Posts tagged Lifestyle
The Ultimate Guide: How To Leave Your Hometown
Starting into the abyss.

Jennie here.

Before I turned 24, I’d spent the majority of my life in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After studying abroad twice in Japan - I thought to myself: There’s so much I haven’t experienced yet. There has to be something more than just spending the rest of my life in the place where I grew up.

So, I packed my bags and left.

I never looked back.

5 Reasons

Why You Should Leave Your Hometown

Have you moved in the past year? In 2016, only 20% of millennials had moved the previous year. 

Expanding your universe and meeting new people or experiencing new things should be enough to convince you to leave but if it isn’t…

Here are a few benefits you should consider when you’re debating whether or not you should move out of your hometown:

Reason 1: You’ll make more money.

A study released in 2015 showed that people who left the community they grew up in tend to be better educated and earned higher incomes. So, leave and make more money. You can always choose to come back. Check out the stats below.

Reason 2: Discomfort with the unfamiliar equals progress.

As human beings, we learn the most about ourselves when we’re faced with adversity or new challenges. In order to face adversity, oftentimes that means that you'll have to start all over in your life again in various aspects (e.g. you have to re-learn how to navigate a new city, get a new job, go to a new school, find new friends, and learn to be alone, etc). Discomfort shouldn't be something that you should shy away from but something you should face head-on.

Reason 3: You have time to find yourself without all the extra bullshit.

This was a big one for me. When I left home, I felt instantly liberated. I went to a city where no one knew my name. I wanted to carve my own path without pressure from my parents or my peers and to experience different things.

Reason 4: You love your family more once there’s distance between you.

I think at some point in your life, everyone needs distance from their families. It’s the only way to become 100% independent. And fortunately for me, it’s been great to be away because I’ve grown to love my family more without the emotional hang-ups that made me resent them.

Reason 5: You learn to appreciate your hometown more after you leave.

After I left, I started missing all the small things I experienced growing up in Albuquerque. For example, I missed stargazing in the mountains or the summer thunderstorms during “monsoon” seasons. These were small things or moments that made my upbringing really pleasant.

How To Leave Your Hometown

In 5 Steps

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I never said leaving home was easy. I had to deal with a lot of guilt when I left my family.

Step 1. Understand why you want to leave.

Before you set on some big goal of leaving your small town, you should understand why you want to do it. What do you expect to happen when you leave? Why can’t you accomplish the same thing in your hometown? And if you have clear and honest reasons, you’ll thank yourself for it when it’s time to leave or when things get tough.

Step 2. Choose an end (or begin) date.  

After I graduated, I gave myself exactly six months to GTFO. Why? Because I knew if I stayed longer, I would've been offered another job or opportunity that could’ve tied me down to the city for another few years. Setting a realistic date and sticking to it also helped me get excited about a new chapter in my life.

Step 3. Pick a place, any place -

but weigh the pros and cons before you settle.

There are a lot of people out there who will tell you to follow your heart and move to your dream city like San Francisco or New York. My stance on this philosophy: that’s a terrible idea - especially if you can’t afford it.

Instead, you should draft up a list of personal criteria you want out of a city. Believe it or not, there are several cities outside of New York that have cool communities and opportunities. Don’t believe the hype.

Here was my list of criteria:

  1. Good to great public transit system. I wasn’t going to move with my car so I needed a city that I could get around easily without a car. Not having a car saved me thousands of dollars a year in insurance, maintenance, and gas fees.

  2. The rent had to be affordable. I was coming from a town where you could get rent for as cheap as $500 a month. I knew I couldn’t afford much but I needed some level of affordability. That meant places like San Francisco and New York City were out of the question.

  3. The city had to have a few decent schools nearby. I thought I might go back to graduate school at in my mid-20s so I wanted to be in a city/state where I could establish residency.

I didn’t get everything on my list but I got pretty damn close when I moved to Boston. The one thing I didn’t account for was weather - I didn’t realize how much I hated snowstorms on the east coast. Not a huge deal breaker but it was a painful transition.

Step 4. Save 2-3 times more than you had initially planned for.

Renting an apartment in places like Los Angeles or Boston will cost a lot more than you think. For example, when we moved to Los Angeles - we had to pay one and a half months rent for the security deposit AND the first months rent - that meant we dropped $3,500 within the first few week of moving.

Cautionary tale: I did not save enough money to help me make the transition to Boston. I had to borrow money from Ivan to keep myself afloat for the first six months. I had to really hustle in that first year taking on multiple temp and retail jobs.

Step 5. Book a ticket and leave. Seriously, GTFO while you can.

If you have a tough time committing, start telling friends and family when you’re going to leave - nothing is quite as potent as social pressure and expectations. In addition to that, there is no better way to commit to a choice than by booking your plane ticket.

Good luck.


Other helpful resources:

July Money Diary: How Much Does It Cost to Live in Los Angeles?

Jennie and I live a fairly frugal, minimalist lifestyle in Los Angeles, but this hasn't stopped us from enjoying ourselves. This money diary shows readers how much it costs for two married, twenty-something millennials, with no kids, to live in the City of Angels.  

Ivan here.

We use the app GoodBudget to track all our expenses. The app uses an envelope budgeting system, where you set up a budget for each category. At the beginning of every month, each "envelope" is filled and you subtract your spending.

We prefer GoodBudget over Mint because the app forces us to log every expense manually. Why? We believe that the process of saving money should be made easier and spending should be made harder. Logging our expenses as they happen help us make more conscious choices. And we never get blind-sided by our bank statements or Mint app. 

The app also has a great reports feature that breaks down our expenses by category. Let's take a look at our spending for the month of July. We think it's a pretty good representation of what a typical month looks like.  

