When my husband Dan and I moved to New York City last October, we were fulfilling a lifelong dream of mine. After two years of living on the sunny west coast, we were excited to make a new city our home, enjoy four seasons again, and be only a day’s drive away from our family in Virginia. The fact that Dan’s job transferred to the New York office made our situation seem perfect. We settled into our new offices, a month-long temporary apartment, and our new routines quickly.
We were both incredibly excited about our move. After spending some time in NYC for school years prior, I was excited to return to a city I knew well and loved. A new job at a wildly successful company had me buzzing with the prospect of career growth. I blogged about our move repeatedly, sharing with my readers and the world how excited I was to make this city my home.
Everything felt perfect, until it didn’t. My unease about our choice to move to New York grew daily and I began to question our decision more and more. Eventually I voiced my concerns to Dan, explaining that we didn’t have to stay if we couldn’t find a great apartment, because I was no longer so sure about it all. We both discussed the kind of lifestyle we wanted to be living, and the cost of living in the NYC metro area would keep us living to work instead of working to live. Of course we’d known the cost of city living before we went and still chose to go, but now that the novelty was wearing off it didn’t seem worth it.
After a few weeks with our families between California and New York, a slower lifestyle even closer to home suddenly seemed more appealing than it ever had, which was even more confusing for these two nomads.
Besides these concerns, we had wonderful experiences in the city. We extended our temporary lease and continued to hunt for an apartment, thinking that maybe we hadn’t given ourselves enough time to truly settle in. Each fun day of exploring museums or meeting friends for dinner cemented our love for city life, but my doubt continued to rear its ugly head on a regular basis.
I felt stuck. Our decision was not irreversible and we had previously flourished in spontaneous situations, but the fear of making the decision to leave our new home had me frozen in place. After all, here I was, living my dream! I had accomplished the one goal I had been persistent on achieving since I was a teenager. But what happens when your dreams come true and they’re not everything you wanted them to be?
With my husband’s total support either way, I was handed the full responsibility of choosing whether or not to change my mind. After all, if either of us was going to turn our back on my dream of living in New York, it had to be me. After weeks of going back and forth, I ultimately chose for us to put in our notices at work and leave. Months later, we are happily settled in the much-smaller city of Richmond, Virginia, only three hours away from family and friends.
The best thing I’ve learned from our roller coaster experience is that “It’s Okay to Change Your Mind,” but there were a lot of smaller fears standing in the way of me making that final decision: I was afraid of starting over, again. Moving—and everything that comes with it—is stressful.
Starting new jobs, meeting new people, and falling into new routines can all be extremely difficult when you move to a new place. Was I really ready to put us both through all of that again? Was I ready to give up my job only to spend hours applying for new ones somewhere else? I eventually came to the conclusion that it would be better to start over again than to settle for something that didn’t truly make me happy.
I was afraid of the financial consequences
Money cannot be ignored in any major life decision. After a cross-country move from California and a move to one of the most expensive cities in the United States, quitting our jobs and essentially moving home seemed like it could be the final nail in our almost-empty financial coffin. Eventually it occurred to me that it was now or never…we could take what little savings we had and start over again somewhere new, or we’d have to spend everything we had to lock down a 400 square foot apartment for twelve months.
Sometimes the investment with the smaller safety net actually produces higher yields; you just have to be willing to accept the risk.
I was afraid that living a more “settled down” lifestyle meant that my life would no longer be exciting
After leaving my small hometown and never returning, living in New York felt like the height of proving to myself that I was living the exciting life I’d been chasing. As if our years in far-away California weren’t exciting enough, I was sure that living in another place that some people only dream of visiting meant that I had the world at my fingertips. Deep down I feared that a life anywhere less exciting would absolutely be the end of fun and adventure in my life.
Slowly, I began to realize that the only thing that could dictate that for me would be myself—if I believed a life in Richmond would be boring, it probably would be. I decided that it was up to me to create an exciting life for myself, and to decide for myself what constituted an “exciting life.” This proactive attitude mattered far more than where my life took place.
I was afraid of what others would think
After joyfully spreading the news of our move to New York, I was terrified of what people would think if we left. This is embarrassingly one of the biggest hurdles I had to jump before I could come to peace with the idea of changing my mind. I was afraid that people would think we had failed, or that we’d flippantly made a decision without thinking it through, or that we simply couldn’t handle city life. My pride was a tough pill to swallow, until I finally accepted that I cannot control what others think of me and that in the end it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. Ultimately, most people I know really don’t care about what I’m doing or where I’m living, and the ones who do care are happy for us regardless.