The MetroMillennial Dilemma

I just made up a word: MetroMillennial. It means a Generation Y-er who lives in a big city or has big city hopes and goals.

I’m a metromillennial. I was born in 1983 in a small town in Upstate New York. I always knew I wanted to live in New York City (which I never have). My family raised me to be curious about the world, to dream big, and to not let the confines of our small town hold me back.

Because of this, I left my small town at the first opportunity I had. I moved to LA seven years ago, then Austin three years ago, and I’ve never lived in my small town again.

I’ve felt guilty ever since.

If you are a metromillennial typically your big city trek takes you far from home (unless you’re one of those enviable breeds born in a big city and stayed). I came from an area of the country that is economically depressed and subsequently emotionally depressed. Regardless of if I wanted to live in a big city or not, if I wanted to have a semi-decent quality of life and desirable career I had to move far, far away from my hometown. When you’re young, you take the first relatively interesting job offer you get, which could be anywhere- like California. Which in my case was 2,700 miles from home.

If you were lucky enough to come from a close family, you understand the stress it causes living far away from home. Not only did I grow up in a small, tight-knit household (I’m an only child with a single mother and a grandmother who lived across the street), the ethic that you stay close to the family occasionally wafts through my head.

Not that long ago Americans physically stayed close to the family. They stayed to work for the family business. They stayed to help take care of the elder family members. They stayed to have the elder family members take care of the kiddies. They stayed because that’s what you do- family is the most important factor in your life.

But somewhere along the way that changed. American changed. Family businesses started disappearing. Jobs started drying up in many parts of the country. Baby Boomers, torn between the idea of staying close to home and the new found liberation born out of the 60’s, promised themselves they would raise their kids to be explorers. So even though the idea that you stay close to home for the sake of the family rarely exists anymore, the ghost still exists- having been handed down, but slowly fading generation after generation.

If I could live closer to home I would, but I love my life in Austin. I love the opportunities I have here. I could move to New York City but it’s vastly more expensive and has terrible winters (something I certainly don’t miss). I’ve pleaded with my mother to bring she and Grandma down to Texas. Buy a condo they can live in 6 months out of the year so they won’t have to bear the terrible Northern winters either, but she says it’s not possible. Instead we are doomed to live far away from each other (for now).

What’s a metromillennial who loves her family to do?

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  • Reply Cathy Benavides August 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I feel for you so much. I am fortunate to be in a city and to have my family in the same city. When my grandparents chose to retire and move to the country (not that far, just to Blanco) even that felt like it was too far away. Sometimes it's hard to stay close to your family. But just remember -closeness is a feeling, and there is no geographical limit on how far away someone can be and still be "close." They are always in your heart and a quick phone call away.

  • Reply cj Schlottman August 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Hey, Lauren!

    What you say here is too true. I live in Po-Dunk Macon Fucking Georgia, and I am not far from Atlanta. My blood kin, down now to one brother and one niece and 3 nephews and some grand nieces and nephews, all live in the country, and I mean in the country. Addie lives in Savannah, and that counts as a cool town. If I could put my little cottage on wheels and move it to Savannah, I would do so in a heartbeat. But the others, well I have to love them from afar. Macon may be a sucky town, but Atlanta is just 80 mile up I-75.


    PS -How you doin'?

  • Reply kwertz12 August 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I'm from a small town in Indiana (boo). My grandpa was born and raised there so that's where we've always been. However, I broke the mold and moved 20 miles away. I'm such a rebel. 🙂

  • Reply Amber August 12, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I'm the same age as you and feel like I'd be a total MetroMillennial if I weren't so terrified of being burgled, mugged, or played for a sucka–thanks to film, the small-town bubble I grew up in, and a self-diagnosed anxiety disorder, these are the things I immediately associate with "big city" life. I'm close to my family, both in proximity and emotion, and don't think that I'd ever be able to be too far from them for too long. I think I'm destined to live in the 'burbs, and I'm ok with that, but it might be cool to live in a place like Portland for a little bit. I'd probably have to get some anti-anxiety meds before I left, but in the back of my mind I do sort of think that I'm missing out on an important part of my 20s by not living in an urban area for at least a little bit. Kind of like going to prom in your teens.

  • Reply Tim August 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I'm not completely sure history bears this out. We were talking with my wife's parents about why their parents moved to the city. It turns out that in the South in the 50s there was a horrible drought which sped the emptying of farms and population of the suburbs.
    And the city boom two centuries ago at the height of the industrial revolution is well documented.
    I think people want to believe that there was a time when children stayed with their parents, but I think that might be more of an anomoly than we'd like to believe.

  • Reply Annette August 14, 2011 at 1:34 am

    I got lucky in that East Texas was my "small town." I escaped to the Northwest, then to Argentina, then returned to Austin, the closest I could be to my parents while keeping my sanity. My issue now is how much I miss my family of friends scattered around. My goal is to just convince all of them that they should live here. I think Austin would be okay with that.

  • Reply Libby August 15, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Sometimes we think about the same things and then you post it on you're blog. It makes me feel much better knowing I'm not the only one thinking these things.

  • Reply kimmie coco puff August 16, 2011 at 1:35 am

    My family lives in North Carolina and I'm stuck here in San Antonio, TX. The 16 hour drive gives a girl plenty of time to reflect on her wonderful family, while not having to deal with the constraints of TSA personnel. Though, It's mildly appealing being groped by a stranger at the airport. Is that bad? i guess I'll simply stick to driving to see my family:)

  • Reply Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    I was born and raised in Chicago, so it's not like I wanted to live in a big city, I already was, I just wanted to get away. I don't think it matters where you were raised; you want to get away when you're young. So I moved to New York City, spent three years there, and then I wanted to try some place warm, the winters of Chicago and New York really do suck. I settled in Las Vegas, I ended up really liking it, so I bought a house and asked my parents to consider moving out here when they retired, and to my surprise, they actually did. So, I think I ended up really lucky. I explored a few places, had several years on my own, away from family, and now I have them near me again, so I don't have to feel guilty about not being around to help when they reach that stage.

  • Reply YoungUrbanAmateur August 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I like the term MetroMillenial. What Tim said is also interesting- the more I think about it, it sounds like it was always pretty common for kids to leave their families in order to work in a city. What was unusual in recent years was that kids would move far away and never visit their families, or never encourage their families to visit. Then they'd get old and regret it. I feel like our generation's not going to do that as much.

  • Reply Flor Y. September 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    i'm a metromillenial for sure! i come from a small european country and i've always dreamt of moving out of the country and live in a big city. i've visited barcelona, paris and milan and i'd love to live in all 3 of them! i'm planning to do that sometime in the future and although i've lived appart from my family while i was studying (in another country but not in a big city), i guess it'll be difficult not having my loved ones around. (when you figure out the answer to your question, let me know pls!)


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