Across the Continent Move Made Easy – New Brunswick to California

Life in eastern Canada was simple and connected. Teaching high school English in Moncton, New Brunswick was a challenging yet rewarding experience. I loved my students and my co-workers, some more than others of course, and the benefits of being a full-time, pension-receiving teacher who enjoys stress free summers and all of the holidays are ample to say the least. The short, two hour drive to see my family was a breeze and made “family time” a regular event. My boyfriend, now husband, Darren, was more than I ever thought possible in a man other than my grandfather and he made me see how beautiful life can be. His IT position allowed him to work from home and give us the quality time that I always desired. We’d traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Florida, and the Bahamas during my summer vacation and he worked during the day from the hotel rooms. We owned a house, we finally paid off our cars, and we spent our evenings walking in the park where we first met.; but there was one thing missing – the sunshine! New Brunswick is not a frozen tundra with 24 hours of darkness, snow, ice, and cold. It has gorgeous summers with light winds that make for a spectacular day sailing or boogie boarding in the Atlantic Ocean, but was that enough? Two months of sunshine followed by a cold, dreary season of extended winter was not my idea of a dream location. I was living a beautiful life and I wasn’t willing to settle for anything else, including my environment.

Darren asked me one evening if I could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? The question struck me off guard. Was he, too, unhappy with the New Brunswick surroundings? After a short, one-evening conversation about the top places in the world, we both imagined life in southern California. It became an obsession for both of us and we scoured the internet for information about life in OC and considered what it would be like living that far away from our families.

After three days of dreaming, Darren applied for a software architect position in Orange County and he was offered the job immediately. With a house and other “toys” we shrugged our shoulders at the offer and thought it was impossible. Putting the house on the market was our half-ass attempt at considering the possibilities. We posted it on the Canadian version of craigslist.com called kijiji.ca and said that if the house sold, we’d move. Well, just like that, in one week, we sold the house and almost everything in it. If we were looking for a sign, that was it. We put everything that we couldn’t fit in a small u-haul car attachment for sale, I resigned from my teaching position and we said our good-byes to our families. There wasn’t a drawn-out, complicated process of decisions. Like the rest of our experiences since meeting, it was simple.

The drive across the continent was a total of 55 driving hours in vast conditions, although it took us 6 days because we stopped along the way to enjoy some uncharted territory for us. We drove through New Brunswick, where the first snow flakes had fallen on the frozen ground, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and ended in California.  5,780 km or 3,592 mi later, we drove directly to the Bank of America, opened a US account, found an apartment, and moved in the next day.

Since meeting Darren in April, 2010, we’ve moved in together, traveled to 7 countries, experienced sky-diving, white-water rafting, surfing, bungee jumping, paragliding, zip-lining, helicopter touring, dog-sledding, hiking, rock climbing, trapeze swinging, camping, and river boarding, got married in Jamaica, and are now pregnant with our first child. Moving to another country in two weeks was not only expected, but required.

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92 thoughts on “Across the Continent Move Made Easy – New Brunswick to California

  1. Wow. I’m impressed how much you did in such short period. Congratulations for your pregnancy. I’m happy for you two. You seem a sweet couple. I would love to have your courage and go somewhere else, far from home and live there, changing everything I have. I admire you. Great post Lesley.

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  2. I adore this post. I made the move from Oregon to Orange County in March so I can relate. Same conditions, much less distance though. I love it here too and I dream of one day being able to travel like you have been able to!
    Warm Regards
    Katie

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  3. I so enjoy your blog! I see myself in you a few years back (my boys are 13 and 16 now), and I can promise, you’re in for a treat when your daughter is born! I look forward to your account of your continuing adventure. 🙂

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  4. Lesley, I completely understand the need for warm weather and seeing your pictures of the mountains remind me of my days in Phoenix. The only time it was a brief struggle was during the “summer” days when it was unearthly hot. On one visit back to NY, I remember going to Sky Harbor at 1AM and the temperature was 103.

    When I moved back to NY I drove as well and it is the most amazing thing to see the changes across the states. I miss many things about Phoenix but the best was being able to use cash right at the pump at an AM/PM gas station.

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  5. Let me start by syaing how much I respect the move you made. You took a leap of faith together and just chased what might as well become living the dream. No-one guaranteed it would work out, but it didn’t stop you as well. I hope the OC will bring you that little extra you missed back in New Brunswick

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    • Although I miss my family and friends, California is more than I ever dreamed imaginable! The possibilities are endless here.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment; it’s appreciated.

