Millennials across the US are uprooting their lives to start over in Colorado, Insider reported.
Nika Canlas Potts is a political organizer who moved to Fort Collins from Denton, Texas, in 2020.
Despite a higher cost of living and unexpected dangers like wildfires, Potts prefers her new life.
When Nika Canlas Potts moved from Texas to Colorado in 2020, she started worrying about wildfires and spending more money on rent. She also started spending more weekends outdoors watching the sunset in front of mountains.
After relocating to Fort Collins - a town an hour outside of Denver - Potts has had to deal with new challenges, like extreme weather and a higher cost of living, but she says she'd move to Colorado all over again for its outdoor perks.
Nika Canlas Potts said she and her partner have wanted to move to Colorado from Denton, Texas, for years. In August 2020, they made the jump.
Nika Canlas Potts told Insider that she thought Colorado would be an ideal place to live during the pandemic.
"Basically everything that we love about this town is shut down right now, and we don't see our friends anyway, so it already feels like we're in a different place," Potts said she told her partner when she made the case for them to leave their home in Denton, Texas.
They moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, a town an hour outside of Denver.
Once it was decided, Potts began looking for work. While she had experience in retail and customer service, Potts went for something different: politics.
"I already am very outspoken about politics and social justice in my regular life," she told Insider. "So I thought, 'why not do it for a living?'"
Potts started working as a political organizer for a local nonpartisan nonprofit in Fort Collins, Colorado, at the end of summer in 2020.
"It's super fulfilling work, even though it's really difficult and can be emotionally draining, it's so worth it," she said.
Potts' new house in Fort Collins, Colorado, is older and more expensive than her place in Denton, Texas.
Potts said she was paying about $1,300 a month in rent in Denton, Texas. Now, she pays $1,800 for a slightly larger home in Fort Collins, Colorado.
"This place is definitely older, but it's well cared for," she said of her new place. "I loved our house in Denton, but we were there for four years, so I had a lot of time to settle in."
When moving to Colorado, Potts said she didn't expect to be so close to wildfires.
"I was completely unprepared for wildfires, and we've got quite a few of them happening right now," Potts told Insider in October. "Within our first week here, a wildfire was raging and pouring smoke all over Fort Collins. The sky was brown and the sun was like this tiny little red laser dot in the middle of it."
One day in September, Potts said she and her partner drove from Fort Collins to Boulder to escape the smoke.
"We grabbed the dogs and decided to go somewhere where we could actually breathe a little bit," she told Insider. "When we were driving down the highway, you could see the actual divide of the blue sky and the smoke pouring and over the city — it was terrifying."
And it was cold, she said, which she didn't expect either.
"I thought wildfire and smoke would mean there would be heat, but actually all that smoke blocking the sun makes it really cold," she added.
But when there's no smoke nearby, Potts says she spends more time outside than she used to.
"If I'm doing a day of Zoom meetings, I'm doing it all from my backyard," she told Insider. "If I am on college campuses or around town organizing and getting people registered to vote, it's all outdoors, and that has had a huge impact on my mental health in the best way."
Back in Texas, she said it was too hot to be outdoors all the time.
"My only outdoor time was when I would force myself to take a walk at the end of the day," she added. "We'd bring our dogs on a three-mile walk that we would suffer through just to get out and move our bodies."
The heat often spoiled her outdoor plans on weekends.
Potts spent her weekends in Denton at the lake until it got too hot and crowded.
"We would try and be by the water where no one else was," she told Insider. "But as it warmed up, that started to get a little more difficult to do because more and more people were coming out."
Then, Potts tried camping.
"It was so awful," she said. "It was so hot. Camping in July in Texas is a bad idea."
Potts lived in Denton for 10 years, and she misses the community.
"It was really nice to be able to just drive to the square in Denton and be able to pass people in the car next to you that you knew," she told Insider. "It took us 10 years to feel super comfortable in Denton, and I think it's going to take us a while to feel that in Fort Collins too."
Potts longs for her family back in Texas as well.
"This is the first time that I've been so far away from my family for so long," she said. "My parents lived in Dallas and so I would be able to go down and see them pretty much anytime I wanted. So, that's been a huge change for me and it sucks."
Since moving to Fort Collins, Potts has Zoom calls with her parents twice a week, which she said has helped her feel "very close to them, if not closer than before."
In Fort Collins, the weather is cooler, and Potts and her partner spend most of their weekends exploring natural areas.
Potts says the biggest change in her life since moving to Colorado is that she is more active.
"We've done at least one hike every weekend," she said. "We've driven out to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We've gone down to Boulder and Denver to wander around."
"I have been moving my body more, which was really difficult for me back in Denton in a really tiny house," she added.
Being outdoors has helped Potts feel less isolated.
"Here, I've been able to meet up with my coworkers outside and we've been able to be on campus with college students to get them registered to vote and do everything completely from a social distance, which is amazing," Potts said. "So I'm getting a lot of social interaction that I wasn't able to get in Texas."
Despite the fires and more expensive housing, Potts said she's happy in her new home.
"We would do it all over again if we were given a chance," she added. Being near mountains is one of Potts' favorite things about her new life.
"They are these huge reminders of how insignificant we are, which is very comforting to me," she said. "They've been so grounding for me here."
Potts added that she goes to Horsetooth Reservoir when she's had a rough day, and it makes her feel better.
"I sit by the water, stare at the mountains, and watch the sunset," she said. "It's just so cleansing and grounding — there's nothing like that for me in Texas."
Read the original article on Insider