Moving for the very first time can have a unique thrill unlike any other. There’s so much excitement for new places, cultures, activities, personalities, and foods to explore.
Moving back home? Well that’s something entirely different. The act of packing up everything you own into portable bundles and transporting your things, your life, and your future to another city takes on a different meaning when you’re returning home to Wisconsin. This week I had the amazing opportunity to guest on one of the top local podcasts, The Cabin, and talk about my recent move from Los Angeles, California to Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a big transition after being gone for 15 years AND moving during the pandemic, take a listen here:
One lesson learned: some “deliver to your door” companies may not actually deliver to your door because they had to shut down facilities during the pandemic and now they don’t have any near your destination, so then you have to find another moving company to take your items from the one company’s drop off site (likely in the middle of nowhere) and find a way to get it to your home. But hey, life can get complicated sometimes.
Any-who, a little backstory…I was out in Los Angeles working for various cable networks on shows you may have heard of: Falling Skies, Dallas, Leverage, Big Brother After Dark, Conan, and Schitt’s Creek, just to name a few. Moving back home for me was a decision that, despite all the excitement of Hollywood and advancing into a unique career, came down to my deep desire to be closer to family and to walk the talk that ‘family comes first’. Along the way, I’ve quickly discovered how drastically different these two mindsets are, and finally appreciated the beauty of aiming for not just a unique career, but a life only I could live, and whose meaning could only have the deepest value to me on this journey.
While my moving journey may be one-of-a-kind, I am far from the only one out on a trek. As a data-driven person, I can’t pass up an opportunity to highlight some fun stats: according to MoveBuddha, 31 million Americans move each year, of which 83% move within their home state, yet 25% move 500 miles or more. I fully believe that I am capable of doing what I do anywhere I go, so in preparing to move back home, I created a slightly intensive cost of living analysis to assess many potential new beginnings across the Midwest and closer to WI. While there are many sites that compare cost of living across several cities, I took my analysis one step further. I needed to know how each environment stacked up against realistic jobs within my skill set, the potential projection of my lifestyle behaviors and activities, the current cultural temperature, my overall life goals (albeit a vision board) for the future, and my “personal happiness value”. Then once I had about 20 - 25 cities listed out in my spreadsheet, I went through and crossed out anything I didn’t like (i.e. too expensive here, not enough to make it worth it here), and ended up with a final list of the highest ranking cities - all based on what I think I would need to be happy. Surprisingly (at that time), most of the top ones were all in WI!
And while I made the decision to move to Madison before Livability decided to name it the best place to live in 2021, I was not surprised at all for the capital city to receive such a crown jewel.
If you’re curious about what my cost of living analysis included, I’ve turned it into a template and you can get a free copy of it here: link to signup to download the free pdf (signup goes to DW list). It’s crazy how many of the little things are actually a big factor when it comes to moving your entire life and future to another state.
One thing I love about life is that everyone’s journey is so incredibly unique, and those stories of challenges, triumph, relatable individuality, and ultimately vulnerability, are what makes us human. They say Wisconsin is the friendliest state because we are quick to offer a beer, a brat, or a hand. We also have an inquisitive and naturally apologetic spirit which lends us to share our stories in an attempt to include, relate, and connect. As one of the few consistent refugee states during many tough times over the past few centuries, it could be in our collective blood to maintain a base level of friendliness.
Another thing, no doubt in our blood, is the PACKERS energy! Now, I may have a slight bias as I was born and raised in Green Bay, and while there is a huge Packers population in Los Angeles, it’s NOTHING compared to being back at a game or even just being in the Green Bay area vicinity, during a game is an incredible experience and privilege I had forgotten.
Playing devil’s advocate, one of the biggest things I was going to miss about Los Angeles was all the convenient outdoor activities. It felt strange shipping a fancy Hollywood car and a well-used kayak to the frozen tundra, but low and behold, Madison just had to go out and beat Portland for best bikeable city. Plus, this land of all the lakes means kayaking is within basically every 30 miles - and there’s even WINTER KAYAKING to boot! Needless to say, I’m excited for the thrill of getting back into regular winter activities, and enjoying the changes in the colors of the trees, after living in a place with no seasons.
Now that I’m back in Wisconsin, my only challenge left is finding time for all of my new winter hobbies. So look out Instagram, winter is coming.
Nicole Martin: Discover Wisconsin's Brand Manager, lover of Wisconsin activities, data & analytics extraordinaire