Moving To Homer, Alaska

Nope – Amy and I aren’t moving to Homer. While we have a home in Homer, where we will be for the next three weeks, we still call Boulder, Colorado our home. But we came very close to moving to Homer in 1995.

We were living in Boston at the time. I’d sold my first company, Feld Technologies, in 1993. By the end of 1994 I had a staff job, reporting to the co-chairmen of AmeriData where I travelled all over the US helping with acquisitions and generally causing trouble. At some point Amy and I realized we could live anywhere and we knew that Boston wasn’t home. During one of the long conversations we had at the time about our future, we started talking about calling it quits and moving to Homer, Alaska.

Amy grew up until she was eight years old in a town called Anchor Point, 20 miles north of Homer. If Anchor Point rings a bell to you, it’s because it’s the name of our foundation (the Anchor Point Foundation) and we’ve done some really fun things with it such as the Anchor Point Fellows Program at Wellesley College.

We did the math and realized we had enough money to live in Homer for the next 30 years if I made no more money. I wasn’t worried about that since I knew I could make at least $100,000 a year just consulting, even from a distance, so the conversation was about how we wanted to live the rest of our life.

At 29 years old I thought very hard about whether or not I was done. After selling my first company, I’d invested as an angel investor in a bunch of companies, was a non-executive Chairman / co-founder of a few, and had lots of ideas for new things to do. But I had also recently come out of a very deep depression and was very open to changing things in my life pretty dramatically.

Ultimately, we decided to move to Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t know anyone there and I didn’t have any business there, but it was a lot more centrally located in the US than Homer, Alaska. I figured we’d make a life in a beautiful place, but I wouldn’t have to drop out of what I was doing since the bay area was a two hour plane flight and the east coast was a four hour plane flight. We moved to Boulder in November 1995 and never looked back – it’s been amazing.

After moving to Boulder, we continued to spend a few weeks in Alaska each summer. The two week trips turned into three week trips and we ultimately bought a house in Homer in 2002. We spent between four and six weeks a year there in the summer until 2010, but haven’t been there in the past three years.

It feels like coming home to be back in Alaska. Landing in Anchorage was natural. Renting a car and driving to the Sheraton to spend the night felt totally normal. The low hanging cloudy gloom and light all through the night is just as we remember it. Things feel a lot slower here, which is both good and bad.

Our weekend in Anchorage is with a bunch of friends, including celebrating our close friends Jon and Doug’s recent marriage and  spending time with Amy’s sister, her partner, and niece. And just hanging out as we get ready to head to Homer on Monday.

I’ll be working as normal for the next three weeks, just remotely from Homer. I hope to finish the final draft of my next book, Startup Opportunities (co-authored with Sean Wise), while I’m up here. And I’m going to read a lot since we don’t have a TV.

I’m glad I didn’t drop out at 29 and move to Homer – it was way too early in my life for that. But I’m equally glad we bought a house here in 2002 and have made Homer, and Alaska, part of where we live and spend our time.

  • Dave Maney

    Was at a performance by the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus the other night where they read a prelude about the importance to everyone of having a place where you could truly be you. Sounds like you found yours. Have a great stay.

    • Thx Dave – it’s a powerfully true statement.

  • Jeff Stoerner

    Two summers ago at age 35, I sold my small ranch house in Boulder and moved to the Aspen area (Basalt, CO). I’d moved to Boulder in 1995 to attend CU and worked there professionally since 2001. However, my employers have always been Bay Area software companies. I either traveled or worked from home. I have never stepped into a Denver/Boulder office for work. I finally had the guts to question…if I’m a remote worker in Boulder, why not be a remote worker in Basalt? Life has never been better. I may suffer professionally in the long run. Companies may only look at me as a remote individual contributor to some larger cause managed by people at an HQ in some far off urban area, but damn, the living is good.

    • I have huge respect for the remote professional. I’ve spent a lot of my time working that way and I expect to do more and more as I get older. Well done to move to Basalt!

  • Scott Londer

    Because of the wide open spaces and natural untouched beauty in Alaska one does not feel as confined as other areas. This is great for relaxation, mental rejuvenation and to just let go and breath

    • Well said. I describe Alaska as being 10x the size and scale of Colorado with 1/10th the people.

