Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Years ago, my husband and I were unexpectedly presented with an opportunity that required a lot of thought. The decision to take a chance completely changed our lives; thankfully, for the better.
If you reside in Miami, chances are the question you will ask and/or hear the most is:
“... and how did you end up here in Miami?"
Well, for my husband and me, that query requires a long answer. The story starts all the way back in Louisville; the Kentucky Derby city that sits across the border from Indiana, on the southern side of the Ohio River. Our Old Kentucky Home was a border state during the Civil War and the place of birth of my favorite American president, Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln's birthplace cabin in Hodgenville, KY. About an hour drive from Louisville.
As a professional in the technology field, my husband was invited for a series of interviews at a well-known company in Silicon Valley. After making the recruiter aware of the fact that he didn't have any intention of moving to California, the company ended up making an audacious offer for him to move there temporarily. As part of the agreement, they would be responsible for covering all travel and accommodation expenses until his return home where he would be able to continue working remotely.
After receiving the unforeseen offer and for a couple of days analyzing the proposal, he had to consider several aspects that would affect the dynamics of our family. It was then decided that it would indeed be a great opportunity for his professional growth and fortuity for us as a family to accept the proposal; I had quit my job after our daughter was born, permitting me to go along with him with no further complications.
A couple of weeks later, the three of us flew to San Jose, California, the center of Silicon Valley and his new company's headquarters. The city became our home for the next few months.
Balcony view of our Airbnb on Fruitdale Avenue in San Jose, California
In case you are not acquainted with the area, Silicon Valley consists of an entire region of the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area, located in the northern part of California. The valley's largest city is San Jose, but other cities are also a very important part of the Silicon Valley, such as Cupertino, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and others. Silicon Valley is known as a global center for innovation and cutting-edge technology companies.
Googleplex, Mountain View, California
Google bikes, or Gbikes
Cisco Systems, San Jose, California
Facebook headquarters, Menlo Park, California
Apple Inc., Cupertino, California
Just the simple fact that we had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of so many of these businesses that, so far, were nothing but virtual companies we only had heard of, was an amazing thing. Not to mention that my husband had just become part of such an incredible workforce, which itself was already awesome!
Our life in San Jose brought us way more than a new life experience. Along the way, we started to realize how much the world had to offer, and in that way, living there made a big difference in our lives. Overall, it gave us a new perspective on our existence in addition to a considerable change in our lifestyle. It was indeed a new energy: I started to regain vitality. I felt vivacious once again after many years!
Moving wasn't a new experience for me since I had not only moved from cities, but countries. That experience was an eye-opening one, but I later realized I was significantly mistaken about one thing: the belief that moving to a new place once was good enough. The truth is, between the two of us, I was the most resistant to the idea of moving out of Louisville. I thought I was happy there and believed I had done my fair share of relocating. Besides, my husband had his entire family there, but he was eager and more than ready to try someplace new.
Our former house in Louisville, Kentucky
After we met and he started to travel more, he gradually became open to the idea of living in a new place, mostly after he got to know another country with a dissimilar culture. After a couple of trips to Brazil, he began to notice he wasn't satisfied with the way of life he was used to.
Unfortunately, due to the high cost of living and public safety issues, Brazil wasn't an option for us. Neither was California. Just like in Brazil, somehow, everything is so expensive in California, from housing to their own state-grown fruits and vegetables. (You would think the local produce should cost less, but we noticed a considerable increase in our grocery budget while living on the west coast.) Also, the imminent risk of earthquakes and wildfires wasn’t very attractive to us, just as many other cultural aspects were unappealing to us.
Little by little, though, San Jose started to captivate us through basic things such as their public transportation and transit systems in general, giving us substantially more mobility compared to Louisville, where we always had to depend on our car to go anywhere. Further, its geographic position allowed us to explore more than the city's natural beauty and its parks with mountainous landscapes—it was also in close to San Francisco and the shore line. Furthermore, we had a wide variety of entertainment options available.
Image taken from the rail station with a view of our building and fourth-floor balcony in the background
Alum Rock Park
Eagle Rock Trail
Half Moon Bay, less than an hour's drive from San Jose. Meanwhile, the closest beach
from Louisville is Myrtle Beach, NC, about a 10-hour drive
Besides all of the factors mentioned above, the one thing that impacted me the most was the simple fact that the city gave me the freedom, as a pedestrian, to stroll around. It had continuous sidewalks, allowing me to go any direction desired. Back home, I was used to having intermittent pathways that forced me to use the road as a way to keep moving forward. The simple reality that I could take my daughter to several places while enjoying nature and the weather at the same time without having to drive was another eye-opening experience for me.
On top of that, when we went to public places, I didn't have to worry about feeling like an extraterrestrial creature for once while speaking Portuguese to my daughter at the playground, for example. Thankfully, just like me, there were people from all over the world speaking several languages. It felt good to be in a city like that and that's when I decided I wanted my child to grow up in a place like that—an accepting environment. Additionally, it felt great to not worry about being myself, mainly because no one was giving me disapproving looks for speaking a language other than English. Little things like this helped me realize I wasn't, in fact, happy in Louisville; I was just content. San Jose made it clear to me there was plenty of room for growth.
Less than two months after returning to Louisville, we were able to sell our home, pack, and hit the road to find a new place to call home. Now, here in Miami after almost five years, I can say I was able to find a place where I feel I belong. A locale that has so much to offer, just like San Jose. A city packed with a bunch of people who, just like me, come from different cultures and they are not only accepting of it, but are able to embrace it because they understand that our differences are what makes us greater together. Miami is not a perfect place, but it is a city we are very happy to be a part of.
... And that is the story of how we ended up here in Miami.