One thing to get out of the way:
- It’s pronounced Lou-is-ville, unlike its better known counterpart, Louisville, Kentucky (pronounced Lou-ie-ville).
Just a little summary to get up to speed. Last year, we quit our jobs, our lives, and our great city of Chicago to travel the world. Then, we came back, and landed temporarily in Florida, while still exploring more of the United States. Amidst all the transition, travel, and chaos, the time had come to choose a place to live. A place to put down roots, and one that we hopefully wouldn’t want to leave three years down the line to quit everything and hit the road again.
Returning ‘home’ with no jobs, and no obligations left us in an unusual situation where we were faced with unlimited choices. We could live anywhere we wanted. Our opportunities were basically endless. I guess you could say this is true no matter where you are or what stage of life you’re in, but it feels more tangible when you have already gone through the process of cutting all of your ties.
We spent the last year roaming some of the most beautiful places (in my opinion) on this planet. How do you land on just one place to settle down once you have fallen in love with places like this?
Before leaving Chicago, we had a strong inkling that we would end up in Colorado, but beyond that, we didn’t worry about it too much and just left it as a decision to be made when the time came.
Well, the time came about a month ago, and Al and I landed at Denver International Airport with nothing but our two giant travel backpacks and a pre-booked Airbnb rental. We left ourselves with exactly one-week to find an apartment and move in. The reality sunk in hard the moment we walked up to the arrivals curb and stood waiting for our Uber. As we waited, I took a deep breath and felt the new air fill my lungs, while my eyes scanned the top of the rocky mountain range. I had to remind myself that this was my home now, and I had no idea what was out there.
Prior to moving here a month ago, I had been to Colorado only two times, each for very short weekend visits. I had spent a total of seven days in the state that I was now hoping to commit to for life, without much knowledge of Denver and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Our first day of apartment hunting, I started to feel discouraged. With each neighborhood we drove through, something just wasn’t clicking and I could feel the doubt start creeping in. Al and I both reluctantly admitted to each other that we were having the same thought: Are we making the right decision?
This move was always an integral part of the long-term plan of making this big life change. The whole point was to leave behind a lifestyle we had outgrown, spend some time traveling the world, and then ultimately re-settle in a place we really loved. Feeling these doubts on our first day of searching for a home was very concerning for both of us, because under no circumstances were we willing to compromise on where we lived. We had come too far to settle now.
Al and I decided to call it quits on day one, and go back to our Airbnb and get some much needed rest from weeks of going non-stop. I hoped we would wake up feeling refreshed with a new perspective.
The next day, we decided to refocus our search in just two areas: Boulder and a town about 15 minutes outside of Boulder called Louisville. I had once seen a picture of this town in an old 100 Best Companies To Work For edition of Outside Magazine, and it had stuck with me.
When we drove down South Boulder Road on our way to look at an apartment, the beautiful Flatirons rose up in front of us, and I knew almost instantly that this would be home. We found an apartment right on the border of Louisville and Broomfield that morning, and moved in two days later.
We have only been living here for about two weeks, but so far I already can’t imagine living anywhere else. I realize thats a pretty bold statement to make 14 days in, but here are the top 5 reasons why I am loving Louisville:
1. Downtown Louisville
We knew we no longer wanted to live somewhere with a major city feel, but we still wanted access to the same type of conveniences and perks a city has; shopping, local restaurants, breweries, grocery stores, those types of things. Basically we wanted to have our cake and eat it, too. A major selling point for choosing our place was that it was only a quick 7 minute drive to historic downtown Louisville.
Downtown Louisville feels like stepping back in time into the 1950’s. Everyone is on bikes, and the people are so happy and friendly, it is borderline suspicious. Al and I have already made several trips to try out various restaurants and lazily thumb our way through old bookstores.
Downtown Louisville is the perfect weekly neighborhood hang out for us, but another huge bonus of living where we do is that we are only a 13 minute drive to the beautiful and busy city of Boulder. Boulder is at the base of the foothills, nestled right in the valley where the Rockies meet the Great Plains.
Boulder is the perfect place for us to go if we need a real city fix: it has everything you could possibly need, not to mention it is the jumping off point to some of the most beautiful and scenic hikes in the Western United States.
When Al and I visited Colorado in 2015, we stayed in Boulder, and I remember thinking at the time that it seemed like an unattainable place to live. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would one day have the whole of Boulder at my fingertips to explore whenever I desired.
