Yesterday on 10/17, I celebrated my first Zonaversary! *tossing confetti* It's also symbolic because it is also my grandma Rose's birthday. She would have been 98.
I moved to Phoenix, Arizona from Silicon Valley California last year. My move was prompted by an inspiring road trip I took with one of my BFFs @jenmyronuk when she moved to Boulder from Silicon Valley last year.
I desperately needed a change.
Packing up and moving to Phoenix was a big deal for me because in my whole life I have never lived more than 80 miles from my parents. Now I live over 800 miles from them. PLUS, I didn't really know anyone here, just one person. I also hadn't been to Phoenix in over 10 years so didn't even know what the place looked like. Yeah, kinda risky move there!
All I knew is that my heart wanted to move there...badly...so I listened and made the leap of faith. I can say in this instance that listening to my heart turned out to be one of the best things I've done in eons. Here is a photo with my friend Eniko. She practically did the same thing and just moved to Phoenix from Ohio. We are toasting our move and new friendships!
Clean slate: To use a computer metaphor, moving to Phoenix was like wiping out the hard drive and putting in a new OS - starting anew. I kept happy memories and feelings, and deleted as much of the old, stagnate, not-helping me files as possible.
I know that no matter where you go, there you are. I wanted my move to Phoenix to be like "running to" versus "running away," so I made amends and took accountability of as much of my personal life stuff before I left CA so I could start fresh like making up with my best friend of 30 years. We had a falling out and hadn't spoken in about a year. All is good now!
It really is a fantastic feeling to be in a place where you get to start fresh. Another bonus, because I want to keep that freshness as long as possible, it is pushing me to deal with issues more than I would have in California where I was basically stuck in life apathy. The smell of new home is helping me grow.
Getting a clearer picture of my self-limiting habits: When you are in a new environment, new energy space, new culture, your habits - helpful and self-limiting - start to become really apparent because you are now set against a new backdrop. In fact, here I am milking a goat for the first time ever, talk about new backdrops!
Moving to a new city can really help you get a new perspective on yourself. One of my self-limiting habits that glared brighter was my fear of living a bigger life. I saw how I made choices based more on what felt safe, staying in my comfort zone, versus what would help me evolve and pushed me out of my comfort zone. The benefit of getting a clearer picture of your self-limiting habits is that you can heal them and create habits that are more helpful.
Making more friends: I'd have to say the biggest benefit for me in my first year in Phoenix is that I have made more friends in this one year than I have in the last 5 years in California. I'm not kidding! People are just more friendlier here, and most are transients like myself so there's more bonding. Meeting a native Arizonian is actually quite rare.
Above is a photo from a night called, "Puma Prowl" with a bunch of new friends I made on Twitter. The thongs were a gift from the bar owner and just summed up the hystericalness of that whole evening. I've had many fun nights like this one.
Other theories on why I've made more friends here, people have better work/life balance here than Silicon Valley where most are breaking their backs to pay for a small house. I'm a happier person overall so I'm just attracting more friendship opportunities. My subconscious wants to plant roots here so I'm making more of an effort. I think a part of me never really wanted to stay in California so things just didn't happen.
Growing social media community: For me, this was a big deal because my business is in social media. I often work in cafes and believe it or not I can find more cafes here in Phoenix that serve non-dairy milks like rice and coconut. Yes in Silicon Valley I had access to the best and brightest in the world, and there were opportunities galore but man it constantly felt like Fight Club there. It's so competitive that you really have to go above and beyond the call of duty to stand out and make a dent there.
In Phoenix, I get to be a more noticeable fish in a more relaxed pond. I have an easier time getting on the radar here especially in the food scene because I blog about healthy eating, and I have a wider field to grow my influence. Becoming a social media leader in Arizona is far easier than trying to climb that mountain in California. I did my time at a start-up that went IPO and was successful, and I don't ever want to go through that "crazy no life" situation again.
Phoenix may lack many of the sexy attributes that growing popular tech places in the West like Silicon Valley, Portland, Seattle, and Boulder/Denver have, but this city is the 5th largest metro in the US, and there is nothing but opportunity to put this place on the map. Many may just see desert and lack of culture, but I see only opportunity, and the adventurer and pioneer in me thrives on that!
