sPosted by Mary Ann Kelly
Chicago is definitely a favorite city of mine. Yes, the winter may be brutal, but once the summertime rolls around there’s fun happening everywhere: A Friday afternoon spent at Wrigley Field, an evening at Navy Pier, late night enjoying Chicago’s finest deep dish pizza, or The Second City Comedy show.
This week we spoke with Kara Mullikin, Digital Strategist at Leo Burnett. Here’s what she had to say about her new hometown:
MAK: What prompted your decision to relocate?
KM: I was very against leaving NYC, actually. The thrill of the city and the constant struggles and triumphs really sucked me into loving the city even more. I loved the culture, but when a globally renowned agency reached out to me, I had to take the leap. More so, I left for career growth, but then I realized that my NYC quality of life was NOT something that I could sustain without some type of negative reaction/result in the long-term. I was there for almost 5 years and didn’t appreciate how burned out and unhealthy my lifestyle really was in NYC.
MAK: What would you say is the biggest difference between NYC and Chicago?
KM: NYC has culture — everyone is open, friendly and bonds together quickly because of the long work hours and the daily struggles of city life. Everyone represents somewhere different but are always open to including you into their world. I have never met nicer people than I did in NYC. It’s fun, exciting and always-on.
Chicago is a bit more close minded (in my opinion), more clique like (people that grew up here and never left), but is more laid back and provides a better pace/quality of life. You can actually afford to go out to eat here and not worry about how you will eat the next day! I’ve also had more time to focus on my health here — whether it’s having more time to exercise or just having more energy. I get a lot more sleep!
MAK: Is the pace/agency life significantly different?
KM: Yes. A total 180. While I still work “later” than the majority of the agency because I am on a global account, the pace is strangely different. People really take their personal lives seriously here. Work is work. But when its 5:30pm, for the most part work turns off and everyone leaves. Now, this isn’t to say that’s how it ALWAYS is, but in comparison to my midnight/7 day a week life I once had… it’s a big change!
I think my agency is still the same as others in terms of the pace and intensity of work. We have HUGE moments where we’re all running around like chickens with our heads cut off to meet deadlines, then we have moments that are a bit calmer.
MAK: What do you love about your new place and what do you miss about NYC? Will you ever be back?
KM: I miss everything about NYC. Even the crazies on the trains. I miss the culture and the people the most. I also miss being in the epicenter of all the top events — having the opportunity to go was what I liked having (whether or not I would have).
I love my apartment in Chicago. That is the NUMBER ONE thing that I love! I have space, closets, room for dressers (which I never had in NYC) and extra money to actually make it my own. Full-service building that you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford, who would have thought?!
I also love being close to the lake and having tons of parks to visit. It’s a great addition to the lifestyle. It also seems to me that having more down time allows me to take trips and explore other cities — unlike in Manhattan, where I never had time or funds to leave the island. But, with all that, I would definitely move back to NYC for the right opportunity… though giving up the Chicago lifestyle would be difficult.
MAK: Did you move with or without a job? What’s your advice to people hoping for relocation?
KM: I left because I received a job offer and a very generous relocation package. My advice is think about the type of changes you want to make in your life and why. Then ask if that city offers what you need. Nowhere will ever be equivalent to NYC, but there are always positives to every change — especially one that gets you out of an unhealthy love-hate relationship with a city like NYC. I would also recommend you only leave if you have a job lined up and have done your research on the city/area.
MAK: In Eat Prey Love, the main character comes up with one word to describe each city she’s lived in. What’s yours for NYC & your new city?