Amy and I grew up in the beautiful, quiet little beach town of Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a small enough city that you’re likely to run into someone you know every time you leave the house. Most of our family still lives in Vero and each visit makes us miss life in Florida. As Amy was finishing her PhD at South Carolina in 2010, we agreed that we would move close to home when we were ready to start a family of our own. Somehow though, here we are in Atlanta with a 4 year old, a 2 year old and 2 crazy cats. We spend most of our vacation time making the 9+ hour drive to visit family and we ask ourselves, “Well, how did we get here?”
The answer to that is simply, MailChimp. I was working as a manager for NZ Van Lines before I relocated to Atlanta 5 years ago to join MailChimp full-time. I spent my first year with the company as a remote contractor. In my tenure here, we’ve grown from a team of 35, supporting ~240k users; to a 500+ employee company with over 10 million users. Knowing that my work played a tiny role in that growth is just incredible. I love everything about MailChimp, the brilliant people I work with, and the culture we’ve built here. I’ve learned volumes about product development, user experience, collaboration, and managing teams. At home though, life has been tough. Having 2 children while undertaking major home renovation projects, in a new city, with no family support, while we both try to pursue challenging careers has taken a toll on our sanity and our relationship.
For the last couple of years, Amy and I have been discussing a move back to Florida but the idea of leaving a company and product I loved was always a conversation stopper. At the end of 2015 though, we decided that it was time to stop just letting the days go by. With Amy finishing a contract chemical engineering position and our oldest daughter quickly approaching elementary age, we set the goal of relocating to Orlando (the closest metropolitan city to our hometown) by the Summer of 2016. We spent many an evening researching real estate, neighborhoods, and schools in “The City Beautiful” and fell in love with the Winter Park area. After getting some great advice from a few Orlando friends and taking a couple scouting trips down there, it’s finally happening! Amy and I have signed a lease on a rental property and we’re excited to share that we’ll be moving to Orlando in early June.
What about my job?
Unfortunately, I’ll be leaving MailChimp behind. I started talking to management about the option of staying on as a remote contributor in January. I knew it was a long-shot but I love what I do, and I’m confident that I could continue improving the product from anywhere. Sadly, that did not work out. So, what’s next, you ask? I’ll be taking a little bit of time off to figure that out. I love being in a busy office environment but I’ve also enjoyed a couple long-term remote positions. Working on a single product for 6+ years has been a blast, but the freedom to change tools and process frequently in the agency world is also exciting. I work well as an individual contributor, but leading teams is a rewarding experience as well. I’m sure I’ll find a great place to put my passion for UX, design, and front-end development to good use.
What about my Atlanta friends?
This is the hardest part about our decision. Amy and I have both made many strong friendships here in Atlanta with our coworkers, our neighbors, and in our professional circles. It’s heartbreaking to move away from those connections to yet another new city but we’re confident that it’s what’s best for our family. On the bright side, I already have a few friends and old UCF classmates in Orlando, I’ve heard that the web design community is pretty strong, and well, it’s home to The Most Magical Place On Earth™, so I’m sure we’ll have visitors.
What about the Pulley House?
We’re proud of the changes we’ve made to our fixer-upper of a home in Decatur. When we bought it, the house had just come back on the market after a deal fell through to tear it down and build new. Instead, we gave the existing structure new life by building a 3-story addition and renovating the rest over several years. While we’re sad to let “The Pulley House” go, we’re looking forward to getting our blood, sweat, tears, and dollars back out of it. We’re sure it’ll sell quickly and make a great home for one of the many families scrambling to get into the City Schools of Decatur district. We’ll definitely miss the location as well, but in many ways, Winter Park is to Orlando what Decatur is to Atlanta.
This is going to be a huge change for us with lots of feels involved, but we’re excited to start the next chapter of our life back in our home state.
Finally, that’s not my arm above. Thanks to my friend and colleague Nathaniel Deal for letting me put a picture of his awesome “Family Over Everything” tattoo on this post.