I'm a millennial who moved from New York to Kansas City. I don't have to work 5 jobs, and I pay less rent for a bigger apartment.


Due to the pandemic, I unexpectedly found myself in Kansas City, even though I never planned to be here. I grew up in San Diego, lived in LA for a year, and then spent a decade in New York. Initially, I believed I would always be in one of the major coastal cities. I was performing in "Miss Saigon" when the pandemic led to the show's closure. My partner, also part of the show, hails from Kansas City, so we decided to wait out the pandemic here temporarily. By July 2021, I had made the decision to stay in Kansas City. 

It took some time for theater to resume, and when New York started reopening, I had to consider whether to return there or to LA. However, I sensed that Kansas City was experiencing a surge of growth and opportunity. At 35, I was transitioning out of my 20s and adjusting my expectations of what I sought from a city. I realized that smaller secondary cities offered immense potential for those looking to grow beyond being a small fish in a big pond. Now, I feel like a significant figure in a smaller community, which is a new experience for me. The cost of living is lower in Kansas City, and I enjoy a better quality of life. I hope to convey to fellow millennials that these smaller cities hold tremendous opportunities that many may not be aware of until they end up there, much like myself during the pandemic.

I now run my own business and benefit from significantly lower rent. Living in Kansas City is around half as expensive as living in New York. In New York, I paid $2,100 for a small one-bedroom apartment in Astoria or $2,300 for a one-bedroom in Long Island City. In LA, I paid $1,100 for a room in a three-bedroom apartment in Van Nuys. Contrarily, in Kansas City, I pay only $900 for a two-bedroom apartment, which includes parking, a basement, a front patio, a back porch, and an in-unit washer and dryer, all within a great neighborhood called Columbus Park, just 10 minutes from downtown and near the river.

In New York, I juggled multiple jobs, including barista work, auditions, classes, catering, and babysitting to make ends meet. Now, my pace of life has slowed down, but I'm still able to apply my hard work and determination. In 2020, I started a coffee shop truck, which eventually led to the opening of our first brick-and-mortar location in 2022, the first Vietnamese coffee shop in Kansas City. Through this, we've become a hub for the AAPI community in the area, participating in various cultural celebrations and festivals, thanks to the strong support for small businesses and the sense of community in Kansas City.

Unlike the relentless pace of life I experienced in LA and New York, I've found a more communal atmosphere in Kansas City. People here have the time to focus on friendships and community, which has significantly contributed to the success of my business. While big cities offer ample opportunities, I want to encourage fellow millennials not to fear the unknown and to consider taking a chance on smaller cities. The potential for growth and success may be surprising.  

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