Series: Our transplant journey to the desert – How are we doing now

Welcome back!

This is the final part of a series on our transplant journey to Arizona. If you haven’t read my first post for this series, you can catch up here.

We have officially lived in Arizona for two years now. I would love to say that our life is perfect in the East Valley but its not. As I said in my last post, we still endure hardships and obstacles. If I am being honest, probably the hardest life lessons we have learned to date as a family and individually. Not to say that we don’t love it here because we so love living in the Phoenix metro area. I believe its the best decision we have ever made for our family.

This move has been a huge learning experience for our family. Our overall family dynamic had not changed because we didn’t really depend on anyone else to help with childcare. I believe the biggest changes for us was the convenience of having family close by. Our biggest changes were in our finances, business opportunities, and overall environment.

Don’t listen to the negativity

The biggest obstacle we faced when we began our transplant story was the enormous amount of backlash we received from family. With the exception of a handful of family members, everyone told us we were making a huge mistake moving out of state. Only until recently has extended family been truly supportive and accepting of our move.

What we learned from this experience was to trust our gut and do what is best for our family. While we loved the convenience of living close to family, we knew that our day to day life would drastically change for the better once we moved to Arizona.

My husband and I also say that we became actual adults and also learned more about ourselves. Once we settled into our new life in the desert, we knew we would have to ensure our financial ducks were in a row. So we hired a financial adviser to help us navigate our present and future financial responsibilities. We are well on our way to creating a life and legacy for our kids. This also ignited passion projects that we had put on the back burner because of financial strains.

Open for business

Once we moved to the East Valley, I was able to acquire a remote position for a software consultant company based in the Bay Area. This gave me the ability to talk to adults and refresh my skills while still having the ability to be home with my son. While this sounds like an ideal situation, it comes with time management challenges and a toddler sitting on my lap while I finish a call. Surprisingly, remote workers are pretty common for those living in Arizona. I have met more remote professionals in this metro area than in California.

My husband graduated from a local gunsmithing college – YES its a thing – at the beginning of this year and has opened a gun broker company. He will now have the opportunity to serve those in the community while carrying out his passion. Gilbert is also very supportive of small businesses so the process of opening a business was seamless. This is absolutely something we could not do in the Bay Area with all of California’s firearms laws. I am so proud of all my husband has accomplished to open this business. Its no easy feat.

Lifestyle improvements

Before living in the East Valley, we lived in the East Bay in California. The city we lived in had a bad rap. After almost ten years of living in this city, we knew that we wouldn’t grow as a family and individuals without making a drastic change. It came to a point that my husband would tell me which gas stations, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants were not safe. Honestly friends, looking back, this was no way to live. Our kids deserved to live in an area that they felt safe in.

Now living in Gilbert, our kids experience things they never had before. They’ve gone to the mall without adult supervision; they are able to walk to their friends’ houses; they are able to walk home from school; and we feel safer in this community. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still crime in Gilbert but compared to the city we used to live in, we basically live in ‘Leave it to Beaver’.

Lifestyle in Arizona is slower. Whenever we have family or friends visit, they always express how nice people are in Gilbert. These are not isolated events, Gilbert isn’t nicknamed Kindness USA for nothing. I have learned to wave to my neighbors when they drive by my house; have a conversation with the person in front or behind me in line; and to be kind to complete strangers. This is one of the top three reasons why we love living in Gilbert. This town is very community based and you see it on a daily basis. Compared to the Bay Area where everyone seems stressed out and always in a hurry. We have learned to enjoy life in the desert as well as get to know our neighbors.

Building a community

One of the hardest things we left behind in the East Bay was our church family. This amazing group of individuals blessed our family with the foundation of a Christ centered community. Because of them, we have learned that the only way we were to survive in the desert without immediate family was to create a community of our own. We knew the first place to look would be a church in our town. It took over a month and emails to our California home church to find one that fit our family. Two years later, we are well immersed in our new home church and our relationship with Christ has grown exponentially.

My husband and I currently serve in multiple ministries while our kids serve the preschool aged kids on Sunday mornings. In doing this, we have created a group of like minded individuals who love God and love people. It has been a true blessing find our new church home.

Managing mental health

Mental health is still a big topic in our house. It has been a pretty rough two years adjusting to our kids’ new diagnoses but over time we have learned how to help them manage it and move forward. I am so proud of all the work my kids’ have done to speak about their needs and feelings. Navigating teenagers is hard enough and having teens with different diagnoses makes these formative years even more complicated.

My mental health is currently pretty stable. My depression has decreased but my anxiety has now become my biggest obstacle. I still have insomnia but the cannabis and CBD has helped me get more restful sleep. Which does help with my overall mental state. I have learned what tools work and how to manage on hard days. I am definitely working towards a more solidified workout routine and I feel that I am closer than I have ever been to being more transparent with what I need overall.

The future looks bright

Reflecting on our transplant journey has given me an appreciation for how my parents immigrated from the Philippines to the US. Leaving their native country, their family members, all they have ever known and moved to a foreign land in search of the ‘American dream’. While moving to another state is nowhere near as difficult as moving to another country, I appreciate why my parents immigrated and what they scarified to provide a better life for my siblings and I.

Sorry family, we are not moving back to California. We are able to provide so many more things in Arizona and a lifestyle that we only dreamed of. I believe wholeheartedly that God has huge plans for us here and I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us. If you are thinking about relocating out of California, come and visit us. I know you will be pleasantly surprised.


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