6 Months of Midwest Living

 It’s been about 6 months since we moved and we are absolutely loving it!  “Why did you move to Indiana” is the question that we receive more than any other and we wanted to create a ‘landing page’ to hopefully provide some answers/thoughts.  If you have specific questions that aren’t addressed here, please reach out and if you missed our original blog post when we first addressed that we were moving, you can read that HERE.

Disclaimer: This post is based on our opinions and situations we’ve experienced.  We have definitely found (through this move and other life experiences) that there will always be someone who feels differently or has had a different experience.  People (for the most part) are proud of where they live or ‘come from’ and consequently many people also have strong opinions about ‘other’ places – whether they have lived there or not.  We’ve definitely learned through this to always have an open mind!

Disclaimer (part 2): We’ve only lived here (officially) for a little over 6 months.  We were in California for most of December and have been “quarantined” since mid-March.  What a year to move across the country! HA!

Our first visit to Indy in September 2019.


Why did you move? We were fortunate to be in a position where we were flexible with work, financially, and at a time in our lives where we had an opportunity to try something new.  We’ve always loved to travel and try new things, but we’ve both only ever lived in California.  Eloise had not yet turned 2, and if there was ever a time to ‘try’ something like this, it was before she was A) old enough to really know what was going on & B) ready to start school.  The short answer to this question really is that we wanted an adventure and to try something different and we had the capability and desire to do so.  We were also brave enough (eventually) to take the next step/chance, which is ultimately the hardest part of the process: actually following through with it.  

Why Carmel, Indiana? It started with a google search & a bottle of wine: “best places to raise a family in the US.”  California is a great place to raise a family, but we were looking for something a little different.  We really wanted space for Eloise to run – more on this later.  Carmel kept popping up in searches and articles that described exactly what we were looking for: family friendly, safe, great neighborhoods, tons of activities, fantastic schools, a downtown area with shops, restaurants, wineries and a calendar full of events.  Can you get all of this in California? Yes, but we wanted something new/ a change of pace. 

In terms of physical location, we’re just far enough east to put us in the Eastern time zone – huge for our business.  I  was essentially waking up 3 hours behind on the west coast every single day. We’re also geographically centrally located and have access to a ton of new cities that we are so excited to explore (once we are able ‘post quarantine’ – new post on this topic coming soon).  

We cancelled a trip (chickened out) to Carmel in early 2019 and regretted it until late summer.  We had an opportunity to work with the Ironworks Hotel Indy in September 2019 (if you haven’t stayed there, you should! It’s awesome!), so it was the perfect excuse for our little family to officially visit the Indy area. Every single day we were there, we fell more in love with the city, the pace, the people and just the midwest lifestyle.  I was back to meet with a real estate agent several weeks later.  

Eloise loved house hunting!


During our cross country road trip move in New Mexico.


This all happened really fast, right?  Yes, light speed.  We sent an email to our real estate agent in CA on a couple of weeks later letting him know that we wanted to sell. Our townhome was listed a few weeks later while we were in Paris for my birthday.  Our house sold two weeks later.  We had an offer accepted in Carmel on our new house by late October.  We moved in on November 19th.  Start to finish, cross country move in about 2 months – with an almost 2 year old.  It was a whirlwind for sure.  All this being said, we had been thinking about doing it for over a year, so once the decision was made, it was full steam ahead! We also wanted to be moved in before the snow hit! 

What would you say is the best part of your move so far?  Without question: the space.  The space specifically for Eloise to run makes us smile everyday.  Here’s the thing, I won’t go into specifics in terms of dollars and cents, but our mortgage here is roughly 60% of what we were paying in California, and we have almost triple the amount of house – that’s not including the huge backyard that she does laps around all the time.  We have dedicated office spaces, a finished basement that we’ll work on next year (for now a play area for Eloise and space for the Peloton), and extra bedrooms for friends and family to visit.  For us to afford this house in northern California would have been something we probably wouldn’t have been able to do for YEARS.

Two other ‘best parts’ 1) The people.  Midwestern hospitality is real.  Everyone that we’ve met here has been so nice to us.  Our neighbors are fantastic, everyone says “hi,” and we moved to a neighborhood filled with kids.  It’s awesome.  2) The quiet.  We lived on a pretty busy street in CA.  It is so unbelievably quiet here.  We live on a street without direct through traffic, so there’s about a car or two every hour it seems, going 20 miles per hour.  You can stand on the front or back patio and listen to the birds in the morning, kids playing in the afternoon, and watch the sunset at night.  It’s incredibly peaceful.  

What do you miss most about California? Our family and friends.  Both sides of our family are in CA and we do miss them very much.  We are excited to plan a visit back when we’re able, and look forward to them coming to Indiana to relax and chase Eloise.  

Visiting Peace Water Winery in September 2019. The myth that Indiana didn’t have good wine was just that…a myth!


We were able to go to PorchFest in Indy during the weekend we were visiting and it was one of our favorite things about our trip! Bands playing on people’s porches and drinks flowing…right up our alley!


