I am a Californian. A northern Californian.
No, I wasn’t born here. Didn’t grow up here. I didn’t get here until I was 33.
But on my very first visit I felt that little “click” that said, “this is where I am supposed to be.” California life has been the best part of my life. By far.
And it hasn’t let me down. Not once in 35 years.
A major love affair
I have loved my many lives here. So many phases! I love the politics. I love the diversity. I love the vibe. Its natural beauty. I love our part of California, the Bay area, best. I could not live in eastern or far northern parts.
Over the years, though, I’ve seen quality of life decline here in a big way. So much traffic. Commute time extended. Bumper-to-bumper traffic weekdays until 10:30am and starting again around 2:30pm. And on some weekends, as people travel around to recreational activities.
The cost of living has increased significantly, too. Our updated 2500 sq ft tract house is worth a ridiculous amount. Far more than we paid for it. Which means if we want to downsize we’ll be paying more than we paid for this house nine years ago, for less house. Which is ridiculous.
It’s always felt right
I’ve hung in there through all of these changes because, after all, I am a Californian. As a native Californian I used to know once said, “You’re more Californian than most Californians.” It’s key to who I am and always has been. And my husband likes it, too. It’s not that I wanted to leave.
So whenever M and I discussed our next step it was always with California in mind. I couldn’t fathom leaving. It was the same way with a job I had for many years. I rejected anyone who tried to recruit me out, I liked it that well.
One day, though, that job went bad and I was ready to leave.
Just recently, I realized that that living in California might not be the most practical thing for us. Or even the best thing. That now, I could leave.
I shocked even myself with the thought. So we began to try on other locations with decent winter climates that did not include snow.
We love Santa Fe but its medical care is notoriously bad and my system does not like that kind of altitude. And, well, SNOW. Scottsdale would be an option, but oh, being in such a repressive red state would make us crazy. We have lived quite a bit in various parts of Florida — in fact, we started our marriage there– and we flat don’t like it. It’s mostly a cultural wasteland and we are not golfers or boaters. It’s super-affordable compared to California, but…just NO. Texas is also a NO. The South is also a NO. Maui has crummy medical care (like most of Hawaii) and is super-costly. Mexico isn’t an option.
But then: winter
The other places we resonate with all have winter: Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa. I would LOVE to live in Toronto and we found Ottawa charming. But winter. And of course, like most countries, Canada doesn’t like to take seniors who are not going to contribute to the economy by working.
I’ve looked at the map over and over with the same conclusion: There’s no place as ideal as California on a lot of factors.
Still, after much reflection I realize that it’s not the California I first met. California life is harder than it used to be and really, I’ve been bored here in the suburbs for a long time. So, reluctantly, we are ready to leave. We know what we want to do for the warmer parts of the year, but when it comes to the winter, we’re flummoxed. Still trying to figure it out.
California, I’ve loved you long and hard. But you’ve changed.
I might have to leave you. But even if I do, I’ll love you forever.