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Adios California! Hello Washington! Why we are leaving California?

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.

Dear California,

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.

Leaving California moving to washington

Photo credits: stuckincustoms,dhilung,chanc,haglundc

 

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 –

Adios California!

Hello Washington!

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.

 

 

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

carol

Good riddance. I’ve lived in San Diego 62 years, my husband 58. We retired on a fixed income of @50k. We have been to every state but Alaska, and CA is the best, even if there are some bumps. The benefits of comfort, health, safe driving weather and year around amenities far out weigh the negatives. We found your figures off base as well. You did not have to live in over-priced La Jolla or Hollywood. There are many moderately priced neighborhoods like our newer area in Alpine. The school district’s API scores are always above 800. Our 20 yr. old 2150 sqft. home on 1/3+acre appraises @$400K with all the amenities. In nearby El Cajon, gas is $3.90/gal. BTW, There is no state park in La Jolla, just a state water preserve at the cove. Torrey Pines State Beach has not closed. See how much you like living in clouds and cold rain 325 days of the year and then having to pay the heating bill. I have family who moved to WA and are now STUCK there because they can’t afford to move back due loss of place in the market, but they moan constantly about the miserable weather they cannot escape. You will too when you suffer from seasonal affect disorder and weight gain because you’re not outside being as active as you were. San Diego has a fine symphony, opera co.,several art museums, adult ed programs and many venues for contemporary music/arts. As for transportation, you could have chosen to live near the trolly to get around town as well. Good luck with enjoying a sunny picnic in Portland except a few days scattered in July, August,and some of Sept. Your problems living here stem more from your SELF INDULGENT LIFE STYLE CHOICES OF CHOOSING HIGH END NEIGHBORHOODS and TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH SPEND CRAZY, SUPERFICIAL FRIENDS. Stay cold and moldy!

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Suba

Thanks for taking the time to comment Carol! Before I address all your comments, I want to emphasize one thing – I never said CA is not for everyone. I only said, it is not for “us”. We have different priorities and dreams, staying in CA won’t let “us” get ahead. There is nothing more, nothing less.

>>I’ve lived in San Diego 62 years, my husband 58. We retired on a fixed income of @50k. We have been to every state but Alaska, and CA is the best, even if there are some bumps. The benefits of comfort, health, safe driving weather and year around amenities far out weigh the negatives.

What is best for each person depends on their own priorities and way of living. Again, based on “our” priorities, at this point in our life, CA was not the best. I never questioned the fact that the weather is great or about the year around amenities (I am ignoring the comfort and health part because again that is personal preference. If colder climates are not good for health for everyone, no one should ever live anywhere other than the south.). As a retiree you “might” not have to save a great deal for anything else, esp. if your house is paid off, so the 50k can let you live a good life. For us, we are renters, we have to pay the rent and save for a down payment, we want to have a kid on our own and adopt a few more, we want to fully pay for their education. We want to take care of our parents in their retirement, whether they like it or not we want to be ready to support them financially. So we want to save enough to fund 2-3 retirements. On top of all of that I want to volunteer full time and start my own charity. If we didn’t have all these things to take care of, yes, CA is very comfortable. Is CA that great to give all my dreams and goals? Not for us.

>>We found your figures off base as well. You did not have to live in over-priced La Jolla or Hollywood. There are many moderately priced neighborhoods like our newer area in Alpine. The school district’s API scores are always above 800. Our 20 yr. old 2150 sqft. home on 1/3+acre appraises @$400K with all the amenities. In nearby El Cajon, gas is $3.90/gal.

Can you tell me which figure you found off base? The rent was what we were paying. No we did not live in Hollywood or La Jolla (though I used to live in La Jolla), we lived in the San Fernando valley. It is cheaper than the actual city. Also, if we don’t work long hours we can live 1 hr or more (one way) away from work. But with traffic making that 1 hr commute to 1.5- 2 hours one way, we chose not to do that. We already work long hours and the rest of the time we have, we want to spend on something other than sitting in traffic. So if the only place we can afford to live forces us to spend 2-4 hours sitting in traffic, why shouldn’t we look for better places where we can afford a place where we want? Looks like gas prices in Alpine is about $4.00/gal. I am going to fill gas where I work or live. There might be places, that has gas for $3.50/gal. Am I going to drive there to save on gas?

>>BTW, There is no state park in La Jolla, just a state water preserve at the cove. Torrey Pines State Beach has not closed.

No there is not, I agree with you. It is just that I always called the Torrey Pines State reserve as Torrey pines state park, I slipped and wrote it like how I used to call it (even Google maps calls it State park btw). I will correct the park to reserve. That doesn’t change the fact that there was a proposal to close when there were budget cuts and many people spend days campaigning for it. I am/was never polically active, but one of my colleagues was personally involved in the campaign so I know how much work went into it.