One of our favorite Indy spots – Sun King Brewery


Our first time experiencing the pure Christmas spirit at the Carmel Christkindlmarkt


What are some of the funniest misconceptions you had about the midwest before you moved here? 

The weather:  Not necessarily a misconception, but definitely the thing that I believe most people thought (and some still do think) we would hate.  It has only been 6 months, but honestly, we are really enjoying it!  We’ve seen snow, rain, wind, hail, single digit temperatures, humidity… and some of the prettiest sunny days.  We have enjoyed the change in season, and the changes that can come within weeks, days, hours from one to the next.  It’s also kind of funny that we appreciate a really nice sunny day so much more than we used to.  The flowers and trees blooming this spring are gorgeous. That said, we weren’t prepared for the weather – it snowed days after we moved in.  I didn’t have a snow shovel and started to clear the driveway with a garden shovel. That lasted about 5 minutes! Turned out to be a great way to meet the neighbors who let me borrow a snow shovel before I made it to Target to buy one.

Weather Part 2: We are routinely reminded that we haven’t seen anything yet.  According to many, this was a “mild winter” by Indiana standards.  We appreciate the heads up! To be honest, we really take all of the ‘weather talk’ with a grain of salt.  There are people who complain about the weather everywhere.  Regardless of what the weather is, we’ll make the best of it.  

Fresh Produce: We were told there was no fresh fruit or vegetables in the midwest.  Someone literally told us we were crazy for moving to the Midwest where we can’t get avocados. Can’t make this stuff up. I  won’t waste too much space here – there is an amazing amount of fresh produce in Indiana.  Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, local fresh markets (Market District) is incredible, farmers markets all over the place. We’re getting plenty of nutrients.

Wine:  We had to cancel our California wine clubs as you can’t ship into the state of Indiana.  Solution: we have an amazing wine shop close by and tons of other stores that have fantastic wine selections.  We’ll visit wineries when back in CA, but are really enjoying tasting some new things.  There is also no shortage of CA wine in Indiana – we recently joined a wine club in Carmel (Peace Water Winery) that produces wine exclusively with grapes from Napa.  

A couple other quick ones: Lack of Elevation – won’t you miss the mountains?  No, we haven’t missed looking at a mountain yet.  Beach – won’t you miss the beach? I would much rather be by a pool, and other than vacations, the beach wasn’t really one of our top destinations in CA anyway.  Driving/Drivers – I kid you not, people drive WAY faster here than they do in California.  I am still getting used to Indy drivers!

 

One of our first snows in Indy…incredibly peaceful and beautiful!


Same space as above just in the summer!


First week in the new house….still waiting on furniture to arrive!


We ended up buying a couple of “temporary chairs” to sit in while we waiting for our PODS coming from California.


 

Funniest ‘Californian moves to the midwest moment’ so far? I mean, Bryan tried to use a garden shovel to clear the driveway of snow? Haha.  The next funniest moment was the first big spring storm we had.  If you live in the midwest, this is just another day, but for us who had never experienced this before, it was something!  We were sitting in our kitchen having dinner after an afternoon of playing outside – a beautiful day.  Bryan mentioned to me that there were definitely some clouds coming in.  They were very gray, and moving very fast towards us.  Within about 20 minutes the rain started.  Within an hour, it was raining harder than I have ever seen it in my life.  Then the hail, thunder and lightning.  Power went out, we were scrambling looking for flashlights or iphones, it was chaos.  We’re trying to put Eloise to sleep (thankfully the thunder and hail didn’t scare her at all, she was just upset her night light wasn’t working).  The storm lasted for another hour after Eloise went to sleep.  I’m aware this is not proper storm protocol, but we took our drinks to the covered front patio and just watched the storm until it quit.  I know there are many more of these to come, but we won’t forget the first one!  Flashlights, storm kits, first aid, and a battery charged night light were all purchased immediately after this.

Some practical information for those interested:

How did you get all of your stuff across the country?  PODS.  Moving is not cheap.  Moving across the country is definitely not cheap, but after much research, PODS was the way to go.  We hired a crew (so worth it) with knowledge of packing the POD in California and they got a ton of stuff into the first one.  We did ultimately need a second ‘smaller’ container to fit everything.  PODS customer service was great to work with.  They moved up our delivery dates for both containers and I’d definitely recommend them.  Driveway to driveway service!

How did you get Eloise across the country? Wow, in retrospect, this was a challenge, but it really was so much fun.  Truth be told, she is very good and was amazing during this trip.  She loved the hotels and exploring every time we’d stop the car.  Bring snacks, a lot of snacks! Bring new/fun toys or games.  Screen time was definitely ok.  Whatever we had to do to get through another hour of driving! A trick that worked really well for us was waking her up early and getting on the road.  She slept for about 2 hours of every morning drive.  Also, whatever you think you can do this drive in, add at least a day or two.  We ended up adding two days to our trip to lessen the total hours per day in the car.  It slowed us down, but Eloise was happier, we were less tired and we saw some amazing things that we will always remember! We drove from northern California and stopped in Bakersfield, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, and Springfield (with several other pit stops along the way). Looking back at it now just a short time later, it’s a road trip we will never forget!

