The most fulfilling $5,929.10 I ever spent: moving back to the Midwest

right here's what i thought large-metropolis life could be like when i was growing up in rural Missouri and dreaming about relocating to the version of NYC I saw on Felicity and chums:

  • I'd are living in a loft-fashion condominium that used to be a warehouse or whatever thing.
  • There'd be a coffee store on the floor flooring, and everybody there would understand my identify.
  • I'd be in a position to walk, trip my bike, or take public transportation all over.
  • I'd have an interesting job (doubtless whatever to do with writing), and after work I'd go rehearse with a theater or a musical community.
  • right here's what my existence is like now:

  • I are living in a loft-trend condominium that was a furniture save. My walls are uncovered brick, with beams and pipes crossing my ceiling.
  • there's a espresso store on the floor floor, and i often know one of the vital individuals in it — although nowadays, I spend more time on the YMCA or the neighborhood core.
  • I stroll, trip my bike, or take public transportation everywhere.
  • I have a career i like (that does in reality contain writing), and in the past yr I've been part of two regional theater productions and joined an eighty-member vocal arts ensemble.
  • As an author, I'm all too privy to the ordinary plot: younger grownup leaves city to are seeking for their fortune, then — as soon as they take into account who they're and what they must present the world — they return domestic. since it's the place the coronary heart is, or whatever.

    however the more youthful edition of me hated that story, because she knew that the 2,500-person town in which she lived was no longer where her heart changed into supposed to be.

    Which is why, once I moved returned, I selected Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

    A two-hour pressure away from my native land.

    I've on no account definitely lived in NYC, even though the younger me changed into sure she would. as an alternative, over a 15-12 months period that included a stint in grad college (in Bloomington-common, Illinois, which simplest made me more satisfied that I should go away the Midwest continually) and a semester instructing Shakespeare in Hyderabad (ditto), i tried large-metropolis residing in Minneapolis, Washington, DC, la, and Seattle, chasing numerous internships, jobs, and, in two instances, boyfriends.

    every metropolis challenged me in a different method, and i discovered whatever thing important about myself far and wide I went. In Minneapolis, I discovered how to work a full-time job and control my finances. In DC, I discovered that I didn't need the category of job that wouldn't leave me adequate time for tune and writing. In LA, I realized that my track could best get me so far however my writing could take me areas I under no circumstances knew I might go. In Seattle, I realized the way to build a profession and a life on my own terms.

    however all the way through the five years I lived in Seattle, my employ doubled. At that aspect i used to be in my fourth 12 months of writing and editing for the Billfold, a personal finance web site the place americans had sincere conversations about funds, and i had a really sincere conversation with myself about even if I may still find the money for to live there.

    I had become bored of moldy residences and traffic jams and feeling the kind of disconnection that includes best knowing a handful of people and simplest seeing them once a month

    I also had a very sincere dialog with myself about whether i used to be satisfied in Seattle, or whether I had become tired of moldy apartments and site visitors jams and feeling the variety of disconnection that comes with most effective knowing a handful of individuals and most effective seeing them as soon as a month or so because the city changed into so big that it took half the evening to get the place you desired to head.

    Then I asked myself what i wanted my existence to seem like subsequent year — and in the next 15 years, because the one component I didn't are looking to do become reside in four new cities whereas I figured it out. There became no make certain that the subsequent area I picked could be my invariably home, however I could take some steps to make certain i used to be relocating in the appropriate route.

    Then I known as my folks.

    after which I moved.

    So why Cedar Rapids? Why no longer Iowa metropolis or Columbia or any of the different no longer-as-small-as-my-place of birth cities that had been nonetheless within spitting distance of my family unit?

    For starters, my folks now not lived in my hometown. My dad, a university administrator, changed into now at Cornell school in Mount Vernon, Iowa, which is 15 miles outdoor of Cedar Rapids. I nonetheless have family in my homeland, however residing in CR (as the locals call it) would give me more suitable proximity to my parents — some thing I anticipated would benefit us not simplest presently but also 15 years from now.

    Then I did a cost comparison between Cedar Rapids and nearby Iowa metropolis, which would nonetheless be fairly close to my fogeys — plus, like Seattle, it's a UNESCO metropolis of Literature, and that's sort of my jam. Cedar Rapids won as a result of its rents have been enormously cheaper, and if I are looking to go to the Iowa metropolis publication competition or the Mission Creek pageant, it'll nevertheless take me much less time to commute between the two cities than it would to get from my historic apartment to downtown Seattle.

    On respectable days, the air smells like Crunch Berries

    now not to point out that Cedar Rapids is home to Orchestra Iowa and Revival Theatre business and Chorale Midwest and all types of creative groups, and i knew i wished to be in a metropolis where I could be concerned with the humanities. definitely, this particular chunk of japanese Iowa is actually called the inventive corridor as a result of its quick commercial, artistic, and entrepreneurial boom; in CR you'll locate main agencies like Collins Aerospace and accepted Mills (on decent days, the air smells like Crunch Berries) as well as startup accelerators, environmental nonprofits, and one of the most largest farmers markets within the Midwest. The city is abruptly including residences and condos and bike paths and coworking areas and locations for younger(ish) bold professionals to get to understand each different — and that is additionally my jam.

