Monday, December 7, 2009

Moving to California - Two Years Later

Beach in San Diego

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.


  1. I can't believe it's been two years, either.

  2. 2 years?! No way...

  3. My wife and I have been "talking" about moving to Sacramento for the last two years. I grew up in the Bay Area and always thought of SacTown as a outpost, however on a fact finding trip last year we both agreed that we liked what it had to offer. We have secured a house to rent in East Sac for $1,600. I am in current negotiations with my employer to transfer my job, even if just for a little while till my wife (accountant) can get on her feet. We will have a small network of friends in the immediate area, and more over the hills towards the bay. We find ourselves constantly frustrated by bad Colorado weather not allowing us to do what we enjoy. Tennis, Running, walking the dog, farmers markets to name a few. I can no longer deny the fact that Colorado is just as hot in the summer as anywhere else. I have endured 40 straight days of plus ninety degrees, and 60 days of more than 2 inches of snow on the ground. (both records I believe). It is both crazy hot in the summer and bone chilling cold in the winter. And the two seasons in between seem to shoot by in no time at all. We have it good here, low mortgage, growing savings and easy commutes from Loveland to Ft Collins. We are supposed to get 8 inches of fresh snow tonight and enjoy a postcard Christmas Day. I can find as many reasons to stay as I can to leave. In the long run I don't want to wake up ten years from now wondering if i should have jumped when we had the chance. Wish us luck, we will be heading west in March 2010! :-)

  4. I have always wanted to move to California. I've always talked about wanting to. But for the past couple of months I really want to make it happen.I live in Massachusetts and if you think the weather in Seattle is bad then you would think Massachusetts is horrible. I hate it here. I have 3 kids and have a very good job here in Massachusetts, I sure don't make six figures but its enough to get by and then some. I hear the cost of living in California is high but isn't Massachusetts just as high? I really want to make my dream come true. The only downfall is getting a job out there. I've checked Careerbuilder, there are lots of jobs that I am capable of doing but even submitting they will just toss it out or not even bother to look at it when they see my address is not even in California. What can I do to make it work? I know that a job is the main issue. I am at the point where I am willing to sacrifice working for a wonderful company with great benefits to start fresh in California. I've lived in New England all of my life, I don't know what to do about moving out of state. Please help, some advice, how can I go about finding a job?

  5. its a lot easier for you since you can transfer, and you already have a place to stay. they don't have my company in the west coast. Well they do just engineering though.

  6. You could always try saving up enough money, moving out there and renting a cheap place and then start looking for a job? There are also people who are willing to do house swaps.