Editor’s Note: Please welcome Luken Surge, a new writer for The Daily Bell. We are dedicated to doing more than simply calling out all the things wrong with the government, financial system, and society. In line with the philosophy of our free guide, How to Craft a Two Year Plan to Reclaim Three Essential Freedoms, we believe grassroots individual empowerment is the most important step to freeing people from the constraints of the elites controlling government, corporations, and the media. As you will learn from his writing, Luken is a perfect fit for The Daily Bell, as someone who has, and continues, to apply this philosophy to his life.
You’re Not As Trapped As You Think You Are
What do you do when you are living in an area that is not working for you? Whether it is the laws, taxes, people, or traffic what do you do if you are feeling stuck or suffocated?
Is moving really an option? You might feel that moving far away from home is impossible. You might have heard about stories of failure and of others who had to return home in defeat with their tail between their legs. Or, you feel that moving somewhere else is just this big, expensive process that you don’t have time for.
I used to think like that, too. I was so paralyzed by my fear of ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I can’t afford it’ that I stayed in the same little town I grew up in for almost 10 MORE YEARS! I lived in Acworth, GA where the good jobs were 45 minutes to an hour away, everything was taxed, and the social & economic pressures kept a lot of doors closed for a lot of people. The government was often in favor of laws that benefited the few or penalized the many.
Growing up there I knew that I wasn’t a good fit. I loved the mountains and I had grown around myself a self-made community of people who cared about me, but we were all struggling with a fight that we couldn’t see any end in sight for. Even entry-level jobs, those opportunities that are supposed to get you in the door, were traps. You’d start low with no way to move up or anywhere. It would be years of struggling in the same spot before you would catch on, leave, and try another one that would just do the same thing.
I watched everyone I knew falling under the gears one by one and I knew that if I stayed I would fall at some point right behind them. It soon became clear that moving wasn’t a point for convenience or pleasure, but for survival. And it left me with a choice that took me two years to finally and act on.
Before the Journey Could Begin, The Recession Happened
As I hit adulthood the country was just hitting the recession. In GA, like many other states, the job market was devastated. I had to start out at under the table jobs that could never pay much, jobs like house cleaning, painting, yard maintenance, and pet sitting. It took many more years than it should have to get into an industry that actually had opportunity in it. But after I spent years to discover, learn, and master a trade I could succeed in, I realized that all the jobs were over an hour away from me in Atlanta.
This was a major obstacle for me as I was presented with the options of moving into the city where I knew I would be very unhappy, or stay in my area and deal with the three hour a day round trip commute…. Like all the other professionals did….
Well, I found a third option: Leave. Georgia was all I had known for most of my life. Everything there had the feeling of ‘done it, seen it’, and I knew that Georgia just wasn’t going to work for me, or my family. I had to get out.
But how? I didn’t make a lot of money (at my eternally entry-level job), not enough to save up an extra couple of grand to fly away out of state. I had a wife, pets, and a LOT of stuff. So it wasn’t like I could just pack up my car, drive away and be done with it. Or so I thought.
Well, the journey didn’t get underway immediately. In fact, I think it is fair to say that we put our breaks on for as long as we could. We had a few delays over the first year, a few family emergencies. The first one was my wife who broke her leg and needed to recover before we could even think of hauling ourselves to Florida. We also had jobs at the time that couldn’t transfer, and though we tried, finding work in another state is hard when it would be a 12-hour road trip, round-trip, for one interview.
Then to top it all off, we had a number of other family emergencies that put the date farther and farther back, like my grandmother hitting end-stage Alzheimer’s and both my wife and I needed to move in with family to help take care of her. Our dreams of a new life were put on hold so that we could be there for her, and my family, at the end of this decade-long battle.
But when my grandmother passed away, my mom had to sell the house. And when the house sold in just one week, to our shock, we were faced with the final choice: Now…. Or never.
