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Yes, you read that right. Mr. FAF and I are planning to move out of the DC area.
In case you wonder why, it’s because DC is so expensive, and we feel that we can enjoy a less hectic and less pricey life somewhere else.
I moved to the DC area in August 2013 to attend a Master’s degree program. After graduating, I got a job in the area.
Mr. FAF and I bought a house here, and our lives just started revolving around DC due to my job and the house.
Where to settle down
The topic of where to build our family was a contentious issue that caused constant tension in our marriage for four years.
At first, I was enamored with my job and the ample opportunity the city had to offer.
Plus, we had already bought a house in DC, and it would be a big loss for us to sell it after only one or two years when Mr. FAF graduated from his PhD program.
In fact, Mr. FAF turned down an offer from Google in the Bay area and started working in DC because of me.
We agreed that we would live in the area for a couple of years.
After I have built enough work experience in my field, I would then move with Mr. FAF anywhere he wants.
I have finally become at peace with the idea of moving elsewhere for two reasons.
First, Mr. FAF kept his promise to stay in DC for me, so I will keep mine and move with him.
Second, after almost three years of staying at the same organization, I have gradually given up the idea of sticking with it for another 5-10 years. There’s not much upward mobility for me, and frankly, I want to see what else is out there.
This is my first full-time job, and I have enjoyed it so far. But life is short, and I would like to try my skills and luck at another organization or even in another industry since my skills are transferable.
5 criteria for the new city
Below are the five criteria for the city we want to move to:
1. A hub for software companies
Mr. FAF would like to move up the career ladder as a software engineer and hone his skill set at big tech companies like Google, Apple, and other big tech names in the market.
2. Low taxes and low levels of government regulations
We got a taste of what it’s like to live in Maryland versus Virginia and do not like the myriad of fees, regulations, and bureaucracy in Maryland.
3. Low costs of living
One big reason why we want to move out of DC is the high cost of living. We want to move to a cheaper area where we will get a bigger bang for our buck and not stress out about high housing prices.
4. Moderate temperature
I grew up in Vietnam, so I can handle the heat better than the cold. New York or Maine winter is a bit beyond my stamina. The weather in California is definitely ideal, but we can’t justify that with the high costs of living and high taxes.
5. Good Asian, especially Chinese, restaurants
Mr. FAF loves his Chinese food and wants to live somewhere where we can eat delicious Chinese cuisine on the cheap. This criterion is not a must for me since I want to save money eating at home.
But having access to inexpensive Asian dishes won’t hurt either (maybe except for the wallet).
After much deliberation, we have narrowed the list down to the following cities (in no particular order):
1. Austin, Texas
2. Raleigh, North Carolina
3. Nashville, Tennessee
4. Denver, Colorado
5. Atlanta, Georgia
In order to determine where we want to settle down, Mr. FAF and I will try to travel to and spend at least a week in the cities above to get a feel for the lifestyle, weather, costs of living, and job opportunity.
We plan to move out of DC in 2-3 years, so the travel will be spread out during that time frame. I am particularly excited about this plan for three reasons:
1. I have lived in the US for 13 years but haven’t seen much of the country due to my limited travel budget. This will be a perfect time to travel. We know where we want to go and what we’re looking for during the trip.
2. We have to save our vacation days and money for our long trips to visit our family in Asia. Having a legitimate reason to do more domestic sightseeing makes me feel good about spending the time and money on such trips.
3. We will also visit our friends who live in such cities to get more insight into what it’s like to live there.
First mini trip to Austin
While planning to attend his friend’s wedding in Dallas in March, Mr. FAF made a two-day trip to Austin, TX to visit his other friend and gave me a sneak peak of the city.
One thing we really like about Austin is its low housing prices. His friend bought a brand-new two-storied single family home with 3 beds, 2 baths, a two-car garage, and a deck for $320,000. The house is only a 10-minute drive from his friend’s company. It looked luxurious.
I can totally picture a home like that in DC costing around $600,000-700,000 or even more. We can only dream about such a house in DC unless we want to move further out in the middle of nowhere.
Mr. FAF also said the food is cheaper than that in DC. However, the temperature in the summer can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I think we really need to explore Austin in the summer to see what the fuss is all about. I told Mr. FAF I can be a fried Asian chicken for him (lame joke), and he was super happy to hear that.
We plan to visit Raleigh this summer. One of my best friends lives in Raleigh, so I would love to meet up with her and her family as well.
I love planning for the future. It gives me direction for my life, career, finance, and even entertainment. Relocating a family is a big decision. That’s why Mr. FAF and I need to consider the pros and cons of each option carefully before making the move.
I am super excited about our plan. After traveling to those cities, we might fall in love with one or all of them. But we might also realize that we like the DC area much more than we thought. After all, the grass seems to be always greener on the other side.
However, whatever conclusion we make, I will be happy that I stay flexible to accommodate Mr. FAF’s career plans after he did the same thing for me.