It’s been a long time coming, but I’m here. I made it.
I’ve played with the idea of relocating for four years now. Ever since the first time I visited Atlanta, GA in the summer of 2006, I relished the idea of a more affordable home, culture, and a change. What stopped me? I told myself I was stuck where I was because of these main excuses:
Excuse #1 : I can’t deal with the traffic in a major metropolitan city, and Atlanta reminds of the last place I lived, in suburban Washington, D.C. Swapping the frustrations of I-495 and I-285 are all the same to me.
Excuse #2: The real estate market is still too poor and I might not be able to sell my house. My neighbors who have sold took months, and some have just changed their minds and stayed put.
Excuse #3: My family relocated to help me with my daughter when she was a baby. I felt like I owed it to them to stay put, even years after the fact. And as a single mom, could I deal with rebuilding a support system all over again?
Even with the validity of some of these excuses, I evolved and became determined to refocus and literally move on with the following rebuttals for each one:
Rebuttal 1: When I lived in D.C., I commuted, but since 2005 I’ve been working at home, so traffic is not a factor. Should I change jobs (which would be the first time in over a decade), I will have the flexibility move to a suburb that is conducive to a reasonable commute, since I’m not buying another house anytime soon.
Rebuttal #2: Since I never tried to sell my house, how do I know how long it would take to sell? Yes, I’ve been in a position where I had to pay mortgages on two homes for a few months, but if I never put the house on the market, I’ll definitely stay stuck with it. You don’t know what will happen if you don’t try.
Rebuttal #3: I have aunts, friends from high school and college, and ex-co-workers living in the metro Atlanta area. Even if they don’t all become my BFFs, that’s plenty to get me started. When it comes to making new friends, finding a sitter, or networking for business opportunities, I have the gift of gab.
That said, I made it “do what it do” and I’ve been in Atlanta now with my daughter for a whole two weeks. I love my apartment, she loves her school, and I’ve made several new friends (the gift of gab at work)!
I’ve gotten unstuck.
Getting Unstuck: You Can Do It Too
Some people ask, why such a big move? They don’t know that in 1999 I moved from a small city in upstate New York to the suburban DC area. THAT was a big move.
Them: “Do you have family down there?“
Me: “Not really–just a few folks I think.”
Them: “This is pretty sudden—is your job moving you?”
Me: “I’ve actually been playing with this idea for four years, but no, it’s not because of my job. I still work at home.”
Them: “Then why do it?“
Me: “Because I want to.” (I see now, after having this same convo with numerous people, that this reason of mine is a novel concept.)
Them: “Aren’t you afraid?”
Me: “No.” (Refer back to what they don’t know about 1999.)
So how did I get to the point of feeling unstuck? How could I overcome my circumstances and step out on faith (and a little perseverance too)?
A geographical move many not be an option for you, and you may not be able to afford mortgages on two homes, let alone one. But maybe there’s another kind of move you need to make. Are you in a situation where you know you need to untangle yourself from? Maybe you’re not feeling financially stuck. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe it’s a bad relationship. Maybe it’s your job. Don’t look at the big picture and get overwhelmed like I did when I first (and second, and tenth) considered my latest move. Break it down into baby steps or a simple system, like so:
- Decide: I made up my mind at the end of 2009 that I was going to move, even though my credit and financial situation looked bleak and I had no idea how to get unstuck. I just knew deep down that I was sick of being where I was. WHEN YOU GET TIRED OF BEING WHERE YOU ARE, YOU’LL GET MOTIVATED TO DO WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO CHANGE. It starts in your mind.
- Design: Plan the work and work the plan. How long do you anticipate it will take to transition? Who do you need approval from (if anyone)? Create a plan A, B and C.
- Delegate/Defer: Enlist help where you need it. Talk to the right people and tell them what you want to do. Don’t just tell anyone—tell people who you trust and that will support you. People that can share information with you, have been in your situation and come out of it, or can refer you to those who have.
- Do: Implement the plan and be patient. Whenever you are looking forward to something, it seems like it takes forever to accomplish. But don’t give up.
Settling In and Making Adjustments
I do feel some freedom in being in a new place, but there is still a surrealness to being here. Not to mention we had the interesting (but necessary) adjustment of downsizing from a detached 4-BR house to a 3-BR apartment. My daughter has adjusted remarkably well to having one less room in our living space (the fourth bedroom in our house was her playroom), and she loves the apartment as well as her new school. I’m loving it here, too. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way about anywhere else I’ve lived, and not so fast either.
Downsizing was a necessity. Like many people in the U.S. right now, I am upside down in my mortgage and can no longer afford my house. (I came to the sobering realization last year when I could no longer afford to max out my credit and rob Peter to pay Paul—especially when I was only getting paid once a month.) I didn’t have too much house, I just had too many mortgages. My house has been on the market now for 4 months with very few showings, and I’ve seen my neighbors put their homes on the market for an entire year with no offers (even though we live in a very nice neighborhood). So I know I’m not alone in this struggle, but I still didn’t wait to get unstuck. (Side note: the last house I bought took 4 months to sell in 2005, and I was paying for two homes during that time as I moved out while it was still on the market. And my first house—a townhouse—only took 6 days to sell in 2003. These are signs of the times.)
It wasn’t easy to make this move, and in some way, the difficulties continue from a distance. Just know this: there may be a waiting period, there may be a struggle, but you too can get unstuck. (This story is not over, but it’s a great beginning, don’t you think?)