Moving to Northwest Arkansas

This post is all about our move from the beautiful coast of San Luis Obispo, California to the wonderful oak-hickory forest of Northwest Arkansas. In it, I’ll share a few reasons we decided to move, what our experience has been like so far, and I’ll answer any questions you have (feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll add to the post over time).

Before we get started, please know this isn’t a post harping on California. I was born and raised in California, I have friends and family there, and there are many things I love about the state, including many of the: people, beach, beauty, and weather. This is a post about why for now, Arkansas is the best fit for us.

Moving to Northwest Arkansas – The Story

The week that everything changed for us, an episode went live on my podcast on SELF-trust. As I share this news with you, I just released an episode on TRUSTING GOD. That’s sums up what this journey has been for me, personally and spiritually. From a focus on building more self trust, to leaning into God and trusting His plan more.

Our story begins on April 9th, 2023. The day Selah, Marco, and myself boarded a plane to Bentonville, Arkansas. We landed, picked up our rental car, and headed to our Airbnb. On the drive there I said to Marco “We are ONLY here to visit. I am not moving here.” We were visiting good friends who had moved here a couple of years prior. You know what comes next 🙃

I shared in this podcast episode that every time God calls me to something new and big, I almost always say no first. I don’t know why, but it’s a pattern. But, in His love and grace, He doesn’t let me–or His plan–go. He continues to work on my heart.

Throughout our visit, God softened my heart each day, and He planted a deep seed in my heart for Northwest Arkansas. We came home from that trip, thankful for the time we had.

Marco continued to talk about Arkansas for the entire following month. I finally asked him to stop 😆. He did… I wanted to be grateful for what we already had. I didn’t want our minds on what was next. We tabled it. But, about a month later in June, God SANK my heart for Arkansas in the best way. I can hardly describe the shift, but one day I was sitting at my desk and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Days went by and everyday, I just kept thinking about Arkansas. I said to Marco “maybe we can open this conversation back up”. He was thrilled. We began talking about it, we met with our relator to see what we could sell our house for in CA and within a week our house was on the market.

Wildly fast, but wildly rooted in trusting God to direct us. Within a few weeks our home was under contract. We met with a realtor in Arkansas who’d helped several of our friends buy houses here. He’s been incredible. He sent us countless home tour videos… but none of them captured our hearts more than the first home tour video he sent.

Not going to lie… the first home tour video made me cry (it’s the home we now live in as of writing this to you!). My heart felt so aligned with this home, which was our prayer–”Lord, please align our hearts to YOUR good and perfect will, not ours”.

During the video the realtor was showing us a couple of linen closets. While filming one of them, he mentioned how he’d use it for a “game closet”. I literally began to cry. It was so unexpected. Marco looked me “Are you okay? Are you crying about a game closet?” But the truth was… it struck such a chord in me that I didn’t even know could be struck. I believe it was God moving me.

There was something about imagining a slower paced life, playing games with friends, putting the CrockPot on, sitting by the fire, seeing other neighbors spaced around with their lights on, knowing they were home and cozy too. The area where we live started as a retirement community. Then, they built a new highway that allowed for younger families who are more on the go to start moving up. So, there are a lot of people who are home in our neighborhood. Being someone who works from home, I love this. I love looking out our windows at night and seeing other houses, randomly spaced around me, with their lights on. I love hearing the neighbor say she has to get back home to finish supper. To someone who has always lived in the south or midwest these things may feel totally normal, but for me they feel so wholesome and nourishing. This is where I want to be.

But back to our home search… home video tour after home video tour, we kept coming back to the first house. And miraculously, the home waited for us. It didn’t sell before we were ready. On October 2nd our home in California went into ownership of a new family who will love and cherish it. They’d been looking for years, and this home was an answer to their prayers. And on October 4th, Marco and I closed on our home in Northwest Arkansas. We’re eternally grateful, and so eager to see what God has planned for our time in Arkansas. A huge part of me hopes that we will call Arkansas our forever home, but I’m also holding this loosely because I truly just want what God wants for us, now and forever. If that’s here, I’ll be deeply happy.

We sold most of our belongings and the rest of what we own is on it’s way over in a POD. I’ve already met some amazing people here and am daily in awe of the generosity and kindness of everyone around me.

Why We Moved from CA to AR

There are a lot of reasons as to why we chose to move to Northwest Arkansas. The first and biggest reason is that we felt this is where God was pulling us. Our hearts clung to NWA after our visit, and we listened to that. By now–we’ve moved a few times–we know that in the middle of God’s will is where the joy is. We have learned to follow that.

