Moving to a new city is a huge adjustment, especially when that move consists of relocating to a different part of the country and doing it alone. The thrill of a new place and starting a solo new adventure is an experience like no other. I went through this experience in August 2021, when I moved from my home state of Ohio to Colorado. This was not a decision that I made overnight. The decision required a lot of research, time, preparation, and support.
The best way to research a city is to visit it in person and explore it firsthand. I have always been big on traveling, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic. I took full advantage of my ability to travel after finishing my undergraduate studies. My first job out of undergrad allowed me to travel to different cities. I also traveled on my own time and tried to take a trip every season. Visiting different cities allowed me to narrow down places where I could see myself living.
The thought of moving out of Ohio seemed more ideal during my first trip to Colorado. In January 2018, I visited Colorado for the first time. The vivid landscape of mountains and scenic views sold me on Colorado. One of my favorite memories of my trip is sitting outside in downtown Denver at a brewery drinking a beer in the middle of January. That day was sun-filled with blue skies. I am a fan of experiencing all four seasons but admit that winters in the Midwest can be rough with below-freezing temperatures and gray overcast skies all winter. Coming to Colorado and experiencing the mild winter weather was a pleasant surprise and a nice change compared to the winter weather I am used to experiencing in Northeast Ohio. I recall Denver locals telling me that their winters are bearable and that having sunny weather makes a huge difference. On my last day of that trip, it did snow and cooled down but still was not on the same level as back home. The overall vibe of Colorado felt laidback and comforting.
Creating a Timeline
In addition to research, forming a timeline is a plus. After adding Denver to my list of potential cities to move to, I formed a timeline as to when I could see myself possibly moving out of Ohio. I was on track to complete my master’s degree in public health in May 2020 and figured that would be the perfect time to consider pursuing opportunities outside of Ohio. As we all can remember, the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. I ended up completing my master’s degree in May 2020 as planned but was no longer as eager to pursue opportunities outside of Ohio because of uncertainties with COVID-19 and put that goal on pause.
Once spring 2021 rolled around, my rental lease in downtown Cleveland was ending soon. I had reached a point where I was ready for a new adventure and decided it was time to pursue opportunities outside of Ohio. This was the first calendar year since I had begun my academic journey that I was not enrolled in school and officially done with all my desired education. My ties in Ohio felt less permanent now that I was done with my master’s degree.
In spring 2021, COVID-19 was still impacting our lives as it is today, but at that time the COVID-19 vaccine rollout was in full effect. The vaccine rollout felt empowering and a step in the right direction. Looking back to the previous year in 2020, experiencing the early months of COVID-19 put into perspective how important it is to live life. This perspective made me realize that it is essential to avoid looking back with regrets and my goal was to move by end of summer 2021.
I accepted a practice facilitator position with Colorado Access. Once I had my start date scheduled, reality began to set in that I was actually moving out of Ohio! Only a handful of people were aware that I was even considering moving, so it was fun surprising people with my big news. I was set on moving to Colorado and no one was going to change my mind.
One of the most challenging preparations for moving to Colorado was finding a place
to live. The market is hot, especially in Denver. I had limited connections in Denver and was unfamiliar with the neighborhoods. I decided to fly solo to Denver a few weeks before my move to look at different neighborhoods and secure a place to live. I highly recommend taking a separate trip before finalizing a move, which substantially made me feel at ease with my decision and helped with completing most of the moving arrangements.
One of the last preparations was figuring out how to get my personal belongings from Ohio to Colorado. I made of list of items I needed to pack and a list of items I wanted to sell. I recommend using platforms, such as Facebook Marketplace to sell belongings that are not essential and that can be replaced, such as large furniture. I also suggest looking into renting a POD or U-Box to ship items, which is what I did since this was a solo move.
Having a support system makes a difference during any big transition. My family was helpful, especially when it came to packing. The drive to Denver was about 1,400 miles and 21 hours. I was traveling from Northeast Ohio, which required driving through the western portion of Ohio, and then through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. I encourage anyone doing a long-distance move to buddy up with at least one person: a friend, sibling, relative, parent, etc. Driving a long distance is more fun with company, plus you can split the driving.
It also is good for safety reasons. My father volunteered to drive with me and took the lead in mapping our route.
I quickly realized that I was not alone in my desire to leave my home state. I have met multiple people, including my colleagues at Colorado Access, who are also from out-of-state. It has been refreshing to meet people that have their own unique stories and reasoning as to how they ended up in Colorado.
Learning about health care in Colorado has been a learning curve with becoming familiar with the different organizations, community partners, primary care medical homes (PCMPs), payors, and hospital systems. Colorado’s Medicaid structure is especially unique and becoming familiar with the Regional Accountable Entities (RAEs) and the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC) is also a learning effort.
Another takeaway is the various activities to do in Colorado. I have been overwhelmed by the number of recommendations of places to check out. I have an ongoing list in my notes app of places to visit. There are exciting things to do year-round in Colorado; each season I have found something unique to do. I especially enjoy having visitors since there is something for everyone.
This last year has been liberating and a fresh start. I feel at peace living in Colorado and waking up to the Rocky Mountains every day. My colleagues, especially my teammates on practice support have been genuine, supportive, and insightful. Moving to a new place and starting a new job was a lot of change at once and it has been comforting being so welcomed as I adjust. I have not been homesick, but do miss certain aspects of Ohio, such as the simplicity of my hometown and having my family nearby. However, I always remind myself that I am only a short plane ride away and just because I live 1,400 miles away doesn’t mean it’s goodbye forever. I like going back to Ohio for the holidays. Having technology like FaceTime and social media also makes keeping in touch easy. Overall, I highly encourage anyone that is considering a big move, especially out of their home state to go for it!