They say if you get more than three emails about it, BLOG about it! Well, in that case… I’m WAY late on this one, pals! We love this question because we know when someone is asking… they’re chasing a dream. We’re believers in that. If you don’t already know this about us…we are VERY big advocates for making the best out of life and refusing to settle.
Before we moved:
The story kind of starts like a scene from a movie, honestly… as silly as that sounds. An average family with two little girls gets out of the car one early evening after shopping for groceries. The sun has already set, the sky is dark…and the two year old girl looks up to the sky and tells her parents that she doesn’t ever seen enough stars in the sky over our house. We answer her explaining about the glow from the orange lights of the parkway nearby obscuring it but then we really get to thinking later on about what she said.
She wants a sky where she can see more stars. She’s two. This hit us in a weird, action-required-immediately kind of way. Wait a second… we have to fix this! Why does this feel so urgent? Haha! So we started brainstorming…what if we moved?
Well..we had already moved a lot. A LOT. Renting house and apartment and house and so on. When we next moved, we wanted it to be a big, worthwhile deal and somewhere we KNEW we wanted to stay for a while, or at least until we bought our first home shortly after.
The final decision to go:
So later on I’m mentoring a girl I adore and she tells me how she and her boys and husband are in this small apartment at the time, but she loves the location…and she realizes that it’s not space or aesthetics that matter. She’s actually really content where she is right now because she is happy in the location, truly. Then I came home that day and said Mike… we gotta go. We can live in so much smaller, so much less “nice” and be a million times happier than we are right now trying to keep up in Virginia Beach with a ridiculously high rent for the size of the home we were in. We love so much about Hampton Roads, but it wasn’t for us.
Renting a home:
We started looking online for rentals PRAYING we could find something affordable and long term, and to our VERY happy surprise we saw that places down here were SO much cheaper on average and we eventually found a rental that had an extra bathroom but was $300 less a month. Was it pretty? Heck no. Like really, it was extremely out-dated. But if you know us, you know we’re not all about what’s prettiest and keeping up with whoever the Jones are. We know better things can happen in due time… but geographically relocating to where we knew our souls belonged HAD to take priority. So for $995 a month, our family of four threw it all into a huge Uhaul, took Exit 291B and never looked back. I cried. Life changed and I’ve never felt more inspired in my own life than driving down that day. It changed everything for me.
If you’re looking for long term rentals, DO IT NOW. Do it *CONSISTENTLY*…like bookmark the websites and check them daily, if not twice a day! In Hampton Roads, I could literally find anything in any city I wanted, any time. Long term rentals here are considerably more rare and can almost be impossible to find…trust me, I looked for a LONG time before AND after we moved. I would just Google “Outer Banks long term rentals” and search through Craiglist (be smart and safe), various realty companies and there are even some sites that list multiple sites within them to ease the search a little.
If you’re buying, that’s a different story! We didn’t buy until we were already living down here… so we can’t help you there 🙂
One of the biggest questions we are asked is, “what did you do about Mike’s job?” — and the answer is kind of a shock to some people! Mike is an incredible man, let’s start with that. When we decided to move, we didn’t have a job transition in place for him. In fact, we put that secondary because we just knew we needed to move. We wanted to make this change while our babies were young, not in school, and while we were inspired enough to actually go through with this crazy, life altering idea. So… Mike agreed to commute. My unbelievably selfless husband just LAST WEEK (2 1/2 years later) ended his commute of 3-4 hours DAILY (1 1/2 – 2 hours one way, depending on Hampton Roads traffic) and we get him back for 900 hours a year now.
Most people say WOW that is amazing! And they are just so supportive of our story and say nice things about how hard he and I worked to make this happen (remember…I’m the one at home with three young children, the commute was way harder on me!). BUT…some people remark how their significant other would never be willing to do that, and how they would never do that to them. Yeah…so that’s where we gotta stop ya. Y’all aren’t us. We mean this as kindly as possible but if you aren’t willing to go through a lot to get what you love…maybe you don’t love it enough or as much as you think you do? I mean… anything in life we have wanted we have truly busted our butts for. We’re grateful. We’re DRIVEN, determined, we’re making sure we are on the same page. I didn’t force Mike into commuting, but he was willing to do it. Like he used to tell people, “when I get on that beach road at the end of the day and breathe that salt air, I know it’s all worth it.”
Some people have to commute, we’re not alone there! We know people who live somewhere they DON’T love and with the traffic they have to sit in have a similar commute time…and that sounds far less appealing to us. If you’re REALLY passionate about wanting to relocate somewhere, you may have to go through a lot to get there… and that’s okay. We felt so much more thankful for achieving it knowing how hard the work was to get here!
