We’re leaving California, and heading to Oregon.
This Very Big Thing has been made neither lightly nor in haste.
In fact, the Hubster and I started talking about it right after our daughter graduated from high school, nearly three years ago.
Relocating is also the reason we’ve completed many home improvements, most of them sizable, in the last couple of years. These include exterior and interior paint jobs; sprucing up old flooring and where needed, installing new, and updating both bathrooms. Just prior to officially going on the market, less than a week ago, I also had 200 feet of backyard fence painted; watched a trio of workers do a top-to-bottom deep cleaning that took five hours, and hired a college senior to spread angel hair mulch around the rose bushes by the front door.
Some friends thought we’d change our minds after our light and bright home makeover.
But I get why they might think so.
We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful communities in this country, a laid-back beach town on the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Second, it’s an easy commute to San Luis Obispo, the town where the Hubster works, and according to National Geographic, comes in at fifth place as the happiest city in all of the 50 states.
Our corner also reflects the pride of home ownership, with pebble driveways, tidy flowerbeds and decorative flagstones placed just so. It’s a plus, too, that everyone around here loves their pets as much as we love Sadie and Hank, our two rescue dogs. Did I mention that the ocean is just 12 blocks away?
However, other considerations far overshadow all of the above.
Happiest region aside, San Luis Obispo County is currently the sixth most unaffordable place to live in the United States. This is why the Hubster—a music educator with a master's degree who has worked in his profession for nearly 50 years—still needs a second income to ensure that our bills are paid on time. (In fact, with a median home price of $730,000, a young family can no longer afford to buy in SLO unless there’s bigly help from rich relatives.)
When it comes to retiring here, the stats are even worse: if you’re a senior, SLO County is the most expensive area in the entire country to live.
The cost of living is much more favorable in Oregon, where after making a hefty down payment on a new house, we’ll have a we-can-breathe-now mortgage of about $600 per month. Add on the fact that annual house taxes are half of what we pay here, and with no state sales tax, the reasons to skedaddle start looking pretty good, pretty quickly.
Still, there are other details that have nothing to do with money.
Next year is fast shaping up to be a contentious time politically. The 2020 Presidential election is promising to be especially nasty, and key Senate seats are also up for grabs. As my realtor says, buying a house is a huge commitment—and when people are feeling shaky about the future, they’re less likely to take this sort of plunge.
Finally, I’m ready for a shift.
I’ve lived here for 17 years, and now that our daughter has grown and flown, it’s time to change the channel.
I already know that the library system where we’re moving to is great, and there’s an art house theatre a 30-minute drive away. The weekly farmers’ market also boasts an astounding 70 booths, which is most appealing to the home cook and foodie that I am. Of course, I’ll still need to find a new hairdresser, yoga studio and dentist.
But I also know this.
It will all fall into place, because it all feels right.