Alicia McGee had spent her entire life in Colorado when she and her family made the move to Chariton, Iowa in December of 2018.
Her husband, Jarrett, grew up in Chariton. He left to explore life in other states, living in California, Wyoming, and Colorado where he met Alicia. They enjoyed their life in Denver, but with a growing family, they began to think about the type of childhoods they wanted for their children.
“Once we met, married, and had our first son, we realized that our values had somewhat shifted and we wanted nothing more than to raise our family in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment,” Alicia recalls.
Packing up and leaving the only life she knew wasn’t easy. The couple discussed the move for more than a year before deciding to return to Jarrett’s hometown. It helped that they had visited family in the area and had an idea of what to expect — particularly from Iowans.
“‘Iowa Nice’ they call it,” Alicia says. “People here really are that friendly.”
Almost two years after their move, Alicia is happy to live in a place with small-town charm and an easy-living lifestyle that she says involves less stress and more love.
“I traded city lights for night stars and I'm not disappointed,” she says. “There are fewer distractions and more quality time with my family. Things are easier here. It's not always about what you're doing, but who you are with.”
The move also gave Alicia a new career opportunity. She is the executive director of the Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street.
“It feels good to be able to work for and in my community and make a difference for my town, my family, and the people who live and work here,” she says.
Compared to her career in Denver, Alicia says her role in Chariton gives her more recognition for her worth ethic whereas in Denver she at times witnessed her coworkers’ hard work yield little reward.
“Denver is a highly competitive atmosphere,” Alicia explains. “It is easier to stand out and be successful if you're one in 10 instead of one in 100.”
There are, of course, things Alicia misses about Colorado like the mountains, city amenities, and her own family. But she’s found alternative recreation opportunities in Iowa’s outdoors like fishing and cozy campfires, wide-open spaces in exchange for city life, and the support system of her husband’s family.
“Colorado is a beautiful state,” Alicia says fondly. “But I've found a surprising new home here in Iowa South. And my life is more fulfilling than I imagined.”