I learned something this week from a former coworker that made me appreciate living in a town like Gainesville.

Years ago, when this woman and I were both starting out in our careers, we worked together at the same newspaper in rural Indiana. But while I decided to stick with covering the news in small, mostly rural areas — where I believe regular folks can most benefit from learning what their government is doing — her passion eventually led her to work in the heart of American journalism, New York City.

Since the days of the men named Hearst and Pulitzer, the Big Apple is where much of the American news industry has been centered. That’s even more the case now that internet connectivity has altered the industry, spurring media centralization and compromising the business model for small local outlets that would otherwise resist that centralizing force.

So it was no surprise that it made sense for her to move there. That’s where most of the jobs were, and still are.

NYC isn’t my cup of tea, as I found out when I spent three weeks there for a journalism course back during college. So while I was happy for my colleague, I was content to remain where I felt I belonged, in small-town America.

Enough with the backstory. This week, my former coworker shared a post on Facebook seeking a roommate for her Upper East Side apartment. It looks like a fine place to live — well kept, a room to yourself, access to the kitchen, in a decent location close to public transit — but the cost astounded me.

At $1,325 a month, the rent for that one room was more than you might pay monthly for a mortgage, taxes and insurance included, on an entire house in Gainesville. And here, you can get a garage and a backyard, too.

Good luck finding that at an affordable price anywhere in New York City’s five boroughs.

Gainesville, though? Sure, it doesn’t have Broadway or Wall Street or giant media outlets with high-paying jobs. But it has a family-friendly economy and amenities like Leonard Park and Frank Buck Zoo. You can see yourself settling down here.

Sarah Einselen is editor and general manager of the Gainesville Daily Register. Reach her at editor@gainesvilleregister.com.

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