Betting on Love, Leveling Up and Leaving Atlanta (Part II)

Last month, Adam and I embarked on a journey to save up $10,000 by the time our lease ends next May so we can finally fulfill our longstanding dream of moving away from Atlanta.

We want to exchange the conservative politics, the hot, sticky summers and snowless winters, the sprawling, traffic-clogged, chain-store-dominated suburban metropolis that is Atlanta for a more liberal, walkable/bikeable city filled with parks, culture, mom & pop shops, farmers markets, great bars and tiny bistros in the wintery, bustling, rife-with-opportunity environs of Up North.

So, how are we doing?

In the month of September, our goal was to spend $20 per day on groceries for a total of $600 for the month—instead we spent on average $25.76 per day on groceries, for a grand total of a little over $1,000. That total includes non-consumable items like cleaning supplies, toiletries, paper goods, and even a few grocery-related gifts, such as a little luxurious assortment of chocolate, cheeses, jams, and cured sausages for my mom’s birthday. Our budget for optional expenses was originally $300 for the month, but if you include the $400 overage on groceries, plus the $400 or so charged to my credit card for non-utilities-related expenses (which I already paid off in full), and to Adam’s debit card for incidentals, that means we blew past our budget by $500. Our main goal was to save 100 percent of Adam’s income, but we wound up using his paychecks to absorb that extra $500.

However, we were still able to put $1,100 into our savings account—pretty much on target!

For $1,100, we could buy:

• An international round-trip flight
• One month’s rent and utilities in our current apartment
• A really nice laptop (I do not have one)
• Boxes, a dolly, movers for two hours of work, and a rental truck to move all of our belongings from Atlanta to Montreal

Recently, Adam and I have been lightly batting around a few far-fetched ideas about the kind of life we would like to pursue. We are toying with the idea of moving to another country for a while, or maybe permanently, maybe somewhere in Canada or even South America. We thought about New Zealand or Australia—I could participate in the work holiday program since I am 23, but Adam is 31 and above the age cutoff, so that may not be a possibility.

If we stay in North America, we can’t decide if we want to live on the West Coast or the East Coast. Sometimes Adam and I talk about owning a goat farm, chickens, and a huge vegetable garden. Sometimes we want to buy a tiny vineyard in Chile or Argentina, and make and export our own organic wine. We joke about opening our own hole-in-the-wall late-night tapas bar. We would love to have jobs we could work with just an internet connection so we could float around the globe. Other times we just want luxurious Sunday mornings in a café with an espresso and the newspaper, tucked away into a sunny nook in the midst of a vast city.

A lot of those ideas are complete fantasies at this point and would require a lot more than $10,000 to get started with. More realistically, we will probably move to a city that has good graduate school options, live and work in that city until we obtain residency, pay off our undergrad debts, then I would like to apply for and hopefully complete a master’s degree in a heretofore undecided subject. We would love to do this in Canada, but the immigration process requires that we must have jobs lined up ahead of time, which seems like an intimidating hurdle at this point. If we enter Canada on a student visa we cannot work full-time, so that would not be very feasible. Adam and I both speak Spanish fluently, so South America is on the table as a viable option, but what would we do there? How can we get there? Could we make a living for ourselves there? The easiest, safest, and most boring option is to move to another city in the US and this is probably the option we will ultimately settle on.

We will almost certainly attempt to visit my little sister before we initiate The Great Move. She is spending a year abroad in Germany on scholarship. We want to stay with her for a few days, then buy either a four-country Eurail pass ($433 per person) or book a few Ryanair flights (Dusseldorf-Marseille: $40/person in November) and travel around the continent for a little while.

We have to take action and save money now to realistically entertain all of these ideas and move them from the realm of wishful thinking into concrete completion. With enough of a monetary safety net, we will be able to have the freedom to explore the world we live in.

It is encouraging for me to see what we can do with our savings so far. I am also discovering that if we kept putting away a little over a thousand dollars a month for, let’s say four years, we could easily have $50,000. That seems like real money to me. We could use that to pay for a master’s degree in full, or even make a significant down payment on a smallish house somewhere. If we keep plugging away at our goals, many things that we never imagined would be within our reach can become open to us—or at least, we could be able to do a lot of things without miring ourselves deeply into debt.

In October, I would like to save even more than we did in September, although it might be hard to continue stowing away giant chunks of cash when the holidays come around. Maybe I will just make everyone pumpkin gingersnap mini cheesecakes and call it a day.


