I never thought I'd leave my hometown. I loved everything about Vancouver: the mountains, my tight-knit family and the mild weather.
I never understood why so many of my friends had started moving to Seattle, Los Angeles, Montreal or Toronto after university. Why on earth would anyone willingly leave one of the most beautiful cities in the world, in order to live in a concrete jungle?
Money. That's why.
It wasn't until I'd been in the workforce for three years as a post-grad that I finally realized I couldn't stay either. Deep in my heart, I knew that if I stayed, I'd still be in the same job, making the same meager salary.
As a fairly ambitious person, I wanted better for myself. So, one month after my wedding, my husband and I sold all of our belongings, quit our jobs and tearfully said goodbye to everything we knew. We spent the next two weeks driving across the country, arriving in Toronto aptly on July 1, Canada Day.
As crazy as all this sounds, my husband and I have now been living in Toronto for almost three years with no regrets. It wasn't easy moving to a new city, especially when we didn't know a soul and were completely jobless. But in the end, it was all worth it.
Not only did I finally land my dream job — a job I struggled to find for over two years in Vancouver — but I was also able to double my salary and raise my profile as a personal finance expert. All that being said, I have learned a lot over the past few years. I may not have had a roadmap for what to do (or what not to do) when I moved, but at least now, I can share what I've learned with you:
1. It's okay to quit the first job you get.
The first week in Toronto felt like a dream. I had to pinch myself every morning because I knew this move was going to help jump-start my career.
But after two months and over 50 resumes sent, I was still unemployed and freaking out. Luckily, I had an emergency fund with over $10,000 in it. I could pay rent and buy groceries without going into debt, but every time I had to dip into it, it was a reminder that time was running out.
Then, I got a job. It all happened so quickly, too. I had a phone interview, an in-person interview and a job offer, all in the same week.
It all seemed too good to be true. That's because it was.
I came in thinking my role was one thing, but in reality, I was expected to do the job of three people. I also learned that the starting salary I was promised wouldn't take effect until I'd been on the job for six months.
My gut was screaming at me to quit, but I didn't want to look like a failure. I really needed to start making money.
After a lot of careful consideration, some tears and a lengthy phone call with my mom, I came into work the next week and quit. When I left the building, a wave of relief washed over me.
I did not leave my old life behind to take a job that didn't feel right. This was the time to take risks for the chance of a better life, and that's exactly what I was going to do.
2. Nothing comes easy, so start hustling.
After that experience, I knew I needed to up my game. I reached out to my friend Sarah to help me rework my cover letter and resume.
I started emailing acquaintances and friends of friends in town to set up coffee meetings. I even started taking on freelance writing work to make a bit of money.
I started saying "yes" to anything, just in case it led to something positive. Eventually, it did.
An old co-worker of mine forwarded my resume to her boyfriend's old employer, which led to a full-time job with a salary I was finally comfortable with. It wasn't my dream job, but I knew I was one step closer to getting it.
3. Don't be afraid to spend money on upgrading your skills.
I came from a background in sales, but I moved to Toronto to pursue a career in digital marketing. I'd learned a lot on my own by running my own blog, but as I soon found out, that wasn't enough to get my foot in the door.
Although I finally had a full-time job and could give my emergency fund a rest, I knew that to make the leap into a new career, I needed to go back to school. It was another big risk to shell out thousands of dollars for a professional certificate that did not guarantee a job in the end. It also wasn't encouraging that most of the students in my class were out of work and chasing the same jobs I was.
But if there's one thing I'll always advocate, it's that education is never a waste of money. Also, don't forget that tuition is tax deductible.
4. Be patient, and don't give up.
So, you may be wondering when I finally landed that dream job I keep mentioning. It was one full year later.
That's right. It took me a whole year to get a job in my preferred field with a salary that was double what I was making in Vancouver.
Don't get me wrong; I wanted to give up and move back to Vancouver at least once a month up until that point. But, I knew I needed to stay for at least a year to give it a good chance.
I'm so glad I did. Since that time, I've had so many opportunities come my way that would have never materialized if I'd stayed in my hometown.
The lesson here is this: If you want to reach the next level in your career and start making more money, it might be time to move. Nothing will change unless you do something different and take some risks.
Just make sure you have a substantial emergency fund before you pack up your things. Having that cash in the bank may make or break your big city move.
If you're thinking of moving away from your hometown to start a new life, download Jessica's free moving out checklist.