We also love that there is a huge faith-community here, which we’d love to surround ourselves with. We wanted a community that would grow us spiritually, and where many people would share similar values that we have. It’s comforting for me to know that there are so many people around us who will encourage Selah, Marco, and myself in the ways we’d hope to be encouraged (and challenged). In marriage, morals, choices, parenting, and beyond.

Many people here seem to live gratefully. From what we’ve experienced thus far, many people here are humble, generous, kind, considerate, and look for ways they can help someone else. We hear things like “call anytime” or “just knock on my back door” or “anything you need, you let us know.” I’ve been asked to get a welcome coffee multiple times just by buying something from someone on FB marketplace. In fact, tomorrow Selah and I are headed to the park with new friends and on Monday I’m meeting another new friend for coffee. This is just in the first week. I appreciate the welcomeness of this community.

Utility companies still send invoices with a written address on the front. Applications for things are old school–PDF write-in. At the “DMV” you get your license, license plates and registration printed for you right there. People seem patient and happy. The generations older than we are seem like they’re thriving–they have community, friends, they’re outgoing. It’s just a different pace of life. We wanted that for Selah, and for ourselves.

We’re being challenged to grow here in the best ways. A question we find ourselves asking is how can we be more kind to others? Where do other people need our help? There was a young boy raising money outside of a Walmart the other day and I was surprised at how many people were stopping to talk with him, ask him what he was raising money for, and then were giving him money. Even if just $5 or $10, people seemed to not be in such a rush that they were frustrated someone was raising money. The last trip I took to the store back in CA, there was someone raising money outside and a woman walked by me and said “Aren’t you just SICK of people asking you for money?” I get it, but I’m just saying… it felt different here. Time will tell.

Things close early here. Many places are closed on Sunday or at least one to two days per week. People take the time to talk with you, work with you, and help you. The speed limits are slower. Neighbors are excited when you stop and say hello. They’ll pause what they’re doing, ask if there is anything you need. They seem to want to get along and help. I know this isn’t going to be the case with 100% of the people we meet, of course, but in all honesty, it has been my experience so far.

We also liked what we heard about the schools here. When we were in California, it seemed like many of the people we talked to had complaints about the schools, were moving their kids out of them, or were thinking that there would come a time in the future where they needed to do so. Here, I’ve heard good things about the schools. When I call around and talk to admissions, people seem happy on the other end of the phone. They have good things to say about all of the schools around us, they tell me stories of families who have moved to other areas and transferred schools and how they’ve reported back to say they’re happy at the other school too. When we’ve gone with friends to school pick-up, we’re in awe of the way the kids are loved and cared for and protected. Several times when I’ve gone to pickup there’s been an officer somewhere near, loads and loads of parents together in pickup, and the kids are released in such a thoughtful way. We like what we’ve seen. The kids get to be kids here.

Speaking of kids, there’s SO MUCH to do here for children! There are parks in every neighborhood. There’s Amazeum which is–as they say on their website–”approximately 50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces inside the museum to bring learning to life and enhance family involvement”. There’s mountain biking galore, bike tracks for kids everywhere (even for little Strider bikes!), and tons and tons of walking paths. There are water parks, splash pads, awesome kids ministries. I could go on. Selah will have zero shortage of fun things to do here.

I can’t leave this post without sharing the other blessing, which is that the cost of living is drastically lower than where we were. Our property taxes in CA were nearly $9,000 a year. Our property taxes for this year are $75–yes, for the YEAR. That’s because we have a new build and will only pay on the land for the first year or two. I’ll update you on what they go up to, but the tax rate where we were was 1.14% on 100% of the value of your property, and where we are now it’s .54% on 20% of the value of your property. Our utility bills are drastically lower. I’m talking multiple hundreds less per month. Groceries are less. Gas is less than half what we were paying. I filled up my 4Runner the other day from empty for $52. My last fill up in CA was $106. These things make a massive difference for us.

I’ll add to the reasons why we moved as time goes on, but to start, these are a few.

Getting to Northwest Arkansas from California

There are a few things we did to prepare for our move to NWA. First, we had to list our house for sale in California, which our wonderful realtor Brittany Thompson helped us to do.

We then sold most of our furniture. We sold all of our outdoor furniture, all of my office furniture (I was ready for new furniture after 10 years anyway), our couch, quite a few toys, rugs, and other lager items we knew we didn’t want to take with us. From there, we reduced as much as we could, keeping our most loved and cherished items (aka, I can never get rid of my journals, and I definitely wanted to keep the brand new West Elm console I just bought).

For the actual moving of our belongings we went with POD’s and Mr. Car Shipper for my car. Since we have a dog (Abby), Marco drove with her and some of our belongings we wanted right away. Selah and I flew to NWA. His trip was a total of two 12 hour driving days. Abby was such a good travel companion! Our POD is about 10 days behind us. I’ll update this with how long it actually takes to get out here and how our belongings look when we get them. I’ve heard great things about POD’s!