Amanda Tomas likes to bake.


55 Comments / Post A Comment

If you’re not already, you need to start reading AJ Leon’s blog – … I think you’ll like it.

AJ Leon@twitter (#2,484)

@Sue Anne Reed@twitter Thanks for the shout, chica. The ever watchful eye of Misfit appreciates your love and support. :)

minijen (#656)

Regardless of income, and especially as you are trying to save, it seems like $1000 a month for groceries is a little (very) steep. As in, at least 3 times what it should be. I’m not sure what your buying habits are, but I absolutely cannot fathom any way that groceries should (or ever would) cost that much. Not trying to be snarky or rude, I’m honestly baffled. Even being self-indulgent, $150-200 per person/per month should be more than enough.

BornSecular (#2,245)

@minijen I agree. My husband and I eat very well (and I am practically a compulsive grocery buyer) on right around $400/month. Maybe groceries are expensive in Atlanta? Or they only buy super nice organic stuff?

minijen (#656)

@BornSecular I’m in a comparable city, and tend to go green/organic, myself. Unless they are shopping exclusively at luxury grocers and buying on the top brands – even then, one THOUSAND dollars?

BornSecular (#2,245)

@minijen I live around Kansas City, and according to a Farmers Insurance study (2011 I think), supposedly we have some of the highest food costs in the nation for staples. Which seems crazy since the Midwest is supposedly a low-cost region. But I obsessively compare circulars and rarely buy things that aren’t on sale. I do not buy organic very often because I can’t justify the price difference, even though I sometimes wish I did.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@minijen Hi, it’s Amanda. Yeah, I really don’t have an answer for you… I will absolutely be analyzing our costs this month. In detail!

The only thing I can offer is that:
1. I just counted up my debit charges at grocery stores, but like I said in my article, we also buy toiletries, cleaning supplies, gifts, even makeup at the grocery store, so all of those charges are bundled together.
2. Yes, we do eat organic pretty much exclusively.
3. Good food is our #1 indulgence.
4. Adam works at a very well-known organic grocery store which we live within easy walking distance to.

That being said, we can and should try to cut back a little!

@minijen for christ’s sake, when will the billfold stop being the Official Internet Home of “Other People’s Choices Are Different Than Mine”?

iffie (#1,911)

@minijen $200/month seems crazy! I am buying for 2 and I’m trying to keep it to $80/week. It is hard! But, who knows what other people value/eat/won’t eat.

iffie (#1,911)

@minijen I think I’m going to start responding to my own comments about how right they are.

Heckyes (#1,162)

@Amanda T
You say $1000 for groceries for the month, or $25.76/day – but $25.76 * 30 is only $772.80. So either you didn’t go over as much as you think you did, or your daily spending was a bit more. Or am I misreading?

Additionally, if you are looking for an inexpensive but delightful grocery store in the Atlanta area, have you checked out Your Dekalb Farmers Market? Inexpensive, primarily organic produce, dairy, bread, and meat all in one place. It’s my favorite.

minijen (#656)

@Amanda T I figured you were probably putting a lot more under the ‘groceries’ heading, which is easy to do. When you start breaking out personal care, household goods, indulgences/vices, etc., it’s easier to get a picture of where it’s all going. Knowing where it’s going is essential if you want to trim the fat, but not feel deprived. Feeling deprived and miserable is pretty much a guarantee for failure. Meal planning, cutting back on using disposable items, etc all helped me cut back, while still living well.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@Heckyes I love Dekalb Farmer’s Market! I used to live nearby it, but now it’s about 30 minutes away for me, if not more with traffic. Since Adam works at a grocery store and we literally live right next to it it’s just way more convienent.

As for the $25.76 – I just added up all my debit charges and then took the average. So it’s an average per day, not a division of the total amount per day.

minijen (#656)

@iffie Everyone’s different, and I think it’s interesting to see how people manage. Personally, I can survive on $100/month, but don’t want to push it that far. $150 is more comfortable. Sure, there are people that can make it on $30/30 days, but I’m already in hardcore savings mode, it’s too extreme for me.

Reply comment was intended as another perspective, with a decent comment thread and references.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@Amanda T Actually maybe I did screw that math up? Isn’t the average the total $ spent / # of days? Something is amiss here!