    as regards to flats: I'm paying $650 a month for a beautiful studio with a view of the Cedar River and in-unit laundry. I'm the primary tenant to occupy this apartment (and the primary tenant to use its brand new home equipment). due to the fact that that my first Seattle condominium was a transformed resort room with out a kitchen and a landlord who recommended me to wash my dishes in a bus tub and dump the dishwater into the rest room — WHICH I DID, day by day — living during this condo looks like residing in an additional world.

    additionally, there's basically a good looking good bus device. (i know, right? all and sundry is shocked.) That, mixed with a motorbike and the occasional Uber, intended i might be able to stream returned to the Midwest while not having to purchase a automobile.

    right here's how a lot it can charge me to flow from Seattle to Cedar Rapids. I in the beginning tallied up these numbers for the Billfold, so I'll go ahead and quote myself:

  • $2,084.25 on traveling between Seattle and Cedar Rapids, including the week I spent apartment looking. This determine contains flights, Smarte Cartes and checked bags, onboard wifi, the Airbnb I used whereas I looked at apartments, Lyfts and taxis, bike rentals, and food.
  • $1,724.84 on furniture, family items, and wifi setup.
  • $1,387.99 on delivery, including the 29 containers I took to the Sip & Ship, the Lyfts and dollies I used to take the boxes to the Sip & Ship (and the Goodwill), and the white chocolate pumpkin spice cookies I ate while at the Sip & Ship.
  • $690 for the condominium application charge and safety deposit.
  • $forty two.02 to unfreeze and refreeze my credit score.
  • total cost: $5,929.10

    as a result of i needed to make sure i was making the right alternative for the appropriate explanations, I spent per week at a Cedar Rapids Airbnb on a "website visit," all over which I rode the bike trails, watched Orchestra Iowa function Beethoven's Fifth, frolicked with my folks, looked at a variety of residences, and determined to commit each to the move and to a hire. That commute accounted for $1,487.83 of the $5,929.10 total, however turned into a imperative part of the method; i wished to base this resolution on truth, no longer myth, which intended I had to get myself into the metropolis and ensure it felt just like the appropriate area to head.

    i wanted to base this decision on fact, not myth, which meant I needed to get myself into the city and ensure it felt like the right place to move

    I also did the mathematics on whether it could be superior to move my worldly possessions to CR by the use of a kind of on-line moving agencies — which is how I got my stuff from l. a. to Seattle — or to ship what turned out to be 29 packing containers of books, dishes, and quite a few ephemera, including four packing containers full of my childhood diaries. My garb got here on the airplane with me, in three suitcases.

    i stopped up getting $1,325 again from my landlord (closing month's appoint and safety deposit, minus carpet cleaning) and $450 from promoting my Ikea furniture to the next tenant (Ikea does claim its furniture is designed to be reused, notwithstanding I've always found that slightly controversial), so the movement technically handiest can charge me $four,154.10.

    probably the most more high priced decisions I've ever made, all issues considered — a lot more high priced than the charge of moving from los angeles to Seattle, for example, which concerned placing my belongings in a Pods delivery unit and spending 36 hours on Amtrak.

    however this flow has additionally been some of the premier decisions I've ever made. youngsters that I once swore I'd under no circumstances make it.

    a little over a year after the move, my lifestyles is better in each appreciable method. I'm residing in a beautiful apartment (no mould, no cockroaches, no roommates) with relaxed furniture that isn't from Ikea and a kind of fancy foam mattresses that you order off the internet. I actually have plant life, and a piano that I actually have time to apply. i can meet my mom for lunch or go for bike rides with my dad. the public library and the artwork museum and the YMCA are all a couple of blocks away, as is the group core that hosts free films and concerts whereas featuring space for individuals to check their enterprise ideas (cupcake stores, handcrafted jewelry) before disposing of a full-fledged storefront.

    I'm also no longer concerned about funds anymore. a part of that comes from having been capable of take a well-paying freelance career — through which I suggest $67K gross business profits, $40K adjusted gross profits — from a excessive-cost-of-residing enviornment to a lower-can charge-of-living enviornment, however the entertaining issue is that my career has persevered to develop, even after moving faraway from the contacts and valued clientele I'd inbuilt Seattle. I used to train in-grownup writing classes at Seattle's Hugo condo, for example; now I teach online courses for Hugo condo and in-adult courses at the Iowa Writers' residence.

    most importantly, I consider what I had hoped I'd believe when i used to be a youngster dreaming about leaving her tiny place of birth and by no means coming lower back: a part of something greater than myself. i assumed I'd get that feeling in a big metropolis, but extra regularly I felt anonymous and small. In Cedar Rapids, I think like I'm part of a group, and that I may also be a part of what that community becomes.

    i really like that I reside in a single of probably the most energetic cities in the nation (in accordance with Fitbit) and one of the most most effective midsize cities wherein to make a dwelling (in accordance with MoneyGeek). i like the can-do spirit and the political activism and the startups and the monster cookies and the scotcheroos. i like that I reside in a neighborhood that is so dedicated to innovation and growth, in each business and the arts, that they named it Iowa's inventive hall.

    I primarily love, in a means that makes me chortle when I suppose about it, that i'm at present residing out my teenage dreams: the industrial-chic condominium, the coffee stores and literary gala's, the rehearsal rooms. i assumed I'd must go away the Midwest to locate all that — however I most effective found my heart's need, to borrow from yet another famous Midwestern story, when I got here back to my own backyard.

    smartly, a two-hour drive away.

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