Jobs

Many of you have asked “Did your husband get a new job? Is that why you’re moving?” We didn’t move because of a job, we moved for quality of life and again, feeling God pull on our heart strings for this area. We both–my husband and I–felt Him leading with “go and grow”. So we’ll see over time what He means by this. We’re excited to find out!

Marco will end up finding a new job here, and in the meantime I’ll be solely working (I offer private coaching and a group coaching membership). He is certainly ready to start work. I don’t think he loves the in between of not knowing, however, we do ultimately trust that there is a plan and everything will be okay. I’m not worried; I’m happy to work for our family for the time being and know whatever is next will be great.

Our First Week in Northwest Arkansas

Our first five days in Northwest Arkansas have far exceeded our expectations. I share this with a heart bursting with gratitude. I’m so grateful to be here, and the blessing of being together with my family is not lost on me this week.

First of all, Selah is such an awesome little travel companion. It’s one of my favorite things to do with her, whether we’re flying or roadtripping. She is so fun to adventure with. She did great on the plane, she ran around the open airport during our layover in Dallas, and we played with a sticker book, [I] drank coffee, and watched the Skylink light rail train go by and planes take off.

My car arrived before we did (Selah and I were still on the plane) and our realtor was nice enough to come and sign to receive it for us. Not only that, but he then came and picked us up at the airport. If you listened to my ​podcast episode​ sharing the news about our move, you already know how insanely kind our realtor has been.

Selah ran to him as soon as she saw him and gave him a big hug saying “Hi Jarred!”. We drove back country roads to get to our house, Selah slept, and we talked. Through loads of conversation, I watched out the window as we passed large fields with huge hay bales, open skies, and trees surrounding us every direction. It was so stunning.

Pulling into our neighborhood, which I’d never seen before, I said “Are we going to our friends house first?” Our realtor followed “No, this is your neighborhood, did you want to go to their house first?” My mouth fell to the floor. “This is our neighborhood?” That was a marking moment. A moment where we were entering something that felt so beautiful to me it was hard to grasp that it was ours.

We turned a few corners and there it was. Our HOME. I was overcome with emotion, immediately FaceTimed Marco so he could be in this moment with me. I walked into the house we’d been waiting months to see in person. It was 100x better than I had been able to picture or see in video.

We’re HOME. The first week has been incredible. Our neighbors, the hospitality, the views, everything… my heart is FULL.

P.S. If you’re looking for a realtor in NWA I hands down 1000% recommend Jarred Blackstone from Blackstone and Company. Literally the best service experience I’ve ever had–and that’s not an exaggeration. Either click the link above to check him out or email me (paige@paigeschmidt.com) and I’d be happy to connect you.

Southern Hospitality Stories

On Monday, Selah and I went furniture shopping. We went to a store called Precious Cargo, currently located in Fayetteville but is moving to Springdale. Since they’re moving, they’re having a 35% off sale. I shopped around, found a few things for our home (remember, we sold nearly all of our furniture). I found a desk, desk chair, living room rug, but still needed a couch, as well as a bed frame (which Marco and I have not had since we’ve been together 12 years–haha!). Since the sale was so good, most of the couches had been picked through. I shared about our move here and how we had a completely empty house, and the gentleman who was helping me offered to take me up to the new store before it had opened. I was in awe–Yes! I’d love to!

We followed him up to the new store, he turned on the lights, and I was able to shop the store privately. I found our couch, barstools, and bed frame all in one trip! The only hardship was delivery would take two more weeks. With one text out to friends, guess who came immediately to the rescue? You guessed it! Our realtor Jarred, along with his friend (and realtor) Ryan. Three hours later they were there to pick up all of our furniture with a truck and trailer (not to mention they drove 50 minutes each way to help me with this!). The hospitality here is real and something I am not used to yet. I have so much to learn, and I’m eager to learn it. I deeply want to pay it forward with the love I’ve been shown.

Finding Joy Wherever You Are

There are two constants wherever you move: God is always with you, and YOU are always with you. In order to co-create a bright and purposeful life with God we need to love Him, love others, and show ourselves love. Whether it’s a new state, country, or house, you will always be with you. It’s time to get right with you.

Photos of Life in NWA So Far!

Let’s wrap this post up with some photos of our first week in Northwest Arkansas. As I shared, it’s been so good!

Questions about Northwest Arkansas? Moving? Keeping your joy through big life transitions? Put them below. I’m more than happy to answer, and plan to update this post over time. Leave a comment or send me an email: paige@paigeschmidt.com – and be sure to sign-up for the Brighter Together newsletter for weekly encouragement to help you live your brightest life.

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