So, a lot of people have been asking me how my brand-new life is going way up in the sticks. And wondering what would make this NYC-OR-DIE kinda gal take a job at Fingerpaint and pack it up for a life in horse country.
ANGELA! YOU ARE GOING TO DIE UP THERE!? BUT YOUR CAREER! YOU HAVE WORKED SO HARD! YOU CAN’T REALLY HAVE AN ADVERTISING GIG UP THERE. I DON’T GET IT…OH WAIT, HANG ON, I HAVE TO FIND A CAB BECAUSE THERE IS ANOTHER TRASH FIRE ON THE TRACKS. CALL YOU BACK.
So why did I decide to trade in my MetroCard for a fully electric Roomba-esque Nissan Leaf and reroute my career from the more-agencies-than-I-can-count advertising overload of NYC? Many reasons, but I’m going to start with my top 5:
1. Philanthropy-Focused/Independently Owned Agency
Girl, what? You can work in advertising AND do something good for the community? This I GOTTA see.
Sure, a lot of agencies like to claim they do pro bono work, but this, my friends, is different. A full-time philanthropy lead at the agency stays very busy giving away time and funding to whoever needs it most…even to organizations that offer no potential for winning an award for the agency. I would have called BS on this had I not already been part of it 3 times in less than 3 weeks. From helping to organize a 2-day event for Girls Inc (learn more about how they are inspiring girls to grow up to be strong leaders: http://www.girlsinc.org/) to already having a meeting on the books with my favorite organization, The Concussion Legacy Foundation (if you know me, you already know where to find them, but just in case: www.concussionfoundation.org ),these people are very serious about giving back. This is a core value at Fingerpaint and one of the main drivers behind the move.
One reason Fingerpaint is able to do this type of work is that the agency is independently owned. After a career built inside agencies that were bought by other agencies and combined with other agencies and pulled out of other agencies and my god so many agencies, it’s nice to be in a place with autonomy to make a call and set it into motion without needing 14 sign-offs. The guy who started the agency sits right upstairs, out in the open, at a desk that looks just like mine. He is the only dude that has to say yes or no. And he is pretty accessible. There is no Kevin Bacon separation to get things done here.
2. Cost of Living
Excuse me, sorry. I was choking. Say that one more time. This house is how much? Like for ALL of it? With the driveway too? All the walls come with it for that price? Windows?
When I say your money goes further here, I mean, like…to-the-moon further here. My savings account is crying happy tears knowing it will be fed again very soon. You can buy a house here, a real one, without having to take out a second mortgage on your arms and legs. This is the first time I have ever moved and needed to GET stuff instead of getting rid of it because we had no space. Take MTA out of the equation and watch your house triple in size. It’s a beautiful thing.
3. 10-Minute Commute
Okay, so you are telling me that when I leave the office at 5, I am home by 5:15, with traffic?
What is this magic you speak of? I’ll tell ya. Walk away from the subway and the legit state of emergency it’s in. Sure, it’s fun to see the saxophone guy from outer space on the L-train every now and again (or not; that dude, I DO NOT miss), but there is something really liberating about getting in your Nissan Leaf and just driving until you run out of the 24 miles you have left on your charge. No longer depending on a train schedule has completely changed my life. By eliminating my commute I’m getting at least 12 hours back every week…so, in other words, I have no excuse for not getting in shape for that bikini competition. I need you all to hold me accountable, you hear that?
4. Family-Friendly Place to Live and Work
Hello. My name is Angela Harrison and I have kids. I can say that here. At work. And it’s okay.
If you have worked in advertising long enough you know that kids and this industry don’t always mix. The good news is this changes just a few hours outside the city (and before everyone freaks out, I know there are probably a few agencies in the Big Apple that don’t fit this mold and have birthing pools in the lobby, but for the most part…yeah). As you shift your attention from the bright lights, the priorities shift a bit and you can see it is possible to have a rewarding career AND a family without having to feel like you are always sacrificing one for the other. Sure, I’m still new here, but I see people leaving on time to pick up their kids before daycare closes at 5:30 ALL. THE. TIME. With zero shame! GOODBYE, EVERYONE! I’M LEAVING TO HAVE A LIFE WITHOUT FEELING LIKE MY CAREER IS A GIANT BOAT WRECK…this is what their eyes say to me. We are given unlimited personal time to make sure we can get to recitals, games, and school activities, which I’m sure I’m going to need.
This town also embraces kids. There are endless activities, both indoor and out, to keep kids busy. In the first few weeks here we have already hit up the county fair, a rodeo, our farmers market, the biggest playground we have ever seen, town fireworks, countless parks, and lakes and of course the urgent care (2 times, thankyouverymuch). We also have a town pool, and for just $2 you can swim all day. And might I add my taxes are less than half what I was paying for almost none of these services? Well, I just did.
But if human kids aren’t your jam and you prefer the 4-legged type, this is also a great place raise those puppies. Fingerpaint is a dog-friendly workplace with little buddies in the office almost every day. My very own Ms. Mabel will be making her debut any day now.
5. But Not Too Family-Friendly
At the end of the day, Saratoga Springs is built on gambling, so don’t think there is any kind of Footloose stuff going on here.
If you want to have an adult night that rages into the early morning, you can do it. Bars are open to 4 AM and I’m pretty sure they all allow dancing. There are more than enough bars and restaurants to keep you from ever feeling like you have nowhere new to go.
Now, with track season (horse track…don’t worry…I didn’t really know either), people from all over the world flood the streets and keep town hopping all summer long. Combine that with Skidmore College being just around the corner, and a real effort to pull more creative talent up this way, and you end up with a very diverse group of people calling Saratoga home.
So yeah, that’s my top 5. These reasons will hopefully leave you feeling confident that I have not lost my mind and this decision was based on making some real changes at work and at home. If you have the chance to check out this right-lane-type-of-life I’m now living, I highly recommend it. It’s possible to be a working creative outside the bounds of the 5 boroughs.