My Business | Amanda Hedgepeth Photography:
Making the switch to becoming a North Carolina business was thankfully very easy with the help of my CPA and lawyer (Jay Wheeles in Manteo). Reaching out was the scary part…but I ended up connecting with some TRULY amazing photographers and wedding professionals! I have to say, it’s a smaller community but it’s a really good one. As extroverted as I seem (maybe I’m just a good writer via blog and social media..think Shonda Rhimes, haha, totally weird, loves writing but is like oh HECK no I wanna stay in my little comfortable shy bubble) I’m actually pretty introverted. I was worried some people wouldn’t like me because coming into a new “market” is always scary! But honestly…there is a ridiculous amount of work and weddings to go around here. I’ve seen a positive side to this community that reflects confidence and professionalism and I’m so thankful to have those kind of friends here. This is STILL one of the top ten wedding destinations on the East Coast. We are just this year starting to almost round it out to HALF of our weddings here and the other half traveling…we dream of a day where we can have 85% of our weddings and work here and the rest travel because being closer to home the more our girls all start to enter to school will be important for us!
We don’t have kids in school yet, but Cammy starts Kindergarten next year at a school with great reviews and ratings. More importantly, our friends with kids who attend or have attended seem to really be passionate about the school and that makes us happy. We don’t have any other input to off on this subject right now, we’ll be experiencing it soon enough though!
We have heard a lot of people ask if the off season or winters are depressing here, haha…and it’s simply NOT true! I’m not a winter person so I don’t love cold weather, but being somewhere we LOVE in the winter is way better than when we were somewhere we didn’t! I remember living in Virginia Beach and going to the beach all bundled up and thinking, okay, this isn’t fun…I’m just cold. Here, I’m hauling 20-40 pieces of sea glass a week with all of the washed up treasures on the beach! And I’m SO happy being miserably cold on the beach because it’s where I belong haha! It’s all about perspective. We spent the past two Christmases outside because it was in the 70’s..the weather is completely unpredictable but I’d rather already be down here for when a warm day pops up! 🙂
Stores and Shops:
Yeah…we say we miss Target sometimes. We’re an hour away from the nearest Target, Moe’s, Panera, Olive Garden, Chipotle, so many of our favorites..etc, but if living here meant I could NEVER step into one of those places again, I’d be OKAY! Target would sting a little, haha, but I would live! There are so many incredible small businesses to support here. You forget about all of the repetitive corporate places when you’re able to walk into a business that has a great product and they know your name and your order. A lot of people know we LOVE Front Porch Cafe, Seagreen Gallery, Surfin’ Spoon, Barrier Island Bagels, Rooster’s and so many more storefronts..we are sharing a *BIG* comprehensive blog with all of our favorite businesses soon (and then will come back to this post and hyperlink!) — and it’s just a different way of living being away from all of the bustling malls and shopping centers. We LOVE that. Give me that small town feel all day!
Summer & Tourism:
I grew up coming here AS a tourist. I still feel like a tourist sometimes because it was such a big part of my life! Let me give you my PERSONAL opinion about summers here…they’re still amazing. I love them, crowd and all! In fact, the summer here on the BUSIEST days of the year here still can not compare to the ridiculous amount of people and traffic and congestion in Hampton Roads where we lived on any average day. It feels so normal and just like a part of life when you live there for so long, but when we moved here we realized how much time we actually spent driving and in traffic up there not even going more than a few miles! It’s so funny when we hear people complain about how “busy” it is in the summer here, and it can be, but if you’re from an already busy area — like DC, Tidewater, etc…yeah, you’ll be right at home! I still never sat in traffic on the bypass or the beach road during the summer going to ballet, preschool, the Y, etc. I have no problem with the summers at all living here. One time a sketchy guy with a Virginia license plate stole Mike’s flip flops from a beach access, haha…and some people drive really badly (35 on the bypass? Don’t do that..please go the speed limit haha!) but it’s okay, that’s anywhere you go! My only request is that you treat the servers and business owners well, they work SO hard in the summers and put up with a lot! 🙂
Sometimes we’ll chat with people about moving here but they seem to have way higher life standards and expectations, and we just know we can’t help them with advice based on our experience. Guys, we lived in a TWO BEDROOM CONDO with five people, three of them small children! Thankfully we own a great home now, but we were willing to rough it. Mike drove up to 20 hours a week just to get to and from his job. Our dream chasing is a little more intense than how most people’s look, and that’s okay! We wanted and were willing to fight for it. Dream chasing has never looked easy for me and I knew what hard work looked like. If you can make a FAR easier transition…go for it! We would be SO happy to see you have to go through less than we did! But, we have no magical advice. Our opinions and experiences belong to us. Some people may be miserable in the winter and some people may hate the crowded summers. We belong here, our souls are not whole when we’re not on our little sandbar. We know our girls are meant to be raised by the sea, living in a home on a harbor where Lord knows if we’ll ever even own a boat. If you know you belong here, or somewhere else you love and feel home…fight for it. Are you a mountain lover? Are you a city dweller at heart? Do you see yourself growing a family in suburbia? Make it HAPPEN! Take the steps to dream big… you’re only getting one shot at this life!