A Decade on the Mainland: Five Things I Like About Living in the Northeast


This month marks my tenth anniversary of living in the U.S. Northeast!! Hard to imagine that I moved to Philadelphia for college way back in July 2006, and moved down to DC for my first job in June 2010. As a kid from the West Coast (okay, far West Coast), I always imagined that at some point, I’d eventually move back closer to home, either all the way back to Hawaii or to California. Ten years later though, and I’m still loving it here in the Northeast! Here are the top 5 reasons why I absolutely love being out here in the Northeast:

#1: We have seasons!

A massive tree changing colors in Philadelphia's Washington Square Park.

A massive tree changing colors in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park.

In Hawaii, we have two seasons: summer and winter. And really, the only noticeable difference between the two seasons is that it rains much more often during the winter in Hawaii.

Compare that with the four seasons that we have in the Northeast.

I’ll still remember the first time I saw snow: December 7th, 2006. It was my freshman year of university, and I had just finished my last afternoon class for the day. Walking back to the dorms, snowflakes started falling!! I had seen snow before then, but always from a distance. I’d never seen it falling from the sky, let alone touched it. Definitely an unforgettable feeling.

And it’s not just the snow during the winter that I enjoy.

I really do enjoy the culture that comes during each season. Endless outdoor activities during the summer, apple and pumpkin picking in the fall, holiday parties and drinking warm drinks in the winter, and seeing the trees and flowers bloom and come back to life in the Spring.

I admit that I really don’t like the humidity and heat during summers in the Northeast, but thankfully the gross weather lasts just only a few weeks in July and August. I’ll put up with that if it means I can experience the rest of the seasons!

#2: It’s so easy to travel around the Northeast!

Flying over Central Park en route to La Guardia. Thank you British Airways Avios points for making flying to NYC a viable option.

Flying over Central Park en route to La Guardia. Thank you British Airways Avios points for making flying to NYC a viable option.

One thing that I absolutely did not like about Hawaii is that it was so expensive to travel inter-island, let alone traveling to the U.S. mainland or anywhere outside of Hawaii. Spending $200 on a 30 minute flight is certainly not uncommon in Hawaii.

Contrast that with traveling between cities or exploring other parts of the Northeast. First off, the sheer variety of options you have to travel in the Northeast is unparalleled to any other region of the U.S. Whether by driving yourself, taking a bus, riding Amtrak, or catching a flight, there are a ton of options for getting around in the Northeast. Best part of all is that it’s pretty affordable to.

For as little as $1, I can travel to pretty much any city that Megabus goes to from DC. Or, if I’m willing to live a little, tickets from DC to NYC on Amtrak, when booked far in advance, cost just $49 one way, not bad for a 3.5 hour journey (and a great way to avoid the traffic on 95). For example, even though I’ve never lived in New York, I’ve probably visited the city at least two dozen times since I moved to the Northeast a decade ago. I would’ve never imagined I’d be visiting New York that many times when I first moved to the Northeast.

#3: There’s so much to see and do, and if you’re ever bored, there’s another city to explore!

Watching Ariana Grande in Concert at Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Center.

Watching Ariana Grande in Concert at Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Center.

I think those of that live in the DC area are seriously spoiled with the sheer number of activities we can do in the city, that are unique to DC. From exploring the EU during embassy day, or doing something offbeat, there’s so much to do just in the DC metro area.

I’m a big fan of music, and one thing that I hated about living in Hawaii was that few bands ever visited Hawaii, for obvious reasons. In the Northeast however, pretty much any artist will have a stop in any of the cities from DC to Boston. I’ve driven up to Philadelphia to see one of my favorite singers, Ariana Grande (!), went to New York to see my favorite DJ Armin van Buuren perform, and have gone to Baltimore to see Justin Timberlake in concert. Simple day trips that living in Hawaii would’ve never been possible.

#4: We have public transportation systems that are actually a viable means of getting around.

At just $7.75 each way, the fastest, affordable and relaxing way to get to midtown from JFK is on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

At just $7.75 each way, the fastest, affordable and relaxing way to get to midtown from JFK is on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

The first time that I ever rode on a subway was way back in the Spring of 2002. I had gotten 2nd place during Hawaii’s National History Day Competition, and I was eligible to go to DC for the National Competition, which was being held at the University of Maryland College Park. During that week at UMCP, my family and I rode the subway from College Park to the Smithsonian to tour all the monuments. I remembered everything about that first ride: waiting on the platform for the train to arrive, shuffling onto the subway, trying to “surf” the subway while it was in motion, and looking at the metro map and being amazed by all the places I could go on the subway.

Fast forward ten years and I’ve pretty much used all of the public transportation systems in the Northeast: Boston’s T; New York’s MTA, LIRR and NJ Transit; Philadelphia’s SEPTA and Regional Rail, and DC’s Metro. Each system not only has an extensive rail network, but has an even broader bus network that is fairly simple to follow. Yes, I know that people have died using the Washington Metro, and personally I feel like the DC metro has gotten considerably bad and unreliable when I first moved here in 2010, but I still appreciate the fact that if I ever had to get rid of my car, getting around by public transportation wouldn’t be completely unfeasible.

#5: My life is here.

My humble apartment in Arlington, Virginia, where I've lived for the past five years!

My humble apartment in Arlington, Virginia, where I’ve lived for the past five years!

Probably the biggest reason why I like the Northeast is that my life truly is here. Although I was born and grew up in Hawaii, I’ve spent significant time (defined as more than three months) in Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Shanghai, Tokyo and Taipei. In each city that I lived in, one of the central themes that kept coming back to me was that people (aka your friends and family) truly make a place home. Having gone to college in Philly, I still have a number of close college friends living along the Northeast that I still see fairly regularly. Something that I wouldn’t be able to do if I lived in another part of the country.

When I moved to DC, I literally knew nobody. Fast forward six years and I’ve cobbled together a professional and personal life that I truly feel would’ve never been so awesome if it weren’t for the people that I’ve met and befriended along the way. As much as I’ve considered moving to another city, my ties to DC, to the Northeast, are an aspect of life that I’m not yet ready to give up on.


When I first moved to the Northeast ten years ago, I would’ve never imagined that I’d still be here. Along the way, I discovered so many unique aspects of this part of the country that I still appreciate. But above all, what’s gotten me to stay and make this place truly feel like home are the friends whom I’ve met along the way. Thank you for making this west-coaster feel at home in the Northeast!