Moving to Michigan

Why we’re heading back east after a few years of living in Oregon, and how we’re doing it


After a little over three-and-a-half years of living in Portland, Oregon, Abagail and I are moving to Michigan in less than a month. We’ve been planning on moving out of Portland to live in a smaller city that’s a little bit slower and has a lower cost of living. We weren’t quite sure where or when we wanted to move until earlier this year.

Our lease is up at our current place at the end of April 2019, so we could either renew or move. We thought why the heck not just move sooner rather than later if we know that’s what we want to do? So we’re moving to Michigan at the end of April.

Why We’re Moving

Abagail grew up in Michigan and most of her family still lives there. I’ve visited a few times too. I’ve never lived in the Midwest before, but I’m excited about it. We’re not totally sure where we’ll end up living in Michigan yet, but it’ll probably be around the Detroit area. A little city with a downtown and some markets would be perfect. We’ll stay with Abagail’s family while we find a place to live.

One reason for the move is to be closer to family. We haven’t lived near family ever as a couple. I’m excited to spend more regular time with family. We’ll also be in a location that’s more accessible to my family, even though they’re a bit scattered across the country.

Also, to be honest, a major part of why we’re moving is to reduce our cost of living. Living in Portland is getting pretty expensive (due in part because of where we’ve chosen to live). It should be quite a bit cheaper to rent in Michigan, which is very appealing. Our rent is always our biggest expense, so if we can reduce that, we’ll be able to save and give more. While we love Portland, we derive most of our happiness from walking places, the comfort of our home, and access to markets. We can definitely find that in places outside of Portland.

In a lot of ways, we’re hitting reset on our lives. It’s a big change, and we’re excited for it.

How We’re Moving

We’re moving in a potentially unorthodox way. Instead of shipping all of our stuff to Michigan, we’re selling and donating virtually all of it. We don’t have much stuff to begin with, and the cost of shipping all of it is more than our stuff is worth. We’ll bring our clothes and ship some key kitchen things like our rice cooker. But everything else is easily replaceable.

So we’ve been culling through everything we own in preparation for the move. We’re planning on taking two suitcases and a duffle. We’ll ship some things via the post office too. But nothing big is making its way across the country.

It feels fantastic to go through our stuff and have to be critical about what we keep. It’s been helping us understand what we actually use and what we’ll need to acquire when we find a new place to live. It’s like The Great Minimizing but even more intense.

We’ve got our one-way flight booked and ready.

Changes to Our Lives

I work remotely and can live anywhere, which is a big aspect of why this move isn’t a big risk. Abagail wrapped up her job here in Portland, and she’ll see what opportunities are out there when we get to Michigan. So that’s a pretty big change for Abagail.

We’ve already decided that we’re going to have to get a car. I’m sure one could live car-free in Michigan if they lived in the right place, but we want to be able to get around pretty easily. We’re planning on living car-lite and using bikes and our feet to get around locally. We’ve saved up $8k for buying a compact car when we get there.

We’ll definitely miss our local friends and aspects of Portland like the art museum. That’s never an easy aspect of life to say farewell to.

This change coincides with intentional efforts we both have been making to live our best lives and be of service to others. It’d certainly be possible wherever we live, but there’s something magical about moving somewhere else and leaving almost everything behind. I’m going to embrace whatever changes come as part of this, and I’m looking forward to sharing how it goes.

Author: Brett Chalupa

day: software developer, night: comic artist

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