Aaron and Alina to Leave Utah

Aaron and Alina are leaving the state of Utah.

This is a decision that has been brewing for several months. Ever since Alina’s open-heart surgery and the long road to recovery that followed, we’ve been contemplating a move closer to sea level and cleaner air.

While our house being at an elevation of 4,000 feet, and popular places like Sundance Resort or Park City being thousands of feet higher, may not surprise, the poor air quality may. Utah, known for having The Greatest Snow On Earth and wide-ranging geographies from rugged and snowy mountain peaks, to amazing lakes, to the desolation of her deserts, is a hard place to take a breath. We have two cities in the top seven in the nation for poor air quality (http://bit.ly/2xeDOKO). There are too many days when we cannot even see the mountains through the smog. Our eyes tear up and we cough. There’s the taste of metal in the air. Every other oil change reveals air filters clogged with particulate pollution.

Aaron and Alina made several trips to sea level in 2017 and Alina’s energy level and general sense of well-being were dramatically improved. Her heart worked more easily and her breathing was better.

There are other reasons as well. One is certainly the culture.

Aaron has been here for eight years (but has been travelling here on business since 1999) and Alina for seven. In that time  we have not been successful at integrating as well as we’d like. Friendships and social interactions are very limited here for those not a part of the LDS faith. Aaron was warned about this before coming, but at the time had so many built-in professional friendships that he didn’t fully appreciate the challenge.

Many of the friends we did have here came about through the people we knew and worked with in the newspaper industry. Many of those friends have been leaving the state as well for their own reasons, dwindling our associations further.

Another reason is the actual location of our home. Aaron moved here in 2009 and bought a new home that was only seven minutes from his software job at Digital Technology International (DTI). But the area has developed by leaps and bounds. About the time Aaron moved in, a new high school down the road opened. Our house is at the corner of a community and the main road to that high school — and now many other housing communities. Traffic noise has grown and grown. There are only a few hours on a Sunday that we can sit in the backyard and hear ourselves think. The noise and commotion has cut into our ability to enjoy our home.

And while our home was convenient to the job at DTI and the charming town of Provo, distances to our current/most recent jobs have meant nearly one-hour commutes each way. And for nights out (plays, concerts, festivals, etc.) we have to drive to Salt Lake City — and after our week of commuting we’re so weary of driving, it’s a chore we often don’t undertake.

With all of that, and other minor motivations driving us, we started to think about where we wanted to live. Alina’s job allows her to work anywhere, so that gave us a luxury. We considered many areas around the country. We want to be at a low altitude. We want good air. While we absolutely love our mountain views, we want more “green” in our lives. We want to be near a major airport because our family is spread around the globe. We want to be close to excellent healthcare.

We settled on the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina area as the first place to investigate. With that in mind, several months ago we made plans to go and look around over the Labor Day holiday. We were going to investigate several towns and housing communities, just to get a feel for the area. It was to be a research trip. We had no intention to do anything concrete until the spring of 2018.

Alina lived in Greensboro, North Carolina for 12 years and Aaron lived in Norfolk, Virginia for 10, so the general area is familiar to us. And we have many friends in the area — friends who have stayed in touch during our years in Utah.

So our plane tickets were bought, hotel reservation made, car rented and plans made quite some time ago.

Then on August 22nd Aaron was laid off. Again. For the second time in a year-and-a-half.

When Aaron called Alina after getting the news, we almost both said at the same time: “Let’s pull up and move now.”

We immediately got  more serious about our research. With Aaron unemployed he had time to prepare for a move and do much of the legwork and research. And his generous severance package from Dealertrack gave financial cushion for the move.

The more research we did, the more excited we got about the Raleigh/Durham area. Quality of life, access to medical care, a huge job market, a growing economy, housing prices, potential outlets for Aaron’s woodworking, green landscapes: so many things argued in its favor.

Aaron of course is never going to be a fan of the humidity. But he also decided in the middle of this winter that he is done with snow. Other options may have avoided humidity, but too many other things would have been compromised.

About the same time we took note of houses in our neighborhood going on the market on Monday and being sold on Tuesday. The market here was looking really good. So we retained a local Realtor who confirmed that the market in our area is hot, and that we’re in a seller’s market. We went out on a limb and decided to list the house for sale. While we didn’t put the house on the MLS until the week after Labor Day, we’d met with the Realtor and made up our minds to sell — even before our research trip to North Carolina.

Now that we were going down the road to sell our Utah house, we needed to be more serious about our research trip. So we engaged a Realtor there to help us.

Over the long Labor Day weekend we saw literally dozens of homes and our agent drove us hundreds of miles around the area. She showed us homes and communities we’d found online, she showed us things we hadn’t discovered, and she educated us about the towns, areas and jobs. It was an intense weekend of learning.

Our decision to resettle in the Raleigh/Durham area was cemented. By the time we left we’d settled on the town of Pittsboro. It is a reasonable distance from Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. It is seeing major development with the construction of an enormous community of housing, shops and businesses called Chatham Park. The community has a strong artist and craftsperson feel — hopefully Aaron will be able to sell some of the woodwork that collects dust around the house.

Utah has been good to us. The mountains and deserts and amazing sights have strengthened and awed us. Through the jobs we’ve held we’ve learned and grown beyond belief. We’ve gotten to know some amazing people and our jobs have afforded us the opportunity to travel.

But now is the time to make a change. Aaron for years planned to retire at age 50. Maybe he will do that, and be the best house-husband he can be. Maybe he’ll find a great professional job. Maybe he’ll find a satisfying job as a shop assistant at the woodworking school in Pittsboro. There are so many possibilities and we are truly blessed to have the options to make this change.

Our house in Utah is under contract to a local couple. We have found a new home in Pittsboro that we’re purchasing. So we’re on our way.

Alina, Aaron and Gypsy will drive cross-country with the RV, staying at KOAs along the way each night. We’ll take with us the necessities we’ll need for the first few days in our new home. It will take us six days to get there. Aaron will drive the truck pulling the RV with Alina driving along in the Corolla…a pair of FM walkies keeping us in touch along the way.

We don’t know what lies ahead. But so many doors have been opened for us in the past couple of months, we are confident that this change is the right thing for us: for our health, for our quality of life and for the next phase of our lives.


  1. This is wonderful news, Aaron and Alina, and I’m very happy for both of you. It will be great to have you back in this part of the world. Please shoot me your address when you have a moment. Looking forward to seeing you.

  2. We are thrilled to have you back in NC. Alina, time to reserve your spot for Frozen Freddy! Can’t wait to see you.

  3. Excellent write-up, Aaron! I am so proud of you and happy for you three! Have a safe trip to your new home! We won’t be far away!

  4. Congratulations on a decision well thought out and executed. I’m excited for both of you and your futures. The best to you both in everything you lay your hands and hearts to be and to do.

  5. Welcome home, Alina! Pittsboro is such a lovely town and I hope you and Aaron will love it there!

  6. Aaron, it was a pleasure working with you and not the same without you (and Doug 😉 on our team. I wish you all the best in Raleigh/Durham and I am certain you will have no trouble finding a position in software over there.

  7. Aww congrats you two. I love Raleigh and the surroundings areas I have many relatives in Raleigh, Garner and Cary. God bless your travels. Let us all know when you arrive and

  8. Aaron, I don’t think you and I have ever met, but I worked with Alina for years at the News & Record and have followed y’all to an extent through her social-media posts. (That sounds so much nicer than saying I’ve stalked y’all.) I’m excited y’all are moving back this way, and with two sibs in Raleigh, a daughter at UNC and friends in Chapel Hill, I get over that way pretty frequently. Once you’re settled, please give me a shout; I’d love to buy y’all wecome-back-to-N.C. adult beverages.

  9. So thrilled and excited for you both! The move will be an adventure and so will your new lives. Praying for the best. Love and miss you both very much.

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