  • Trevor Waldorf

    Fun! Sounds like Homer’s been getting a lot of rain for a couple weeks now, hopefully it clears up while you’re there. Enjoy the view of the bay!

    • We are ready for the rain. Our default state is that we assume that it will rain all the time. That way we are overjoyed when the sun comes out.

  • Who’s that Asian kid who’s photo get’s attached to all your posts on Zite?

    • Guest

      Alter ego.

    • This guy, attached a screenshot.

      • I have no idea. I don’t use Zite and it looks like they have some kind of algo issue!

  • Enjoy your time up there. Alaska is an amazing state and has always had a special place in my heart. At college, I randomly met one guy from Alaska, Pete Sandberg during his freshman year (Pete eventually went on to get his JD at CU Law and stood in my wedding). That led to me making friends with every other Alaskan at CU Boulder (there is a surprisingly high number of Alaskans at CU) and I’d routinely visit Anchorage for summer weddings (I’ve stayed at that Sheraton) or partying it up for the New Year. Some day soon I’ll take Baby G-Lo up there with Sarah. The expansiveness and beauty of Alaska boggles my mind – and this coming from a kid who grew up in Montana!

    • Funny my first dorms roommate at the U. of Washington was from Anchorage Alaska.

    • Y’all and Baby G-Lo can stay at our place anytime you want!

  • Just curious, is the Saturday hiatus lifted while in Alaska?

    • Amy and I talked about it this morning. I said “I don’t feel like doing Digital Sabbath” today. She said “great – that’s cool – whatever you feel like it.” So I might stop doing it for a while – I don’t know. I’m not rigid on the rules these days.

  • ktinboulder

    Venture Voice interview from 2005. You were in Homer talking via Skype.

    • And oldie but a goodie.

  • Mac

    Years ago, two friends of mine got married after college and moved to Alaska. For years I never understood why until I visited them one week in the month of May. After climbing Flattop, hiking near a glacier, following a beautiful river, visiting a ski resort, tracking a moose that wondered into their backyard, and watching the well fires at night from there mountainside home, I got it. I get it. Enjoy.

    • Sounds like a perfect Alaska day…

  • Resist Television. book recommendation: Mass Flourishing by Phelps.

    • Thx – grabbed it.

  • Martin Babinec

    This post, and last week’s “After Your First Big Success, What’s Next” are reminders of how much latitude we have to make the big life choices such as where to live and what paths to invest our talents in.

    • Yup! And you are a good example for all of us on that front.

      • Martin Babinec

        Has been somewhat top of mind for me lately as I got an advance peak into Bo Burlingham’s upcoming book “Finish Big: How Great Entrepreneurs Exit Their Companies On Top.” Seems like I wasn’t the only one who noticed entrepreneurs arriving to true financial independence didn’t always find themselves leading as fulfilling a life as they imagined pre-exit. Ultimately this is about the very life choices you mention, but in the rush of building our companies its far too easy to put off thinking about long term choices we need to make along the way.

  • Jana

    Now that’s living!

  • Reminds me of our conversations last month. It may not have been apparent, but part of my visit to guys was to also explore Boulder — more from a personal POV. I, too, think about where “home” will be. In a way, it’s exciting because I have no idea. In a way, it’s scary, because in the back of mind, I do sort of expect a similar cadence to when I grew up. I have never felt “settled” in where I live and, at some point, I would like to.

    • It was apparent! And I’m glad you are exploring. I have a deeply held belief that you should find a place you want to live your life, and then build your life / work around that place, rather than the other way around.

  • you forgot to post a picture of the amazing view you have from that house in Homer!

    • He did but on Facebook 🙂 we need a tool that posts to blogs I guess… Tumblr/WordPress would have been the platform of choice, You need to convince Brad to switch his blog.

    • It’s on today’s post (embedded in the one of The Martian). More coming.

  • Best salmon both fresh frozen and smoked can be bought at which located in Homer….and no I. Do NOT (alas) own a piece of the business…just a satisfied customer…it is not cheap but worth every dollar.

  • Dave

    Ah great story. I’m back in the game after an amazing year off fishing and hiking in the Pacific Northwest. I considered staying up there forever, but figured I was too young not to make [email protected] happen. Port Angeles, WA – the next Boulder! I’ve yet to make it to Alaska – but “I can see Canada from my house” in Port Angeles!