Hello from Houston, friends! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted on the blog, and I’m SO happy to finally be settling back into my routine – but this time from Texas! What a whirlwind these past few months have been – packing up our lives in Illinois and heading down to Texas, getting settled in our new apartment, and adjusting to a very new way of life.
For those of you who don’t know, my fiancé Ilir is a football coach, and earlier this year, he got a call offering him his first NFL position, which was the reason for our fast and furious move to Texas.
Prior to this, we had been living a few hours away from each other, each in our own places. So, not only was this a quick cross-country move, but we also were moving from two different homes into one, learning to live together for the very first time, and diving head-first into Texas culture – a culture I had never even EXPERIENCED prior to moving here. The very first time I touched down in the state of Texas was three weeks before moving when we took a weekend trip down here to find our new place together.
It’s been a wild past few months, but we are so happy to be able to experience this adventure and incredible opportunity together. So, as we packed up our lives, figured out transitioning my job into a remote role, began researching a whole new state and city, moved and settled, I’ve been a bit quieter over here. But now that the boxes are unpacked, the picture frames are beginning to find their places on the walls, and furniture orders have at least been placed, I am SO ready to take you behind-the-scenes of our past few months with a bit of a photo diary series.
Thank you for your encouragement and kind words along the way the past few months. Safe to say, I’m not the greatest with change, and definitely not great with unexpected life curveballs. So, it’s been challenging, stressful and scary, but also really exciting, empowering and and incredible. We are so happy to be here in Texas – and SO happy to finally be together.
A Peek Behind Our Cross-Country Move to Texas
Packing Our Bags for Texas + Apartment Searching in Houston
We got the news earlier this year and immediately starting packing. Within four days, we were packed up and moved out of Ilir’s house, bringing his things to his family’s home until we could find our new Texas apartment (and believe me, the logistics aren’t worth getting into, but take my word for it: it was complicated).
But we certainly didn’t accomplish the seemingly impossible without some really late nights of pizza and packing, and of course, a stop at our favorite frozen custard spot, Jarlings, on our way out of Champaign – for potentially the last time ever.
Onto tackling my apartment next! But first, squeezing in our very first trip to Houston…
The countdown was on! Ilir started his new job in-person in just a few weeks, so our goal was to find an apartment as soon as possible and get the moving process going.
This was my VERY first time stepping foot in the state of Texas. But as you’d probably expect, I had one very intense itinerary ready to go, 15+ tours scheduled, and three extremely jam-packed days planned out to find us an apartment!
We thanked our lucky stars and then some when we found our apartment on day two – and even ended up canceling the rest of tours because we knew it was IT. We signed on the dotted line and flew back home to get my apartment packed up and schedule the movers.
After three incredible years in my sweet studio, I said goodbye to my Chicago apartment, and see you later to my favorite city ever. It was a bittersweet goodbye filled with a LOT of tears. So many memories filled that 350-square-foot home. There were highs and lows, a lot of growth, some challenging times, and even more amazing times. But Texas and life with my fiancé were calling!
Our boxes were packed, the movers filled up the trucks, and our things were on their way to Houston to arrive in two weeks, so until then, I got to spend some amazing time at home with my family soaking up those moments with them before venturing down south.
Arriving in Houston
The day finally came and I was off to the airport to arrive in Houston the night before our movers came with the next few days off so we could start getting unpacked right away. As luck would have it, as I am boarding my flight, Ilir called to tell me the movers were delayed one day. Which turned into two days. Which turned into seven days. So, if you need a moving company recommendation, I am not your girl…
I can say now looking back on it all, we made the most of it. But at the time, there were a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, and LOTS of stress. There is nothing worse than leaving your friends and family, moving across the country to a state you’ve never experienced, taking the time off work to manage the move-in and start unpacking, and then instead having to live in a hotel for seven days with a suitcase you’ve been living out of for two weeks (which was of course, full of clothes appropriate for a Chicago winter, not 80 degree Texas weather, ha!). The situation wasn’t ideal…
So, we got a hotel for that first week, but the first night, we were way too heartbroken not to spend it in our apartment, so Torchy’s Tacos on the living room floor it was! Looking back, I’m pretty proud of that impromptu, uneducated decision. Torchy’s is still one of our favorites…
Subsequent nights were spent eating ice cream in the hotel bed. Pretty sure you can imagine how we were feeling…
The type A control freak in me was not handling this delay well, but we made the most of our week running errands to prep for delivery, shopping for a few things we knew we would need, and running around town searching for a lemon tree. Hindsight, there was a lot of other things we could have been working on, but something just felt right about moving to the south and buying a lemon tree. Four nurseries later, we found one! And maybe a few other plant babies…
While waiting we also had no choice but to start experiencing Houston’s food scene, which maybe was a blessing in disguise for us foodies! It was so fun to start learning more about the neighborhoods, experiencing the restaurant scene, and eating some delicious food! (But by the time this week was over, I was ready for a veggies-only diet, ha!).
And Finally: Moving into Our Houston Apartment
After two rounds of delays, the day finally came, and we were SO EXCITED! The movers came and went, boxes filled every corner of our space, but we could not have been happier that after nine years of distance, we were finally in one place together.
Making Our Apartment Our Home
Ilir and I both have the type of personality where we like to dive head-first into projects and get them done. (Hence the reason for my silence on here!) We’ve been HARD at work doing as much as possible to transform our new apartment into a cozy space that feels like us!
It’s still very much a work in progress, but we are making moves! Combining two homes, getting rid of a lot of starter furniture, and finding and investing in new pieces has proven to be a long process, but we are so excited to see bits and pieces start to come to life. Ilir has done some serious work getting picture frames and curtains up, and that’s made a world of a difference! Our new apartment also has three balconies (which yes, was one of the main reasons we were sold as soon as we walked in) so our plant babies have lots of space.
Filling up a home larger than what we had previously while also needing to replace older furniture quickly became expensive, so we had to get creative on certain things. Take for example: our dining room table, which was a Facebook Marketplace find I sanded down and re-stained. Would I recommend trying to accomplish this project on a balcony? Absolutely not, but we did it and made it work, ha! We also flipped our bedroom nightstands, dresser, guestroom nightstand, bookshelf, and chest – so it’s been DIY project central on top of unpacking and moving in. Lots more content to come on some of these projects!
In between busy nights and weekends tackling the apartment were busy work days for Ilir and I – Ilir started his new job and I transitioned over to doing my current job (which you all know I love!) from Houston, thank GOODNESS! (And yes, that’s one of the very first questions I got from everyone when I shared I was moving – I DO get to keep my job and go remote full-time!)
Living directly across the street from a grocery store has also given us endless late night snack options in the midst of our hard work, and as proper new Texans, we’ve fallen in love with Blue Bell! (And have had way too much of it already.)
In the midst of all of this though, we’ve also challenged ourselves to pause and enjoy the little moments too – taking time to recognize all of the good in between the craziness of projects. We’ve enjoyed a whole lot of charcuterie boards on the balcony watching the sunset, pool dates, breakfast in bed, and breaks adventuring around our new neighborhood. (Maybe Ilir would say not *enough* breaks, but we’ve got work to do!)
We also discovered our apartment has a taco truck come every Tuesday, which was the best news. Honestly, they should have led with that during the tour and we probably wouldn’t have even needed to see the actual unit. How can you beat that?
And finally, I think we’re at the point where I can start revealing our progress! I can’t wait to share more with you here on the blog and over on Instagram! It’s been a wild, wild past few months, but we are so excited for this next stage in our adventure together!
Thanks sticking with me through this crazy time. SO MUCH MORE TO COME! XO