What It Takes to Make a Big Move

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Never in a million years did I dream that I would one day wake up in Orange County and think, "just another day." True, the days here are ordinary now. It's our life; work, chores and bills. Sometimes, though, we'll be taking in a great view someplace or hanging out in the big, green papasan chairs on our balcony and suddenly I'll go, "Holy crap, we live in California. How did that happen!?"

Seriously, how did this happen!?

I was a country girl with big plans! I was going to go off to college, live somewhere exciting for a couple of years... and yeah, that's it. That was about the extent of my plan, because I never dreamed of living anywhere else when it came to settling down. I always just imagined that I would live at home after I was married, spending Sundays with my family like always and taking my kids over to my parents' house on random weeknights. Then I wake up several years later and it's 85˚ in January and I'm 12 miles from the beach. Again, how does this happen?

Many people have expressed to me that I'm "so lucky to be living this experience." I am, and I'm so grateful! This sentiment is often followed by, "I wish I could do that." But here's the thing... you can. Anyone with a certain amount of desire and the means to do so, can do so.

We weren't forced to move here because of a job or the military or anything like that; we chose this, and the freedom to do so has been an incredible blessing. It also helps that we weren't anchored by a well-loved job or young children we dare not uproot. We have been so, so lucky, and I'm so grateful for the experience we've had. But this did not come without sacrifice and hard work. Here's what it has taken to just up and move across the country like this:

We have sacrificed having our family and friends close by. This has been the hardest part of moving to California. Daniel and I are both very close with our families and grew up partaking in frequent family get-togethers. We've missed birthdays, weekends at the lake, and cousins' soccer games, cheerleading, and ballet recitals. I've never seen the house my brother and his wife bought last year. We have to get by on only one or two visits per year with our best friends back home. It has been hard. So why would we give all of these things up to move across the country, away from everything we knew? Because I wouldn't consider this a "blank vs blank" situation. We didn't trade our family and friends for this experience; they're still there, waiting for us to come home. And thank the internet for Skype! (And that my mom learned to text!)

Following that, it took guts to make this move. Moving to a place where you really don't know anyone? I think this is self-explanatory. We were willing to take the leap, though. We dove into the unknown and had no idea what to expect or how things would play out, but thank goodness all has worked out in our favor so far!

It took money. Some dream stories start by telling you how someone arrived "with only $20 in my pocket, and look at me now!" That was definitely not our situation, but we were far from wealthy when we made the move out here. I was actually unemployed for eight months before we moved, and Dan's old job paid a very average entry-level salary. Luckily, we were able to gather our savings and sell most of our belongings before we left so we would have something to work with when we arrived. Mind you, we did this with six weeks' notice. Almost everything went on Craigslist, then we had a yard sale. We saved up enough cash to pay for gas, food, and low-cost (but not scary) hotels on the way out here and brought only what would fit into the back of our Jetta with us. The rest of our savings paid a deposit and first month's rent on our apartment, and that was about it. When we realized we didn't even have anything to eat off of we went to Ikea and put plates and bowls on our credit card. We had no furniture and stood at the kitchen bar every night to eat our dinner. We borrowed an air mattress until we couldn't stand it any more and finally put a real mattress on our credit card. These were sparse but exciting times. Luckily, paychecks started rolling in and we began to furnish our space one small piece at a time. And when we move again we'll do the same exact thing. (By the way, does anyone in SoCal need furniture?)

We did have some sort of a plan. We didn't have much of a plan, but the only way we decided this move was possible is because Dan managed to line up a job. This job was the deciding factor and the reason we had to move so suddenly. Without this job, we couldn't have done it. Without this job, I couldn't have quit mine recently. Thank God for Dan's job and his willingness to work to provide for us. He is such a good man and has done so well. I'll stop being sappy now. ha!

So yeah, this took guts, sacrifice, a little bit of a plan, and some cash, but it's not completely out of reach if it's something you absolutely want. Life is to short to be intimidated by the things we'd like to try. Want to move to California for two years? Make it happen. Take an internship in another city. Study abroad in France for a semester or two. If the only thing holding you back is fear, make fear your bitch. Stomp all over that fear and make the leap. I promise you, you won't regret it.