How Moving From East Coast To West Coast And Back To East Coast Set Me Up For Financial Success


It came out of the blue.

On a chilly January Tuesday, as I was playing peek a boo with my older son, and nursing my younger one, my husband called and said that he had gotten a job offer to work in the Silicon Valley. We were living in New Jersey at that time. I don’t remember how or what I felt at that moment, but I told him we would discuss in the evening when he got back from work.

Aka – ain’t gonna happen!

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Later in the day, the words kept popping in my head, and I realized he had actually mentioned Silicon Valley, as in West Coast, not Silicon Alley, as in NYC. I felt a surge of emotion that constricted my heart, and I felt I couldn’t breathe. I mean, with two little kids in a tow, this would be just too much to think of. This move would not happen, and that’s how I had made up my mind.

And, then few weeks later, while sipping hot tea, I found myself saying, “Sure, let’s do this.” As soon as I mouthed these words, I wondered if I had gone crazy, but decided to stick to this change of mind (and heart). What caused this change? Just a few things, in no particular order:

  • The kids were young, so we weren’t constrained by enrolling in a public school
  • I framed the opportunity for its long term benefits (the fact that my husband headed technology in Bay Area, is apparently, a very big deal – worldwide)
  • If the startup does well, because of equity, we may get a boost to our financial goals
  • It was an opportunity to try out a new part of the country, which otherwise, inertia, was stopping us from exploring

And, so one fine day in June, we found ourselves sitting under an orange tree, with the California sun shining bright behind us. Aah! We had finally done it!

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Before the move happened, we packed up our travel collectibles, books and all the knick-knacks and stored them in my parent’s house. We had also sold our furniture to the new tenants who were taking over our lease from the apartment in NJ.   Why did we make this decision?

Simply, because it costs more to transport old furniture from NJ to California than to buy new ones in California.

And, when after the move we settled into the new place, we found out that a lot of our stuff was either broken or lost in transportation. Also, the apartment we were living in was a bit smaller than what the photos had eluded to. But, somehow all these accumulating unforseen incidents created a very resilient attitude in me and my husband (kids were super young to have any). It actually changed our reaction from what would have been an “argh” to “meh.”

Life set into a patterns that we eventually became familiar with, and things were rolling along fine. We made very selective friends, and they more than made up for the family we missed back in NY. We lived in a very simple apartment with just the basic furniture – collected from Salvation Army or consignment stores. Only our beds and mattresses were brand new from IKEA. Our spending habits toned down to reflect how we physically existed.

I fell in love with the simplicity that our house existed in. We had only what we needed – no junk of giant sizes from Costco. There was a lot of space in and around furniture and closets, because nothing was being accumulated. And, then within a year, when the apartment company decided to raise rent 600%, we had to move. Again.

We found another apartment, and kept the household items just the same. We didn’t waste any money on buying anything new. Everything we had fitted perfectly in our 2 x 2 abode well. I liked the idea of not having “stuff”. “Stuff” that you schlepp around, and don’t ever touch or know what to do with. 

From an overfilled apartment in east coast to an airy open apartment in the west ( it was actually the same size, but less stuff made it open and airy) I had found a balance, and knew that this is how I wanted to my household to exist going forward. No dependencies on things gathering dust.

Fast forward three years, and things started to feel a little ho hum, and this time I suggested that we move back to east coast. After much discussions/arguments, it was time to head back So, like last time, we sold most of the furniture (except for the new bed and mattress we bought) on OfferUp, and things started to go one by one. Infact, I made money on these sales since most of this stuff was pre-owned (which by the way is such an environmentally good thing to do).

When we started to settle back in NY, and our movers brought in boxes (there were 23 boxes in total + furniture), some stuff was broken and some gone missing. But, again, there was no panicking or sad heart. It was what it was, and we did not miss “things” or hurried and bought things. We accepted our new lifestyle, and made budgeting and financial decisions accordingly.

So, why am I telling you all this? What’s the point of this post?

I am telling you this because I want to show you that when you make big moves in your life (pun sooo intended), you do not need the shackles of “things” and “stuff” to hold you down. You can survive without things you think you need, because when you don’t have it, you do just fine.

You don’t need to spend lots of moolah adjusting to big changes. Know your top 5 priorities, and shape your financial decisions around that. And, please, avoid storage! I find the whole “storage business” such a joke. It’s as if you are paying someone to store your junk that you DON’T NEED or CARE FOR. Remember, there’s a reason it’s in storage and not in your house?

The point of this post is this:

  • Simplify your lifestyle (you don’t need half of the things you think you need)
  • Make your living space perfectly in sync with your ideals
  • Spend smart to save big
  • When life changes happen, create minimal financial impact by letting “things” go
  • Don’t try to impress others or spend money to “please”


When there are no useless dependencies, the experience of existence will set you free – financially. Trust me, I’ve been there.

ps. and that stuff we stored in my parent’s house – the collectibles- the knick-knacks – all sold. We are blessed to have accumulated experiences, and continue to cherish those than dust collecting boxes.

Tell me – what is one incident/habit/life change that set you free?

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