Why don’t you just move to California?

I get asked this … a lot.

It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Chris has a good job there, after all. Lovely weather year-round. Near the ocean. Laid-back lifestyle. Lots of jobs for IT and tech types. And wine country! Let’s not forget about that. I must be INSANE not to want to move the family there. Right?

map of Silcon Valley

Actually, quite the opposite.

The first thing that I just cannot get my head around is the cost of housing there. Honestly, it is crazy talk. My husband lives there and I am still shell-shocked. A studio apartment in San Carlos, CA costs more per month than our 2300 sq. ft. house on 7/10 of an acre on a private golf course. One room apartment versus family home with a big yard. Silicon Valley is at the top of most expensive zip codes in America.

But when you move to the Valley you realize that a salary that looks fantastic in other parts of the country will barely buy you a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle here. The median home price in parts of San Francisco, Cupertino, Mountain View, and Palo Alto hovers around $1,000,000 (excerpt from blog post).

So, really what it means is that a family could be earning a very nice salary, yet could only be able to afford a cracker box in a seedy part of town.

And it’s not like I am wide-eyed innocent from a low-tax state. I live in New York State. Yeah, we are taxed out the wazoo here, much like California. And the winters are tough. We have our share of problems (and yes, those problems are what drove us to this extreme commuting situation). But what I hadn’t fully realized or appreciated until now is this: while I may pay a lot of ridiculous taxes, real estate here is amazingly affordable. And, paired with that, the schools are very good. I can afford to live in a good-sized house, with a large yard and send my kids to excellent public schools here. We have lots of parks, lots of outdoor recreation. Short commute times. Wide open spaces. The beauty of the Finger Lakes. The taxes are offset by other tangible benefits.

“We live in a utopia here and most people don’t even realize it,” a neighbor commented to me recently.

The commuter family. Check out the Kateeva t-shirts!

So when pondering a move out there, I keep wondering … what would I really be getting out of it?  Not a higher standard of living. Not better schools. Not a better life for our kids.  On the flip side, I am grateful for Silicon Valley and Chris’s new company for offering him a terrific job after Eastman Kodak Company tossed him out, ending his accomplished 20 year career.

I remember an earlier post about the “How are you doing?” loaded question.  Well, “Why don’t you just move there?” is another one of those.  Not an easy question to answer or explain.  Answers to both are complicated.

Have any thoughts or comments on this or a related topic?  I always love hearing from you!


6 thoughts on “Why don’t you just move to California?

  1. I completely agree! When all of my college friends graduated from SU and moved away, they couldn’t understand why I stayed here. I love it here – the cost of living is relatively cheap, we have all the benefits of city life nearby, and are surrounded by all varieties of country – beautiful mountains, lakes and valleys, all within an hours’ drive. I love the four seasons (OK, I’ll complain about winter in February and March) – but – no earthquakes, forest fires, and not very much of the other destructive aspects of Mother Nature (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.)… Easy commutes to just about anywhere… I can’t imagine living a life where it takes me 2 hours to get to work. Nope – give my CNY anytime!

    • Thanks for reading, Kristin! It is so hard to swallow that a “median” house is $1,000,000 in Silicon Valley. A $1,000,000!!! And that is no fancy digs. My house, which is nice but definitely not fancy or new would be $1,500,000 there. WHO CAN AFFORD THAT?! WHO? But, that is where his job is at the moment. And I am grateful for that. One thing that Chris says he misses is open space. Everything there is so cramped, so tight. This is because real estate is ludicrously expensive. I need some space to breathe, seriously. Loved your comments. πŸ™‚

  2. And don’t forget – it is SAFER here – no earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, volcanoes, and not much interest from the terrorists in attacking us either. Once in a while we get buried under 2 feet of snow which is fun to play in and is off our roads in a matter of hours. Why do you think so many backup facilities are opened in upstate NY?

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