The city where you live can hugely impact your happiness. Some people say it doesn’t matter where you live, that you make your own happiness wherever you go. I beg to differ. The energy of a city is so important to your ability to thrive there. The weather is important too, more for some people than others. I really dislike being cold. I grew up in Chicago, went to college in New York and Michigan, and moved to the south primarily because I knew warmer weather would make me happier. It really did. So did other things about Atlanta.
Why I Moved from Atlanta to Austin
After eight years in ATL, I got the itch to try out another place. I wanted to get rid of my stuff and get rid of my 9-5 and make Beetle Moment Marketing my main job. I wanted to move somewhere with a greater focus on outdoor activities and a stronger sense of community, a place with less tension — without giving up my fantastic network and clients in Atlanta. So I’m splitting time between Austin and Atlanta. Semi-dual residency is my experiment for the next year or so. Airfare can be cheaper than bus fare if you know a few travel hacks.
Who’s Your City, though getting older and not the absolute answer to the question, is still a solid skim on the topic of choosing a place to live. Richard Florida has devoted his research to cities and what makes them and their residents prosper. Penelope Trunk did the same thing and after a year of thorough city happiness research moved from NYC to Madison, Wisconsin. I examined the attributes of several U.S. cities and picked the one with the most pros for me: Austin, Texas.
It’s easier to move when you don’t have a mortgage or a job that requires you to be in one place. But if these apply to you, it’s still possible to rearrange your life to make a change or even become nomadic. Sell it, rent it, request remote work, quit, freelance…
And remember: jobs come and go.
We place too much emphasis on work in this country. No one on their death bed wishes they’d worked more. That said, I like working — more accurately, I love working for myself.
What to do with all your stuff
Own a home? Rent it out. Have too much stuff? Sell it ALL. Inherit an old boat recently? Hire Captain Ron to help you sail it from the Caribbean to Miami, then decide to just keep sailing. The internet has made all of this easier than ever.
Downsize to joy items
Start to downsize early, then moving becomes much easier mentally. I sold or donated all my furniture and came to Austin with only boxes containing things like my InstantPot and Himalayan salt lamps and Casper pillow and rollerblades. Stuff that brings me joy: ditch the rest. Buy newer models of what you sold.
A chance to upgrade
When I move again I will pare it down even further. I’m excited to be lighter than ever. All those blazers and Brooks Brothers shirts and high heels from my corporate days are just taking up room in my closet. I’ve been thinking more about this since seeing the YouTube trend of young people living in their cars. Eileah Ohning from Columbus lived in her car for several months, motivated in part by wanting to save money to pay off student loans. That is a travesty, but student loan debt is a separate topic. The point is that it’s possible to be happy living really lean. Here are more moneysaving tips for your twenties.
I couldn’t downsize into a sedan like Eileah did (impressive) but I did embrace the discomfort of starting over from scratch. It’s a chance to upgrade things.