The One Move That Changed My Entire Life

Illustrated by Elliott Salazar.
It sucks to break up with a city you love. We’re talking Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction levels of suckiness. The logistics are a nightmare, the landlords are diabolical, and nothing comes cheap. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth risking a boiled bunny, if you really want out. When I moved across the country from New York to Los Angeles, it was to reboot my career; I had known for years that L.A. was the only city in which this could happen. But the longer I lived in New York, the more my identity became linked to that location. Excuses to stay put were easy to come by: “I can’t leave my friends!” “I can’t leave this apartment!” “I actually LIKE being sexually harassed on the subway!” Some excuses were genuine, but many were based in fear. My biggest bad excuse was always money: “I don’t have the cash!” But when I finally did move, I found that if you’re willing to be minimalist and creative, you can haul your ass across the country for little more than the cost of a plane ticket.

However, before you all book flights to a better life, consider this: “Just because” is not a reason to move 3,000 miles. Move because you need to, move to pursue your passion, or move because there are mobsters who want you dead. But don’t do it “just because.” It’s certainly possible to relocate for cheap (more on this in a sec), but the emotional price can be high.

My move was especially charged, since it came two months after three major traumas: a breakup, a job loss, and testicular cancer. My friends supported me throughout, helping me cope with insane levels of stress. Without them, I honestly don’t know if I would’ve survived. But with their help, I was able to get through crisis and tap into newfound strength. This strength is what gave me the courage to finally move across the country. It wasn’t easy, but it was the most important decision of my life.

Whether it’s Seattle to D.C., Atlanta to Portland, or Philly to an ice floe in Alaska, I can promise you one thing: Moving cross-country doesn’t happen without a fight. Here are some tips for getting through the battle without breaking the bank.

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