>>See how much you like living in clouds and cold rain 325 days of the year and then having to pay the heating bill. I have family who moved to WA and are now STUCK there because they can’t afford to move back due loss of place in the market, but they moan constantly about the miserable weather they cannot escape. You will too when you suffer from seasonal affect disorder and weight gain because you’re not outside being as active as you were.

Again, you are generalizing a lot here. If everyone feels that way Pacific Northwest should be completely empty. I am not saying CA weather is not nice, that doesn’t mean the entire world should feel comfortable only in CA type of weather. Some people hate living where there is no snow, some people like a lot of green around them, to each their own.

>>San Diego has a fine symphony, opera co.,several art museums, adult ed programs and many venues for contemporary music/arts.

Quite a few cities in the US have all of these.

>>As for transportation, you could have chosen to live near the trolly to get around town as well.

Again, we worked long hours. And no, there is no reliable public transportation outside of the city (within the city the rent reflects that), you can check.

>>Your problems living here stem more from your SELF INDULGENT LIFE STYLE CHOICES OF CHOOSING HIGH END NEIGHBORHOODS and TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH SPEND CRAZY, SUPERFICIAL FRIENDS. Stay cold and moldy!

I don’t see how I offended you to yell at me. But ignoring that, each person’s lifestyle is different. We moved to CA fresh out of college, when the company culture is to go out on group lunches/Friday dinner, you will start thinking that is normal. I already accepted our paycheck to paycheck days were our fault. Anyone can give examples on how someone lived for a lot less. We could have lived on a lot less if we didn’t have any saving priorities AND made a lot of lifestyle choices that would have left us frustrated and miserable. I know a family of 4 who lived on $25,000/year in San Francisco. Did I say “only” people earning >$x can live in CA? Nope. I said “we” are too poor to live in CA. Staying where jobs are and not wanting to sit in traffic for hours to get to work are lifestyle choices we made. It can be self indulgent for you, not for us.

Again, to clarify, I was writing about the reason “we” moved out of California. We have certain goals and priorities. We could have achieved them in CA if we lived extremely frugal, were willing to trade hours of our time for cheaper housing cost and drive 30 minutes to get cheap gas and pretty much did nothing other than work. Everything you mentioned earlier fine symphony, opera, music/arts cost money. Even if they are there, “we” couldn’t have afforded it. Now, we can if we want to. That is the freedom of choice I was looking for when we moved.

Thanks again and I am sorry if I offended you somehow.

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eemusings

SO weird that there’s a city called Vancouver located in the US so close to the Canadian Vancouver! I hope you’ll be very happy there.

Just had a quick peek at your cost of living post – looks like housing is on par with Auckland, while things like food and petrol are cheaper. People say the California coast looks a lot like NZ – I look forward to visiting later this year and seeing it for myself.

Also, love your photo montage.

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Suba

Yeah there are quite a few cities with similar names to New England as well (Portland, Salem). not sure which one came first, I have to look it up.

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My Financial Independence Journey

I wouldn’t mind taking an extended (several month) vacation in California, but I don’t have much desire to live there.

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Suba

I would LOVE to go on CA vacations. As I said, I felt like it was a slice of heaven. Just living there full time with one income, when we are location independent, didn’t make sense anymore.

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David

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! My wife and I made a similar move, from Los Angeles to Eugene, OR three years ago and it was *easily* the best decision we ever made. :-) I hope you and tour husband will feel the same way about your move.

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Suba

Thanks David! We are loving it here so far, but its been only 2 weeks. Hopefully I can say the same in 3 years :)

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Michelle

Love the photos! Sounds like there were plenty of reasons to move to Washington :)

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Suba

Thanks Michelle. Now we have to make use of the money that we save properly.

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Marie at Family Money Values

CA is definitely not the ‘normal’ American state.

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Suba

Not sure Marie, Carol above seem to think we are weird. May be we are, that is what makes us “us” right? Different priorities, different values…

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Khaleef @ Faithful With a Few

This is why I could never live in California. It doesn’t seem like the high prices are justified for someone making an average salary. I was looking forward to you coming out east to North Carolina…I think you are actually farther away now. lol

I hope you guys enjoy your new home and that you can have a much more peaceful life! :)

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Suba

We will move to NC at some point Khaleef, just not this year :)

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krantcents

Suba, good luck! Higher cost areas usually have higher wages and the opposite is equally true. Since you will earn the same, you have an advantage. I have lived in Los Angeles for 42 years. It is far from perfect, but my children live here and my wife and I do not want to move. There is no perfect place, but there are plenty of good places all over the country and the world. There are a lot of factors that make a place good or bad.