3. Endless Mountain views
I was raised in Indiana, and then moved to Illinois, two of the top 10 flattest states in the United States. In Indiana, we had a lot of great things, but we didn’t have beaches, or mountains, or any stunning natural landscapes. For an Indiana girl, being able to walk out of my front door every morning and instantly be hit in the face with the Rocky Mountains, is not something that I will ever take for granted.
Before moving to Colorado, I was nervous as to how I would adjust having to drive everywhere. I don’t particularly enjoy driving, and I had grown so used to the ease of public transportation and accessibility of living in Chicago. I feared that having to get in a car every time I needed to pick up toilet paper from the store would begin to feel tedious.
How wrong I was. If there was a list of ‘top 10 most beautiful cities to drive around in and pick up toilet paper,’ I am certain that Louisville would land at number one. Living here, I actually find myself looking forward to getting out and going on drives, which is something I never thought would happen. Wherever I go, the mountains are there to greet me.
4. Wide Open Spaces & the Great Outdoors
You probably shouldn’t move here if you don’t like the outdoors, because it’s sort of Colorado’s thing. It was also one of the major reasons we chose to move here. Towards the end of my time in Chicago, I started to constantly feel cooped up and restless, no matter how nice the weather outside was. My mind and body was craving time out in nature. I also found myself becoming more irritable by the crowds and pace of the city.
I wrote this post back in 2015 to whine about all the things about city life that were no longer working for me. Reading it now, it is clear that we picked a place to live that offsets that entire post, point for point. Living here, we have constant access to nature, and all the wide open spaces we could possibly need. I can be in the mountains and on a hike within 20 minutes of leaving my house. I also never have to fight off crowds to get my groceries on a Monday evening.
We also have an actual farm in our backyard, filled with dozens of horses and cows grazing at all hours of the day. If that wasn’t enough, the farm is located right next to a giant tree that is home to an entire family of bald eagles. These are things that maybe wouldn’t mean so much to most people but provide endless excitement for us, because it is something we have been craving but never had before.
5. Travel as a Lifestyle and a Mindset
I have to admit that there was a big part of me that was reluctant to ‘settle down.’ I was enjoying our nomad lifestyle so much, that I started to panic a little bit at the thought of sleeping in the same place for months and years on end. At the end of our trip, I didn’t really feel that feeling of relief or desire to slow down that I anticipated feeling. I didn’t miss having our own place, and felt a mild sense of dread at the thought of accumulating stuff again.
I even had a mini-breakdown over a set of knives.
Al and I had to start over from scratch with everything when moving here. We had gotten rid of nearly everything we owned, so one of our first tasks after securing an apartment was to get the basics. We started with kitchen supplies, which led to a 15 minute discussion as to whether we should get our knife set from Bed Bath and Beyond or Ikea, followed by an intensive internet search to consult online reviews.
Ultimately, we settled on a brand from Bed Bath & Beyond, picked it up and drove home to unload all of our new kitchen supplies. I stood over our counter and began placing our shiny new cutlery into their respective slots, when I was hit with the sudden urge to drop all of the knives, run out of the apartment, and never come back. In that moment, I didn’t want any of it: the knives, the new rug, the giant beige couch that had just been delivered. I wanted to send it all back, grab our backpacks and jump back on a plane to anywhere.
All of the stuff was starting to feel suffocating, as if it would all soon band against me and fuse together to form into steel handcuffs slowly weaving their way back around my wrists and ankles. It had felt so freeing to traipse around the world with nothing but what I carried on my back. The knives meant I was really committing to this new place, and this new life. It meant we were staying, and there was no turning back. I realize how dramatic this all sounds, but all it really meant was that the the fears and negative thoughts of my past were coming back to attack me when I least expected it.
I took this as a sign that I needed a break, so Al and I jumped in the car and headed to a nearby path where we hiked for an hour. This was all it took to wipe away the unfounded fears of my knife-attack. On the hike, I recognized that I still had some work to do in letting go of all the old baggage I was carrying around from my old life. I made a promise to myself to let it go, and do my best to focus on everything wonderful that was right in front of us.
The attitude and the lifestyle of living in Colorado is contagious. Everyone we have met so far has been kind, positive and friendly. When hearing that we are new to the area, they are always eager to welcome us to our new home, and quick to tell us with a grin that we now live in the best place on earth. I still can’t believe that this is where I live.
Every single day since moving to our new place (post knife attack), I have woken up excited to simply be here, just like I did waking up each morning while we were on the road. Feeling this way during our transition is reassurance to me that we are on the right path. After almost a year of flying around the world without a home, it feels good to finally land in Louisville.