Chicago had my heart.
We lived in a beautiful North Shore Chicago suburb filled with stately 1920s Victorian homes and gorgeous tree-lined streets for 14 years. My husband and I graduated from BYU and had moved to Evanston, IL so Ben could complete an engineering doctoral program at Northwestern University.
We had three boys during our time in Illinois. My Gram, parents, and only sibling (who has disabilities and lives in a group home) all lived in the Chicago area, so it was a natural choice to settle there after Ben finished grad school. We loved living near the city and took advantage of the amazing museums, festivals, and cultural events. My love of food grew with each new restaurant that we tried. My friends nicknamed me “The Concierge” because I loved sharing favorite places around Chicago with others.
Midwest weather is not for the faint of heart.
So is choosing to move from a place you love.
We lived a mile from scenic Lighthouse Beach on Lake Michigan and spent summers swimming or enjoying the abundance of parks in the area. But we spent most of the gray, cloudy winters indoors, because – without exaggeration – there isn’t much to do during a Chicago winter in the windy, bitter cold months. Ben struggled with the lack of sunshine during each 6+ months of winter and it was often too freezing to comfortably play outside. Winters were HARD!!
We talked off and on about where we would live if we ever moved from Chicago – considering places where we could be near family, friends, a more affordable cost of living, sunnier weather, and the ability to have a more active, outdoor lifestyle in all seasons.
Meanwhile, my Gram passed away in 2015, the day after she turned 90. I was her only granddaughter and her biggest fan. We were kindred spirits and I was close to her during my childhood and beyond. She was spunky, independent, an amazing cook, fiercely loyal to her friends and family, and had an enormous heart. I always felt like I needed to stay in Chicago until she passed away.
A few months after her passing, Ben was offered the chance to work remotely with his same firm. By moving West, his workday would shift an hour earlier and drop the 50-minute commute each way. Making the change would greatly improve his quality of life and enable more family time together.
After much deliberation and almost moving to Coeur d’Alene, ID, we switched gears a little and decided to make the big move to Midway, UT with our kids who are now 9, 7, and 4 years old. Midway was appealing because of its small-town charm, endless beauty all around and close proximity to outdoor adventures (Ben is an avid fisherman and I love taking pictures in beautiful places).
Leaving family and close friends in Chicago was incredibly hard (completely heart-wrenching at times), but we’re SO excited to discover the outdoors and have new adventures with our children. I’m hoping my parents and brother will end up in UT someday. In the meantime, we’re building a house that will be comfortable for their visits along with other family and friends who pass through this area. Utah is gorgeous and there is a lot to love.