Last weekend Dean and I spent our first weekend in Fort Wayne that did not involve looking at every possible house on the market.
It was rather lovely.
We were in town in order to close on our house Monday. The seller we worked with was nice enough to let us stay at the house during the weekend, so we were able to start to get a feel for our new home—both the city and the house.
Personally, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about moving out to the midwest. But, if there’s one thing I know, it’s culture shock. I mean, I went from living behind the Orange Curtain to Portland, OR. And this weekend, I started to fall in love with my new city.
Over the course of the weekend, Dean and I were able to connect with our new neighbors, find some really great food (I found the best thai I’ve ever had just a block from the house), and meet a lovely artist who works with media I never considered. All of this was within two days that included entirely too many trips to Target.
I come from Orange County with its Stepford communities full of busybodies who know everything about everyone and are always down for some good tea and shade, so when I heard folks in our neighborhood say we were moving into an area with built in community, I was a little nervous. But Dean and I spent over two hours talking with the seller of our house and had a refreshingly legit person-to-person conversation about culture and community. Hearing about the recent trends and changes made me even more excited to be in the neighborhood we selected.
A few fun surprises--
Dean and I love that we’re so close to local options. I’m writing this blog in suburban Hillsboro and the closest restaurants from the apartment include Corner Bakery, PF Chang's, Spaghetti Factory, and Red Robin. Yes, of course Portland has amazing local options, but there’s no way we could afford living that close to town and maintain any sort of decent lifestyle. And I’m not going to drive 20+minutes into town for a meal if that’s all I’m planning on doing. Also, finding plant based, gluten free options wasn’t hard at all!
There’s so much going on. Yes, there’s a ton going on in Portland. I’m not shocked at the idea of weekend events. My shock came because I had heard from multiple who lived in Fort Wayne as recently as three or four years ago that there’s just nothing to do. The particular weekend we were in town there was Sweetwater Sound’s GearFest, GreekFest, BuskerFest, and some really intriguing art/improv shows happening. And, I don’t mean to keep hammering in the idea of accessibility, but everything was just so close I couldn’t believe it.
Last, but certainly not least, people are welcoming. When Dean and I moved up to Portland, we were fascinated by the fact that people were nice. But there’s a difference between nice and welcoming. Everyone out here is over the idea of transplants (especially from California). But out there, as soon as it came up that we were moving, everyone was giving us the lowdown on the cool places in town. When we were at a furniture store, we got sidetracked from our mission of finding stuff for the house and spent 30 minutes trading travel stories with the salesperson, and she was showing us examples of her denim and packing tape art. It was absolutely lovely, and and not unique to the many experiences we had over the weekend.
After gallivanting around last weekend, and closing being officially done, Dean and I are even more excited for the big move!
It started as many great, life changing stories start—On a Saturday night in NYC’s West Village.
Dean and I were just slightly inebriated and extremely sleep deprived, as we had been gallivanting over the city after a successful work function that occurred over the past couple days. Anyone that travels for work knows how painful those quick turnaround trips can be. But since Dean and I get to do many of them together, we often take advantage of the opportunity.
So, we found ourselves waiting for a table 40 minutes past our reservation at a little Italian restaurant with nothing but time to kill. I was texting my best friend and near-sister Tammy, who had just found out where she’d be spending the last year of her PsyD training: Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Once I heard the news, I did what anyone who’s spent their entire life in unattainable real estate markets does. I checked out housing prices.
What I found made me concerned that I may have had more vodka than I’d thought. I showed Dean a handful of crazy low priced options and he did what any decent caffeine addict would do: check whether there’s a decent coffee place (because if not, hey, at those real estate prices starting a business wasn’t out of the question either). And so, the “let’s just move to Fort Wayne” conversation began.
Initially, it was a joke.
We couldn’t just pack up and go. Could we?
We wouldn’t just pack up and go. Would we?
Both Dean and I are natives of Orange County, California. Do you know how rare So Cal natives are?!?! Very few people really understand that sadness I have over having given up my 714 cell phone number 10 years ago. Fewer understand that pride I have for my 503 number since those have gone the way of the dodo now as well. Dean and I are true West Coast kids.
Or, at least true Coastal kids. We’ve done summers playing up and down the East Coast and love it. Being near the big cities was so important that I refused to look at any part of the midwest, even for grad school. I’ll own the fact that even with this move, I STILL call the non-coastal states parking lot states.
Over the next couple months, we helped Tammy look at places for her and her family, continuously seeing the occasional house that called to us.
Jokes became ponderings.
What would the budget be? How would this really look? What about those things called jobs?
And ponderings became plans.
Of course in the time leading up to when she knew where she was going, we joked as all besties do about one following the other, because heaven help us if we can’t get together to drink and bitch once a week. Except, at some point, she and Dean knew that these jokes were becoming more and more serious. I remember one night where I mentioned that--
“Yeah, Dean talks as if we’re actually moving too.”
“Oh, yeah, this is happening.”
Okay, cool. Glad I was in the loop on all of it.
When I stopped to think about it, a lot of pieces actually fit. Dean and I were quickly coming up on 10 years in Portland. I knew if we hit 10 years, we’d never leave. Don’t get me wrong, Portland is fucking amazing. But, in the past few years I realized I’m not quite ready to settle some place.
Also, the rest of the world has tuned into how amazing Portland is too, making it a little less so. As a child of Southern California, I strongly maintain the traffic in PDX is significantly worse than anything you’ll see between the 310 and 909. The rents are right on par with Southern California. It’s a little sad when I look at apartments in Orange County that are the same price as up here, when 10 years ago, there was easily a $500-600 difference. And housing prices? Ugh. It’s been great for folks who owned before the recession, but Portland was one of the few places not really affected by the housing collapse. The prices just keep going up, and the competitiveness of the market is crazy.
With all that said, along with so many other miscellaneous and intangible reasons, it’s time for us to get out of the rat race and see some different parts of the country. We couldn’t be more excited about this new adventure!