Woman Left NYC And Moved to Montana – She Bought a House, Is Much Happier

By: Carissa | Last updated: Oct 28, 2023

New York City is one of the biggest and brightest cities in the world, but residing in such a fast-paced metropolis isn’t for everybody.

Some people can’t get enough of the hustle and bustle that New York City living provides – but Shallon Lester wasn’t one of them. Lester is a YouTuber who made the bold decision to move from NYC to a small town in Montana.

The Pandemic Was a Sign for Her to Move

In June 2020, Shallon Lester packed up her bags and made the move to Bozeman, Montana. The YouTube creator originally hails from California, but called New York City home for more than 12 years.

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Source: shallonxo/Instagram

Her job as a magazine editor facilitated her move to the Big Apple, where she intended to stay until something life-changing happened. The decision was a no-brainer for her. The world was three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and being cramped inside a tiny NYC apartment during quarantine was far from an ideal living situation.

The Fun Part of NYC Living Went Away

The biggest perk of New York City living is that it offers such a unique overall experience.

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Source: shallonxo/Instagram

The mouthwatering food, the interesting people, the unforgettable adventures – all of these are reasons to love NYC. But with the pandemic shutting down many parts of the world, Shallon Lester was forced to live in a big city without any of the actual fun that comes along with it.

A Simpler Life Was Calling Her Name

Lester had tons of friends and acquaintances in New York City after living there for so many years. But she didn’t know a single person in Bozeman, Montana.

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Source: shallonxo/Instagram

Despite being unfamiliar with the people in the area, she knew in her heart that Bozeman felt like home after she took a trip there. Her mind was already made up – Lester was confidently trading the city life for a more rural setting.

She Settled Right Into Montana

Shallon Lester moved to Bozeman in June 2020 and she instantly loved her new surroundings. She’s even grown a new appreciation for Montana’s cold winter months.

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Source: shallonxo/Instagram

Aside from the beautiful scenery of her rural retreat, Lester also noticed a vast difference between the cost of living in Bozeman compared to living in New York City. On the East Coast, Lester was struggling to get by. In Montana, the same amount of money got her much more living space.

The Cost of Living Was Astronomically Different

Lester’s bank account was barely hanging on when she was living in NYC. She had a big title and a desirable job, but the cost of living made it nearly impossible to save any of her earnings.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

Lester said she felt “trapped” in her NYC apartment. These days, she resides in a sprawling five-bedroom abode in Paradise Valley with nature right outside her door. “I love it,” she said.

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She Still Missed NYC in Some Ways

Of course, Shallon Lester still misses a few things about living in New York City.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

The Big Apple is all about high-fashion and designer labels – and there isn’t much of that in Montana without being on the receiving end of judgemental looks. But Lester insists that trading in her brand name items is a small price to pay in exchange for safety, sanity, and slow-paced living.

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She Can’t Wait to Come Home After a Long Trip

Lester now realizes that she was “anxious” and “exhausted” living in NYC. Lester noted that when she would travel, she dreaded returning to NYC. Now, she looks forward to coming home to Bozeman every time she is away.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

It took some time for her to adjust to her new life in Montana – three years, to be exact. She has embraced a simpler, softer, lifestyle and she has no regrets about leaving NYC.

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She’s in a Much Better Financial Situation

Lester spent her first two years in Montana renting before she was able to upgrade her living arrangements.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

It may not be very relatable, but her family’s trust purchased a $1 million house in Bozeman that sits on half an acre of land and has a deluxe home movie theater. It also comes equipped with a guest house that Lester rents out for $2,000 a month. The financial difference is incredible to what she was spending in NYC.

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Everyday Living Expenses Are Also Much Lower

Shallon Lester has saved a bundle of money by uprooting her life to Montana. She says that gas is typically $3 less per gallon than it is in her home state of California.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

She also noted that a night out on the town comes at a much lower cost than it would in New York City. According to Lester, a steak dinner with a glass of wine can go for under $60 per person.

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She Found it Easy to Make New Friends, But Dating is a Challenge

Fortunately for Lester, making new friends in Bozeman was a piece of cake. She describes her gal pals as a “great” group of friends but admits that dating in the small town isn’t as easy.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

While she is attracted to the traditionally masculine men in Montana who can build things while enjoying the great outdoors, she doesn’t feel like her city girl attributes are as appreciated by local men. She describes herself as being “sarcastic, witty, and nerdy,” and men in Montana haven’t been very receptive to her so far.

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She Has Plenty for Advice People Wanting to Move

Lester has made the most of her move from NYC to Bozeman, Montana. When it comes to advice for people thinking about moving from a big city to a rural area, she has plenty of pointers. “Lean into it,” she suggests.

Source: shallonxo/Instagram

“Sink your teeth into one big local hobby, whether it’s CrossFit, fishing, or rodeos.” In order to find fast friends, she recommends having a routine – “the same coffee shop, same yoga class.” Finally, she says to “use your big-city boldness to invite people to do things.”

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