Moving to the wrong place has been a living nightmare that has tested my husband and I financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined there would be any perks of moving to the wrong place.
Then the pandemic hit – and I suddenly realized how eerily similar living in the wrong place is to living in pandemic conditions. Not only that, having to deal with moving to the wrong place has actually given us a leg up in coping with the realities of pandemic living!
How is that possible?
Read on to find out about 5 unlikely perks of moving to the wrong place and get tips for surviving – and even thriving – through a difficult time.
Work from home? Necessary.
Washington, Iowa is not exactly brimming with work opportunities. There’s a Wal-Mart Supercenter, two Dollar Generals, two Casey’s General stores, two grocery stores, and several fast food restaurants. Most jobs in the area pay minimum wage.
When I lived in Texas, I worked directly with local nonprofits and cities. I did grant writing and research from home and balanced that solo time with in-person planning and consulting meetings.
I assumed this approach, which had worked for 25 years, would work anywhere – even Iowa. Was I ever wrong!
I discovered shortly after moving to Iowa that area nonprofits and cities are funded largely by the foundation arm of the nearby Casino. There’s no real drive to find and get money from other sources – and even less interest in paying someone to help.
As a result, I’ve been working 100% remotely both as a moving coach and contract grant writer since we moved to Iowa. My writer husband also works remotely. So, when the pandemic hit, our home/work routine didn’t change much at all.
Who could have known being forced to work remotely by a lack of local opportunity would work in our favor? But it did.
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Social distancing? Whatever.
One not entirely healthy way we’ve coped with the train wreck of moving to the wrong place has been to circle the wagons. We’ve been practicing social distancing for years without even realizing it!
Before the pandemic, our social interaction was limited to driving into Iowa City once a week to stock up on pet food and groceries. We still drive into the city once a week, but we order online for pick up so now there’s even less social interaction than before.
It’s sad, really because I love and miss interacting with people. But I’ve never felt a connection to this town or the people who live here.
On the other hand, I felt an immediate sense of belonging on my scouting visit to Eugene last fall. I’m eager to move and start enjoying the social perks of living in the right place – even with social distancing!
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Self-quarantine? No big deal.
Living in quarantine-like conditions is really nothing new. Not only did we already work remotely and have limited social interaction before the pandemic hit, we’d given up on looking for fun things to do around here as well.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. We wanted to give Iowa the benefit of the doubt, but every attempt ended in disappointment and frustration.
Rather than continue to waste our time and money trying to find fun in Iowa, we decided to focus instead on creating our own fun and saving for our move to a city – and state – with an abundance of fun things to do and places to go!
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Reining in spending? Check!
One flawed assumption I made about moving to a small town was that it would be infinitely more affordable than living in a city. However, we discovered (too late) that Washington, Iowa was more expensive in many ways than the city we’d moved from.
That ugly realization, plus the lack of anything worth doing here, were good preparation for living in the pandemic economy. We’re used to staying home and have found ways to make it fun. Every week we have “events” of some kind, whether it’s movie night or classic game night or cooking a special dinner.
Staying at home has been easy on our budget too. Which is an especially good thing since we know the cost of living is quite a bit higher in Eugene, Oregon than in Washington, Iowa. But it will be so worth it!
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Cycle of despair? Been there, done that.
Coming to terms with moving to the wrong place takes time. That painful, gradual realization – what I refer to as “the dawn of the dread” – is similar to the process of coming to grips with having to live with pandemic restrictions and uncertainties.
Both are unpleasant realities that take time to digest. And both realities can set off a cycle of unhealthy habits that can be difficult to shake.
I’m all too familiar with this cycle of despair. It took two years for me to fully accept the fact that we’d moved to the wrong place. I spent a lot of that time in the house, eating poorly, drinking more than I should, and not exercising at all.
Naturally, I gained 25 pounds and felt terrible.
Eventually I pulled myself together. I started to eat better, drink less, and exercise regularly. I lost the 25 pounds I’d gained (yes, you can lose weight in your 50s) and adopted a whole new outlook.
The turning point?
I got bored moping around. Instead of wallowing, I decided to focus on plotting our escape from Iowa. And it worked wonders! Once we found and began planning our move to Eugene, Oregon using my signature Spark System, life took a dramatic turn for the better.
Getting through the despair of moving to the wrong place was not pretty or easy. But it has made coping with the challenges of pandemic living a piece of cake!
Making the most of a bad situation.
Surviving a wrong move, or a pandemic, is not easy. But it’s possible to make life more bearable in the interim. It helps to look at the big picture. Try not to dwell on what is out of your control. Stay focused on your goals because conditions will improve at some point. Not only that, having something to look forward to and work toward – like our move to Eugene next year – is a great way to keep your spirits and hopes up until the situation improves.
Living in the wrong place? Start hatching your escape plan today!
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Wonderful post, Margaret. Great comparison between living in the wrong place and living through a pandemic. Since I too moved to the wrong town for me, I can now look back and see the parallels. Having survived that journey has made me grateful during the pandemic to live in the right place for me….gratitude is a key ingredient in surviving both a bad move and a pandemic.
Thanks, Melisa! It’s so true that gratitude plays a huge role in how well we’re able to navigate difficult situations like moving to the wrong place or surviving a pandemic! I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts.