• Jameen Willis

How I Moved Across The Country And Followed My Dream


The year was 1997. Five dollars in gas would get you anywhere you needed to go for a while. Friends was the most popular show on TV. Biggie got shot and killed. Me, I was a junior in high school.


In my junior year, I took an accounting class that included a project on the basics of the stock market. We were required to read articles from magazines and books as sources of information.


As I sorted through through the magazines provided for research, I came across a magazine called Red Herring. It was a tech and finance magazine with the latest buzz on hot stocks, newly appointed CEOs, and things of that nature. On the cover there was a section that read, "Las Vegas, the fastest growing city in America". That title caught my interest so I went ahead and read the article. As I read the article, I'm thinking, "Las Vegas sounds like the place to be".


I had known about Las Vegas prior to reading this article, but only by watching the movie Casino, reading true crime books about the mafia, and seeing all the major boxing matches being held there .


As I remember, I thought about maybe going to UNLV for college. But I had already had plans to take classes to get my real estate license in Cincinnati after high school.


But there was something about Las Vegas that peaked my interest and I kept thinking about it as the years went by.


Fast forward to 2004. I had my first child, Josh the year prior. I ended up getting my real estate license and had been a Realtor by this time, going on 5 years. The technology boom was going on and real estate was going very well. And where was real estate booming the most, you guessed it, Las Vegas!


Cincinnati was cool, but I had lived there my whole life. I never particularly cared for the weather with all the cold and snow in the winter. Also, I really liked the architecture of the West Coast, with the red tile roofs and stucco houses. As I contemplated relocating to this city with way better weather and better market for my industry, I was quickly reminded that I had a one year old child with someone who didn't want to move to Las- - -nowhere. Long story short, my son's mother and I didn't work out and was still in Cincinnati.


When I met my wife in 2007, it was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. I was thinking, "I may not have been able to move out of town, but at least I got married and had a family in my hometown.


Then, 2009 happened. The real estate market had crashed. We were going through tough times with the economy and family issues. So my wife and I decided to take what we call, "an F it trip"!


We booked flights and a hotel to Las Vegas for our 1 year anniversary. At first, I didn't think my wife would like it. Her family was all from Cincinnati, and so was mine.


But when we got here it was beautiful. It was everything I thought it would be and more. She liked it too. I'm thinking, "could this be a possibility"? We looked at houses on both sides of town with a local Realtor. We cruised the strip with all it's glitz and glamour. But it was the feeling of not being on vacation that got me. It felt like this was home. It felt like this is the place for me.


We went back to Cincinnati with the thought of possibly relocating in the near future. Time passed and we decided to save our money for a year, then relocate. Well, one year of saving money turned into 3 years. This was now 2014. We also thought that if we waited until our 2 oldest kids graduated from high school that would be better.


So that was that. I continued to work real estate in Cincinnati and still had my dream of moving to Vegas in the distant future. I tried to make the best of it by building my investment business and providing the best situation I could for my family.


A few years back, my wife surprised me with an early Christmas present with a trip to Las Vegas. It was the first time I had been back since 2009. Then, we came again with our crew of 2 other couples in 2017.


In 2018 we took our kids to Las Vegas for spring break. This was the 1st time they had ever been to Vegas. We stayed at an AirBnB house and everyone had their own room. I think this was the most important time we came. My kids liked it. We could see ourselves living here. When we left this time, I was thinking, "man I wish we could move sooner".


At the end of 2018, all hell broke loose. My real estate investment business was struggling with over 100k in debt. My oldest son was going through depression and struggling more than ever with being in a blended family. My wife was hurt more than any other time in our marriage by these changes in events in our family structure.


And me, I had gone into such a dark place that I was thinking that my only two options to get out of this mess was to hit the lottery or commit suicide. I had been living my life for everyone else and putting my dreams on the back burner. I tried to make the best of the situation, but it just wasn't working.


In April, 2019 I had enough. I was time to move. It was time to really follow my dreams. I talked things over with my wife. We prayed and developed a plan. I would get my real estate license, go out to Vegas by myself and get things established, then the rest of the family would move out a few months later.


I took my real estate exam for the state of Nevada and passed. One of my friends moved to Vegas the year before and offered to let me stay at their house until I found a place.


I packed up all my clothes, boxed up all my files, and armed with a travel kit provided by my wife and kids, I started my journey to Vegas!


After 24 hours of driving, staying at "sketchy hotels", and 5 hour pit stop at Starbucks to take continuing education courses on my birthday, I made it to Las Vegas!


3 months later, my wife and kids joined me. Well, almost. We decided that my oldest son would stay in Cincinnati with his mom to finish out high school.


Has it been hard, hell yes! Have we had to make sacrifices and adjustments, for sure. Were still getting settled in, meeting new people, and building new relationships. But our dreams are worth it. We are worth it.


Moving across the country to follow my dream of living in Las Vegas was the biggest thing I accomplished in 2019. Shoot, probably the whole decade. Now it's time to take advantage of the opportunities that this move provides.


Time it accomplish more goals, fulfill our purposes, and continue to improve our lives.



What's the biggest goal you accomplished in this last decade? What will be the biggest thing you accomplish in the next decade? Hard hats on, it's rehab time. #goals #decade #2020 #newyears



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