy with our bully of a governor who does not care at all about the residents of his home state. He is trying to appeal to a national stage in an attempt to maybe run for president and as a result has neglected the disarray of his state and has proven time and again that his policies are not created for the people who actually live in this state. Not only is our governor behind on the times, but so are the policies we have in place. We are nowhere near reaching the level of marijuana legalization that some other East Coast states have worked towards and in fact are moving backwards on that front. For being a part of the liberal East Coast, we are doing a poor job of showing it. The recession has hit our state harder than most, and we are still not recovering too well. My father has been out of work for over a year, and since he works in the solar industry, it doesn’t bode well for New Jersey’s sustainable energy future either.
As a part of the millennial generation, I am stuck with college loans and debt up to my eyeballs, living in a state that if I were to move out of my parents’ house, I could definitely not afford to live on my own. And so I have decided that it is time to leave my beloved home state behind me in the rearview mirror as I head out to the West Coast in search of a more enriching culture, without some of the roadblocks I have living here. And I am not the only one. Many people are leaving this state in droves. Last year, New Jersey became number 1, but not in a good way, as we saw 65 percent of people moving out of state. I can think of at least three of my friends offhand who have moved away in the last year. And in 2016, I am hoping to join them.
While trying to determine whether I should move to California or Colorado have been weighing on my mind of late, it definitely beats staying here. I have always loved traveling – my favorite place I’ve ever visited was Nova Scotia in Canada – and I have realized that living somewhere else in my twenties is exactly what I need to do. I want to meet new people and experience new lifestyles and challenges. Luckily, I have the most amazing partner to join me in my journey and I couldn’t be happier that I get to explore a new place with him by my side.
Part of me is glad that New Jersey is not where I want to be, especially since I’m realizing it at a young age. There is too much I want to see in the world than to stay in one place forever. I have dreams of visiting one of my best friends in Sweden and maybe seeing what New Zealand has to offer. I want to go to Ireland and the Alps and the South of France. And before I die, I would love to see the pyramids in Egypt. Although I am definitely a creature of habit, the few times I have traveled outside my comfort zone have been some of the happiest and most rewarding moments in my life. Despite being fraught with fear and trepidation, the challenge of adapting to a new environment is eventually so freeing. It’s time break out of my shell again; after all, it is the only way I know how to change.