After having lived in Los Angeles for thirteen years, owning two hair salons, managing countless employees, working as a brand ambassador for L'Oreal and having two babies back to back, my husband and I decided we needed to down pace our lives and create space in our world. Thankfully, my husband's mostly on-line business
could exist anywhere. We chose Austin, TX after having met two, to this day, friends that had built a start-up in Austin with the full intention of coming back to their home town. They sold us on the small town vibe of the place and after research we learned it was considered one of the happiest place in the states to live. The income-to-lifestyle ratio ranked high, allowing people the mental capacity to actually enjoy their lives and pursue personal pleasures like paddle boarding, hiking, dinners with friends or whatever inspires you.
Best. Decision. Ever.
We visited and were surprised at how friendly the culture was. I remember laying in our hotel room downtown and hearing music in the distance all over the city. Even at a local coffee shop the next day, there was a five-piece band. My husband, being an entrepreneurial designer loved the architecture and business savvy of Austin.
We walked Ladybird Lake and were blown away by how fit people were. Not in that LA kind of external way. But genuinely healthy, more Colorado outdoorsy vibe. We looked at countless homes, shocked at how much we could get for our money. We sold our LA townhome with two patios and moved to a half-acre parcel and went to work on renovating our dream home. Did I mention that it cost almost half the price of the townhouse? We happened upon a quirky neighborhood in Hill Country unofficially known as 'Cuernavaca', the name of the main road that runs through it.
Within months, thanks to our sweet neighbors, we made countless friends. Genuine friends. People that would offer to pick your kids up from school if you were in a jam, wash every single last dish in your sink after a dinner party and make sure you had plans every holiday. We had cookies brought to our door and Christmas Carols sung to us Christmas morning and a thriving social life way more satiating than our time in Los Angeles. Mostly because we had kids now and parties were a family affair in Austin.
Life was good. We felt settled and happy at the thought of raising our kids in such a progressive, yet family-focused town. Our house was done and even featured in a Wall Street Journal piece. It was the best home we'd enjoyed yet and one of my dearest friends on earth came to visit and decided to move her own family just down the road. Yes! Then my husband got the phone call.
A seven year running client, growing an airplane start-up (my husband is obsessed with anything that flies), offered him a full-time position designing their facilities. They were growing at a rapid pace and planned to expand nationally. They were moving their LA offices to northern CA just outside of Napa. Dream job. How could he refuse? His two passions all wrapped into a single opportunity. Having been an entrepreneur since he was twenty-six, the idea of a consistent paycheck that would allow his on-line business to continue was appealing. He commuted for nine months, came home Friday to Sunday every week, until that critical moment when it was too much for all of us.
Should we move back to CA.? Life felt so good in Austin but we missed each other. He's a hands on dad and his girls seemed to have milestones regularly that he was missing out on. We packed our bags and decided to Airbnb our home while we made sure it was right for all of us. Leaving our beautiful home, new found friends and my best girl just down the road was tough but so are we so we made it work. I transitioned my work too and became a top producing REALTOR in Napa where we lived. After a couple of rentals, we decided to settle in and buy a place. Our Austin home was bringing in a six figure income, my work was thriving and my husband was finding his way as an employee.
We were so inspired by our Austin income that we decided to purchase a property in Napa with an existing 400 square foot casita that brought in the same income our five-bedroom Austin home did. The plan was to build another apartment on top of the garage, which he dove into and renovate the 3.35 acre parcel on a Napa hilltop. We sipped our coffee watching the hot air balloons rise out of the valley for the month we lived there, were making friends slowly and settled in to the idea of a future in NorCal. Then the fires set in and took that dream away. We'd just shipped our valuables over from Austin, had a four-car carport full of unpacked items including every boy toy my husband loved including his Porsche (a life goal) and motorcycle. It all burned except the main house but it was uninhabitable so we let it go. We were so close to owning three Airbnb properties and tripling our rental income.
We landed in another rental, then about six-months after the fires, decided to move back to our beloved Austin. We couldn't be happier with the decision and plan to purchase an Airbnb property in CA eventually. The greatest two takeaways from all our adventures is that we can get through anything. Together. #TeamAntonioni became our new family hashtag. And we found a retirement vehicle that can offer, not just income, but a lifestyle. The future looks like multiple Airbnb properties in places we love. Passive income in our elder years and places we can call home in different states.
In the end, we see all of it as a blessing. We were gifted with a happy accident called Airbnb and plan to make the most of it as a way to enjoy places we love, continue friendships in multiple locations, grow a portfolio for our family that will hopefully provide for our children after we're gone and enjoy the gift of diverse landscapes and cultures. There's a saying, it's not the punches (we all get them), it's how we roll. I hope this one we can remember for a lifetime.