John Maynard Keynes once said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.”
This classic investment advice is equally true in our personal lives, so Keynes’ words rang in my head as I left New York City at the end of 2020. The city had become a skeleton of what it once was.
I had lived on the island of Manhattan for years and fell in love with the density of ambitious people, the contagious energy of every day life, and the serendipity that comes from packing 8.5 million people into 300 square miles.
New York City was home. I never thought I would leave. But here I was leaving the island for South Florida.
I didn’t feel guilty. I had given New York a chance during the pandemic. My wife (Polina) and I got married in Manhattan with no guests in July 2020. I was almost late to the ceremony because I was stuck in an Uber that couldn’t get around a miles-long protest.
Polina and I stayed in our apartment the entire year. We had not followed in our friends’ footsteps as they fled to rural Airbnbs or returned to their childhood bedrooms for months. We were New Yorkers. And New Yorkers can handle anything.
But as weeks turned into months, and months turned into almost a full year, we realized things were only going to get worse in the city that we loved. On a spontaneous trip to see a friend in Miami during November 2020, we decided that we would move to South Florida for the winter. “Just a few months,” we told ourselves. We will come back to NYC once it gets warmer.
Newsflash, we never came back.
The unconstitutional mandates took hold. The crime got worse. People continued to flee the city in droves. And on the opposite end of the country, Miami was booming. It seemed like someone new was moving to town every day. Founders. Venture capitalists. Hedge fund mangers. Movie stars. Musicians. Professional athletes. You name an industry and someone well-respected from it was moving to South Florida.
The good times were rolling.
As Polina and I settled into our new Miami life, we felt it was important to be all-in on living there. We bought a home. We bought a car. We had our first child at Jackson Memorial Hospital. We opened up an 8,500 square foot office in the heart of Brickell.
It was a real-time creation of the perfect life.
Unfortunately, something felt off. We noticed it fairly early into our stint in the suburbs. Could it be a monotony that came with seeing fewer people every day? Did we miss being able to walk to a coffee shop downstairs? Maybe we were just nostalgic about our past life and the addition of a new child was messing with our minds? None of it made sense, but you know when something is off.
It took two trips to NYC to realize what had happened. We had used our brains to move to Miami. Every aspect of our new life made rational sense. The weather was amazing. The taxes were low. The business was growing.
But our hearts were still in New York City.
Every single decision point told us that Miami was the better place to live, yet when we visited New York City, we felt more alive than ever. The city has an energy to it that is impossible to describe if you have never experienced it. We needed to leave to fully appreciate what it really means to live in the greatest city in the world.
I was a big believer in Miami’s growth story. I still am. People and capital are still moving to the city. F1 racing. Citadel. Messi. The list goes on and on. But those positive things can be true, while it is also true that Polina and I are personally happier in New York City.
As Keynes said, “When the facts change, I change my mind.” We made the decision to move to Miami with our brains. We are making the decision to move back to NYC with our hearts.
Dear New York — “We’re back.”
If you see me on the street, stop and say hello. Many of you do this already and I love meeting each of you. If you have an event that you’re putting together, send me an invite. If you have a company that is interesting, send me a message.
Polina explained her perspective on our move, which I highly suggest reading.
And I’ll leave you with a sentence someone recently told us, “New York City is the modern-day Rome.” And that is exactly where I want to be.
Peter Johnson is the Co-Head of Venture Investments at Brevean Howard Digital.
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