Why I Moved to Dallas + Celebrating 5 Years in the DFW

Why I Moved to Dallas + Celebrating 5 Years in the DFW

Feb 21st or 22nd marked 5 years that I have been living in this beautiful city! I love everything about it. Minus the traffic, but it's completely grown on me. I remember around this time 5 years ago, I moved up North as we "southerners" like to say.....on a leap of faith and savings that would probably last me 3-6 months. My 1st apartment was about 700-ish sq ft, and it was $535 a month! I paid all of my bills; water, electricity, Netflix groceries, rent, gas...you name it. Here's my story before the move :) 

May 2016- Photo by Haleigh Staalsen

May 2016- Photo by Haleigh Staalsen

I Always Knew...

This might come to no surprise to those that know me. I had always wanted to leave the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV), for that don't know, is a border town to Mexico and sits at the most southern tip of Texas.

Anyway, I knew I wanted to live outside of the RGV around my senior year in high school when I eagerly wanted to attend Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. My mom didn't want me to leave so she convinced me enough to stay. My mom didn't mean any harm with saying no. I'm sure she felt that I was too young and probably would of had a hard time supporting my educational needs. Overall, it's more affordable to go to school in the Rio Grande Valley so I stayed.  The thought of moving always stuck in the back of my mind though because I knew there was a  much bigger world out there! 

Graduating and Taking on My first Professional Job

My first job that I landed with my Bachelor of Science Degree, was working for a non-profit organization helping certain schools across Texas help in identify school-aged children with Type II Diabetes. This non-profit was managed through the local University of which I had graduated from, so it was a great first job! Sadly when the recession hit about 2 years after, I along with 2 other employees lost our jobs. 

I took advantage of the situation that I was jobless, and applied to begin a Masters in Public Health program. While unemployed I completed my Masters degree in Public Health, Health Policy and Administration within 2 years or so. It was a great personal accomplishment! 

Internship in Bolivia

Let's track back just a little. >>> A few months before graduating with my Masters, I decided to use the "free" time I had and take a trip abroad. Mind you I was still on unemployment and you're technically not supposed to leave the country! But I also was in school, plus going abroad meant  I was volunteering (internships are always free hours of volunteer work when you think about it!) and helping never hurt the world right? This was my first ever abroad experience! Going abroad had been on my bucket list for a very long time. I didn't care where I went, but I wanted to go. I picked Bolivia because they had the type of internship that I was looking for, and also its a Spanish speaking country which I was familiar with. 

The end result?

The. Best. Experience. EVER! It was truly life changing and even to this day those experiences have impacted my life in a way I can't describe. Traveling many miles by myself at a much younger me, really helped build my character, sense of self, independence, and learning how to survive in a foreign country on my own. It was amazing. 

Internship in Cochabamba Bolivia
Cochabamba, Bolivia

Fashion in the Rio Grande Valley

Switching gears a little here! While I was living in McAllen, I had dabbled into modeling. Especially because I had the flexibility to do so while in graduate school! I had a fashion show almost every week it felt like! It was so fun, and this is where I wanted MORE fashion than the Rio Grande Valley could offer me. I'm including this piece of explanation into my journey, because understand that adventure, sense of self, and opportunity were things that were truly lacking in my life. I wanted to do SOMETHING in fashion, and modeling can only get you so far. Regardless, it wasn't as fulfilling as blogging makes me feel now. Something I know I couldn't find in the RGV. 

Fashion in Dallas is so great! There are always events going on, brands willing to give you opportunities if you are a big or small influencer, so many sweet people in the fashion industry... it's truly a place where you can get in tune with your fashion side and network. I LOVE love LOVE it. Coming from a small town where fashion resources are limited.. I am so thankful for everything Dallas provides! I wouldn't be 100% myself if I wasn't doing what I was doing today. 

6 Months or Less Until the Big Move

By this time as you have read, I was back from Bolivia, graduated with my Masters in Public Health (MPH), and now I was actively trying to find a job. I applied to everything! Even for jobs I might of been "too qualified" for. And I know this because that's what they told me "you're over qualified" therefore, I wasn't hired. Or the infamous... "you don't have enough experience". It bugged me that I had worked SO hard on my Masters Degree to have the HARDEST time to find a job. 

Although I'm not too sure how the job market is today in McAllen, I do know that at the time.. most people had a job and kept their jobs until retirement or advancement in their career. It was tough for me to find a job that would align with my career, and then when I sought out jobs that didn't align with my studies, I wasn't experienced enough. This pretty much sums up what I was going through. It was very frustrating to say the least. 

