Why I’m Leaving New York

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

In the summer of 2005, I moved to New York City. I missed my graduation from Oberlin College to perform with the Opera Orchestra of New York, and stayed with a host on Central Park West, overlooking the Museum of Natural History. I found my very first New York apartment during that stay, and fell in love with this beautiful city and all it had to offer. Or so I thought.

The 10 years that I’ve spent here have been a journey in self-discovery. The hustle and noise of lower Manhattan proved to be way too crazy for my delicate sensibilities, and I spent a good part of those first few years feeling sick, disconnected, and lost. A move to Brooklyn in 2007 changed all that. I found myself a gorgeous, quiet, tree-lined street in Carroll Gardens, with loads of neighborhood charm and exactly the antidote to dirty concrete jungle that I needed. And yet, things weren’t quite ideal.

I gradually felt more and more disconnected from the career I had moved here to partake in.  I loved singing, yes. But I hated auditioning, lacked the passion and self-discipline to spend hours practicing, and gradually started admitting to myself that this was not a career for dabblers, or those who “liked it alright.” To pursue and succeed in a career in the crazy world of opera, you had to love it, live and breathe it.  And I realized that wasn’t me.

I realized that, like opera, to truly thrive in this city, you have to LOVE it, live and breathe it.  You have to feel energized and excited by this town.  And that just wasn’t me.

2010 brought with it many amazing changes.  I met my soulmate and discovered my true calling in holistic health and wellness.  I went back to school for nutrition, and finally felt like my passions, talents, expertise, and joy were aligning in one clear path.  It was beautiful.

But still, a part of me knew that just like opera was not my true calling, New York was not my true home.  I longed for the nature, space, and expansiveness that I grew up with.  I felt overwhelmed by going into the city, uninspired by the crowds and the “energy.”  With every weekend trip to the country or vacation to some beautiful beachy land, my heart sang, and I dreaded returning.  I realized that, like opera, to truly thrive in this city, you have to LOVE it, live and breathe it.  You have to feel energized and excited by this town.  And that just wasn’t me.

I remember telling my now-husband on one of our first dates that I had my heart set on leaving New York. He didn’t share my feelings about the city, but agreed that he, too, could see himself leaving in 5 or 6 years. At the time, that felt like an eternity.  But, like I said, I had just found my soulmate in him, and his work was here (for now) — I figured I could be patient.Natasha-and-Jonathan

In my holistic health and transformational coaching work with clients, we spend a lot of time on identifying what you really want in your life, and creating a clear cut path to getting there.  Throughout our work together, my clients quit jobs that aren’t serving them anymore, end relationships that aren’t making them happy, and start living their dream lives. Over the years, many of my clients have identified that New York just isn’t working for them — that living the healthy, balanced, happy, and calm life that they crave just isn’t possible in this crazy town.  Many of them have moved to their dream cities or started the process of discovering their ideal places to live.

I could, of course, relate to how my clients felt completely.  I was so thrilled for them to be taking these huge life steps, and I knew my time would eventually come too.  And yet, feeling stuck in a city that I had outgrown (a funny thought — outgrowing New York City) left me with the sense that I wasn’t truly living my message, that there was something disingenuous about not practicing what I preached.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’ve created a lovely life for myself here. I have a business I adore, ample time for self-care, amazing friends, a beautiful little apartment that I share with my two favorite creatures in the world (my husband and Pom).  But let’s face it, life in New York is hard.  Simple aspects of everyday life here — like the (often nasty) subway, the brutally cold winters (of late) and sweltering hot summers, the go-go-go attitude everyone seems to embody — not only rubbed me the wrong way, but seemed to paralyze me.  I found myself building an entire life around avoiding these aspects of the New York experience, and that was no way to live.

I found myself building an entire life around avoiding aspects of the New York experience, and that was no way to live.

As I knew they would, those 5 years were coming to an close, and I could see an end in site. Although the plan had always been an eventual move to San Francisco (where my best friend lives, and the epicenter for my husband’s line of work), it was a trip to Southern California (Ojai and Santa Monica) that completely won us over. We fell in love with tree-lined Montana Avenue, the farmer’s markets seemingly on every corner, the mountains peeking out in the distance, and the sweeter, slower way of living everyone took pride in.  No one was boasting about how little sleep they got last night, or how much work they had to do — people were bragging about the amazing hike they took, or the wave they rode.  People seemed healthier and definitely happier. There was an organic juice bar on every block, and it seemed like every single restaurant we went to had amazing vegetarian, farm-t0-table deliciousness to offer.  And the ocean.. That beautiful, calming, soothing, powerful ocean.  Just knowing it was there, a mere 10 minutes away, provided such comfort and joy.

We had found our home.


I’m not going to lie, it’s a scary thing to leave everything and everyone we know and move out to a new city, with no family, and just a couple of friends nearby.  But I feel a degree of certainty about this move I’ve only experienced on two other occasions in my life: when I met my now-husband, and when I launched my business.

I am proud to finally be creating exactly the life I have been craving. Without any compromises, excuses, or  more reasons to wait.  We only live once, and no one is going to make our lives better for us. We have to do that ourselves.  Here we go…


Want some support in creating the life you crave?

Greens. Grains. Gorgeous. starts March 15th!

  • Margot
    February 25, 2015

    An amazing and inspiring post. Congratulations on finding certainty.

  • John Link
    February 25, 2015

    Good luck to both of you!

  • E. Olenko
    February 26, 2015

    It is amazing how much you resemble your mother.

    We were friends in the early 70’s and met last time well before you were conceived.

    Hope that your decision is most of all is a lucky one.

    My father used to say that it is so much better to be lucky than smart…..it was easy for him to say because he was both.

    Be well and say hello to your parents.


    • Natasha Uspensky, CHHC
      February 26, 2015

      Thank you so much for your well wishes, and for reading!
      I agree, a little luck does go a long way..
      My parents send their best!!


  • Jill zastrow
    February 26, 2015

    Natasha! Where did you ever find this amazing bedding in your yoga post?! Happy for you and your move west! 🙂

  • Ava
    April 13, 2015


    I’m inspired by your story and would like to know where you went to nutrition school. Thanks!

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