It's the single question I've been asked the most over the last couple months. It's been asked by friends, asked by family, I've even asked myself a number of times. It's been phrased many ways, but the implied question is always the same.
"Why on earth would you want to risk everything you have, everything you've worked so hard for, to just pick it all up and move 1300 miles across the country?".
Look, I have it pretty good. I'm not blind to that. I have an incredible job (Which I complain about far more often than I should). I work with an insanely awesome team of people much smarter than me who have evolved into close friends outside the walls of EMC. I have an awesome boss that could give the "Most interesting man in the world" a run for this money. Outside of work, I have been lucky enough to marry my high school sweetheart Valerie, adopt a beautiful, well tempered Siberian husky named Jayna, and was fortunate enough to purchase my first home at the age of 23. I live the American dream every day.
So why risk it all? Why put everything you have in jeopardy? It comes down to one word. Regret.
George Takei posted something to his widly popular Facebook page the other day that inspired me to write this blog post becauset it put into words what I could not:
Making a big life change is pretty scary, but you know what's even scarier? Regret
I think the only thing worse than losing everything, having to start from scratch, would be to not do anything and spend every day wondering what if?.
Valerie and I are 27 years old, intelligent, highly educated and more driven than anyone else we know. There is not a doubt in my mind that should things go south (pun intended?) we will rebound.
Before I go any further, here's a fun fact: Did you know that it's hot in Florida? Surprising, I know, but It's true. Every person we told we were moving to Florida gave us a lecture about how hot it is in Florida as if somehow it was something we hadn't given any consideration to. In case you were wondering, it's also humid and there are a lot of old people here. There are also plenty of alligators and right wing religious fanatics to go around. All earth shattering facts, I know.
Now that I've got that condescension off my chest I can explain the real reason we settled on the sunshine state.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here, weather was a driving factor. I hate the cold. And don't get me wrong, I don't just dislike the cold or find it mildly uncomfortable. I hate it. Give me a humid 100* summer day over the bone chilling winds of an 18* winter night anytime. With cold comes snow, and I hate that too. I hate shoveling it, I hate driving in it, I hate when it gets in my shoes and makes my socks wet.
But there are a lot of places in the country where it doesn't get very cold, where it doesn't snow, so why Florida specifically? I can recall the exact moment in time when I decided this is where I wanted to be.
In February of 2011 Valerie and I took a trip with my awesome Uncle Chris to Daytona Beach to watch the Daytona 500. He was kind enough to let us stay with him in his nice timeshare in New Smyrna Beach for the week and it was one of the most enjoyable vacations we had ever been on. At one point we found ourselves at "Citywalk" in Orlando near Universal Studios. It was a Saturday afternoon and Valerie and I decided to watch the NASCAR Nationwide series race at none-other than the "NASCAR Cafe". We had our meal inside and eventually moved to the outdoor bar to watch the rest of the race. It was in that moment, sitting outside on a February afternoon sipping a frozen drink and watching my favorite sport that I knew this is where I wanted to be. This was home.
There are other reasons as well. Picking somewhere in the eastern time zone was important for work. Not having state income tax was a huge plus with regards to my internet business. No car inspections means owning modified cars is less stressful and the racing and convertible season is essentially 365 days long. There's just something about warm sticky weather, palm trees and nicely paved roads that makes me happy.
A lot of strategy and planning went into picking Parrish, a really small town in western Florida that in Val's words sits "between cows and trees". Parrish is almost perfectly situated adjacent to Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota. All of these major cities offer potential job opportunities, including technology jobs, should I ever find myself without work. Our realtor Sharron recommended Parish specifically because it's a nice town away from some of the nearby areas hit hard by the economic recession. Copperstone, the community we're building our house in, is nothing short of Amazing and is growing at a rapid pace.
Time will tell whether we made a good decision, whether we're truly happen in the years to come. One thing is for certain though, we'll never be burdened by wondering What if?