We’ve all said it — hell, even Obama’s onboard: If Donald Trump really became president, we’d move out of the U.S. But that was months ago, when his bullying and bigotry was just a big joke! The guy who fired Tom Green, Dennis Rodman and Sinbad on TV? Who demanded Obama’s birth certificate and college transcript, calls people fat, was accused of sexually assaulting his ex-wife, and eats his pizza crust first? He’s not really going to be president.
But it’s March, and he’s still in the running. The GOP rat king is just a rat triangle now, and the orange rat with the comb-over somehow survived. While we’re still hoping we’ll all be laughing about “that time the real-life version of Biff’s Pleasure Paradise from Back to the Future II ran for president” in a few years, it’s time to start scoping out our overseas options should we need to flee. We at Brokelyn have assembled a list of six homes-away-from-home for the expatriate Brooklynite to ride out one or, god forbid, two Trump presidential terms. We always made fun whenever someone called a place the “Brooklyn of X” but it turns out they were thinking ahead for just this situation.
If you’re a traditionalist expatriate — GASTOWN, Vancouver, Canada
You can’t talk about dumping America for political differences without at least considering Canada. They’re just like us except they’ve got a better-looking leader and public health care. But they only say like five words different, and they already make up a disproportionate number of our comedians.
Toronto’s a little too Manhattany and Montreal may cause you to have to learn French, so why not try Seattle North instead — Vancouver, specifically, in the Gastown district. Gastown is named after a seaman named “Gassy Jack,” who opened the neighborhood’s first saloon. What’s more Brooklyn than a guy who dresses like a sailor, has a weird nickname and single-handedly made a neighborhood happen with one rad bar? Gastown’s also got a ton of art galleries and a bar called “Chill Winston.” Complex called it the fourth best dressed neighborhood on Earth and in the 70s there were historic marijuana-based riots between cops and hippies. And poutine, which, if you eat too much of, you can just blame the ghost of “Gassy” Jack or say, “Forget it, Jake, it’s Gastown.”
If you were rejected from renting out a room at Silent Barn — KREUZBERG, Berlin, Germany
You’d have to be willing to travel a little farther, but Berlin is a great way to go. The Kreuzberg neighborhood was historically poor and dangerous but is now super trendy (check), it’s full of young people with bizarre hairstyles and colors (check), it’s got some of the city’s best street art (check) and tourists taking selfies in front of said street art (check), plus everyone dresses like it’s the future as foretold by early MTV cartoons (CHECK).
As if that weren’t enough, Vogue ranks it the 14th coolest neighborhood in the world (seven spots behind Bushwick, so it’s not quite played out yet). Don’t worry if your German is rusty or non-existent: Kreuzberg’s already brimming with American ex-pats, has three of the city’s top five English-language bookstores and most of the craigslist postings are in English anyway because they’re expecting you.
Kreuzberg’s even got a steakhouse called “The Brooklyn” so you can just show up there like it’s Peter Luger’s, introduce yourself as the former King or Queen of Brooklyn, and get treated like expat royalty. Did we mention Americans can go to college or grad school in Germany for free?
If you want to make too many Yakov Smirnoff jokes — CENTRAL MOSCOW, Russia
The Cold War’s over, Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy aren’t real, Moscow’s long been loved of us Brooklynites and it turns out they love us right back. Besides, would you rather have the leader who wrote The Art of the Deal or the one who wrote Judo: History, Theory, Practice? Exactly.
Get your hair done at a salon called Annie Hall and visit guitar shop slash record store slash music venue slash bar & café Ukuleleshnaya. Moscow’s pickle scene obviously puts ours to shame, the Moscow Art Theatre makes NYU Tisch look like a suburban community children’s chorus. While in Brooklyn, you’re only expected to be moody in the dead of winter, there you can bare your soul all year round, the Russian way!
Here’s a thinkpiece about gentrification and hipsterdom in Moscow to get you in the mood. It’ll be like you never left except it’s so cold and you don’t know what anyone is saying. Pro tip: If you want to sound like you know about Russian culture without pulling a muscle carrying The Brothers Karamazov, read 112-page Notes from the Underground instead.
If you want to spend more money on rent — GRUNERLØKKA, Oslo, Norway
If your parents have been paying for your spot in Williamsburg and you really want to leave the U.S. without running the risk of actually saving money — btw, who are you and can I have some money? — then head to Oslo, where your American currency is a joke and everyone (I assume) just eats fish in the dark all the time. Grunerløkka, specifically.
It’s a gentrified former working-class neighborhood with a huge coffee scene, a Sunday vintage flea market, a food hall filled with artisanal cheeses and a Tiki-leaning bar. Just like home! On the other hand, if you don’t have a burdensome trust fund to worry about, you can also freak out your family and make your Brooklyn food service job look like Harvard Law by getting deep into the Satanist, dog-murdering, church-burning Norwegian death-metal scene! Or actually make them proud, by going to free Norwegian art school.
If you don’t want to learn a new language — SHOREDITCH, London, U.K.
Sure, you’re trying to run away from America, but you were still educated in America and you have little-to-no foreign language skills? Well then, London is for you! Shoreditch in the East End of the city is particularly suitable for the former Brooklynite, with its trying-hard “street food market,” a motorcycle brunch spot and a bar/venue called Book Club (likely rivals even our most bookworm-loved Brooklyn bars). Shepard Fairey makes mural art there, too!
Shoreditch is also the home of über-cool LP emporium and live venue Rough Trade, which we have an outpost of in Williamsburg. The neighborhood was home to Damien Hirst, Russel Brand and William Shakespeare! You’re probably into at least two of those people. Enjoy British snackage and candy culture that you can’t get here like Maltesers (better than Whoppers), Wine Gums (better than gummy bears), Irn Bru (better than Fanta) and Crispy Bacon Frazzles crisps, a chip for which there is no comparison.
Downsides: getting used to people driving on the other side of the road, they’re not especially chill about weed, and people may assume you’re an idiot for having an American accent. Then again, they may also find it cute and endearing. At least when you tell them why you left home, they’ll definitely get it.
If you want to go full Bill Murray — HARAJUKU, Tokyo, Japan
Channel Shosh from this season of Girls while you get as far away from the Trump presidency as humanly possible, by going to Tokyo! It’s got 13 million people, crazy high rent, poor air quality and people happily live in coffin-sized capsules, so you’ll feel right at home as a New Yorker.
Tokyo has one of the few subway systems that rivals our own in both size and the consequent confusion factor. What’s more, MTA Japan actually apologizes for their delays! And neighborhood-wise, you should rent in Harajuku, because Belle and Sebastian referenced it in a song once, and you moved to Brooklyn for way less. Harajuku’s got a miniature bar scene , its own upsetting street fashion subculture and the Brooklyn Pancake House (you know, just like all the pancake houses in Brooklyn). Also, there’s a Cat Street, which ought to fit perfectly into both your HBO-limited and Murakami / Miyazaki-informed image of life in Japan.
So, there you go: six options of non-Brooklyn Brooklyns where you can hide out for the next four to eight years, should the unthinkable happen. In the meantime, the New York primary is on April 19 and the general election is November 8, so please, please register and vote for literally anyone else.
Sam might just run for president, someday, if enough people follow him on Twitter: @SamHWeiss