Created in Partnership with Colleen Hungerford Real Estate.
Almost daily, Colleen Hungerford is asked why she chose to move from the sunny, temperate state of California to Indiana. For the record, no, it wasn’t her husband’s job. Or hers for that matter. After that’s sorted she’s quick to claim, “You don’t know how good you have it here!”
So how did she end up here?
“Back in ‘deep Covid’-like the second half of 2020-I was running a successful and growing construction and design firm. As a small business owner, I wore 90% of the hats. This meant not only was I meeting and acquiring clients, but I was also putting together estimates, managing about 10 employees, managing each project and dealing with most of the admin. In addition, I had three small children at home (they were 6, 4, and 2 at the time) because our school-and even preschool-were closed. We had to hire a full-time nanny so that I could continue my work. My husband never stopped working outside of the home, he would leave at 4 a.m. and not get home until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. To say it was a lot is quite an understatement.”
Colleen is no stranger to the challenges life offers up. Raised by a single mom who, like Colleen, ran her own business, Colleen watched her own mom struggle to juggle the demands of providing for her children with raising them, too. “Home insecurity/instability was definitely an issue for us. We never owned a home when I was growing up, so we moved quite a bit from rental to rental, the landlord often calling us or knocking on our door.”
From the outside, however, everything appeared fine. Private schools and living in a wealthy area-there was a lot of keeping up with appearances. Couple that with the stress at home, and it was confusing to Colleen as a child. “I was your typical 80s latch-key kid, making my own dinners at 8 years old and learning how to program the VCR.”
But her mother instilled in Colleen a hard-working mentality. “I am a first-generation college graduate and the only member of my family with a graduate degree. I was the first of my immediate family to buy a home.”
So fast forward to 2020, a homeowner, wife, and mother to 3 young kids plus a booming career with jobs lined up through 2023… On paper, it all seemed great. But the hecticness was not the life she wanted for herself or her family. With that awareness hanging in the back of her mind, she noticed that a house down the street from hers had sold for an INSANE price. Curious, she checked the value of her home on Redfin.
“Don’t do this. Call a realtor,” Hungerford insists.
Nevertheless, based on Redfin’s numbers, her family home theoretically could sell for nearly double what she and her husband paid only 5 years earlier. Colleen saw it as an opportunity.
“[It] was a way to help create the life I really wanted. One where I would actually see my husband, have time with my children, and where we could build the life we envisioned. I knew if we sold, we would need to move [out of state] in order to achieve this goal.”
She researched all the places Californians were moving to: Austin, Raleigh, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Portland and Nashville. On a whim, she added Indianapolis into the mix. With two of her best friends living here coupled with an undergraduate degree from I.U., she had a connection.
“My husband said, ‘Absolutely not. Why would we move to Indiana?’”
Her husband also happens to be her former high school sweetheart. After a four-year break while she attended I.U., they reconnected and have “been together for 18 years and married for 13 years. In that time we have had three super amazing children, Vivienne, Everett, and Jackson.”
Despite his absolute “No,” Colleen kept up with the research. “Cost of living, good school choices both public and private, close to a good sized city, family-friendly, not too hot and humid (compared to the South), not too cold (compared to the North and Northeast). Things like that were all part of the search. And the more I looked and researched, the more Indy became the front-runner.”
They visited once in February, the coldest month of the year, as we know. That trip plus all the research? Indy was the winner. “We did not leave California with any animosity. We will always be Californians, the way New Yorkers are always New Yorkers. We were ready for a new chapter and willing to make the changes necessary to build our best life.”
The transition has been good. Of course, as with all major life transitions, “there have definitely been bumps and a learning curve of adjusting to a new area, climate and trying to build community.”
Colleen’s path to real estate, like many paths, hasn’t been direct. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from I.U. and a Master of Science in Sports Medicine from Oregon State University. She worked as a board-certified athletic trainer for 13 years working at the semi-pro, collegiate and high school levels. Then there was the interior design and construction company she started with her husband in 2018.
But, wait. Back up. What’s an athletic trainer? “You know when an NFL football player gets hurt, and people run out to help them? Those are athletic trainers.” We appreciate you spelling it out for us, Colleen, and we are impressed. Please continue.
“My career path may seem disjointed or confusing at first glance, but the thread that ties everything together for me is that I love to help people. From athletic training to construction and design to real estate, the common thread is helping others and problem-solving. I always tell people I was literally trained to save someone’s life on the field while 100,000+ people watched, so handling stressful situations/negotiations/problems is what I have been trained to do.”
She’s truly passionate about helping women and other under-represented groups create independent wealth through real estate investing and eliminating “gatekeeping” wealth. “This is something I am working on, on a personal level, and something I think is the foundation for personal as well as generational wealth.”
The next generation is always on her mind. Raising 3 children is work, but she knows how to prioritize her people. “I am making travel a bigger priority in my life now that my kids are a little older. And while it may be corny to some, I love being a sports mom. It’s so awesome to watch your kids learn and grow in a different arena than school. To be able to see them tackle a new skill or fear and then watch their confidence grow is just so awesome! I just love it so much!”
Her past clearly drives her future, and her passions. “I’m constantly working toward improving myself, changing, adapting, and putting my goals and my family’s goals at the forefront so that I can live a happy and fulfilled life and raise my children to be kind and courageous humans.”
Now that’s our kind of Maven.