Leaving Boston was bittersweet. It was where I spent ten formative years in college. It was where I, a country bumpkin who was born and raised 1 mile away from 3 farms, got to immerse myself in city life. It was where Emily and I first moved in together, and it was where I proposed to her.
We loved Boston, but then many things changed. Most of my classmates moved on to other cities. The 2008 economic downturn made it nearly impossible for us to find jobs. The rising cost of living was putting enormous pressure on us financially, requiring us to eke out an existence as I finished my postdoc work. I used to keep the thermostat at 60-65 degrees during the Boston winters because it was all we could afford. After work, I would return to see Emily typing at her laptop wearing her coat and mittens. She played it off like it was no big deal, but I hated that this was the best I could provide for us. The city was getting angrier every year. I'll never forget the day when we were riding the T, and my Emily smiled at a stranger, only to be glared down. I saw the light in her dim a little the day, and I hated it.
And so it went. More and more reasons began to mount up why Boston no longer felt like home.
And so we made an (abrupt) decision to leave. Exactly three weeks from that moment, we were riding two separate vehicles on a 2,000-mile journey to Colorado, where we would move into a townhouse rental that we hadn't even seen in person. It was a leap for sure.
The Colorado Decade
I loved Colorado from the minute we got here. I distinctly remember walking around the neighborhood one day and having two strangers say hello to me as if they knew me from way back. It was weird. In Boston, people on the street were only that nice to you if they were asking for money. I eventually heard of the term "Colorado nice." It meant that people would even go as far as feigning interest to not hurt one's feelings. It was a surreal contrast to the default, standoffish mood of the average Bostonian.
I loved Colorado because it was full of beauty and opportunity. Emily landed a job at the National Honey Board almost immediately. I was able to work remotely with companies in NY and Virginia while benefitting from the much lower cost of living. We got to nt only see the mountains, but enjoy breathtaking drives up to 12,000'. We had the most beautiful wedding and started our family here. There was so much to be thankful and happy for in this chapter of our lives.
But just like Boston, things started to change. The city of Longmont has had a notable population explosion with housing developments, and you can feel the strain. Housing prices have gone up 50% since we bought our house, which is great in theory, but it also means that it is now impossible to move out to the country and buy land. And the once "Colorado nice" cultural norm is quickly fading away. The same air of hostility and grumpiness has been imported from the coasts.
The political climate has also made things tricky. A decade ago, there was tolerance and acceptance of other people and their ideas and ideals. No more. People have become intolerant and supportive of authoritarian measures because they don't even want to humor another point of view. I don't want to get into too many specifics. I will say that some of these dramatic changes, 180-degree changes have directly impacted my family.
To that end, I have a feeling there is going to be an exodus. Ideals that were once embraced are being shunned and strangled. This has' t been sitting well with my family or me, so we were already gearing up to move in the summer of 2021.
Then Add Covid19
City life has forever changed since the pandemic. Amenities have become liabilities in a world of forced social distancing, shutdowns, and the massive increase in the overhead required to keep everything clean. The pent up frustration exploded with the (let's call it what it was) murder of George Floyd. Sections of cities were literally burned to the ground.
Much has been said about all of this, but practically I have one job as a husband and a father… to provide for and to keep my family safe. And frankly, living in a big city like Seattle, where entire sections can be taken over with police forced out, is simply a world I can't allow my family to live in or near. And while Denver is no Seattle, the size of the damage and the unwillingness of leadership to contain it was the final straw.
So we made a tough decision to leave Colorado and move towards literal and figuratively greener pastures. Many states evaluated, but ultimately we tried to optimize for what was going to best set up the family for success while still providing me an opportunity to provide for my family.
After a long evaluation, Edmond was the clear winner. It might not be the right choice for others, but it checked many boxes for us. It's a place that I'm more and more excited about as our move approaches. It's the same feeling of hope and optimism that I had when we first landed in Colorado. And just like it was an adjustment to switch from Boston to Longmont, I'm sure there will be a few hiccups along the way. Still, I'm incredibly excited about what this move will mean to my family.
And we're not alone.
It's impressive to see so many other people using this pandemic to re-evaluate their values and move to a new city or state that better fits. I'm seeing many, many people leave the big cities and seek a better quality of life somewhere else. Hopefully, you may be one of those someone else's finding a better somewhere else.
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About Rick Manelius
Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.