Amanda T (#1,842)

@Heckyes (never mind this is how I calculated it: total $ spent / # of card swipes! not days! if I divide by days the average is ACTUALLY $33.13 per day! Thank you for proofreading that,

@Amanda T @Amanda T I actually find it really comforting to know that people put good food as a top priority. Because good food = happiness. I survive on the very thrifty plan 30-40$ on groceries per week (which includes toiletries, tobacco, etc), but I eat really really shitty food, often go for the reduced produce and manager’s specials items, and rarely go out to eat. Which is sad, you know? I want to change my ways and realize that good food is something worth spending money on, because, again, eating well = happiness! So people like you and your mate help tell me that this is a good change to make.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@mean terry gross body shamer I thought that what the Billfold is supposed to be; sharing our differences. You can’t write about money and not expect people to comment. That’s why there is a comment section. When are people going to stop thinking that internet is only for happy people who agree?

Amanda T (#1,842)

@josefinastrummer From my perspective as the writer I love reading different viewpoints and reactions to what I have written. Part of the reason I’m writing about this is because it helps me stick to my plan and think through the process. My old plan was putting $100 in my savings account here and there and just hoping enough money would magically accumulate, so being conscious of what I’m doing is really good for me, and I appreciate when other people point things out I may not take into account by myself.

orangezest (#317)

@minijen OK, agreed that $1000 is a lot. But $150 per person per month seems insanely low to me! I’m one person, I don’t even eat every meal at home and that would be bare-bones minimum for me. I notice this in the weekend spending posts, too. How do you people do it? I can rarely get out of the grocery store for under $60/week.

My theory is that I cook quite a bit and so often am buying things like a new jar of spices or vinegar that I don’t have etc etc for $5-$7 a pop… but I’m honestly curious. Also, cooking means I’m more likely to buy 5-7 things per recipe, vs just getting a few staples and eating them over and over. But what am I doing wrong?! Someone help!

minijen (#656)

@Emma Peel Not wrong, just different! I have a super busy schedule, with work being 40-60 hours a week, plus school taking up another 8-20, so I HAVE to cook ahead, or I don’t eat. I check the sale stuff/co-op specials, then pick a few recipes that have what’s in season and on sale. (I’m veggie, but buy organic – not sure if that balances out or not). Make up a meal plan, get those groceries and spend a few hours on Sundays cooking. Not everything is cooked ahead, and on my slower days I may grill out or make up an fruit/cheese platter. Two weeks of breakfast burritos, prepared and frozen ahead of time come out to about a dollar each, AND they are amazing! Having stuff in the freezer helps keep me from dining out, but it does take some discipline.

Some websites for recipes and ideas:
BrokeAss Gourmet
Cheap Healthy Good
Once a Month Mom
Plant Based on a Budget
Year of Slow Cooking

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Amanda T Please keep writing about this adventure and other things. I am really enjoying it!

@Emma Peel Maybe you just live somewhere pricey? I always figured the $25/week people were lying until I realized how dirt cheap food is in the US and how expensive food is where I live. Also, fresh fruit and vegetables are quite expensive compared to piles o’ grains meals like pasta and rice. I stopped eating grains for a bit and was amazed at how much my grocery bill shot up, even controlling for more meat/animal products.

Titania (#489)

@Amanda T Toiletries, cleaning supplies, and makeup are almost undoubtedly more expensive at a well-known organic grocery store than they are at say, a drugstore. Do your price-comparison homework, unless he gets some kind of a discount that makes up for it, and I bet you’ll save a bunch.

BornSecular (#2,245)

Yesss…hoard money and give homemade holiday gifts! I too am pursuing this plan this year. I am toying with starting my own business and/or taking an anniversary trip to Japan with my husband. I found a really good recipe for taco seasoning that I might package in pretty jars, or beer bread mix seems easy enough. Last year we gave everyone cheap Aldi wine & spices as a mulled wine kit, if you need ideas!

Amanda T (#1,842)

@BornSecular Homemade gifts are the best, anyway! Last year I taught myself how to knit and made like four scarves and a hat but that would up being super expensive. Yarn is pricey.

Good luck on your goals! What kind of business are you thinking of starting? That sounds exciting.

BornSecular (#2,245)

@Amanda T I’m thinking about a frozen yogurt food truck. It would be a complete change from my office job. I figure I have the winter to plan and get ready since ice cream isn’t exactly in high demand during the winter!

