Well it has been two years that I've lived in Utah. Wow, time flies when you are having fun.
Like many others before me, I left Illinois for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I needed a change. I remember back in 2012 asking myself what the hell was I doing... I wasn't happy, and I felt like I wasn't going anywhere. Call it a midlife crisis if you want, but it was certainly time to take stock of where I was personally and professionally.
I spent a good deal of time listening to a person who's wisdom I respect on the subject of life, Tom Leykis, and one of his many themes is taking life by the "gonads" and running with it.
Realizing I wasn't happy, I decided to make some drastic changes.
I sold my house, found another job in Utah, gave away (or sold) a LOT of my possessions, threw whatever fit in my car (I have a picture of it somewhere filled to the brim) and hit the road. I went from a 3000 square foot house to an apartment -- and I loved it. I suddenly had a new lease on life and it felt like I had an oppressive cloud lifted off of me.
Here are some of the aspects of my life that changed:
Running / Fitness
|Rockford Literacy Half Marathon (I think) in 2010|
|Pretty sure this is me in 2010 running the Rockford half marathon|
Probably one of the most important things in my life is running and the ability to run. I will forever miss running in Bull Valley. I knew every quarter mile marker and the natural beauty of this village still stands out for me in my memory. The thought of running down snowy streets at the crack of dawn in the dead of winter, running through the humidity on a summer night (to the point where I had to wring out my shorts), to the awesome inspiring fall foliage - it was always a pleasure to run through. If someone said I had one run left to do in my life and I could pick the spot, this would be it.
I also had a super group of running comrades. Walking into the health club was like walking into your own living room. I'd always be recognized and greeted by someone in the running community. It was just nice to be a part of a group like that.
Utah has its advantages of running. I absolutely love the bike trail that I live by. I no longer have to dodge cars (there were WAY too many close calls in Bull Valley - including getting hit once) and it is nice to have drinking fountains / bathrooms (no more hitting the woods or having to stash bottles).
The race scene here is awesome too: fun runs, adventure runs, night runs, canyon runs, etc. I knew when I was moving to the right place when I saw a billboard on the side of the freeway for a half marathon. I have had no shortage of truly incredible and memorable races in my 2 years here. Granted I did that also in Illinois, but since being here I feel like I am a little bit more adventurous and have been willing to try new venues.
Running is definitely a LOT tougher here. In Illinois, I lived at about 750 feet elevation. Here, I live and train at 4300 to 4500. Some people struggle with it more than others, but I definitely noticed it upon arriving here. Perhaps one day when I return to race again in Illinois that will pay dividends, but for now, it is like dragging an anchor.
Work / Job Potentials
Sadly, the job I came out here didn't work out for me. It wasn't a good match. I am happy to report, though, that I have found a good match for my skillset. There are very few days that go by that I don't feel like I earned my keep and get a deep sense of satisfaction of knowing "I did good". If you are ever lucky to get this feeling more often than not at your place of employment, consider it a blessing.
In Illinois, I felt like I had run my course at my employer. I am not going to use this as a forum to besmirch or quibble about. It was just simply to time to move on.
Sadly, in Illinois, I had very little in terms of job prospects. Where I lived, I was a good 45 - 60 minutes away from the closest tech areas -- and in horrible traffic. Illinois is terrible as far as commuting, despite a nice rail system. Once in a blue moon, a recruiter would call me or get in touch with me wanting to know if I was interested in a job in downtown Chicago. After thinking about a 90 minute commute (at minimum, each way) for all of about 5 seconds, I'd politely turn them down. No amount of money was worth losing 3+ hours of my day to mind-numbing traffic.
In Salt Lake, there is rarely a day that goes by where I don't receive a job recruiter shooting me an e-mail via LinkedIn. It is just incredible and most commutes are extremely reasonable.
One of the biggest gripes about Illinois and perhaps the last straw for me leaving, was that income tax increase. When Governor Pat Quinn's first action in office was to increase income tax from 3% to 5%, I knew it was over. That, and I saw my house's property tax go up 25% (despite having a so-called Republican County leadership) in 10 years to almost $9000. And in case you missed it, the state of Illinois is in horrible financial shape and I suspect it is going to get worse before it gets better.
Utah's income tax is the same as Illinois, sadly. But my property tax is a third of what I'd pay in Illinois. Also there are NO tollways here.
Can I just complain about Illinois traffic? I don't know how many times I sat around on a weekend too lazy to leave the house because of traffic. If I left on a Saturday to get to the other side of town it would take me 15 minutes. Now I can be parked at the airport in the same amount of time -- literally. People complain about the traffic here, but by Illinois standards it is a speedway.
In general life is a lot better. I live in an area where I can go hiking on world-class trails in 15 minutes. If I skied (and I am hoping to), I can be at the top of the mountains in 30 minutes.
There are no shortage of marathons and new states to explore and my favorite state, Nevada, is just 100 miles away.
I've seen and done things in the past 2 years that I would never have gotten the opportunity to do had I not taken the chance.
Granted, not everything has been better. I took some lumps along the way, but you know what? That's the price I paid to experience life. And when you look at where I was two years ago: dreading going to work, bored on the weekends, and not living life to the max and where I am at today; the price becomes worth it. Sadly when you are going through the motions in life, it's time to make a change. After all you only live once.
Hopefully my experience and me writing this will cause you to reflect a bit:
- Where are you going?
- What do you want to do?
- And, if you were to die tomorrow, would you think you had lived life to the fullest or would you have any regrets?
- Do you try to live each day like you were on vacation or can't you tell the difference between one day and the next?