I remember the moment it happened with utmost clarity. It was tax season 2015 and I was walking a beagle after having just gone over the taxes. We ended up owing quite a bit and I couldn't figure out why. We'd paid our estimated taxes and we should have had money coming back to us. Then I looked at what we'd made and started to understand what had happened. Two things had occurred simultaneously. The first is we had worked ourselves into a higher tax bracket and our accountant forgot to account for the 13% self employment tax.
By this time what was on my mind wasn't that we owed money but that we'd made more money than I'd thought and in any most any other community in America we wouldn't be stuck living in a 500 sq ft condo. We were making enough money to afford a house except we lived in an area where you're lucky if you can find any type of house for less than $550,000.00 and those certainly won't be houses with any type of features or close to the area we were currently living in.
As all of this was going on my father was planning his own retirement and was looking to live in his house in Virginia Beach. He also felt that my mother would be more conducive to the move if she had family close by and he offered up the beach house that we'd owned since 1995. For reasons that I'm not going to explain that house wasn't available to us on that April day in 2015 and wouldn't be until much later that year. That gave us time to consider all our options and to weigh the pros and the cons.
My Northern Virginia list was the pros of all my friends, the only home I'd ever known, Wegman's, and live sporting events. The cons to Northern Virginia were traffic, cost of living, bad restaurants, and my general disagreement with the temperament of the denizens of Northern Virginia. The pros to Virginia Beach were having a house, the ocean, good restaurants, and less traffic, and the only cons to Virginia Beach we could think of were that it lacked the pros of Northern Virginia.
There have been many times where I've wondered what would have happened if I'd gone into full gear in Northern Virginia. What if I'd built the business there and then I realize that scenario depends more on me being a time traveler. I learned what I did about marketing because I was forced to. If we'd stayed in Northern Virginia I doubt we'd have stopped working for the pet sitting and dog walking company, Everything and the Dog, that we were working for. People that know me know that I think of the animals I take care of as my friends and I wouldn't have been able to stomach cutting ties with them. While I both believe that we'd do very well in Northern Virginia with what I know now about marketing I also know it took me two years of working in Virginia Beach to learn all of it. There is no way I could have known it then.
2015 is now three years in the past. It has been three years since I was walking that beagle and made the decision that we had to get out. That the cost of living was just too high and we'd never be able to achieve both financial security and happiness in a place like Northern Virginia and that Virginia Beach offered us a solution. I still sometimes feel like we have too many bills but I'm doing so not sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on 66 or living in a 500 sq ft condo. Moving to Virginia Beach has brought us closer to our goal of having happiness and financial security even though I though I think we're much better at the happiness part.