Why I Left Miami and Regret Nothing

View Apart/Shutterstock
View Apart/Shutterstock

I moved to Miami after college. It was for the worst reason you should ever move anywhere: a boy. Ask anyone else during this time, including myself, and they’d tell you it was for a job. But the fact is, my “Monster” search (this was circa 2006, shut up) was set on Miami for one specific reason/person. And damn, does it feels good to finally admit that.

I spent seven years in the 305, and assumed every one of them would be my last; each time my lease came up for renewal, I’d question whether I was going to re-up, because “it wasn’t like I was going to stay here!” before settling on “OK, just one more year.”

Miami is vastly different than any other city in Florida, and even the country. It's sexy, it's paradise, it's ostensibly the capital of Latin America... but it's still Florida -- weird, swampy, slow-paced, easy to settle down. And it was this exact reason that made me want to eventually leave it. Nothing was glaringly wrong, but nothing was right, either. Eventually, there came a breaking point for me. The city I once loved began to lose its luster.

So I left. And this is why.

I hit a wall in my career

Miami is an excellent place to start a career; it allowed me to make massive strides very quickly.  Where else can you start writing for the city’s biggest publications with your only prior clips being from your college newspaper? (Thanks, Red and Black!)

As it turns out, there's a reason for that: the "life of leisure" stereotype that permeates from the city exists for a good reason -- it’s true. If you bust your ass in Miami, you’re a unicorn. And people will want to capture you. Still, no matter how fast -- or how far -- you advance, you’ll eventually have a head-on collision with a massive brick wall, figuratively speaking.

And I’m not judging people who decide that’s enough for them. I could have easily continued to coast; it was, in a lot of ways, the more logical choice. I had arguably one of the better media jobs in the city. I could afford my apartment. I got an abundance of free food (thanks to writing primarily about restaurants). And sometimes, I even got to expense my gas!

But I wanted something more. And eventually, I got restless.

If you bust your ass in Miami, you’re a unicorn. And people will want to capture you.

I felt trapped

Most people don't know this about Miami, but despite the fact it’s a major city, it functions more as a “big small town." For instance, take the media world. It's incontestably miniscule. You’re literally (or in Miami speak, “leeeterally”) interacting with the same circle of people at every single “new menu tasting” or “opening of some building no one cares about, we’re just here for the open bar”-type event. I began to feel claustrophobic, even with so much space.

This also makes it difficult to blow people off who screw you over work-wise (something, by the way, that will happen daily) because you will absolutely have to work with them again. What’s worse? You will have to rely on them. There is nowhere else to go.

In Miami, you can become a big fish in a small pond. I just needed a bigger pond.

I had trouble forging meaningful connections

I was lucky to find a solid crew in Miami, but this is no easy feat if you aren’t born into it. The first friends I made were from Miami, but for the most part, people not unlike Pitbull who were "born and raised in the county of Dade" tend to stick together and would seldom branch out. The rest of the city, on the other hand, is extremely transient. These are two very hard pods to crack. Simply put, this is not the place where you fall into a group of friends seamlessly -- you really need to work at finding the ones you can trust.

Oh, and dating in Miami is actually the worst. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact. After the inevitable breakup of the guy I moved there for and myself, I briefly entered the Miami dating scene. That’s a whole other story, but let’s just say I’m glad I got out without accidentally dating an escort. I think?  

And dating in New York is no picnic -- in fact, I have gone into detail about why it’s not -- but the difference here, at least for me, is there are people I actually want to date. There are options. Approximately 60,000 people per year more options.


I felt complacent

There was a point when I had a brief moment of clarity: I didn’t feel like I was living in Miami, I was simply existing there. I had entered into a monotonous routine, rarely thinking about the next step in my life. I was going through the motions, without feeling like I was going anywhere; it was my own personal hamster wheel. This realization hit me harder than ever on a plane ride to New York, where I felt more alive and excited than I had ever felt living in Miami... and it wasn't just one time. I'd find myself traveling to New York at least once a month. In a way, I was chasing the high.

Finally one afternoon I was sitting at Lime with the valet guys from my building, aggressively sipping two-for-one margs -- one of my favorite Friday pastimes -- and watching all the Art Basel tents go up around us. I started to think about attending certain events, having the same conversations, and it all felt entirely too forced. I just couldn’t go through the loop again. I had to get off the hamster wheel.  

Shortly after, I moved to New York.

I’m glad I got out without accidentally dating an escort.

I’m not someone who thinks you can relocate to save your life; inevitably your own bullshit will follow you wherever you go. As cliche as it sounds, you can’t escape yourself. But I am a believer in the fact that sometimes a place stops giving to you, and vice versa. And that’s ultimately what happened to Miami and me. We no longer needed anything from each other, so we said goodbye.

And I'm fine with the knowledge that I'll never date a city that smoking hot again.

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Liz Newman is the former Miami Editor for Thrillist, and moved to New York to leave her comfort zone and further her career. Now that she’s done that, she’s absolutely going to move back to Florida. Follow her Twitter and Instagram at @lizn813.