April 4, 2016

I’ve been back in Los Angeles for a week and I can already tell my whole mood has shifted. I’m happy to start the day, throw on jeans and a t-shirt and go for a walk to the local Starbucks to work.

In Portland, I often dreaded getting up. The weather had a severe effect on my motivation and productivity. Sometimes I would just stay in the house for days, hoping it would get better. When I first moved to Portland everyone told me I’d get used to the weather and get over it. I never did. That, coupled with the fact that it never felt like home, I always felt sort of out-of-place and was never quite at ease. Though I made friends and had some great times in Portland, it just wasn’t meant for me in the long run.

I can see now how much I needed this change. This change of location, in just one week, has had an immense impact on my productivity and happiness.

I’m becoming that annoying person that posts how happy they are on social media, because I really am happy to be back here.

It’s funny. Six years ago I left LA vowing I’d never come back. I was sick of the traffic, the smog, the people. I left for New York and had my love affair with the city for a while, before moving to Portland to be with my partner. For the first couple of years when we’d visit family here, we thought, “Glad we don’t live here!”

It wasn’t until the past year or two, that we started to shift. The six years away changed our perspective. We had new eyes to see LA. And as we have changed in six years, so has LA. The things that Portland could not give me (namely sunshine, diversity, arts and culture) LA could.

It started to become an attractive option. My boyfriend, who is a musician, also was feeling like he hit a ceiling in Portland…so LA made sense for him, as the music industry is great here.

I know that I’m in the honeymoon phase right now. Things still don’t seem “real”. I still feel like I’m on an extended vacation — part of that is because we are staying with my partner’s parents for at least a month, so we don’t have a place to call our own yet. We decided that would be best while he looks for work and I travel to Italy in two weeks.

But even though we are in a transitional phase and we don’t have a place to call our own, it still feels like home. LA feels right. It feels like I belong.

I’m excited to start the next chapter of my life. I wanted to update everyone on where I’m at and also remind you of why it’s so important to get out of debt — so you can afford what you truly want! I stayed in Portland for six months longer than I originally planned because I knew I could be debt-free before moving. And let’s face it, moving is expensive.

Between rental cars, hotel stays, food on the road and more we’ve already paid close to $1,500 to get here. Then we’ll have to pony up for higher rent, security, furniture and all that jazz.

It’s a lot of money. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe I will be able to earn even more money because I’m happier and more productive here. It’s a bigger city, with hopefully more networking opportunities, which could equate to more money. I’m confident it will all work out and even though my money situation will not be “normal” for a little while, at least I’m not sending multi-thousand dollar payments to debt.

Even though we’re slowly settling in, I can’t get too comfortable as I’ll be on the road in two weeks. I’m going to Italy the second half of the month with my mom! I’m so excited as this is one of the main inspirations for me becoming debt-free. My mom has never been to Europe and I’m so excited to go on this adventure with her. It’s a bit scary as I’ve let all my clients know I won’t be available for two weeks. Last year when I went to Spain and Portugal, I worked here and there. This time, I’m not working at all. It feels weird and scary, but I want to be present with my mom and not be working.

So pretty much I’ll be working like a fiend before and after my trip, but it will be worth it. Here’s to hard work and new adventures! The start of a new chapter!

What’s new with you?


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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40 responses to “Starting a New Chapter”

  1. I am so pleased for you, Melanie! Your post made me smile. This is so important to be happy and live with a purpose. I love Italy! Where abouts in Italy are you travelling to? I’ve been almost everywhere, including the islands, and for me it’s one of those places you always want to return to! Happy travelling 🙂
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…My Financial, Personal and Professional Goals for 2016 – Q1 UpdateMy Profile

  2. Hopefully your clients will understand. I’d rather work with a happy, relaxed person than an uptight, depressed person. Well, welcome back! I don’t know how often we will see each other since you’re “way over there,” but I hope pretty often!
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted…March RecapMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Yeah, they’ve all been great and even say I deserve it. So nice 🙂 We’ll see each other…we can meet half way and we’ll definitely be going to the beach at some point.

  3. Isabella says:

    Melanie, I’m glad you are back to your roots and loving it. I know the feeling too well. My husband and I have lived in many places across the US and even in Germany, and I always adapted well. But when we moved from Minneapolis to a small city in northern California, I completely hit a speed bump. We lived there for 8 years and I never hit my stride. I felt like I had fallen off the edge of the earth. I tried very hard, though.

    The Pacific northwest weather was a big part of that. I love four seasons, and I love the snow too! Six months of constant cold rain every year did me in!

    We are now back in Minneapolis, and I love it all over again. I’m really a Midwest girl, and I think with a lot of us, we just have a natural inclination for certain parts of the country. Good luck as you settle in!

    • Melanie says:

      That’s the exact way I felt in Portland! I always felt cold and tired. I have so much energy with the sun! I do think some people are better suited for certain areas and I’m definitely a sun worshiper who does better with heat.