      Lesley

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      • The Mirimichi(spelling?) and St John. There is something so special about the East Coasters–they are the friendliest people in Canada! You’re blog is SO inspiring and I cant wait to read the play by play about your epxeriences being preggers! Congrats on that as well!! You must be so excited and full of new emotions. 🙂

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  6. Hi Leslely , first off thank you for visiting my blog loveviewz. I’m so glad you did, I loved reading about your adventure in moving. I love to travel and I thought I was adventurous but you have me beat hands down. I prayed today and I believe this is confirmation because I prayed to relocate to a warmer climate all year round so thank you. lol

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  7. I agree, very inspiring! Love your story about literally leaving it up to whether the house sold to determine your fate! A cross-country drive is on my bucket list, I’d love to take a month or more to do it there and back, seeing lots of different places on the way. One day 🙂

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  8. Hey there! Thanks so much for ‘liking’ my post about Bequia. Had you not done that, I wouldn’t have been led to your cool blog. That’s great stuff…your courage to just ‘go with the flow’ is SO cool! Loved looking at the pics also. Good luck to you and Darren and the arrival of the new little one in your lives!

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  9. Sometimes the cards just fall in the right order, and exactly when you need them. Wonderful story of a life together beginning, and only more great things to come! Cheers!

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  10. What a great post! I love it! I thought I was adventurous, but wow, you are amazing! Thanks for liking my post at Perpetual Gratitude: A Photographic Diary. Because of that, I found this! I’ll be back.

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  11. Hi Lesley! Thanks for liking my post! I was pretty sure noone would ever be able to find it above the millions of others.
    I think it’s important for people to be able to see as much of the world as they can.
    In other words, thumbs up to your super-adventurous lifestyle!

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  12. Lesley, thanks for liking my post “Bravery, Choices and Evolution” which brought me here to yours. I also made an across continent move from Montreal, to British Columbia in 2010. We haven’t regretted it a bit since our arrival here. I hope you continue to enjoy California. We plan on taking many vacations in that direction to see the west coast. Enjoy!

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  13. You experience life to the full and that’s great. I found that the more one travels the more difficult it is to settle anywhere, as if one has liberated something that wants to fly. I remember reading a wonderful travel book by Bruce Chatwin called “The Songlines”, where he discovers that man is by nature nomadic.
    Good luck in LA

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  14. Enjoy Southern California. I grew up in Orange County and loved it. Now I live in London, England. You never know where you will end up. If you go to Laguna beach, say hi for me. I miss that beach.

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  15. And that folks, is how you do that.
    Inspirational, educational, and damn, that looks like fun.

    You’re killing me with the amount of things I now need to add to my list. I’m going to need a bigger piece of paper.

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  16. wow – it seems like everything always seems to work out for you.. and so quickly! i always think that things have a way of working themselves out, and it seems like that saying really applies to you!

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  17. Your blog is awesome, thank you for “liking” mine so that I could find yours. 🙂 It’s going to take me forever to read about all of your adventures! My husband and I do love to travel…..haven’t been to nearly as many places as you, but we have big dreams for the future! We even joined Disney Vacation Club because you can go anywhere around the world (not just Disney) and it really motivates us to keep traveling. What an adventure your daughter will have with you both! We did a 7 hour road trip with our twins this summer and planning a trip to Disney next year!

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    • It isn’t about how many places you’ve seen; it’s about enjoying the journey along the way and I’m happy that you’re taking it all in.

      Your twins are beautiful! I love their brown eyes and cute, little button noses. I makes me so excited to bring my own little one into the world.

      🙂

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      • I do enjoy the journey – every bit of it – Tim and I still joke about how crazy we are for actually enjoying the 11 hour car ride to Sesame Place. 🙂
        Thank you for your compliment – it is so exciting to see what they look like, and then how much they change. I feel like they look totally different from when they were born. They don’t even recognize themselves in pictures from a year ago!
        It will be another exciting adventure for you, I can’t wait to read all about your little girl!

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  18. Pingback: First (Ever) Super (Duper) Cool Blogging Award « mommysaidaswearword

  19. Hi Lesley! I noticed you’ve been “liking” my posts lately so I thought I would check you out. Sounds like you live THE life! I’m so jealous! I suffer from sever wanderlust but alas can rarely gather enough money to actually go anywhere. My absolute dream is to visit France. Do tell me what it’s like there?? 🙂
    P.S. Know that I would “like” all of your posts too but I don’t have the stamina to go through the thousands of stories 🙂 haha

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  20. Glad to know you liked my posts! Great to see someone who is so so passionate about traveling – even with a job and a child! That’s awesome that you choose to enjoy your passions no matter what! I actually made a move from southern California to around New Brunswick (Is this NJ? I was in Lawrenceville). Haha…I honestly love the four seasons of the east coast (I experienced it by going to college in Boston for 3.5 years!), but you are going to love the sunshine in California! Wish I’d been able to do the cross-country journey – very jealous!

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  21. Love your sense of adventure!! My husband and I moved across the country from Plattsburgh, NY to Napa, CA when we were first married and it is a story we still enjoy telling our children. Good for you!!

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