moving to portland was our best decision so far


Let’s rewind three and half years…

Joe and I were living in a small city in Wisconsin. He: a software developer, me: a wedding photographer. Us: aspiring artists. I can’t tell you the real reason we decided to move. I think we made something up like, “We want to be in a bigger community of artists,” “We want more photographer friends,” “We think the pacific northwest is so beautiful and inspiring…” but really I just had this gut feeling that we needed to move to the west coast.

And so we started going through the process. The process consisted of asking Joe’s boss if he could work remotely, selling our house (we had bought a house the previous year for $80k - so cheap!), then fixing up our house (apparently it had a crap load of problems), and of course telling all our friends and family. 

We were lucky that most everyone was supportive and everything worked out. But of course there were some worries and fears from the people close to us. You can never fully explain how you feel completely confident that this risk is worth it for you. 

I can barely remember the stress of the situation, it seemed like all the pieces fell together lightning fast, and before we knew it, we were on the road. My memory of the road trip was amazing. We were excited and overjoyed to be together all day and see new sights as we headed out west. The land is beautiful between the midwest and the west, and I’d highly recommend taking the trek (we’ve driven it about five times now).

I remember driving into Portland for the first time after 30+ hours of sitting in the car. It was full of construction and city sounds, new things we didn’t see the first time we visited, and the anxiety that we had to figure this out now. We drove to our apartment (which we chose and signed for purely online ;) and found it was much smaller than expected, but still very new and nice. We also found out our furniture and things couldn’t be delivered for two weeks because we hadn’t scheduled out parking for the truck. An oversight. Both of us took Pilot, our dog, on a walk around the neighborhood, silently. I knew we were both overwhelmed and eventually joked about how we were so wide-eyed and shocked to have no bearings whatsoever. We literally didn’t know a single person or neighborhood. I remember thinking, “I don’t even know what kinds of grocery stores they have here!” Such a basic need. We spent the next two weeks sleeping and working on an air mattress in our very empty apartment. I think Hulu just added a ton of seasons of The Brady Bunch, and I watched them all eeeee.

Through that stress, I (we) knew it was so good for us. Two kids from Wisconsin who had never lived or known anything else. We were obsessed with personal growth at the time, but never expected to grow as much as we did.

Community and bearings came quickly and easily. We met friends through instagram, and then friends of those friends. The baristas at our favorite coffee shop soon knew us by name, and we felt at home after one month.

Over and over again we said, “This is the best decision we ever made!”

We were meeting creative people, working on fun shoots, finally getting paid for fashion photography (even if they were small gigs), and driving out to the most gorgeous landscapes we had ever seen.

About a year in, we met Sara and Phil, and little did we know, they would become the closest friends we ever had. They helped us grow and made us the people we are today. 

I’ll never ever regret moving to Portland; I can’t imagine what our life would have looked like had we not moved. Now it’s led us on a path to New York City, a place I never thought I would live. Who knows what will happen next! But none of this would have happened if we didn’t follow our guts. I think if you’re thinking you don’t belong in a place or feel limited by your surroundings, take heed. Only you know what you need. It rhymes, too.

Writing this, I have two memories of separate people who told us “You’ll be back in a year.”

Haha if only we could get one of those satisfyingly vindictive movie moments to say…


I remember hearing them and feeling really discouraged. What’s the point of telling someone “you’ll be back” or “you need a backup plan” when they are excited to go somewhere? Is it because that’s what you would do? Is it because you’re scared to fail? Is it because you never take risks? Or you don’t actually have their best interest at heart? 

There’s an important lesson here. And it’s follow your own gut. Because the other person’s gut is probably filled with processed foods and non-organic veggies hahahahahahhhahahaha. 

Thanks for listening.

Yes, I laugh at my own jokes. 

lifeKatie BauerComment