Remote Work Gives Ehrenbergs Opportunity to Move to Small Town
19 Oct 2023
Last fall, Ryan and Cassie Ehrenberg lived in Southern California where they enjoyed year-round warm weather, but they were somewhat isolated from family and friends due to traffic and distance.
Today, Ryan continues a job he loves creating visual effects for video games from his hometown in Holdrege, where he is close to family. Cassie is launching a new business and sharing her time and talents to improve a town she has already grown to love.
They are among many families who have discovered the joy of small-town living, including a healthy work-life balance and a sense of community.
Ryan graduated in 2002 from Holdrege High School, where his artistic and creative talents were fostered. After high school, Ryan attended the Art Institute of California–Orange County and graduated with a degree in Media Arts and Animation.
Cassie was born in Flint, Michigan, and moved in middle school to Fenton, Michigan, where she graduated high school. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Michigan-Flint. The couple met when she worked at the art institute where Ryan was studying. They married in 2007.
After college, Ryan worked as a visual effects artist at Shiny Entertainment and then at Respawn Entertainment. He worked on Titanfall 1 and 2 and Apex Legends over his nine years at Respawn. In early 2022, Ryan joined a startup video game company with several other former Respawn developers called Wildlight Entertainment.
After working in higher education, Cassie transitioned to working as a project manager and quality assurance engineer (website tester) within digital development teams. She’s worked at companies such as Roadtrip Nation, Warner Bros, and Gusto.
Before Covid, they were confined to living close to their jobs in the Los Angeles area.
“Leaving the Los Angeles area was never an option until both of our jobs evolved to work from home during Covid,” Cassie said. “During this time, we realized that we really could work and thrive further away from the big city.”
When Ryan took his new job at Wildlight Entertainment, he specifically asked if he could work remotely from Nebraska if the opportunity presented itself.
“Some companies let you work remotely but only from certain areas or within driving distance to a hub,” Ryan said. “Wildlight was completely fine with the idea. After Cassie took an opportunity with Gusto, she was also able to be fully remote and work from outside southern California, too.”
In late 2022 and 2023, the couple started considering a move to Holdrege, what that would look like, and if it would be feasible.
“The more we thought about the idea, the more we wanted to make the change,” Cassie said.
They put their house up for sale in March and moved to Holdrege in early April with their two dogs, Chase and Pearl.
Ryan still works for Wildlight Entertainment. While the two-hour time difference can be somewhat challenging, the new arrangement is working well overall. He enjoys riding his bicycle around town during lunchtime, something he couldn’t easily do in California. He also enjoys being close to family and being “more connected to community.”
“We both love that we can get around Holdrege quickly, often by walking or cycling (if the weather is nice),” Cassie said. “After living in southern California for nearly 20 years, it’s nice to not worry about traffic for every decision you make.”
Cassie left her role at Gusto a few months ago after the company re-organized. She is taking the opportunity to launch a new business, Inkton Solutions, LLC, to help other companies with project management, website quality assurance, writing and editing. She has already immersed herself in volunteering in the community through the Holdrege Area Friends of the Library, the Phelps County Visitors Committee and the Nebraska Prairie Museum Events Committee.
“I love being close to Ryan’s family, having friends that we can see often (vs. being spread out in Los Angeles), and getting to take part in community events and committees,” Cassie said. “The people in Phelps County have been incredibly welcoming, and we love getting to know people in our community and being able to make a difference.”