On Taking Leaps of Faith
or: how we moved to Tampa
When I moved to Florida near the onset of lockdown due to coronavirus, it was not an easy decision to make. For starters, we didn't really know how we would do it.
As China's coronavirus situation developed in early 2020, I had a sneaking suspicion that a similar situation would develop in the United States. I made a request to my manager at the end of February 2020 to work from home. It was approved, and I transitioned just before New York followed suit. With what energy I had left after digesting the doom and gloom that pervaded, I started thinking about the longer term effects. Some predictions I feel haven't landed, like my one about broader health care support.
Others, like the migration to warmer or lower cost cities, seems self-evident.
The idea came into our heads prior to the pandemic, but the pandemic was the great instigator. My wife Rachel and I both worked remote in our jobs, we weren't seeing anyone anyway, and we were pretty sure it would be a bit cheaper if we moved out of the New York metro. Additionally, Rachel made the good point that as far as spreading the virus, in-doors events were a higher risk than out-door events. As it became colder in New York, other states, namely Florida, would remain warm. The ability to be out-doors more of the year meant that cases wouldn't spread as quickly assuming all else remained the same. (Sidenote: I suppose it didn't, but that's for another time. Luckily, we bought seem to have avoided covid so far.)
So, the first thing we had to plan was logistics. There was no way we could fly everything down. Even in a 1 bedroom apartment, we just had too much stuff. We also didn't want to fly, period. Luckily, I had a car, but it didn't have a tow. First thing seemed clear then: get a tow installed, and rent a u-haul.
Once that was done, we also had to figure out where we'd live. We were familiar with Miami, but from prior visits it felt too much like New York. Part of the change of scene was also change of tempo. There was enough going on in the world that somewhere more quiet was intentionally chosen. Being that we still wanted some of the benefits of a city, we chose Tampa.
Because the drive is a long one, we broke it up arbitrarily with stops in North Carolina and Georgia. We also made sure we had a place to go - we still hadn't decided on where to rent. Ultimately, the judgement was made from location, photos, google reviews, and the responsiveness of the property managers. With that contract signed, and never having been on the property before, we set off.
It was of course hard, saying good bye to friends and family virtually. The exception was my parents, who were part of our bubble and helped us load the u-haul. And honestly, even on reflection today, that has been the hardest part. It is hard not seeing our friends and family as much as we used to pre-pandemic, and it's been hard that, with the state of the pandemic today, we avoid meeting new people.
But other than that, Tampa has been fantastic. The city, which has recently won the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, and other trophies, is a thriving hub. Our quality of life has measurably improved with the lower costs, constant warmth, and culture. The food is better (and the bagels almost as good), and the breweries are delicious. I've established a routine starts on our balcony with the fresh air and sun at my face. The air is also worth a shout, as it has lower quantities of PM2.5 and other pollutants.
I truly enjoy living here more than I did in New York.
None of this would be possible if I wasn't open to it. The decision was probably one I rejected at first, but now it seems like everyone is planning on moving south. This is to say that things that seem scary at first may seem obvious in hindsight. If these opportunities present themselves, and you ignore them, then you may pay the price in regret later.