If you’ve been following my story for a while, you know I’ve moved many times in the last six years. First, I left my hometown and moved to Toronto for work. After realizing Toronto wasn’t the place for me, I took my job back to BC and moved to Greater Vancouver. Due to a series of unfortunate events (attempted break in, bad roommate situation, etc.), I had to move in/out of three different apartments in my first year there. I finally settled in a condo in Port Moody, where I stayed for two years, before another unfortunate event inspired me to go back to my hometown to be closer to my family.
Throughout all of those transitions, I never minded the moving process. In fact, some of my friends joke that I am a professional mover. They aren’t wrong, in the sense that I know the drill: find a place, pay the deposit, change your address on a million and one things, coordinate the move, take the boxes out and clean, bring the boxes in and unpack, and get your old deposit back. And when you have just 20% of what you once owned, the entire thing only takes a few hours. Moving is easy. Living in a state of transition feels normal. But it’s not normal… or at least, I don’t want it to be my normal anymore.
At the beginning of the slow money experiment, I hinted that I was ready to stop bouncing around from place-to-place. Being back in my hometown has been great. My family needed me, I needed them, and the quality time I got to spend with my friends here is something I will forever be grateful for. It healed me, during a time when I needed extra support. But it was never going to be a permanent move. I didn’t know where I would go next or finally land. I just continued to live in this transition period – until I went to Squamish for two months and realized that was the place I wanted to call home.
I don’t know how I didn’t see it sooner. When I was living in Port Moody, I used to drive up to Squamish all the time to go hiking. Since I’ve been back in Victoria, I think I’ve gone to Squamish five or six times. It’s the place I’ve done some of my most creative work (including finishing writing my book proposal and the first draft of my book) and the place I most love to explore. I notice my anxiety go down as I drive up the Sea to Sky Highway, and I am genuinely sad every time I have to leave. It’s been a great home away from home… but what if it could just be my home!?
That’s a question I’ve been asking myself all year: could Squamish be my home? Could it be the place I finally settle in, find a community and build a life for myself? When I first planned to spend two months there, I had no intention of staying or even considering these questions. But as soon as I started to think about it, I decided to try it on for size and pay closer attention to my surroundings.
One of the first things I (finally) noticed was how nice everyone is. When you walk into the grocery store (or any business) people know each other. Strangers smile and talk to you (which is really nice when you’re new and don’t know anyone). It’s a small community (less than 20,000 people) and you can tell it’s the kind of place where people care about maintaining that. Small business matters. People like to support the local economy. They also care about the environment. And in my last week there, I discovered there is a growing community of creative women who run their own businesses.
That alone was almost enough to seal the deal for me. In February, I met one woman who asked if I wanted to write for her website, then another woman who serves as the editor of that website. I sat around a table and had coffee with 15-20 creative women who meet monthly to discuss new topics related to their work. A few of those conversations have since been taken “offline” and we’ve connected on other topics, including how to save money and how to better serve people with limited incomes. Each of those meetings and connections drew me a little closer to Squamish.
Ultimately, though, I knew I couldn’t make a decision based on just those things. Did it feel like the universe was giving me little nudges every time I had a great encounter with someone and even met other people from Victoria? Of course. Each of those moments felt like another brick had been painted bright yellow to guide me down the road. But I still knew this decision had to come from within and it wasn’t easy to make. Similar to the way I worried before departing on my road trip, I worried about leaving my family and the dogs. I also have zero interest in physically packing up and moving again. Just thinking about it is exhausting. But is it so exhausting that I won’t do it? No. Because, at the end of the day, Squamish is where I want to be.
There is a long list of questions you should ask yourself before moving to a new city. Can you afford it? Does it have good job prospects? Do you like the climate and the geography? I can speak to those things, but I’m guessing you know my answers. Yes, it doesn’t matter (though it’s close enough to Vancouver which is a plus), yes and yes again. But I asked myself some very different questions this time. Do I feel like myself here? Yes, and the best version of myself. Does it inspire me? Every day. Could this move be beneficial for others? If I’m the best version of myself and am constantly inspired, yes again.
And is it where I really want to be? A thousand yeses. So, I’m doing it. I found an amazing place (and negotiated the rent, which is now controlled at a fixed price). I paid the deposit. I’ve started changing my address, packing and coordinating the move. In two weeks, it will all be over. Squamish will no longer be my home away from home – it will simply be my home.
Even though I’m thrilled about the move and can’t wait to get there, I still have this sense that I want to take things slow. Believe it or not, I want to go through my belongings once more and carefully consider each item, before moving it (yet again). I also see myself letting go of some old things and buying a few things for my new home. Here are my intentions for March…
Experiment #3: Slow Move
- go through all of my belongings again/only pack what I want to keep
- sell/donate everything I don’t want to bring with me
- make a list of things I think I want to buy (like a standing desk)
- settle into my new home, before actually buying anything
- reach out and make plans with new friends :)
The third and fourth points are key, and are lessons I have learned after moving countless times and doing the two-year shopping ban. We’re quick to go out and buy all the things we think we will need, before knowing if and/or when we will actually need them. This is something marketers have engrained in us, because it is at the core of every advertisement: here’s a potential problem you could face and here’s the product to fix it. The problem sounds scary or stressful, so we buy things preemptively to avoid having to face those situations – but at what cost?
I want to move into my new home with the basics (and all my books) and figure out what I actually need. I do know I want a standing desk, but I also know I don’t need it right away. I’m not going to waste money on the first one I see or create physical waste by buying something I don’t end up liking. (And yes, I’ll be scouring sites for used ones!)
If I had to sum this post up in a few words, I guess I would say that I want to be really intentional with this move. All the ones I’ve done before were for specific reasons, including for work and for my family. But this one is just for me, and I don’t want to rush it. I know the drill, and I could tap my ruby slippers together and just get there. But I don’t want to. I want to settle in and make Squamish my home.
In the final stretch of my road trip last fall, I counted dozens of drivers passing by in vehicles filled with their belongings. I imagined the mix of excitement and anxiety they might be feeling about moving to a new city, perhaps for a new job or new relationship. And wherever they were going, I secretly hoped each one of them was doing whatever would make them happiest. Now, it’s my turn. :)
I’m curious: how did you decide where to live?