After they hear the story of how we chucked everything and moved to the middle of nowhere, the next question many people ask me is: “Why Idaho?”
It’s a valid question, and the conventional replies go something like this:
- Affordable real estate (at the time; not so much now). When we were plotting our move in 1995-1996, North Idaho real estate was vastly less expensive than the other places we looked, which included towns in Northern Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Northern California.
- Low cost of doing business. People living in states like Massachusetts and California have marveled at how little money we have to spend to operate our business.
- Gorgeous scenery and lots of outdoor recreational opportunities. We live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Sandpoint has a huge lake, a ski resort, and thousand upon thousands of tree-covered acres where you can go hiking.
We took a lot of vacations in various areas of the west to see what they were like and picked up all the freebie info we could get our hands on. (Now you can do a lot of that research online too.)
Although I have explained our “logical” rationale for moving here many times, that typical Chamber of Commerce answer isn’t the whole story.
People who make a big move to the middle of nowhere are generally a little weird or eccentric in some way. We’re no exception.
If you saw the movie “The Wedding Singer,” there’s a scene where the main character refers to the mutants at table 9. And pretty much every high school has a “rejects” table where the losers, brains, geeks, and oddballs hang out.
I think everyone has felt like an outcast at some point in their lives. Heaven knows James and I didn’t exactly enjoy high school.
But when we were living in Southern California, we started to feel like outcasts in our own life. This feeling is hard to explain, but you probably know what I’m talking about if you’re living it right now.
Even though we were living about a mile from the beach in a condo with an ocean view and had good jobs, something felt off.
We kept thinking that we “should” be happy. The life we were living was the one everyone says “should” make you happy. It takes a long time to get over thinking that you “should” live your life a certain way.
So we did the yuppie thing in San Diego for 8 years. Since then, I’ve met countless people who are living the life they think they should be living, instead of the life they actually want to live. They aren’t happy, and they aren’t sure why.
The more complete answer to “Why Idaho?” is that it feels right here. It sounds a little “woo woo” and maybe it is, but almost from the moment we arrived on our first visit, this area felt like home. The anxious feeling that was our constant companion in California evaporated entirely.
Of course, you need to be careful what you wish for when you move to a remote area. It can be lonely when you have to spend hours sitting on a tractor plowing your way out of the neighborhood. It takes forever to get to the airport and flights are absurdly expensive because the local airport is not a hub for anything. Winter can be gray, icy, and dreary, and sometimes it’s not quite as romantic as it might seem living in a forest with various bugs, wildlife, and obscure species of invasive vegetation.
But with all those downsides, it’s still the right place for us. Since we moved here, more than one person who has visited us has commented on the fact that our house and where we live is very “us.” You can’t fake contentment and happiness. It’s either there, or it isn’t.
So the more complete answer to “Why Idaho?” is because it’s right for us. That does not mean it’s right for you. When you find the right place for you, you’ll know.