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Pauline

Sounds like a lovely new location, the region has great outdoors, no income tax in WA and you can shop with no sales tax in OR that seems perfect! I hope you enjoy your new home

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Suba

Yeah so far we like the place! We might have to pay some sort of use tax I think. At least in CA we had to do that for Amazon tax free purchases, so WA might have something like that too? I have to check.

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Crystal

Carol, you are a complete douche. Suba wrote a sweet goodbye and is off to start a new life, have babies or adopt babies, and save some money. But you decided to take offense that someone would dare leave your darling California. I have never lived in California, but Suba’s descriptions made it sound amazing but expensive. I do not see how that is offensive. That makes you a douche. Grow some empathy or stop reading other people’s opinions. Please. For the good of all of us. You are making a hard time harder for no good reason at all. :-P

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Crystal

Suba, congrats on the move!!! I miss talking to you, so remember to email me when things settle down! Blow off people like carol, they would take offense at anything. I really hope you love, love, love your new home!!!

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Suba

Thanks Crystal! I will email you, I have a lot of new construction questions as well :)

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Kay Lynn

I’m glad you’re happy with the move but I wish I could have seen you before you left. I’ll keep the light on for you in California in case you want to come back.

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Suba

I wish we could have met Kay Lynn :( I thought about it several times, everytime we would think we will decide closer to the weekend if we can make it to San Diego and check with you and some other friends if you guys are available. Then when the weekend came, we had a boat load of stuff to do and never really made it. We love San Diego so we will come there for sure!

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Andi B.

That was a very graceful response. As someone who left Northern California nearly 8 years ago, everything you said rings completely true. The rain in Portland/Vancouver is not for everyone, but that is just part of the cost/benefit analysis people have to do when making a change. I know people who have moved to the Pacific Northwest and gotten “stuck” and I know people who are “stuck” in California as well. There does seem to be a lot of bad feelings between PNW and CA. I never planned on going north of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival until I married a Portlander. For a lot of time there was animosity towards and from Californians up here, mainly from judging people’s choices and motives. I am happy to say I’ve seen much of that dissolve. I hope you have wonderful times up here and that Carol continues to enjoy the life she has carved for herself.

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Suba

Thanks Andi! Looking forward to meeting you tonight!

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Bret @ Hope to Prosper

Hi Andi,

I have relatives in Medford and Salem and I’m up there about once a year. You are right about the animosity toward Californians from the PNW. I don’t get it, especially from my relatives who were born here. Yeah, Californians are a little different, but how is that their problem? Also, PNWs have been moving to California in droves for decades and we don’t hate on them for ruining our state. Most important, not everyone in CA is from Hollywood or San Francisco. People really need to calm down, stop blaming others and be a little more understanding.

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AmAnda

I was only in Portland a short time for work but I loved it. I wished I lived as close to it as you do now. California is somewhere I dream of living when I look out my window and still see snow in the middle of April. Id like to point out that we have winter like 7 months of the year and there are tons of people living here (Winnipeg) haha

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Mad Fientist

Congratulations on the move, Suba!

“Based on our priorities/goals and the fact that we are location independent, it doesn’t make sense for us to continue living there” – I couldn’t agree more! There are so many amazing places in this world to live so why not live somewhere that’s cheaper so that you can build your wealth quicker. I’m looking forward to next year when I perform my own geographic arbitrage and move from New England to Thailand.

Have fun exploring your new city!

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First Gen American

I haven’t met many people who’ve left California once they moved there. I think most people see so many pros with the weather and job opportunities that they learn to deal with the higher COL and traffic.

Congrats. Moving to another state and starting over takes a lot of guts and it’s impressive that you’ve made the leap of faith to start over. I’m sure there will be a lot of opportunities for the both of you.

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Kim@Eyesonthedollar

I hope you are enjoying your new area. I think Southern California is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but it is too expensive and there are too many people. We choose to live in a rural area for many reasons, but the cost of living is a big one. If we can become financially independent faster by living here, it makes it that much better. We can visit San Diego all we want when we don’t have to work anymore and are living on passive income!

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Bret @ Hope to Prosper

Good luck in your new place Suba. There is nothing quite like owning a home, especially when you are starting a family. It was a pleasure chatting with you at the Blogger Meetups, when you were here. A lot of people are leaving California because of the high cost of living and it’s a shame. It was very, very hard for us to get a house in San Clemente, but we were fortunate to have done it when it was affordable.

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