Expenses for the Month of July (2016)

1. Rent and Bills ($1709.62)

Our fixed monthly costs. This is how this envelope breaks down:

  • Studio Apartment: $1,400 (including all utilities and parking)
  • Phone Bill: $150 (for a six line family plan. We take care of the bill.)
  • Internet: $55 
  • Gas & Household Essentials: $100-150

$1400 is a little on the high end for a studio apartment, but we live in an expensive part of town that's just a 10 minute commute to work. Usually you can get a studio for about $1100-1200 in other parts of LA. In our case, we value our time much more than the savings. LA rush hour traffic is no joke. 

Think about it. One extra hour a day sitting in traffic means you lose almost 24 hours every month. That's the equivalent of taking close to two weeks out of every year. Would you pay $2000 a year to live 3% longer AND save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress? You bet we would. 

2. Eating Out & Entertainment ($328.68)

We go out a little under two times a week and try to keep it under $50 a day (with the exception of birthdays and anniversaries). This is a warm-up for when we eventually go on our round the world trip in 2018. If we can do $50 a day in Los Angeles, we can make it pretty much anywhere (outside of maybe Western Europe and Scandinavia).

3. Groceries ($305.27)

We buy in bulk at Costco and Trader Joe's, with occasional trips to an Asian supermarket. We don't go out of our way to cut back on groceries and it always works out to about $300 a month. 

4. Savings, Education, Investments ($232.87)

The title is a little misleading (we don't save just $232 per month). This tracks the money that we use to invest in ourselves. This includes things like books, registration fees for courses or exams, tools/electronics for work etc. In July this was mainly website and domain registration fees plus other costs related to starting The Origami Life! 

5. Miscellaneous ($156.53)

Morning coffee runs, afternoon ice cream and midnight snacks go here. Sometimes it's the little things that make life worthwhile. 

6. Life Happens ($54.40)

Unexpected expenses. These are the things we didn't budget for. Usually around $50-100 a month. 

A 20-Something's Guide to Starting Over
We shall not cease from exploration, and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
— TS Eliot
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Ivan here.

Los Angeles is our sixth city in ten years. This means that on average, we move to a new city every twenty months. With any luck, we plan on being on the move indefinitely. It’s how we like to live.   

To us, moving is living. I joke with Jennie that the day we decide to settle down and buy a house may as well be the day we pick out our own coffins (I prefer maple, she likes bamboo.) Or as Woody Allen puts it in his film Annie Hall, “a relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.”  The last thing Jennie and I need is to have a dead shark on our hands.

While you can certainly ‘move forward’ without changing zip codes, it’s a special kind of thrill to be able to physically hit a reset button. It’s like flipping over a Monopoly board when the game has dragged on for too long. Therapy.

Over the years, we’ve gotten pretty good at starting over. Here’s a rough guide to this simple art:

1. Recognize when it’s time

There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s usually time to make changes when your days become virtually indistinguishable from each other. Sun comes up, sun goes down. Sunday starts looking like the inbred cousin of Saturday.  

This requires introspection: what is it that you want out of life? What are your goals? Are your routines getting stale? Are you starting to feel stagnant?

We try to keep in mind that time is the only currency you’re always spending that can’t be replenished. When you find that you’ve grown numb to time's passage, getting punched repeatedly in the face is preferable to feeling nothing at all. 

2. Plan Your Exit

If only in your dreams, you’ve already traveled to the city you’d love to wake up in.  Here’s your chance to make that a reality. That said, as hard-core planners, we don’t believe in making follow-your-heart, impulsive type moves. 

Spoiler alert: you know that movie The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio as the young dreamer who decides to go searching for the perfect beach, even though the guy who tells him about it ends up committing suicide five seconds later? Yeah, do the exact opposite of that. Get your ducks in a row. Have a game plan and plan on following through with it at least 6-12 months in advance. 

                                                                       Don't be this asshole. 

                                                                       Don't be this asshole. 

3. Make a Moving Budget

Moving is expensive. Between flights, a security deposit, first/last month’s rent and new furniture, you’ll need a minimum of $5000-7000 in start-up costs to move to a new city. A good rule of thumb is to track your expenses for a month and multiply that by six. That’s your emergency fund. Then plan to save another $2-3k on top of that. 

4. Keep Your Relationships

In the digital age, your relationships shouldn’t be crutches that keep you from doing the things you want. Outside of the person you’re going to be living with, you don’t really have to compromise on anything. Distance has given us a new perspective on the relationships that actually make a difference in our lives, and those are the ones we make the extra effort for. 

5. Ditch Your Things

We regard possessions as major inconveniences, which is why in preparing for each move, we sell or donate all our cheaply purchased furniture and purge everything that doesn’t fit into two large suitcases. 

If you’re moving to a city that doesn’t require a car, do yourself a favor and get rid of it. Cars are the worst (more on this in a later post). Having the luxury of ditching yours is often enough to justify your entire move. 

6. Take a Scouting Trip

Scouting your destination beforehand can really give you a leg up. More importantly, it’ll help you avoid the costly rookie mistakes in your first couple of months.  You’ll be surprised how much you can learn in just a weekend if you tackle it with a purpose. Ask questions, meet people, get advice from locals and simply walk around the different neighborhoods. 

7. Savor the Countdown

Life is strange. Nothing makes you fall in love with a city more than when you’re about to leave it. Starting over isn’t about running away, it’s about giving you a new appreciation for the here and now. 

8. Start a New Life

The first few months should be a balance between exploring new things and developing a routine. It’s kind of like jazz -- you improvise over a steady rhythm. Exploration gets you out of your comfort zone and a strong routine eventually gets you to where you want to go.

For us, that's everywhere.