How did you negotiate a real estate market remotely?  We met with a Redfin agent at the end of our first trip here and had a very particular list of what we were looking for.  He was amazing to work with. (You’re the best Rick!).  Lots of emails, phone calls, etc.  He sent us a couple of house tours via video on his phone.  Ultimately, Ashley came back and visited and had about 20 houses over the course of a weekend that we wanted to see.  Ironically, the house that we ended up buying was about 18th on that tour (tour was based on location and when homes were available to see as she was trying to see as many homes as possible in a short time).  

The DMV – before you make a move like this, make a plan to get new driver’s licenses and registrations.  Each state will have different laws regarding the timing that this needs to be done, so check ahead of time.  Make an appointment if possible and check to make sure you have all of the necessary documentation.  If you have a car that is financed, you definitely need to plan ahead as this process was a bit of a challenge for us at first!

 

Another one of our favorite spots in Carmel, The Cake Bake Shop.


Our first night in our new house! We drove from our last spot in Missouri & pulled up to our driveway around 6 pm…you can tell by our faces how happy we were to be in our new home!


A little over a week later when our PODS arrived and we finally had a couch!


7 months later, our first summer in Indy 2020…quarantined yet still so happy in our new space and city!


To sum it up, over 6 months in, we are incredibly happy.  We feel very confident that we made a very smart move for our family.  We love our home, our neighborhood, the city, and the overall vibe of the midwest.  I think we had some hesitation before we visited that we’d be moving somewhere that didn’t have all of the “amenities” that we had in California.  This couldn’t be more false.  We have absolutely everything we need here.  We’ll roll with the weather as it comes, and visit our families, friends, beaches and mountains whenever we can.   

We’ve heard from a lot of people over these 6 months that are weighing a similar decision.  We appreciate and understand how challenging it can be.  Please reach out if you have questions and we’ll do the best we can to answer them based on our experience.  Have the best week you guys!

12 Comments

  1. Cassie
    July 27, 2020 / 6:13 am

    Couldn’t agree more-I grew up in Northern California and then moved to Columbus, Ohio. The Midwest is so affordable and an amazing place to raise a family!

    • ashleydonielle
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 8:40 am

      Right?! Just so awesome! Happy you feel the same too!

  2. Lindsay
    July 27, 2020 / 7:25 am

    My only question, I lived on the east coast for a year, and I think its so unusual how backyards aren’t fenced. Is that weird to you as well? Honestly, as a Californian, I love it here, but there’s a lot that I think would be better in another place like Indiana or somewhere! I hope you guys keep loving it.

    • ashleydonielle
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 8:40 am

      Ha! It definitely was weird at first but now we are use to it! And it’s just a different way of growing up we decided. The people in the Midwest think it’s weird that we grew up with fences in our yard. Too funny!

  3. Emily
    July 27, 2020 / 7:51 am

    Love reading this! We just moved to Fishers about a month ago from Southern CA. We are loving it so far too!

    • ashleydonielle
      Author
      July 27, 2020 / 8:39 am

      Aww yay! Love Fishers! So fun. Glad to hear you love it too!

  4. Laura
    July 27, 2020 / 8:51 am

    Happy to have you in the Midwest and so happy that you have good things to say! I feel like we tend to be forgotten about sometimes and I wish everyone could know that it’s really a wonderful place to live.

  5. Katrina
    July 27, 2020 / 12:19 pm

    Loved this update – brought me down memory lane of our own move to the Midwest (Minnesota) last October from the west coast (Oregon) but I am born and raised in socal. I too was worried a bit about Midwest living but my husband grew up in Wisconsin so I had a good idea. Happy to have survived 8 months in our new home! Oh and we put up a fence in our yard for our dog 🙂 definitely not the norm to have a fence here tho!

  6. Nicole Scott
    July 27, 2020 / 3:16 pm

    It warms my heart to hear that you’re very happy in the Midwest but I am a little biased! ♥️
    I was born in Indianapolis and grew up there for part of my life, until my family decided to leave the cold weather and go to the southwest. The winters are brutal but I wouldn’t change living there for anything because Indiana is a beautiful place and so are the people. I’ll always be a Hoosier no matter what and I love visiting my family that still lives there. I’m so glad that you and your family love it! Thank you for sharing this story with me and your other followers!

  7. Sara Amos
    July 27, 2020 / 3:32 pm

    I can’t tell you how surprised I was when you announced you were moving to Carmel shortly after I started following you. I grew up in the southern part of the state, but my husband and I have lived in Carmel almost 35 years. We love it! And , yes, it’s a great town to raise a family. It’s so fun to see your photos on Instagram of “my” town!

  8. Theresa
    July 27, 2020 / 6:45 pm

    I love following you and your sweet family! I am certain that as long as you have Bryan and Eloise by your side you will be smiling and loving life! Your attitude is an inspiration to all!💕

  9. Judy
    July 27, 2020 / 8:58 pm

    You seem very happy. It’s nice to watch a happy family grow. Enjoy!

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