I Regret Not Moving From Chicago to Texas on Facebook’s Dime

Estimated read time 7 min read

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with AW, a 27-year-old YouTuber who works in advertising and lives in Chicago. AW was hired by Facebook in 2021 and made plans to move to Texas for her new role. But at the last minute, she decided to skip the move and stay in Chicago — a decision she says she now regrets.

After high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I have a twin sister who I’m very close with, who said, “I’m going to Chicago,” and I was like, “You know what? Me, too.”

We came to Chicago for undergrad, and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve been living here for about nine years now.

I fell in love with it right away. Chicago was the city. There’s so much to do, public transportation, people everywhere. It was the perfect city to get a career going.

I thought it was going to be my forever home. But that changed.

I graduated from college in December of 2019, and then March 2020 was the pandemic. There was really no pressure to get my career started during COVID.

But once things started opening back up and the world started to become “normal” again, a lot of my friends left Chicago. My twin sister left, too.

It just seemed like everyone started to have these new postgrad lives. I felt like I was really missing out on that.

I was transitioning careers at the time.

I got an offer from Facebook. I had previously worked in a contracted role for the company, and that’s what helped me land my full-time role at Facebook.

When they hired me, they said I could work from one of two locations: either Austin, Texas, or Chicago.

Knowing that all of my friends and my sister had left Chicago, I naturally wanted to go to Austin. So I chose Texas. This was a company that would move me, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the hassle of moving.

The company sent me to Austin to look for apartments. But I got there and I realized Austin was not my vibe.

I was like, “Where are the people?” There was no one driving around. It was not for me.

I was so used to Chicago being a very multicultural city. I just didn’t feel that way when I went to visit Austin. Everything was so spaced out.

So I spoke to my new manager at the job and I said, “The offices are still closed, what if I move to Dallas instead?” I figured it was the next best thing. I felt like there was a bit more culture there.

I had never visited Texas before I got this role, but I had a cousin in Dallas and she just seemed like she loved it.

My manager said I could do that. However, once the offices opened, I would have to commute back and forth from Dallas to Austin.

It sounds crazy now. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive. But I had faith that the offices weren’t going to open anytime soon.

side by side photos of Ayahna Wilbon on a bike and posing in front of a street sign

Ayahna Wilbon has lived in Chicago for nine years. She told Business Insider she’s ready for a change and is still considering a move to Texas.

Courtesy of Ayahna Wilbon

The company wouldn’t move me to Dallas, but they would move me to Austin. So I decided to move to Austin, and from there, I would move to Dallas. It would be easier and cheaper to move my stuff within Texas.

I went to Dallas for a couple weeks and looked at apartments and checked out the neighborhoods. I found an income-driven housing program and worked with an agent in Dallas. He had a loft available for me.

I was going to rent the apartment for about $1,300 a month and have a pool, a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher.

It seemed like the stars were aligning in Dallas.

But in Chicago, I had a pretty sweet deal on the apartment I’m still in today. My rent was $925 at the time for a 700-square-foot studio.

I knew my rent would go up if I moved to Texas. Plus there isn’t good public transportation there. I could just see the dollar signs. I was starting to rethink it.

But at that point, I still felt like I should go to Texas. I had my friends come help me pack up my house. The movers came, and I signed a lease in Austin. My landlord here in Chicago even started to show my apartment.

I went to Dallas one last time to stay in what would have been my apartment and drove around to a bunch of different neighborhoods.

But I just felt sad. It just felt off. I felt out of place. I didn’t feel like I belonged.

I felt like it wasn’t my time to leave Chicago yet. I didn’t want my rent to go up. I was going to have to pay for parking. There wasn’t going to be public transportation.

So, I canceled everything.

My manager wasn’t upset because the offices didn’t end up opening until the following year, at which point it was my time to leave the company. The agent wasn’t really upset either, and my landlord in Chicago was happy to let me keep my apartment so she didn’t have to go through the hassle of finding someone new.

I was lucky there wasn’t much fallout other than a YouTube video I made talking about my decision. People gave me a lot of flack for that.

In the comments, people said, “You were just scared,” and, “You should have done it,” and, “I’m glad you didn’t come to Texas.” It’s been almost two years or so and people are still commenting, “Texas didn’t want you anyway.”

A photo of Ayahna Wilbon next to a photo of the Dallas skyline

A.W. told Business Insider she’s hoping to make a move from Chicago in the next year and is still considering Dallas.

Courtesy of Ayahna Wilbon/Getty Images

At the time, I was 25. I felt like I was around that “quarter-century crisis” time. A lot of people want to move but just don’t have the guts. It was something I wanted to do, but I didn’t have the guts!

I made the YouTube video because I felt like it would be nice to say, “It’s OK you didn’t do it. It’s OK, you got scared. It’s OK, you tried to dip your toe in the water but didn’t go all the way in.”

I was in denial that I was afraid.

In hindsight, I now realize that I didn’t make the move because of a fear of the unknown. It’s something I definitely kind of regret today.

I feel like I missed out on an opportunity to take that leap, especially when I had less risk. I had a company that was actually going to move me to Texas. That’s hard.

I haven’t been back to Texas since I made my decision but I’m going in February for my cousin’s birthday.

I’m at the point today where I do still want to leave Chicago. I’ve been here so long and working remotely since the pandemic. I want to be forced into an uncomfortable environment and I can’t do that here in Chicago.

Dallas and Houston are still on my mind. I’ve started applying to jobs outside of Chicago. I’m hoping to make a move sometime in 2024.

I feel like this experience made me realize that you shouldn’t let fear drive your life.

Editor’s note, March 13, 2023: We anonymized the source in this story after publication. Business Insider has confirmed the source’s identity. We made this decision to use the source’s initials due to concerns about impacting the source’s career.