A very small minnow in a very tiny puddle
In Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath, he writes about the idea of a "big fish in a small pond vs. a small fish in a big pond." Basically, sometimes it's better to start in an area where there is less competition. Out here in Newark, CA I feel more like a very small minnow in a very tiny puddle. I wonder if I might benefit more if I was closer to Oakland, which has a pretty vibrant art scene. Maybe I should have taken that studio in Berkeley. I could attend more events, and have better access to an established art community.
I'd like to think that my decision to stay close to home is because I plan to be a "big fish in a small pond" some day, but the reality is that I just want to save money. Although, money isn't the only reason why I make my decisions, it's a big factor. I think of financial decisions like nutritional decisions. I don't always eat what's good for me, but a sound understanding in the concept of "calculated risk-taking," means I try to make healthier choices.
In the end, not having to worry about making ends meet to cover the costs of my studio and practice, relieves a lot of stress and gives me the freedom to focus on what I WANT to do instead of on what makes money for me. It may mean that I have limited my opportunities or potential for growth but, I really believe in starting where you are and making the best of what is feasible for yourself at this moment in time.