The Moment We Decided to Leave WI

It was winter of 2017 around 5:00 p.m. and I was driving home from work in one of the worst snow/ice storms I had seen in a while.  Let me also mention it was pitch black because as always, fall marks the end of day light savings time.

The snow coming down wasn’t the beautiful white fluffy stuff you see on Hallmark Movies.  It was a combination of snow, sleet, and rain combined with 20 mph winds blowing off of Lake Michigan. I was driving south on one of the major WI highways, (Highway 43 for any Wisconsinites reading this) just trying to get home safe.   My heart was pounding from fright after passing about three cars already in the ditch. Every semi I passed blew their dirty sleet on my windshield to the point where I couldn’t see. I’d turn on my wipers but they would just smear it all over the windshield and made it even worse.  I attempted to clean my windshield but the moment the wiper fluid hit the glass, it froze and I could no longer see. I blasted the heat trying to melt the ice, but mostly all this did was make my face hot from the interior temperature hovering around 85 degrees.


About an hour later, (my usual commute was 30 minutes), I finally made it home.  As I walked in the house, all I wanted to do was burst into tears because of my frustration and annoyance with winter weather.  It was at that moment I realized I wanted to get out of Wisconsin. I hated most everything about the winter months. The only thing I liked was the first snowfall of the year and after that I counted down the days until June.  Because you see, in Wisconsin, winter can sometimes last until Memorial Day weekend. It’s not the normal three-month season you would expect, but instead it’s closer to seven months.


Tommy walked in the door (after an added 45 minutes to his commute as well) and I said, “Let’s move.”  Obviously, he laughed until he realized the degree of my seriousness. We spent the rest of the night discussing potential new homes.  Did we want to stay in the Midwest? Move south? Move closer to my mom in Oregon? The next day at work and the weeks to follow, the only thing I could think about was finding a new state to call home.   We realized the only way to find out for sure was to start visiting new places.


We were open to basically anything, but our top four choices were North Carolina, Texas, Oregon, and Colorado.  We considered North Carolina because we both heard it’s a beautiful state, you can still experience all 4 seasons, driving east will get you to the beach, west and you’re in the mountains.  We thought of Texas because real estate is very affordable, it’s always warm, and we heard a lot of people our age live there! Portland, Oregon was on our list because just like North Carolina, you can drive a little over an hour one way and be on the coast, or drive the other way and be in the mountains.  Another reason we considered Portland was because my mom and step dad live there. The city has a very active, health conscious population and there’s so much to do. Colorado was appealing to us because it averages over 300 days of sunshine a year, mountains that offer countless outdoor activities, and once again, draws a young population.


After nightly discussions for the next few weeks, we ruled out Texas due to the fact that they experience 110+degree days and we wouldn’t experience any type of fall, winter, or spring. There were three places left, so we decided the only way to know for sure was to visit them.  We booked trips to Portland, Oregon, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Denver, Colorado all within a few weeks of each other.


Going into the trips, Portland was our number one choice because we had been there before and we have family there.  For this trip we stayed with my mom and step dad, scheduled a few apartment tours, and found a few places we liked, but nothing we loved.  We never felt a “this is it” feeling like we’d hoped, but we kept an open mind.


A few weeks later we visited Denver, but this time we rented a car and an Airbnb.  I had never in my life seen mountains, so this was a whole new experience for me. I was blown away by how massive and beautiful they were, not to mention it was the beginning of March, the sun beating on us, and it was over 50 degrees.  We loved Denver. It was one of the cleanest big cities we’ve ever seen and there were so many people outside being active! But we didn’t want to fully decide on anything before looking at North Carolina, but for now Denver had surpassed Portland.


Next up was Raleigh, North Carolina.  We again rented a car and an Airbnb. We didn’t just stay in Raleigh though; we also looked at Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary.  We were amazed by the how green the trees were and how vibrant all of the colors were.  After driving and walking around quite a bit we felt the demographic was a lot of young families and didn’t feel like we would quite fit in there.


Once all trips were done we made a pros and cons list of all three locations but there was one that just felt like home.  Like it was calling us.  You know when you just feel something deep in your gut? That’s how we felt about Denver.


After Tommy and I felt we were fully decided on Denver, I booked a trip out there, found a townhouse that I fell in love with, and signed a lease.  So, just like that, in August of 2018, we were new residents of Colorado. Our journey out west was filled with all sorts of adventures… but that’s a whole story on it’s own which I’ll save for another time.


I’d like to leave you with one piece of advice.  If you’re unhappy where you are, unmotivated, or feeling lost… travel.  Get out and explore. This is a BIG world with so many opportunities. Don’t let yourself be stuck in a place of being unhappy.


Until next time.


Peace & Love,

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