Sunday, January 12, 2014

Goodbye, Los Angeles!

Remember when I posted about Life Changes Pending? It was partly inspired by this story I read on NPR. This guy, Winston Chen, heard a Ted talk about taking 5 years of your retirement and spreading them out throughout your working life. It inspired him to move his family to a little island in Norway, where they got to experience 24 hour daylight, 24 hour night, and the Aurora Borealis. You cannot put a price on that type of experience - and wouldn't it be so much better to experience it while you're young, with energy and physical stamina/strength?

So we made a decision! We're going to do the same thing (not the Norway part, but the retire-for-awhile part), and we'll be using this time to have new experiences and also to do a little soul searching about our own life paths and careers. 

To give you some background, here were the numerous options we considered:

1. Taking off in the van. Where? Anywhere! But first, the US and Canada, visiting Nova Scotia, Banff, New Orleans, Key West, and everywhere and everything in between...with the amount of money we want to spend, we could only afford about 6 months.

2. Going to Greece/Italy.Starting off in Athens and backpacking through the islands, taking the ferry across to Italy and touring up the coast, ending in Milan and crossing over eventually, into Germany (to visit a friend in Munich and then head home). This option? We'd run out of money in about 3 months.

3. Staying in L.A. so Mike can continue working (I'd be just writing) and we'd still be enjoying time with our friends and his family. We could do this for about 8 months before hitting our budget.

4. Moving to Chicago. Moving to Seattle. Moving to Joshua Tree. Moving to Grants Pass, San Luis Obispo, Medford, San Diego, Eugene, Salem.....options are endless! Obviously, depending on the location, the budget stretches further for some cities.

After extensive discussion and detailed spreadsheets, in which I calculated every single expense we could have (including haircuts, kitty litter and a winter wardrobe, if needed), the most cost effective option was to move - FOR A FULL YEAR OR MORE! - to....

....wait for it....

The most awesome place we could find, that would offer opportunities for fun, outdoor recreation, gorgeous breath-taking scenery and new adventures in our van with access to Canada and Alaska...and still have everything I needed (Target, REI, Trader Joe's, organic eateries, a local bakery):

By Matthew Johnson Studios
By Amanda Green Bottoms

by Mike Putnam Photo

This place looks pretty ridiculous, right? It's sort of an isolated medium-sized town, with 80,000 people, surrounded by state and national parks, snowboarding 20-30 minutes away, a nice dry climate (no bugs!) and a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. 

Haven't guessed yet? It's Bend, Oregon. The only downside is I hear they hate people from Los Angeles (and California in general). They call us "equity immigrants." Which, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, is exactly what Mike and I will be. But whatever. I'm actually from Chicago. And we are going to have the most amazing year ever, starting in a few months.

I can't wait!!!