Why I Moved to California 3 Times

My story begins with a pursuit of adventure. A yearning to break away from the monotony and sameness of my day-to-day life, trading it all for a wild, exciting leap into the unknown.

We all move for different reasons. Sometimes it's for family, college, or a new job.

I had no reason to leave, yet I wanted to.

An unstoppable craving for change led me to shake things up and make life a little more interesting.

I grew up with two younger sisters in a comfortable and predictable middle-class town in New Hampshire. A town I thought I'd live in for the rest of my life.

But as I got older, I became completely head-over-heels, stars-in-my-eyes infatuated with the opposite coast.

The truth is, California captivated me long before I had ever even set foot there. The reasons of course, were decidedly cliche: the beautiful beaches, streets lined with palm trees, the "glitz and glam" of LA, and summery, sunny weather nearly year-round. It all sounded so amazing and appealing.

Freshly graduated from high school, I was 18 years old and working full-time at a department store. College had been a "someday-maybe" thing. After touring several schools, applying, and getting into a few programs, I felt overwhelmed with indecision and didn't feel ready to commit.

The world was my oyster and I was itching to embark on a new chapter in an unfamiliar place. 

On April 26, 2005, armed with a one-way ticket, I jumped on a plane headed for San Diego, California. I didn't have a job lined up, or a car, but I did, fortunately have a comfortable place to stay.
For the first time in my life, I had left suburbia behind and traded it in for gritty, vibrant, and busy city living. I was walking one mile to and from work everyday, meeting new people, and pushing myself way, way out of my comfort zone.

It was exciting, scary, and new, and I couldn't believe I was actually doing this!

The move was decidedly short and sweet, only lasting 4 months (thanks to good ol' homesickness), but every one of those months was incredible.

A year after returning to my New Hampshire hometown, it was like déjà vu when I moved all the way back to San Diego (again!) in the fall of 2006. This time, things were a little bit different. I found a job in the city at a 4 diamond hotel and signed a lease on my first ever apartment of my own. It was tiny, measuring in at under 430 square feet, but it was all I needed.

Life was good and I relished in my new-found independence, but deep down, it wasn't easy supporting myself on entry-level wages and I struggled to make ends meet.

Fast forward seven months, I was on the road again, feeling like a failure, my car filled to the brim, making the 3,000 mile drive back east. 

For a long time, I didn't think about moving again. With a strong network of friends and a wonderful relationship back in New Hampshire, I felt pretty settled and the idea of packing up my things again just wasn't on my radar.

Four years went by. I was still living in the same town I grew up in, going to the same happy hours, enduring a frustrating daily commute, and indulging in unnecessary spending sprees out of sheer boredom.

My surroundings were no longer inspiring me. Things had become stagnant.

Moving isn't something I ever took lightly, but my heart knew what it wanted.

On September 8, 2011, my boyfriend Steve and I packed up every little thing we could possibly squeeze into my tiny black sedan and left for California.

I'll never forget that day.

It felt like an intense adrenaline rush, coupled with a weird emptiness - a reality check that we were leaving everything behind. This wasn't like the other moves. I was older now, with quadruple the bills and responsibility.

We left New Hampshire that Thursday afternoon with limited savings, zero jobs lined up, and nowhere permanent to stay. There was no real purpose behind our move other than to uproot our lives in search of inspiration, a spark, a new perspective.

Would I normally recommend moving on a whim? Well...

I'm not going to lie and say this move was easy and everything was perfect.

It was one of the hardest, CRAZIEST things I've ever done, yet one of the most memorable.

Moving so spontaneously for the third time around meant enduring our share of challenges and struggles.

Over the course of the first year, I slept on the floor for two weeks in a furniture-less apartment, had my car unexpectedly break down on the 405 freeway, endured being broker than broke, and worked in the fashion industry (for a dismal and completely unglamorous 3 weeks), all the while experiencing an emotional pendulum of highs and lows.

But in light of those situations, I challenged myself to run my first 5K (in the mud), developed a taste for wine, acquired new hobbies like paddleboarding and yoga, and even fostered two adorable puppies on a whim (that I since adopted).

After four months of living just steps from one of the most idyllic beach boardwalks in Southern California, Steve and I made our way down to San Diego, where we have been happily settled ever since.

Living here has been the most exciting adventure of my life to date, and I wouldn't change a thing.

We've come a long way since we got here, and I can't wait to share more tips, tricks, and learnings from our experience. California is home!

P.S. Are you planning a move of your own? Download our free moving journal! It's power packed with journal prompts, and worksheets to make the art of moving more fun.


Alison Kinsey is a serial mover and the founder of City Leaper. She craves adventure, movement, and new beginnings. Her most recent move was over 3,000 miles, from New Hampshire to California, where she lives with her husband and her two dogs.


  1. Thank you for your story! I felt exactly the same way moving to California - I've since left but I'm looking forward to the new places I hope to move to!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Shelby!!! :) Good luck on all your future moving adventures!

  2. I'm so happy that I happened to find your blog especially this story! I will be moving to California for the 3rd time within the coming months. Like you I moved back to my hometown and I would indulge in unnessary shopping because of boredom. Of course I'm nervous and excited about the move. Blessings to you!

  3. Me2 San Diego California is tops for weather,people ,and the sights.