  4. I’m so happy for you!! It sounds amazing and like you’re where you’re supposed to be. Can’t wait to hear more!
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…How (and Why) to Track Your Net WorthMy Profile

  5. NZ Muse says:

    Hurrah!!! Weather matters, it really does. I can put up with the rain here because it’s relatively warm and it’s glorious for half the year. Best of luck settling in and hope it goes smoothly.

  6. THIS sounds wonderful!!! It’s great to hear when people find enjoyment in the small and simple aspects of life. It’s hard to explain it to those outsiders how a location can make you feel below the weather but it does.

    I ended up getting a new job which is wonderful, so moving right now is not an option. Hopefully having regular day hours will help me keep my hormones in balance and allow me to wake up with my body’s natural rhythm.
    Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life recently posted…When Temptation Strikes…My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Totally! I felt like no one I met in PDX had the same issues, so I always felt like a weirdo. Congrats on the new job! Here’s to your success and health!

  7. Awesome that you moved back to LA, Melanie! I don’t blame you for trading in cloudy for sunny. I’m not sure I could handle the weather there either! Best of luck to you!
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…Why You Should and How You Can Save More MoneyMy Profile

  8. Jason Butler says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying L.A. Everyone needs to be somewhere that they can consider home. Have a good time in Italy!
    Jason Butler recently posted…April 2016 Life UpdateMy Profile

  9. Woohoo!!! SO psyched that you had a relatively uneventful move to LA and that you are already experiencing the positive results of your decision!! It’s amazing how much of a difference a change in scenery can make. I felt the same way as you when I lived in Florida. I thought I would get used to it and I never did and then I moved back to NY and everything felt right with the universe even though my monthly expenses went up. I’m so excited for you my friend and I can’t wait to see what new adventures you experience in your new/familiar environment!!!
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Foolish Money Moves – Happy Hour StyleMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Oh it was eventful, lol. Good thing I didn’t write this post last week 😉 Now that I’m more settled I’m much happier and less stressed and feel good. I’m glad you know what it’s like, because sometimes I feel crazy like it was all in my head. But the geographic difference is making a huge impact. I totally feel the same, that everything feels right again even though my expenses will go up as well. Let’s have a catch up call soon!!

  10. Kevin says:

    From personal experience of moving from Arkansas to the city of Memphis, I can agree sometimes a move is a good thing. We moved here for better financial opportunities, and just for a change. While I don’t believe this is our forever home, I know we made the right decision. Money spent in the beginning for more money and better memories later!!!
    Happy to see that things are working out for you!
    Kevin recently posted…April Budget!My Profile

  11. Yay! Congrats on the move. I know the weather must be nice over there. It’s starting to warm up here in SC, but the chilly mornings are still not the business when you have to get a kid to school. Bunch of well wishes on your newest chapter, Melanie!

  12. LaMesha says:

    I’m happy you aren’t bringing work with you to Italy. I just deleted my work email from my phone and already feel much lighter. I live in Italy (Sicily) and there is so much to see and do here. Enjoy your time with your mom. Would love to hear about you two decide to do while you’re here.

  13. leah says:

    Good for you Melanie. Thanks for sharing this. I kind of want to move too, but it is completely overwhelming. Also, I have to wait until my son finishes school, but it’s in the back of my mind. I’m excited for you and this new chapter in your life, it’s apt that it is crowned with a move. 💜
    leah recently posted…Proof, an American Canteen in ScottsdaleMy Profile

  14. I’m so happy to hear that you are enjoying being back in LA and that it’s helped your mood. It’s amazing how our environment can have such an impact on everything in life.
    Catherine Alford recently posted…4 Steps for a Successful and Cost Efficient MoveMy Profile

  15. Kristin says:

    Giiiiiirl, this post is like a love note. I am loving your outlook and positivity. As you know I’m debating the move move back home too and totally understand the honeymoon phase. And I totally get you – when I had to live in Seattle for 2 years, the rain was the worst. Grey skies and drizzle nearly year round made me super depressed. I am SO stoked for you!

  16. Lisa says:

    It’s funny how life works out that way! I, too, vowed to never move back to where I am and here I am living here, and I’m not miserable! As you said, life changes and I’m glad you are excited about the changes in your own life. Safe travels to Italy, friend!
    Lisa recently posted…Starting Over, AgainMy Profile

  17. So happy to hear Melanie! Glad you’ve found you’re happy place! My wife is from Southern California and would love to move back. See reminds me every year during the cold winters in the Northeast.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…Net Worth Update: March 2016My Profile

  18. I’m glad to hear this transition is already feeling so right. So many studies show the positive impacts of sunshine on people’s health, mood, and productivity, so even if you’re in the honeymoon phase, those benefits should carry over past that period.
    Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor recently posted…Real Worth vs. Net WorthMy Profile

  19. Natasha says:

    Exciting things are happening for you! Moving is expensive (My boyfriend and I picked up everything and moved from Minnesota to Montana last year) but it’s also exhilarating! The packing isn’t fun, but I always love unpacking and organizing everything in a new place.
    Have an amazing time in Italy with your mom!

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