Would you sell 90% of the stuff you own, quit your job, and move a few states away with no job lined up to chase a dream? Welcome to my life in 2017.
My husband and I lived in Orange County, California. The OC (insert TV show reference here) is one of the most expensive places to live. I won’t lie, we loved certain aspects of the city life. We could get any type of food delivered to our apartment at any time. And the food was the BEST. We lived 15 minutes or less from all the things that mattered like Disneyland, the Angels stadium, the beach, the nightlife. Everything was accessible, but everything was BUSY. There were lines everywhere—the grocery store, the freeway, parking lots, you name it. Imagine Disneyland lines all the time everywhere around you. Okay, maybe I’m slightly exaggerating, but the city was busy. That 10 minute drive to Disneyland could be a 40 minute drive with traffic. My commute to work was 7 miles, and sometimes it took an hour to get there. At night, we heard the nonstop hum of cars since we lived next to a freeway. We also lived next to a hospital so hearing ambulances was a regular occurrence. Living in the OC was loud but for a time it was exciting and it was exactly what we wanted.
As time went by we dreamed about owning a home, or at least something that wasn’t an apartment, and not paying a ridiculous amount of money. My husband wanted land and a garden. I wanted a few bedrooms and a backyard. We knew that wasn’t possible in the OC. We didn’t come from wealth like the OC born and bred, and we didn’t make enough money.
I think the idea of moving was a result of being unhappy with our jobs. We wanted new jobs and a new home and a new atmosphere. I had lived in Colorado for almost 10 years prior to living in the OC, and my family still lived in Colorado, so we kept that option open. We thought about states we’ve never lived in like Oregon. It was all talk and basically throwing ideas at a wall to see what would stick. In the end, being close to my family became a priority and Colorado was where we decided to go.
We kept this idea to ourselves for awhile. We vaguely mentioned it to our parents and to friends. I didn’t want to jinx ourselves or make a big deal out of something that wasn’t 100% sure. It didn’t become serious until the beginning of 2017. We knew our lease was up in July, so my husband and I chose that month as our official moving date.
I’m making it sound a lot simpler than it was. We had a LOT to prepare for the move. I donated a ton of clothes, shoes, decor, and random items in the months leading up the move, and I only kept what I needed (and what would fit in our two cars). We sold or donated all of our furniture piece by piece. Our mattress was the very last thing we had since we needed to sleep on something. We put in our notices at work. I helped onboard a new designer during my last couple weeks and I created spreadsheets with everything the new designer would need to know.
Let’s talk about logistics of the move. I saved quite a bit before the move, which allowed us a small window of time to be jobless because, ya know, bills. When we got to Colorado, my parents graciously allowed us to move in for an indefinite period of time and rent free. I’m lucky to have my parents and I’m grateful for their support. My husband and I only stayed for a couple months while we searched for jobs and went on interviews. We both landed a job in the same city (he got one a couple weeks before I did), so we set our sights on moving there. We found a cute townhouse for rent and the landlord was willing to work with our expedited move-in schedule. Keep in mind we only moved to Colorado with whatever fit in our sedans, which was mostly electronics, kitchen appliances, and clothes… and my dog Jerry who had the entire front passenger seat to himself. We had no furniture. Nada. So a good chunk of my savings went to a deposit on the townhouse + the first month’s rent, and all the furniture we needed like a mattress, couch, etc. I was thrifty and bought a few things on Craigslist but everything else was purchased on sale. By blind luck, Labor Day was happening the weekend we moved in so there were killer deals on furniture. I bought everything that weekend, so we were a lean, mean, unpacking-boxes-and-assembling-furniture machine.
Now that we’ve been in Colorado for almost 2 years I can say with certainty that it was the best decision we’ve made. We're closer to my family, we LOVE Colorado, we bought the perfect home in September 2018, and we’re happy with our jobs. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
I realize as I’m writing this blog post that I’ve used the word ‘lucky’ many times. That’s what the whole experience was—a series of incidents that happened out of luck. And I realize that it’s not possible for everyone. But if you’re ever given the chance to do something you really want but it doesn’t seem feasible or easy, try your luck. It’s worth it.