Last summer, my family and I traveled for two months in our travel trailer. Our goal was to live full time in our RV for as much of the summer as possible.
We traveled from California into Nevada, through Idaho, up into Montana, over into Washington, and then back home to Central California. Just over three weeks of our trip we spent in Montana, and while we were there, we fell in love.
I had been researching Montana for about a year leading up to our trip. Moving there was a frequent topic of conversation between a few of my friends and me. Though none of us had much or any experience with Montana, the idea of it kept sounding better the more we talked about it.
Before this trip, I had never spent much more than two weeks away from my hometown of Modesto, CA. I would vacation for a few weeks from time to time but never long enough to get used to somewhere else. This trip helped me realize what I had been feeling for a long time.
Weirdly, Modesto was comfortable. It was all I knew. It didn’t have much to offer, but what it did offer, I had figured out. Modesto is a few hours from the ocean and the mountains. The weather is decent most of the year, and it has most of the stores one would need for a convenient existence. That had not been enough for me for quite some time. I wanted to explore, and I wanted some space.
I grew up spending a lot of time at my grandparents’ house outside of Escalon, CA. They had a ranch out in the country surrounded by orchards. My brothers and I spent our days roaming the property most of the time on our own. It was nice having that freedom as a child; the freedom we can’t offer our children living in Modesto.
My wife and I have had the goal of being able to offer that kind of space and freedom to our children since we were first married. Our oldest is almost 10-years-old now. We have yet to be able to offer that while living in or near Modesto.
The cost of owning property in California has remained out of our reach. Being self-employed, I have not wanted to restructure my company to qualify for a bigger loan. Operating a small business in California continues to get harder and harder as well. As I got older, the idea of owning property in California has become less desirable.
Everybody will agree that Montana is beautiful. Montana is known for its beautiful lakes and mountains. It’s home to Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone is just south a few hours.
While in Montana, I worked from local coffee shops, we shopped at local grocery stores and played at local parks. We explored the area and went on a lot of hikes. We even found a church we liked and attended their weekend gatherings a few times. The more time we spent there, the less I looked forward to returning home.
After returning to Modesto, all I could think about was Montana. My kids loved it and asked when we could go back. That was when we started discussing what it would look like to move to Montana.
My work is mostly virtual, so that I can work from any location with a good internet connection. The summer trip was a test of that. I originally got into digital marketing so I could have the freedom to travel. I didn’t like the idea of being landlocked in my business. I contacted my clients, and so far, the news has been received well.
With all of that said, the idea of relocation had never been more possible, so we started looking into it. We decided not to make any quick decisions but to spend the 2019/2020 school year looking into it and making plans.
We now have a hard date set to head to Kalispell, Montana, end of next month. We made the decision earlier this year that Montana was going to happen, but figured we would make a move sometime during the summer. With the Covid-19 isolation and school being virtual, we decided to move a bit earlier.
I don’t want to own property in California anymore. We have a lot of good friends we will be putting 20 hours between, but we have to choose space over-familiarity. My entire marriage, my wife and I have discussed moving. Now is the time, or we will have to wait until our kids have graduated high school.
We found a home to rent for the time being, and have signed a lease on it. We will likely have to self-isolate for 14-days once we get there, but we have been isolated in Modesto for over a month now, so we are quite used to it.
I want my kids to be able to play outside and have friends who’s parents are ok with that as well. In Montana, I can afford to own property so we can spread out a bit among the lakes and mountains. Moving is not going to fix everything; Montana is not perfect. There will always be problems and frustrations to endure. It’s time for a change.
We will miss our friends and family in Modesto, but we will have space for visitors in Montana. I look forward to this new chapter and am thankful for technology that will allow us to stay connected from a greater distance.