Fig. 1 (#632)

@BornSecular That’s easy, just switch to hot yogurt in the winter. Hey, you never know.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

Yeah when she said $1000 dollars on groceries I assumed they had a few kids. How do two people spend that much money on groceries? Do they only buy fancy packaged pre-made organic food? I don’t get it.

For the MA degree– I’ve been in that position (although I was in a PhD program and dropped out with and MA), and have a lot of friends who have considered or done it. I realize that it is becoming the new equivalent to having one’s BA/BS, but just consider what you want to study very carefully before you take on the additional debt of possibly paying for a program and taking out loans to help with living expenses. Getting one for the sake of adding a couple of letters to your resume or because it’s trendy usually isn’t worth it.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@Katherine Carl@facebook I definitely don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a useless degree, so I am thinking hard about potential career paths. My bachelor’s was in economics, and I am currently stuck working low-skill office jobs outside of “my field”, which feels like a huge waste of time. I see a variety of paths I could take but am sort of in a state of frozen indecision at the moment.

AlpacaAl (#2,402)

@Amanda T If you are interested in staying in economics, have you considered health economics? I did an MSc in it a couple of years ago and pretty much everyone on my course got a job within the field or onto a Phd programme after graduation. I’m UK based but there are job opportunities in Canada, Australia and Europe amongst others, although less in the US.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@AlpacaAl That is a good factor to consider. My main interest lies in economic development, but I am also weighing the pros and cons of an MBA, urban planning/design, “international relations” (< -sounds like such a vague major but I am very interested in the subject), journalism, and maybe even architecture or culinary school??

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

ON IMMIGRATION TO CANADA: You may want to look at student visa options for Canada, if you and Adam are married/common law – full time students can be accompanied by their spouses, and their spouses would qualify for an open work permit. There are requirements that you be able to support yourself (I think proof of maybe $15K CAD + your tuition fees – can be done using savings, income, student funding, etc. – there is literally an operational manual online that tells you this stuff). You’ll be able to work while in school (maybe even off campus! The exact requirements are escaping me, but I think it’s up to 20 hours a week?) And, once you have completed you schooling, you will be eligible for an open work permit as a post-graduate, and able to get into the faster line for permanent residence through the Canadian Experience Class.

Not that I am advocating you should do this, but just that there are openings in the system you may wish to look into, if Canada is someplace that may make you happy.

Good luck, and keep saving!

Amanda T (#1,842)

@swirrlygrrl Thank you for the advice! I didn’t realize that if I were in school, Adam could work full time – that’s great. We’re seriously considering moving there and it sounds like it is worth it to apply for grad programs there.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@Amanda T Happy to help! This is the official CIC site that talks about students (and their spouses) working in Canada:

And this one is for applicants in the UK, but the info seems good and clear, and both you and Adam (if US citizens) are in that position of not needing a TRV, but needing a study or work permit.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@swirrlygrrl I also just noticed above that you have a degree in economics – you may want to look at the NAFTA professionals list, I seem to recall that economists are on there – you may have to be part of an association of some kind? I don’t know a tonne about this, but I seem to recall that it’s much much easier to get a work permit without a job offer if you are in one of the NAFTA-identified professions.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@swirrlygrrl I will dig into all of your recommendations asap! Thanks again.

@Amanda T Make sure that, if you’re planning to establish a common-law relationship, you have actual documentation! My partner and I had been living together (in the US) for well over the year that Canada (?) (Quebec ?) requires, but we were never on a lease together, and so the hoops we would have had to jump through to establish a common-law relationship were rather burdensome. We’re actually getting surprise-married over my Christmas break so that he can work when he comes back with me.

If there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that setting and sticking to a budget is a work in progress. It sounds like you’re on the right track.

bltaug3 (#501)

what ‘up north’ cities are you considering? Just Montreal? or any in the US?

Amanda T (#1,842)

@bltaug3 Mostly anywhere in the Northeast or the Pacific Northwest. Montreal would be a fun/challenging place to move since it is a French-speaking city.

P-Bomb (#1,032)

Err yeah I live in the most expensive city in Canada, grew up in a household where good food is absolutely essential, and $1000/month on groceries for two, even if including household supplies and gifts, is definitely a really high sum for someone who is already making an effort to save money. Or maybe there is other ways where “good food” can be procurred? It doesn’t always need to come from fancy “indie” markets… I mean, I’m enough of a food snob that I don’t even buy regular button mushrooms – I prefer oyster and shiitake mushrooms for the flavours (yes, laugh). But they’re cheap in Chinese stores.

