Is it possible to love a city and still want to leave? Is it possible that if you find a city that might be a perfect fit forever that maybe, just maybe…it makes sense to go try something new?
That’s kind of the conundrum we found ourselves in recently. We’ve lived in Madison, Wisconsin, for the past 5.5 years, and we’ve absolutely loved it. We’ve loved the city, the house we lived it, the people. My husband loved the company he was working for, I loved the supportive freelance community I had discovered. So why in the world would we choose to leave? Well, the decision wasn’t easy, but I hope that if you’re curious about our upcoming move that this post helps explain a little bit about where we are coming from.
When we purchased our home a little over 4 years ago, it was the house that we saw ourselves growing into, eventually filling the extra bedrooms with a kid or two. After our trips to Japan, Thailand, Germany and Austria last fall and winter we started rethinking our plans for a family. We realized that our 5 year plan might be more of a 10 year plan, and that we weren’t really ready for all that parenthood entailed (read more about that in this post). So we returned home and started thinking about putting our house on the market. We knew if we were 2 or 5 or 7 years away from wanting a family, that we’d enjoy moving into a home that was smaller and better suited to us and our lifestyle. Something with less responsibility so that we wouldn’t feel bad about being gone every weekend or not investing time in home or yard projects (over the past 4 years we’ve realized that this is totally not our scene).
And so our house went on the market. We trusted the listing to a friend of mine (Cait Berry, rockstar) who ensured us that it was a great time to sell, and that we could test the market and see how things went, then make a decision about whether or not we’d sell. Well, within 48 hours of being on the market we had two offers. So, we pulled it off the market and took a week to make a decision.
Since we knew we no longer wanted to be in the (2200 square foot) house we were in, we knew that moving made sense. We were really happy with what we’d be making off the sale of our house and the timing was good for a move. But we suddenly started asking ourselves: now that we’ve found ourselves with this little window of time in which we could, potentially, do anything we wanted….what would we do?
We looked into a lot of options. We talked about moving abroad. We looked into other homes in Madison or places downtown. We talked about doing something wild like working remotely from a cabin in Montana for a year. We briefly considered a move to Santa Fe, NM. We got so far as talking to a realtor in Marquette, Michigan. We had a lot of ideas floating around, but exploring all of the possible options helped us narrow down some of the things that were important to us in this transition, and some clearer goals emerged. We wanted:
- To downsize to something smaller that is a better fit for our needs – we currently live in a 2200 sq ft, 4 bed, 3 bath house and our time spent traveling in both Europe and Asia made us very aware of waste, mass consumerism, and all the unnecessary space we had if it was just going to be the two of us for the foreseeable future.
- A place that allowed us to share a workspace to facilitate more collaboration – in our first apartment together we had a shared office. In both houses since we’ve had separate ones. We’ve missed it and want to get back to a shared space!
- Be in an urban area – living right in a city is something we’ve never done together (Josh had a brief stint in uptown, MPLS and we lived in St. Louis Park last time we lived in Minneapolis). Will it be all it’s cracked up to be? We aren’t sure. It’s possible that we’ll hate it. But, at least we’ll know. When I was younger I always saw myself living right in a city, working in a creative profession. For the past 5 years I’ve had my dream job, but have worked it from my home in the suburbs. No complaints, for the most part, but I can say with confidence that if living in a city was something I never got the opportunity to try, it is something I would regret. And since Josh was really excited about the idea of urban living, being able to bike anywhere, and using public transportation as much as possible, it made sense for us to take this opportunity to test it out.
So, then one weekend while back in Minnesota for an event, we decided to tour a new building that was going up in one of our favorite neighborhoods. We completely fell in love. It was an 1100 square foot loft (about half of our current home, perfect). It had 22′ ceilings and big windows. The lofted upper level made a perfect workspace for the two of us. It was a dog-friendly community with a dog park on-site and running trails nearby. It had a Whole Foods across the street and tons of things within walking distance. The amenities within the community were more than we had even dreamed of (the gym you guys. amazing.). It was in Minneapolis, which was a city we loved and had always been on our list of possible homes. It was perfect for what we were wanting to do next.
And so, with a little fear and a whole lotta faith, we took the leap. Over the next few weeks we finalized the sale of our house, sold about 80% of what we owned, Josh applied, interviewed for and accepted a new job, we said our goodbyes and prepared for a move to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The decision, I assure you, was not nearly as easy as I made it sound in this blog post. The fact that we love Madison and the life we’ve built here so much is a big part of what made this decision so hard. But, this is an exciting time in our lives. It would have been easy to stay in our old routine, maybe even in our old house, and watch the next few years go by. But I’m thankful that we recognized the opportunity in front of us and took a chance on adventure and the opportunity to live out some of our dreams.
Since making our decision to move we’ve both had exciting developments that have helped affirm that this was a good choice for us. While we are sad to say goodbye to Madison, we aren’t 100% positive that this is a permanent goodbye. It might be more of a see-you-later. It just depends on how this adventure plays out, I suppose.
Thank you for your patience and support as we navigate the chaos of relocating. On top of selling most of what we own, packing up our house, launching an online course, teaching two workshops, and, ya know, running a business, I also decided that this was a good time to foster two 3-week-old puppies. In the midst of it all, writing this blog post got put on the bottom of the list, but I’m glad I found the time to pen this personal post to you. One week from today we’ll load up and head west towards Minnesota. Stay tuned.