About 18 months ago, my husband and I lived in New York City, held two well-paying jobs, and were adjusting to life with a 7-month-old. So we sat down and had the “talk”: where do we go from here? The default option was to stay in NYC, a magical place that we love dearly. We could continue to toil away at our corporate jobs and be rent poor….because it seems that no matter how much money you make in NYC, most of it evaporates away in the rent check. We were paying $3500 a month for almost 1100 square feet on the Upper West Side, which sounds obscene to anyone outside NYC, but that was actually a great deal for the neighborhood. I was also facing the preschool admission battles which I was not interested in partaking whatsoever. Besides, we were already late in applying since many people put in their application within a week of their child’s birth. I worried about living space and what would happen if we popped out more kids. We couldn’t really afford a bigger place in Manhattan, so we had to choose between birth control or moving to an outer borough (or beyond). And then, we confronted an existential question: did we want to remain part of Corporate America? We had both experienced internal reorganizations a few too many times and knew that as loyal as we were to our companies, they would not think twice about laying us off. With our sky-high rent and the ever-looming threat of layoffs, our lifestyle simply didn’t seem sustainable.
We decided that we wanted to move somewhere that would allow us to expand our family and enjoy financial security. A place where I could be a part-time or full-time stay-at-home mom without imperiling our ability to take out a mortgage. We chose Austin, Texas, for many reasons including its lower cost of living, growing technology industry, and the fact that my husband went to school there. However, we are all fair-skinned redheads and moving to Austin in June terrified me. Since we were in a limbo between homes and jobs, we decided to take the summer off. We rented a house in the countryside of Ireland and chilled out for two months. Meanwhile, my husband secured a tech job in Austin that seemed like he could wake up every day and be excited about.
When we arrived in Austin last September, however, my husband’s job fell through and the heat was so intense we were trapped inside like albino lab rats most of the day. To pass the time, I cried every day for months. I had no friends, didn’t know my way around, and hated the heat — hated everything about the place actually. It was a difficult time for us. But we forged ahead. My husband’s dream was to be an entrepreneur, and so with no job on the horizon, time on our hands, and a product I cooked up in the kitchen over the summer, we started our own business.
It was a year ago this month that our company began and next week our product ships to stores. It’s going to be a bit longer before the tide of money flowing out reverses course and starts to flow back, but it’s now within reach. And after pouring our life savings into this company, we are very much looking forward to that day. My husband and I spend most of our time together doing household chores, collaborating on our business, and of course raising our son. This might not work for many people but it works for us. He is my best friend and although we sometimes disagree, we always find a solution or a compromise.
Our son will probably never realize how lucky he is that both of his parents get to spend so much time with him, and hopefully he will never experience the financial insecurity and transience we have struggled with for the past few years. We took a huge risk. We left our home, our jobs, and our friends to pursue a dream. Most of our family did not support us and thought we were making a terrible decision. And in some ways it was — while leaving New York was a terrific decision, going to Austin was not. But we recovered from our mistake and resettled in West Hartford, which we love. Our company, our marriage, our son: we are all thriving here. Sure, it was one of the riskiest and scariest things we have ever done, and the idea that we bailed on our mostly 8 to 5 jobs for a business that takes up most of our time, money, and energy is laughable. But our company has become our passion, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To support my husband in following his dreams has been a privilege. To enjoy flexibility in our schedules is freedom itself. And to create something, watch it grow, and reap the rewards is satisfying like nothing else. Going all in is the best thing we ever did.