“I realized how impossibly special our town is. Albuquerque is sincere, inclusive and honest. There are so many amazingly ambitious things happening in Albuquerque right now and it’s a real testament to being secure in your talents and not confusing arrogance for success.” – Amelia Olson
BY DERICK JONES
Have you ever wanted to pack up your entire life and just move somewhere completely different?
Well, I didn’t do exactly that – not in in so many words – but I did spend a fair amount of time researching the pros and cons of living in Albuquerque before moving more than 850 miles across the country.
Did I have a new job relocating me? Was I going to school out here?
No. I simply took a test.
About six months ago, my partner and I decided it was time to make the big leap from our hometown of Shreveport, a small town in north Louisiana, to somewhere more fitting for our family. We both had our own ideas of what our “ideal” location could be. I leaned toward the beach and Florida. My partner, Evan, was interested in the West Coast, mainly Washington or Oregon.
After spending the last two years developing our business, a brick-and-mortar vintage clothing store with a significant online presence, we realized we could take our brand anywhere and sell our goods online from any city in the country. “You don’t have a job there and you’re just moving? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?” people would ask.
But why Albuquerque?
Rather than throwing a dart at a map, we sought out a third party for help choosing which place was right for us. That’s how we found FindYourSpot.com, an online 250-question quiz that’s powered by an algorithm designed to match your family’s needs with a short list of places where you should be living.
“It sounds simplistic, but I wanted to help people be happy,” said Brent Eskew, creator of the website. “With all the travel and transportation options in our modern society and the ability to work digitally and remotely, there is no reason to be stuck somewhere that does not fit you – just because your parents or grandparents grew up there.”
Are you a young family? Are schools in your neighborhood important? By providing answers along the continuum from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree,” quiz takers are able to guide themselves through the test to find their top 24 spots in the United States.
Askew said he hopes people like me who take the test gain an understanding of all the great places available that match their particular interests and style. “[People] should explore an amazing country full of fantastic choices, so many of which are undiscovered,” he said.
Number one of our list was not Albuquerque, but somewhere a little more west – Salem, Ore. It’s not that Salem wasn’t a viable contender, but the more we thought about living in Oregon, the less it made sense for us financially and physically. Neither one of us wanted to be that far from our parents, and even though 12 hours away is far, it’s still a lot closer than Oregon.
After nixing Salem and Portland, the other top city the website picked for us, we focused in on Albuquerque. In our mind’s eye we saw desert, sand, cactus – and nothing. How could we get placed by a computer in a city in the middle of nowhere?
But as soon as we started to dive into what this city had to offer, we were floored. We found a bustling vintage community full of entrepreneurs and business owners, multiple coffee shops and breweries for every type of person and a downtown that we could actually afford. One of the first connections we made was Albuquerque native Amelia Olson, who like us, is a young business owner and has a passion for vintage clothing.
We connected with Amelia through Instagram, one of the best platforms we used in researching Albuquerque. We spent the months before our move chatting about the city, the vintage business and why one would want to set up shop out west.
She said it succinctly: “I realized how impossibly special our town is. Albuquerque is sincere, inclusive and honest. There are so many amazingly ambitious things happening in Albuquerque right now and it’s a real testament to being secure in your talents and not confusing arrogance for success.”
“People remember your name, your kid’s name,” she said. “Being able to enjoy the experiences a large city has to offer, while still being very connected to your community is something so, so special and I’m always humbled by the people that live here.”
It’s only been a couple of months but the test was right. We love it here. I love it because I get to wake up to mountains every day and the weather is beautiful. Not having mosquitos – a big check mark. Evan says it’s the first time he’s felt at home. We both have our reasons, but something about being here makes sense.
I sold my car, left our brick-and-mortar business behind and purged most of my possessions. Living Downtown has been one of the best choices I’ve made.
If you see former Shreveport journalist Derick Jones walking Downtown, give him a big wave and a smile.
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