Master in Public Health, Health Policy and Management - May 2013

Master in Public Health, Health Policy and Management - May 2013

Texas AM Health Science Center Graduate
Texas AM Health Science Center


Still Jobless- Living with Parents

I forgot to mention that during my time in graduate school, I also had an apartment of my own. My sister kindly enough helped pay for it as I wasn't making enough on unemployment. Anywho, after graduating and not being able to find a job, I had to move back with my parents for a while. 

After trying so hard to apply and go through very minimal interviews (and not landing the job), I got anxious. I was ready to move on! When Was I going to get a job? This is when I started applying outside of Mcallen. 

Calls and No Hire

One of upsides of applying outside of the area, is you have a better chance to get a call! for an interview I say this because the DFW Metroplex is HUGE! I also applied to San Antonio, as that was the closest largest city, and Austin. But the calls were mainly from Dallas. I took a few over the phone interviews and almost landed a job or two. The push back? The fact that I wasn't physically living in the Dallas area :( which kinda makes sense in a way. This is when my wheels really started turning on what would be my next steps.

The Unknown Future with my Relationship

I had a boyfriend (Ivan-who is now my husband) who I had been with towards the end of my Masters program. He has ALWAYS been so supportive on everything I do. I remember us having sushi and talking seriously about our future together. He was a teacher and had been teaching in McAllen for about 5 years. To say the least, he was set. He had no desire to move, or make significant changes in his life. If there is one thing about my husband, is he is such a humble and simple person in the best way possible! Something I sometimes lack (the simplicity part because GOD KNOWS how I sometimes make things so complicated)! 

I remember telling him "If you see yourself in McAllen the rest of your life, I understand. But just know that we probably won't be able to be together". It was the most mature and adult conversation we had ever had about our lives. I was very honest and truthful when I told him it'd be ok. Not that I didn't care... but I have learned that when you are meant to be with someone... the universe has this weird way of working it out. I knew if he loved me, and was the one for me... then somehow it would work. However, I was prepping myself for incase it didn't. 

2011 at the Carnival- Our 1st Pic together (we became boyfriend and girlfriend a few months after)

2011 at the Carnival- Our 1st Pic together (we became boyfriend and girlfriend a few months after)

Moving First

The day came when I made the move. I was still with Ivan, as we decided to try long distance for a while see how it goes. Being that I left with only a savings account and no job (kinda scary!), Ivan and I came to the conclusion that I will rent an apartment for 6 months and if nothing comes from it, then I will go back home. That was the plan. I said my temporary goodbyes and with the support of my parents (who were a bit reluctant naturally), helped me with my belongings to Dallas. We toured different apartments when we got there, I made a deposit on one, we moved almost same day it felt like. It was hard to say good-bye to my parents and I cried a little after they left. It hit me that I wasn't going to see them everyday or head over to dinners like I was so used to. 

On my Own. Alone. 

The closest relatives I have living in this area, are both in Forth Worth and Grand Prairie. Those cities are not close to the area in Dallas I was living in. I interviewed to a few jobs and about 2 months later I was hired! Things were starting to look up. 

And then they really did when my Boyfriend (now husband) and myself made the next big adult decision and decided to move in together to salvage our relationship while at the same time nurturing our careers. This happened 6 months later during the Summer. Yet, another hurdle all in itself that we had to get through. It worked out beautifully as you guys already know :) 

The Best is Still Coming...

I can probably go on from here where this has taken me and the experiences Ive had, but if there is one piece of advice that I can give you... if you have ever wanted to try something even if it's life changing... try it. Failure is not failure if its a learning experience. You learn about yourself, your perspective on people, cultures, and the world.

This whole process was not easy and there were definitely expressions of opinions from all sides when I made this decision to move with no job and just a savings account. It was scary, nerve wrecking, at times very tough, and being officially on my own was hard. Now, it's been rewarding. 

Dallas has been a wonderful city to me, and I'm happy that we have decided to make it our home. Here's to 5+ more years!!!

"Live the Life you have Imagined" - My favorite quote and the way I try to live my life. So grateful for these life decisions!

"Live the Life you have Imagined" - My favorite quote and the way I try to live my life. So grateful for these life decisions!


What has been your life changing experiences? Anything new that you want to try? Please share below! 


Vanessa in Dallas