If we stayed we knew we’d get trapped again and it could be years. But on the other hand, we were jumping into the unknown with only a couple hundred dollars, and days, to do it with. We convinced our boss, whom we were both working for by this point, to let us work remotely. This secured that we would have at least a minimum income while we were down there. We then took our last paychecks, put our stuff into storage, packed our essentials (and dogs) into the car, and drove down to Pensacola, FL.
And just like that, we arrived in paradise.
Or at least, it was paradise to us! We were by the ocean, and not a brown muddy lake, which came immediately with much nicer weather. We found ourselves right in the middle of a downtown area that reminded us a lot of a tropical version of Asheville, another place we had considered moving too. It was important for us to find somewhere that valued art, museums, and history. We were looking for somewhere that valued community, had plenty of events close enough to enjoy. Pensacola had all of this, and more. The traffic was much better, even with tourists, than it had been in Atlanta. (That is a big factor when it was starting to take us almost an hour to get anywhere.)
And best of all, we found ourselves in a place where we could see an immediate difference in local, state, and tax laws. We saw an immediate difference in our take-home pay with no state income taxes, as well as the lack of taxes on food and medical items. We had never realized just how much of a daily, weekly, and yearly impact these taxes alone were draining us. We saw almost an extra $100 a week compared to Georgia.
A lot of this was more of a pleasant surprise for us when we arrived as our move had been delayed and then rushed. We didn’t realize the difference just being one state over could make. Having lived primarily in the same area for most of our adult lives had really placed blinders on what we knew or understood of not just the rest of the world but our very own country.
Sometimes a place that better fits your lifestyle and goals is not so far away.
What Relocating Looked Like
We had already decided to start our journey off by staying in a hotel in order to have a chance to learn the area. Having already come from one area that didn’t work for us, we wanted to explore our new city before deciding where would be best for us. And because we had two large dogs (Boerboel Mastiffs), we had a limit on our options.
Within the first weeks, we both got new jobs. My wife wanted to start out working in a restaurant so that we could meet some people, to get some locals perspectives for the area, and to make some extra money part time to accompany the job that traveled down with us. Her plan worked great as she found something within a week, started making tips plus a check, and it really helped to buffer us in all the ways she was hoping it would. For myself, I was able to get a couple of new local clients and with the differences in the laws here for starting a business, we are looking into starting our own business and offering our services more formally to the area.
We were surprised to find so many more opportunities down here that were exactly in line with our skills. With more locally owned businesses it opened up more opportunities for both of our skill ranges than if we had stayed where we were.
It Works Out When You Make It
Within two months of moving down to Pensacola, Florida we had our own place. We had found a 3 bedroom house with a yard that would have been harder to find and more expensive in any of the areas of Georgia we had previously had access too. For less than we were paying at the weekly rate for the hotel we had a whole house, including bills in that equation. Every part of the journey was completely worth it! From overcoming the fear and dread to escaping the trap of nostalgia, and all the steps that it took to get here, it was all worth it.
We also learned the value of settling into an area and community that is in line with us, our values, and personalities. The environment has been so significantly different that as soon as we were here we felt a difference in our anxiety, stress, depression, and fear. Even though we were in a new place with all kinds of possibilities before us, both good and bad, we felt so much more comfortable and happy undertaking this journey than we expected. We felt more welcomed and a part of a community in just two short months than we had felt in more than two decades of living in Georgia. That alone was so impactful for both of us.
We finally started feeling that sensation of freedom that we have been searching for over these last many years. Free to walk outside and enjoy the day, and to do it without fear of being stopped by police for simply being there. We felt free to pursue the opportunities that really served us, and without needing to go to our friends or family for permission.
And best of all, we were free from our pasts. We had lived in the same area for almost all the years we could remember. We knew so many people, and too many people knew us from all the stages of our lives, ranging full from elementary school to more recent years. There were people who couldn’t see us for who we were now, versus twenty years ago. And we couldn’t go down practically any street without being bombarded with a ton of memories, both good and bad.
A new start, and a fresh new environment, was exactly what we needed. And if you are feeling like you are trapped, or are otherwise kept at arm’s length from your dreams, then maybe you too should consider what places might work better for you.
Conclusion & Lessons: