2 Years After Moving To California: 10 Lessons Learned

2 Years After Moving To California: 10 Lessons Learned

2 years ago I quit my job and moved to California. Here are 10 lessons I've learned from working online, traveling, and how to afford the cost of living in Southern California, one of the most expensive parts of the US. / goseekexplore.com

I honestly can’t believe it has been two YEARS since I quit my full-time job in Arizona to move to Southern California so I could live in my dream location, work online, and travel.

I packed up my life in Arizona and drove out west to the coast on October 12, 2016, with a new place to live and hardly what I’d call “a plan.”

I’ve truly loved living in this incredible corner of the world, even despite its high cost of living and limited beach parking ;)

This isn’t a traditional “quit your job to travel” post, because to be honest, I haven’t been traveling as much as someone who is a full-time traveler with no home base.

Truth is, I’m based in California, and while I have done plenty of traveling across three continents (Asia, Australia, North America), including some work + travel opportunities around the US, most of my time is spent here in California.

For work, I’m still doing blogging, online freelance work, and working + traveling with the leadership/education conferences in the summers.

I had a moment last year where I decided to get a full-time job again, but left after six months after deciding it wasn’t really aligned with my passions. I’m not closed off to full-time jobs, though I am particular about potential roles that come my way and if they have decent flexibility. We’ll see, haha…

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For this article, I feel it is very important to be open and honest with you about what my experience has been like with both the positive and tough lessons learned.

Let’s go!

Life Lessons Based on What I’ve Learned After Quitting my Job to Move to California (So Far):

1. Working Online (the “Digital Nomad Life”) is Very Possible

La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

We live in an abundant world with plenty of opportunities to live out your passions.

With the current state of technology, we can utilize the internet to work from anywhere that has wifi.

With businesses in need of online marketing, graphic design, coding, tech support, and other roles that can be outsourced, there are many opportunities for you to work online.

And working online while I was in Mexico City this year? It was pretty awesome to be able to pop into a Starbucks and use the wifi for a meeting while walking to Chapultepec Park.

Additionally, it has never been easier to use the internet to support your business. When you have an online business, you can reach the masses.

2. Working For Yourself is Fulfilling, But Not Easy

Working for yourself is not for those seeking a super easy clock-in/clock-out role or for the faint of heart.

You need major self-motivation to get your work done when you don’t have someone keeping you accountable.

If you’re freelancing like me, you’re going to have to deal with negotiating your pay often and deal with the fact that some people simply may lie or not pay you (“Sorry, we lost our budget" happened with a blog project I did recently…)

You’ll have to deal with unexpected things happening (“We’re taking our entire marketing operations in-house starting next month, but we love your work and you’re welcome to apply for a full-time role if you want to move!”) or other aspects that are completely out of your control.

Whether you work for yourself, do freelance work, or don’t have a typical office environment, you have to be willing to take the good with the bad.

While this isn’t the easiest work I’ve done, I enjoy the challenge and the freedom/flexibility to be able to live where I want and not have restricted vacation time…even though sometimes I have to work on “vacation”!

It’s about balance. Haha.

3. You May Miss Socializing During the Day

Love those California palms!

Love those California palms!

When I’m home and not traveling, I really really miss being around people every day. My main group of friends work typical 9-5 jobs so we see each other on weekends and maybe once or twice during the week.

And I love my blog readers and LOVE getting DMs and emails from you guys, but it isn’t the same as that in-person social feeling.

Luckily, I’ve made a few entrepreneur friends in San Diego and joined a business meet-up group.

I also go to the highest peak hour for my fitness classes so I can be around a ton of people at once!

The social aspect of not having a typical job is something I never really thought about until I started working for myself.

If you’re extroverted like me, you’ll want to be sure you get out there and connect with others with a similar work situation.

Even co-working together for a few hours or meeting up for lunch and talking about relatable #bizproblems can really help your day.

And yes, that is one of the top reasons why I sought out a full-time job last year - because if I’m not traveling, I like to be around people.

4. Traveling while working online actually is doable

Windansea Beach, California

Windansea Beach, California

…but it does require some sacrifices and proper planning before you travel.

Though working while you travel makes your trip less of a vacation, it is still pretty awesome!

Honestly, I have been able to structure my days well when I’ve worked while traveling and still had an enjoyable experience overall.

I’ve written a few helpful posts about traveling while working online:

READ: 3 Quick Tips for Planning Trips as a Digital Nomad

READ: 6 Unexpected Conveniences That Make the Digital Nomad Life So Much Easier

5. You’re Going to Have to Up-Level Your Work Ethic and Mindset

I’ve had to up-level so many times in terms of my work situation to be able to afford the cost of living in California. I’ve never felt more at home in San Diego than I have anywhere else. It’s not that I’d never leave San Diego, but if I kept San Diego as my home base forever, I think I’d still be very happy.

And that says a lot, since I never felt like I fully “clicked” in Phoenix, Italy, and couldn’t wait to get out of the Seattle weather.

I guess I just have expensive taste. :)

Up-leveling my work ethic and mindset has meant letting go of clients who couldn’t afford my rates when I raised them, having to seek new clients with higher budgets, improving my negotiation skills, and taking my blog much more seriously by treating it more like a business and less like a hobby.

This couldn’t have been possible without constantly working on my mindset and knowing my worth.

READ: How These 10 Non-travel Rituals Helped Me Travel More

6. When You Work Online, You May Be Able to Live in Your Dream Location

Newport Beach, California

Newport Beach, California

That said, I’ll put it out here - Southern California is an amazing place to live. If you read any of my Instagram captions about California, you know I’m basically obsessed.

You get beaches, blue skies, positive energy, healthy food, outdoor yoga overlooking the ocean, and so much more all in one place!

Think about your dream place to live…it could be somewhere like California, it could be Bali or Thailand (much more affordable), it could be Costa Rica or Europe…when you work online, you tend have more flexibility for where you choose to live.

So if you’re going to work online and are able to live anywhere, you may as well choose somewhere you love and that makes you happy.

7. Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

While my wallet was thinner after my Southeast Asia/Australia trip (definitely because of Australia and New Zealand…), I am so so so happy I went.

Some of my favorite travel memories were made on that trip.

Going to Mexico City, New York City (multiple times), all over California, Vegas, and so many more places to see friends and family have never been a regret of mine over the past two years.

Travel and blogging are two things I’ve consistently done and have never lost passion or excitement for.

When I quit my job two years ago, I was burnt out beyond belief. Looking at job postings drained my energy to no end. My intuition was begging me to not dive into a corporate job right away.

So I booked a trip to Southeast Asia, landed some freelance work in the meantime, and…kept rolling with it after my trip.

Without the flexibility of working online, I wouldn’t have been able to go on those particular trips.

Yeah, maybe I could’ve planned a short-term trip with vacation time from a job, but it would have been tough to cram all that traveling in.

READ: How To Travel With a Full-Time Job (How I Took 8 Trips in One Year While Working Full-Time)

8. Say yes first, then figure it out

When it comes to new opportunities…work related, blog-related, travel-related, or social-related…say yes, and then figure it out.

I’ll admit I do have times where I hesitate or procrastinate, but if it is positive and would add to my life or income, I try to say yes as much - and as quickly - as possible.

9. Take time for yourself, but make time to work too

Screen Shot 2018-10-07 at 2.56.28 PM.png

When you work for yourself, you go into it knowing that it takes a lot of hard work.

Even if your work is more passive income based, that still requires a lot of time and energy upfront and consistent maintenance. I’m working hard now so I can relax for a bit later.

But sometimes, to be 100% honest with you, I go through phases where I’m so work-work-work just to keep up with everything that I get burned out.

When you don’t have a 9-5 schedule, you have to stop yourself from working.

One of the biggest things I had to overcome is not feeling guilty if I wasn’t working.

Especially on the blogging front, where I do everything myself (and there is a LOT that I do!), I rarely “turn off.”

This is where daily self-care comes in.

Self-care is so important to keep you from burning out. I notice myself burning out much less when I’ve done my positive morning ritual, meditation, and other self-care practices. My day moves at a much smoother pace and I feel more relaxed.

READ: The Easiest Way to Use a Morning Routine to Get Ahead of Your Busy Days (And Stick To It)

Like I said above, working for yourself is not easy. You’ll get kicked in the gut, fall down, and have to pick yourself back up. You’ll have ups and downs.

You may have your best, highest month of revenue and feel on top of the world, and the next month may be the lowest (that happened to me this year due to many unexpected occurrences).

It’s natural and the route you choose when you work for yourself.

It becomes a little bit of a love/hate thing, but the love outshines the hate every.single.time. if passion is what leads you.

10. You must follow your passion

Long Beach, California

Long Beach, California

It sounds cliche, but it’s real. If you want to live out your passion, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to make it work.

Sometimes that could mean getting a temporary job as a means to an end while you build your business, sometimes it may mean long hours or a full workday during your trip when you’d rather be laying on the beach with a margarita.

When you love what you do, it hardly feels like work.

If what you’re doing starts to feel too heavy, it may be time to re-evaluate. Do you still love it?

Is this an uncomfortable growth period, and you’ll come out stronger on the other side?

Or is your intuition telling you to invest your time and energy in something else that lifts you up and makes you excited?

Your biggest contribution to humanity is this:

Your best contribution to humanity is LIVING YOUR LIFE by doing the things you are passionate about.

I truly believe in the power of the ripple effect. When you do things that make you happy, you're in a better mood. You inspire others to do things that make them happy, too.

You radiate positive energy, which extends to others, and so on and so forth.

Whether or not you pursue your passion as your career, or outside of your day-to-day job, you deserve to live your life. The people you touch by being in a positive state of living deserve it too.

My question for you: will you let your life go by without ever pursuing your passion?

If you’re questioning uprooting your life, quitting your job, and moving somewhere new like I did to work online and travel, consider the points above.

It’s not easy but can be rewarding if you love what you do.

2 Years Ago: I Quit My Job & Moved To California (vlog)

Please don’t judge my editing on my vlog from two years ago (haha), there are so many things I would change now!

People have written to me saying it inspired them to move somewhere or follow a similar path. Check it out if you haven’t already!