The Real Answer

When people find out that I have only lived in Utah for a few years they commonly ask, ‘Why did you move here?’. Depending on the situation I often give them the simple answer, ‘For a new job’. While that is true, it is the simple answer, not the real answer.

The real answer is a bit more complex. I didn’t choose to move, I was moved here, by God, the universe, fate, whatever you want to call it to become me.

For so many stories, it is hard to determine where to start, but with a bit of background, this story has an obvious beginning, our first trip out to Utah. I had been unemployed for a number of months. Working in the tech industry being unemployed was common. Most jobs lasted a few years at best. Most of the time within a few weeks I was back at it with a new job. But this time I had been out of work for months. Our savings were all but depleted and we were getting really concerned.

In desperation, I did what I had always done when things started looking bleak, I looked out of state. At that point, we had lived in Washington state for over 20 years. Most of my kids were born in Washington and we had really settled into the Seattle Jewish community. Every time in the past when this happened as soon as I started looking out of state, an in-state job popped up right away.

But this time that didn’t happen. I was considering any out-of-state job listing that came my way, but still nothing. At about this time, my wife and I decided to do something we had never done before. In the past even when I decided to consider out-of-state jobs I didn’t look for them, I just considered the ones that came my way. But this time we did a bit of research to determine what cities would work best for us.

We had a few criteria. It had to be a tech city, that is to say, a city that had a number of tech companies, so that the next time I was looking for a job I would have the possibility of finding one where I was. It had to be in a state that was good for homeschooling, as we were still doing that at the time. We wanted a place that had a lower cost of living than Seattle. Of course, there were the usual things, low crime rate, nice climate, etc.

We were looking all over the country but with all of these boxes to check off there weren’t that many cities that came up. There were a number of cities that would work except for one or two items, but we were trying to find them all.

Finally, we found a couple. One of them was back east and the other was Salt Lake City. We explored both of them but the more we looked at Utah the better it sounded. We knew some of our adult kids would be staying in Seattle. Salt Lake City was a reasonable drive to Seattle. The other city would have been a very long multi-day trek, or more likely a costly plane flight. The climate was better in Utah and there were a number of other things we liked about it.

So with only knowing some “facts” from some internet research, we decided to start looking for jobs in Salt Lake City. This was a very different experience from job searching in Seattle. In Seattle, it would take days, often weeks to get any kind of reply. But the companies I was working with in Utah were responding in a day or two, sometimes the same day I applied.

Things were looking good toward moving to Utah but I still didn’t have any job offers, and our finances were getting thinner and thinner. Even if we did get an offer we had a number of big issues to deal with. The two biggest were how were we going to sell our house and where would our kids in Seattle live.

But in what I now consider miraculously perfect timing these two problems kinda solved themselves. Several of our adult kids had been considering moving out of our house. They were young adults and wanted more independence. But they faced one big problem, the cost of rent. Like so many cities now just getting a studio apartment cost a fortune.

Then there was the problem of selling my house. Forget about the fact that if I got a job offer I would have to move right away, our house was no way ready to sell. Our house was a fixer-upper when we bought it and it still was. It was in a lot better shape now. We, the whole family, had done a lot of home improvement projects and it was so much nicer than when we purchased it. But still not turnkey to sell.

Fortunately, these two problems solved each other. It was determined that if I did get a job the kids would rent the house from us. We had had the house for a number of years and could afford to offer it to the kids at a rate much less than what other rentals were going for, but still cover the expenses. But I still needed a job for all of this to work out.

I had put in for a bunch of jobs in Utah. I had had a number of interviews, but still no offers. We really were not sure what to do. A couple of the Utah companies had told me they definitely wanted to extend an offer but were not quite ready yet. These were companies that were big enough to have a bit of bureaucracy, so there were approvals and sign-offs that had to happen before they could actually present an offer.

This had been going on for a few days, I would get emails and phone calls from the hiring manager saying they almost have it ready. But it seemed to always be almost. We had been working with the whole family, those that would be staying and those that would be going with us, on this idea of our moving but not able to really do anything as we didn’t know if it was ever going to happen.

One morning while all of this was going on my wife and I woke up and just knew we had to go out there and see what it was like, we needed to make a pilot trip to Utah. This was a very crazy thing to do. We had no job offer, just a couple of promises that one was going to be there someday. Our money was all but gone, to spend what little we had left on an exploratory trip seemed insane.

But we both felt so strongly that this was what we needed to do, so with nothing more to go on than a “feeling” we packed up our minivan. Which took a lot longer than we thought. We wanted to plan for all likely posiblities. Even if I got a job after I got there then what? Do I stay and my wife comes back to be with the kids? Do we both stay for a bit? What about housing? There were so many unknowns. Then there was saying goodbye to our family and close friends, not really knowing when we would be back.

After a very long day of packing and goodbyes, we were finally on our way in the late afternoon. We had no clue how things were going to work out, but we were literally betting our last few dollars that it would. We had left the house and were just about to get on the freeway for that long trip to Utah when my cell phone rang.

I got off the road to answer it. It was the managers who had promised a job offer was “coming soon”. He had called to let me know that all of the approvals and signatures were done, and he had an official offer for an exciting new job. Suddenly this trip to the unknown was a lot brighter. There were still a lot of questions and unknowns. But the storm clouds were starting to move to make way for a rainbow.

This is part one, not sure how many parts it will take to tell this story, but I will try to get the next piece out soon.