Foremost U.S. wellness destination: So one of those huge opportunities I see in Phoenix's future is that this place will become one of if not the foremost wellness destinations in the U.S. This was another huge reason I feel very connected to Arizona and want to plant roots here again too because my business is in healthy living. Because I am very passionate about this topic, in my next post, I will explain in more detail why I see the Phoenix area as a place that many people will be coming to for wellness.
I do better in the heat: My body temperature naturally runs about 2-3 degrees below normal so in the summer when it's 85 degrees outside, I can still feel cold and wear a sweater. I absolutely have the hardest time in snow and below zero temps, it's like torture for me. Yes, the weather in Phoenix can get Africa-like hot in the 115's but for me, it hasn't been that bad. My car has had a rougher time than me because he's 10 years old and black. Black cars in the heat make for an easy bake oven.
I also love that you can wear shorts on Thanksgiving day, and when the rest of the nation is freezing or in the snow during the winter, in Phoenix we can still wear flip flops. Yeah, there are the cold and rainy days here too but the rain is warmer and the cold days don't require parkas or gloves. If you go outside of Phoenix, there are many places with snow and lower temps.
I can buy a house without breaking my back: I want to own a home...without having to feel like I'm working just to pay for the house! In the Bay Area, there was absolutely no way I was going to be able to buy a house there on my own without living in constant financial stress. Even married, many couples are in constant financial stress either in their current houses or thinking about buying a house. Even in the country's economic situation, housing in the Bay Area is still high. Your average single family home is going to run about $650K. For that same amount of money, I can live in a mini-mansion in some of the nicest areas of Phoenix. In Scottsdale, I saw nice homes for under $200K which is doable for me and causes me glee versus anxiety.
Cheaper gas and less traffic: I don't deal well with traffic. On average, gas is about 40 cents cheaper in Phoenix than Silicon Valley. There have been a few times when I noticed a 60 cent difference. Gas is a big deal for me because I do drive quite a bit, and Phoenix is really spread out. The traffic here is also minuscule compared to California. I have never been in stand still traffic here, and cars are always at least moving versus taking one hour to go 5 miles. In LA, I get road rage because the traffic is so bad, and in the Bay Area tolls are now $5 with gas averaging $3.20/gallon.
The desert and mountains are grounding: For some reason, I feel much more grounded in the desert surrounded by mountains. I also really like cactus because I think they are survivors and bloom beautiful flowers no matter how tough the climate...reminds me of myself to be Freudian. The red rocks and the sunsets here have some of the most amazing colors I have ever seen. I find it all very soothing and calming.
I used to love the ocean, one of the things I loved about California, but in my older age, I now find the ocean more unsettling and unpredictable. Don't get me wrong, I love to go visit the ocean. I just have a hard time living near it now. I also find the desert wildlife interesting like the lizards, coyotes, horses, and yes even the bugs. I also like that where I live I often see butterflies and dragonflies.
I feel connected, plugged-in: You know how some cities just feel more like "home" to you? Well, that's how Phoenix makes me feel. For the first time in a long time, I feel connected to the place I live. I do miss my parents and family dearly. California and the Bay Area is a fantastic place, and no doubt one of the best metros in the world, but I never felt plugged in there. Using computer metaphor again, living in California, I felt like a laptop running on battery life with no WiFi.
In Phoenix, I feel plugged-in not only to the land, and the people, but more to myself. Yeah...to myself...which is a big deal in itself too. Perhaps, it's because the lifestyle is slower and more balanced here or again because I'm just happier and feel more optimistic, I feel like I've been able to do a better job of connecting with myself here, and that too has been monumental in helping me grow and evolve as a person.
I'm not sure how long I will live in Phoenix, but I can tell you this, my first year here has been one of the most joyful years of my whole life...seriously! It's so exciting to be able to say that because I have had so many tough years for so long. I finally got a year year that wasn't perfect but was one where I no longer felt like salmon swimming against the current, I got to swim with the flow. I feel very blessed and am so grateful!
If you're thinking about moving, I say do it! Whether it be to Phoenix or any other city you have been thinking about for a long time, why not just go take the plunge?
My two cents, the worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work out and you can move back or to another place. At least you tried and you listened to your heart. And bigger yet, you just may discover a whole new world of magic and opportunity of things you never new existed.
I'm glad I took the leap of faith :-)