I eat out constantly and usually buy organic as well, and it usually comes to $400/month for me and my boyfriend on groceries and maybe another $150-$200/month on restaurant bills. If you don’t really know where the money went, how about keeping track of your expenses and saving the receipts for 2 months? That’s how I got to know my spending habits. I kept a detailed tracking of where I spend my money, particularly when it comes to food, for 3 months last summer, when my food bills tend to be particularly high.

Also, don’t romanticize Montreal. I spent most of my 20s there and it’s my favourite city in Canada. But it can be a bitch place in many, many ways.

@P-Bomb Montreal is SUCH a romantic city! … in the summer.

THE WINNTERRRRRRRR NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I will never get over how winter in toronto feels like a luxury and a gift from above in comparison to the daily -30 temps, massive piles of snow that don’t get cleaned up for days because the city has a really poor, weirdly perfectionist system, the way people disappear indoors and all joy is sucked out of the world …

Just … if you’re going to move to montreal. Layers. Proper coat. Proper boots. LAYERS.

Amanda T (#1,842)

@P-Bomb @redheaded&crazy
I don’t think I am romanticizing Montreal – but it seems #1, a pretty affordable city to live in especially compared to NYC or Toronto, #2, lots of culture and history, #3, walkable/bikeable, #4, it’s in Canada! Which means healthcare, maternity leave, and cheaper cost of education! #5, I want to polish my French which is pretty good but not excellent.

Bring on the huge piles of snow – I have literally NEVER seen a huge pile of snow in my life. All we have here are listless, brown-grass winters with maybe a flurry of snow if it manages to get below freezing for long enough. Yuck.

P-Bomb (#1,032)

@Amanda T #1 is kind of true under certain circumstances. If you would have been a full-time student in the States anyway, then Montreal is definitely cheap. Otherwise the affodability can be cancelled out by the lack of job opportunities for non-francophones — you need very good spoken French for even the low-end jobs. By “very good” we’re not talking about very good French French, the “very good for Anglophones French” here. My french is good enough that I can work in bilingual jobs in Ontario, but I would never call myself bilingual in Montreal. The quebecois spoken on the street is a different language. I knew a lot of anglophones who were content with working in call centre jobs and having the best time of their lives in Montreal. It’s technically true that you can live on $13/hour full-time and having a good life. But we were all in our early 20s at that time. On the other hand, if you were going to be a student anyway, you’ll definitely come away with significantly less debt and having a lot more fun.

#2 — totally true. Holy shit the city is awesome if you like art, pretty architecture, food, and culture in general. I had the best time of my life there.
#3 — totally true.
#4 — Yes healthcare is free (not sure how it works for non-Canadians). But the maternity leave thing is also kind of elusive if it’s very hard for non-Francophones to get decent jobs anyway. Most of the jobs that the Anglos I knew had didn’t come with benefits.
Universities are also falling apart due to lack of funding. It’s still a good deal overall though, and I have no qualms about my education.
Winter — IT IS THE WORST. I grew up on an East Asian island and the novelty of Montreal winter completely worn off after two years. I was sick of being permanently cold and wet in my feet if I didn’t shell out $300 for a pair of winter boots. I was sick of having to wear two pairs of stockings under my jeans every time I left the house (plus leg warmers). I was sick of everything being such a huge effort for four months every year, like trudgeing through the sidewalks for two blocs to go to the depanneur. Winter can be winter-y and pretty and have proper snow without being so brutal.

@Amanda T @P-Bomb Healthcare is NOT FREE for non-Canadians. You’d have to buy a policy through a private insurance company…but those private policies are cheap-ish, considering what you’d pay for something comparable in the U.S (this is especially true for students). My student health insurance (in Quebec) is about $800 a year. Which is shocking to my Canadian friends and my American friends alike, but for totally opposite reasons.

ETA: But the biking here is awesome! It is possibly my number one favorite thing about Montreal. Two-way buffered bike lanes for the entire length of my half-hour commute, including right across the center of downtown!

Fig. 1 (#632)

@mirror_father_mirror One thing I’d like to point out, all health care is not free, depending on where you are in Canada, even if you are Canadian. I live in Saskatchewan and I still have to get health insurance through work in order to pay for eye and dental care. True, I can go to the doctor for free, but physios are not covered by our provincial health card, for example. I believe if your income falls below a certain level, you get coverage for eyes & teeth, but I’m not sure.

