I just want to clarify something – this post reflect “our” reasoning for leaving California. I am not saying CA is not a great place to live. Based on our priorities/goals and the fact that we are location independent, it doesn’t make sense for “us” to continue living there with one income.
I have called you my home for the last 8 years, ever since my husband moved to Los Angeles to take his first after-college job. Even though I didn’t move to California until 2 years later, you were always my home base. You have treated us well. In fact, you treated us extremely well when we were spending through our nose and living paycheck to paycheck. Then we had the desire to save money, buy a home and may be even open a retirement account. That is when everything changed – slowly but surely you showed us we cannot afford to continue loving you. Me quitting my job was the last straw in breaking our delusion that we can afford to have a relationship with you.
After much thinking, researching, scheming and planning, we have moved to the Northwest – Vancouver, WA to be precise. It is a city across the river from Portland, OR. It’s been two weeks since we started calling Washington our new home.
We drove 1000 miles from Los Angeles, CA to Vancouver, WA. So I had plenty of time to think about our life in CA – what we learned, what mistakes we made that we should avoid, what we liked about CA that we will miss and how to take advantage of everything the new city provides that we were never able to do when we were in CA.
The best moments of our relationship (What we loved about living in California)
You are beautiful: We loved traveling around the state. I can whole heartedly state that it is the most beautiful of all the places I have ever visited. Maybe because I took my first real vacation in California or because I had my honeymoon in Northern California, the coastal redwoods are my definition of heaven on earth. It will always be very close to my heart. From sandy beaches to breathtaking cliffs, from mesmerizing deserts to awe inspiring snow peaked mountains, CA provided us all. We are, forever grateful for that.
You provide year round awesome weather: I don’t need to elaborate on this, everyone who has heard about CA knows this. Sunshine all 12 months of the year will be something we will surely miss.
I loved your libraries and community colleges: I expanded my knowledge for free or for very cheap thanks to the libraries and community colleges. Funds for these great resources that people depend on are now steadily drying up. That is one of the reasons we are parting ways. Everything we liked about CA is being cut back. Funds to schools, parks that preserve beauty, libraries and community colleges are all disappearing while continuously taxes and cost of living continue to spiral upward.
We had quite a few sore spots too (What we hated about living in California)
High taxes: The rates are one of the highest in the nation! I understand the need for money to fund the wonderful things that I just listed above, but I don’t see the money going toward that. I use the library frequently and the staff are being let go, the hours are being cut drastically, instead of relying on tax money they are relying on volunteering and donations to keep afloat. I was one of the 1000s who sent a pleading petition when CA announced that the beautiful state
park reserve in La Jolla was going to close. CA heard from me again along with 1000s of students when it decided to cut the number of classes offered in the local community college in half leaving a lot of students unable to get enough credits to graduate that semester. I totally understand that any state needs taxes to keep their public programs, but I also need to think about the future of my family. I have a choice – I can either stay in CA , pay the taxes and not complain (it is only fair!) or move somewhere else that better suit my goals. I definitely need to pay the taxes when I use a CA based employer, but fortunately we are not stuck to any employer in California. I decided to start a business; CA wanted $800 just for me to start, even if I didn’t make a single cent from my business. If I make money and CA expected me to pay, I understand. How am I supposed to sustain if I keep paying CA before I earn anything? So if I don’t fully take advantage of our location independent situation and reduce our tax liability to save money for our family, I think I must be an idiot!
Cost of living: Everything from rent to milk is expensive. I have tried to save penny by penny, but when I hear about what people pay in rent in other states, it really made me question if CA was worth it. We had to spend that much when both of us were working for CA based employers, but now we do not have to put up with that. We want to be able to better decide how we spend our money, instead of it disappearing paying for just basic needs.
Living in style: CA is not the only one to be blamed here. We were young and naïve. As this is where we started earning money and living the “adult” life, we assumed the California way of living is the normal way to live. When our colleagues were buying Mercedes and BMW, we thought our 2 brand new cars were very modest. When our friends were hitting the bars, eating out every day and going to concerts every week, we thought it was very reasonable to spend money on good restaurants a few times a week. We were living in style, trading in our future for living in the present. It was mostly our fault though.
We will miss you
We will definitely miss CA, esp. the weather. We have seen what luxury means but now, I think it is time for us to reevaluate our priorities and work towards the freedom of what we really want to do instead of living in paradise as a wage slave.
I am falling hard for my new home
I am leaving you California and to be honest with you, I am falling hard for my new home –the Northwest. It is close to a city I love – Portland, OR. I feel Portland provides every bit of culture (and more) that Los Angeles boasted. The people are great. Just to give you a glimpse of why I love my new city, Vancouver, WA –
|Cost of living in CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA||Cost of living in WashingtonVancouver, WA||Savings/month|
|Rent for a 580 sq. ft. apartment : $1365||Rent for an 800 sq. ft. apartment: $837||$528|
|Renters insurance: $225||Renters insurance: $81||$144 (per year)|
|State tax: Up to 9.3% for people earning > $48,942 and < $250,000||State tax: $0||On average I am estimating we will save at least 5-8%|
|Gas price: $4.19 (cheapest)||Gas price: $3.64||$22 (10 gallons X 4 times)|
|Price for a house matching our requirements: $500000-$750000||Price for a similar house: $250000-$400000||We get a LOT more value for our money.|
I got my driver’s license and car registration done in half an hour, on a Saturday morning. In all these years I spent with you, I have never got out of the DMV in less than 3 hours even after booking an appointment.
The only thing that will be higher is the property taxes. But based on my calculations, it will be a wash, because I will be paying a low 1.25% tax rate on a high priced home valued at $500,000 instead of paying a high 3% tax rate on a low priced home valued at $250,000.
The conclusion we came to is – you are beautiful, but we are too poor to enjoy all that you have to offer. The cost of living leaves us with stress that won’t allow us to enjoy anything else. It is not you, it is us!
Thanks for all that you have provided for us. We are sorry to break this relationship, maybe someday when we are successful and rich, we can restart our relationship on the beautiful shores of La Jolla. Till then –
Random tidbit: According to our mover, in the recent years the number of people leaving California far outnumbers the number of people moving to California. We came to a similar conclusion when we compared the number of U-Haul trucks on I-5 moving to OR/WA as compared to traveling in the opposite direction.