Yes, I said magic. You know why? Because magic does exist. It occurs when you see your daughter smile when she accomplishes something hard she’s been working on, it is your son’s ebullient laugh when he says his first word, and it is the contented smile you have when you look out at your backyard where your kids play together (fleetingly conflict-free) and know that you found your home.
When we first started looking at homes in Chicago, I won’t lie, I never thought we would find one. Everything was small, cramped, and expensive for our budget. So we looked even further out in the suburbs, and were still disappointed with the inventory–even when we were an hour outside Chicago, we still didn’t have enough room. We talked and spent many a late night up discussing ways for either me to bring in some more money, adventures in house flipping, and how we were going to expand. At the time, we were living in a tiny 750 sq. ft. apartment with our two great danes and our toddler daughter. We needed to move and needed a better quality of life.
Both of us grew up in Chicago suburbs–me on the North Shore and E in the Western suburbs. So when we moved back from college to Chicago area, it seemed like the natural place to stay. The schools were award-winning, the neighborhoods fantastic, the access to the city unparalleled, and grandparents were nearby. But we weren’t happy.
So we started asking questions. We started asking why we had to live in Chicago and its suburbs. And in asking ourselves questions, we found freedom. What were we really looking for? What would make us happy?
We wanted more space, we wanted more greenery, we wanted a yard and to be close to the water. The town didn’t need to be fancy, and we were open to driving to a nearby city (30 minutes) for good cuisine–heck, we did it already in Chicago! So we discussed E getting a job elsewhere–anywhere from Denver to New Hampshire, Minneapolis to Charleston. And you know where we settled? Just north of Chicago, in Southern Wisconsin along the Lake, and we love it!
We found the life we wanted–a safe neighborhood near Lake Michigan, within driving range of major cities, with fantastic quality of life. We wanted to be able to take our kids for walks in nature easily, to hike, to walk on the beach, to explore. So we moved to Wisconsin, bought our dream house (something we weren’t even close to buying in Chicago) and started our new life up here. It isn’t perfect, there isn’t a Whole Foods within a 30 minute drive or a Trader Joe’s; but, it is just right for us. But, we never would have looked here if we hadn’t really examined where we wanted to be in the future, and what we wanted it to look like.
Some people think we were crazy for moving away from family in Chicago, and from the amazing public schools in our old suburb, Oak Park, to a not-so-great school district. Well, we are ok paying for private schools or trying to lottery into the amazing local magnate school. The tradeoffs were worth it for us.
The reality remains that we weren’t happy in Chicago. We loved our friends, we loved our neighborhood, we loved our family but felt cramped, limited, and stifled by the lack of space. I wanted a home I could completely redo and we found it, even in an unexpected town.
So do I recommend throwing everything out and moving? No. That’s not what I am saying. I am urging you to question your reasons for why you are where you are, why you do what you do, and what will make you happy in the future? We wanted a life where we could comfortably live on one income, where I could exercise my creativity with my DIYs, and where E could have his own wood workshop in the basement, and a huge backyard where our kids could play and our dogs could run. For some people, it might be living in a city, and for some not. All I am saying is to question your assumptions and own your tomorrow. Check out more inspirational stories here. Charles Schwab is all about owning your future and making the right choices for you.
Tell me, what have been your life changing questions? Have you ever questioned all of your assumptions and made a big decision? Share your stories by tagging @Ownyourtomorrow on Instagram and Twitter! And see more stories here. And to see me completely unscripted see below! Bonus points if you find the freeze frames where I make the most awkward faces (like Exhibit A below!)