Also, you guys, Montreal winters sound pretty okay. You should try coming out here. One time I went to class when the windchill was -61 (Celsius). At least we don’t get as much snow.

We went to Montreal for a week and absolutely loved it, but I’m not sure we could make it there. Our French is too shaky. Jealous of your bike lanes and your food. Someone please eat a bagel for me.

Will Murphy (#2,255)

Move to Peru. The food is incredible and cheap and universities not very expensive.

Titania (#489)

The best piece of advice I ever got about money was that you should expend as much energy trying to make more as you do trying to save. You don’t say what either of you do, really, except to say that job opportunities are thin, and I know how hard it is to look for work when you’re already mentally checked out of a situation, but if you find higher-paying new jobs (the Jewish mother in me can’t help screeching “He’s 31 and he works in a grocery store??” sorry about that, I know you love him and whatever) it will get you to your goal that much faster. Failing that, you both almost certainly have some options for part-time work (babysitting, event staffing–check out LivingSocial Adventures in your city!–retail jobs, tutoring) all of which will provide you with more income to sock away.

Titania (#489)

Okay, I’m just going to say this, because it’s bothering me. The kind of man who at age 29 says to a 21 year old girl who he’s dated for just a couple of months “Give up your own dreams and come join my half-baked and totally abstract one instead!” is not the kind of man you should bet on, in almost every case I can imagine. In the same way that $50,000 seems like a lot of money to you now, this idea probably seems incredibly romantic–but in a few years, you might feel really differently. Obviously I don’t know you and I don’t know your life or your boyfriend, but you wrote another piece here once about wanting to establish yourself financially and do better than your parents did–your choice of life partner will have a HUGE impact on whether or not you’re able to do that. Maybe Adam has a secret trust fund, but failing that, men who don’t have their shit together financially by the point that he’s at generally don’t end up with huge lifetime earning potential. You’re 23, you have a degree in economics, you have your whole life ahead of you–if you were my little sister, I’d tell you to cut bait and get away from this guy and start your own life fresh. Saving for one requires a lot less than saving for two.

Patrick (#2,408)

“We want to exchange the conservative politics, the hot, sticky summers and snowless winters, the sprawling, traffic-clogged, chain-store-dominated suburban metropolis that is Atlanta for a more liberal, walkable/bikeable city filled with parks, culture, mom & pop shops, farmers markets, great bars and tiny bistros in the wintery, bustling, rife-with-opportunity environs of Up North.”

I know just the place for you – ITP Atlanta. All you need to do to find everything you asked for (save the weather) is to move into my old apartment in Candler Park. You can walk to great bars! You can bike everywhere! Mom and Pops just inside your neighborhood! A big city of 5 million, rife with opportunity! Bustle! Progressives! Lesbians! And I can personally vouch for rents as low as $625/month, because I lived there for two years.

But seriously, the idea that you need to move cities to be happy is ludicrous. If you aren’t happy in Atlanta, you’re unlikely to be happy in Montreal or whereever (lovely city though it is).

Liz (#504)

@Patrick Yeah, I kind of have mixed feelings about this post. It’s great to have dreams and think about living in new places, and it is sometimes true that you do just have to get out of a place–living in an old logging town in rural Oregon, say, with the 9% unemployment that we cherish in the Pacific Northwest, is probably not going to work out for anyone. But Atlanta? I find it hard to believe any big city can be *that* bad. And I do say this having felt many of these same things myself. If there’s any advice I would give my 23 year old self, it would be: “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

Also, you really don’t need $10,000 to move to a new city in the US, for goodness sake! You’re 23, you have your health (well, I presume)–my mother had moved to another COUNTRY and traveled nonstop for 6 months by the time she was 23, and she didn’t wait to save up a pile of money. This is the time in your life to just DO stuff.

@Patrick agreed. i think this post is very unfair to atlanta, a city that i’ve grown to love in the past couple of years i’ve lived here. the midtown, va-highlands, poncey-highlands, old fourth ward, inman park, candler park, etc neighborhoods are incredible, especially with the addition of the beltline that connects inman park to piedmont park with a beautiful bike path. there are very few chain stores in the area and the people are very liberal. and my rent? four hundred dollars for a great apartment in the heart of little five points. so before making a big leap to pack up and move to some idealized part of the world, the author really needs to pick up a creative loafing and look in her own backyard to see all that atlanta has to offer.

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