Monday, December 7, 2009
Moving to California - Two Years Later
I recently got a message from this blog asking me if, two years later, I thought it was worth it to move back to California.
Before I get into this, I have to say it did not really occur to me that I have been back in California for two years until I got this e-mail. I knew the two year anniversary of my job was coming up but it did not really sink in how long it has been until I got the message. The past two years have been such a blur and it seems hard to believe I have been at this job longer than I was at Microsoft. Maybe that says more about the job I have now compared to the one I had before.
Now on to the question. Was it worth it to move back to California from Washington? Ironically I answer this question the same day that it was pouring rain in Los Angeles. But this makes my answer to this all the more certain. Yes, it was absolutely to move back to California from Washington.
I was thinking about this as I rode the elevator to work. I am in a very high skyscraper and the elevator has a television in it that I find myself catching news clips as I enter and leave the building. On the ride down today, the news had "Storm Watch" flashing on the screen. Now, after living in Washington for two years, I can tell you. The rain wasn't all that severe. It came down hard, but it would be a pretty normal day in Seattle. The reason this made me think of how good I have it is because weather like this is so unusual we make a big deal about it here. This is the first time it has rained in the last several months. Think about that for a second. It is December and it probably hasn't rained of any significance in several months. I actually can't even remember the last time it rained. You can't buy weather like that.
Of course, that is not the only reason I am glad to move back to California (but it is a big part). I'm happier with my job and I am glad to be around family and friends. My wife is happier (weather affects her more than it does me) so that makes my life better. So if I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But I caution anybody from taking my experience and translating it to your own. My situation is unique in many ways. First off, I grew up here. The culture and lifestyle just really work for me since I grew up here. Moreover, I have a base of friends and family here. Moving out here, not knowing anyone, can be really difficult. I find it easy to make and meet new friends but this is not true for everyone and California can be a lonely place if you don't have any friends or family. But perhaps the biggest deterrent to moving out here has to be the money. Can you make it work? Moving to California with no money is not an easy tasks. It is not easy even if you have money. Housing is expensive and taxes will take whatever you have left.
My situation is likely not the same as yours. I make very good money and I live very frugally. While I certainly "miss" the money that California extracts from me, I probably will not miss it as much as those who live paycheck to paycheck. The cost of living does not affect me nearly as much as it would other people. And make no mistake about it, California has a high cost of living. You combine that with our high unemployment rate and (still) high housing prices, and it can be a daunting financial burden. This has gotten so bad, I have written how I think the California Dream is vanishing for many, even myself.
So while I have no regrets about moving back here this is not to say I won't once again leave. High taxes and high housing is driving me away, I'm sure it will drive others as well. In fact, I had such a conversation with someone about this on Saturday. But I'll write about that in my next blog.