Sunday, September 13, 2009

Wagons East! ( We're looking to leave California)

Yup, the inevitable has come at least: My husband has been laid off.

I can't say it was a surprise- actually it was a relief after nearly a year of being yo-yoed by his former employer, the bank that owned our house, family members, and the economy- I can finally say we're free.

We don't own a house, we don't have a job, our bankruptcy is almost done with, and we have unemployment benefits, savings ( that we've squirreled away since this hell started a year ago), a full chest freezer and 4 3f by 5 ft pantries crammed to the brimming with canned book and dry staple goods I have been hoarding like an OCD hamster. So overall, I can say we will be OK for right now.

The only things we really buy from the store in a regular basis were eggs, milk, chocolate, sugar, canning jars, and odds n ends, and thankfully the kids qualify for WIC so theres the milk and eggs. Starting next month CA WIC finally changes over to the new healthier program, so they will nwo offer whole grains such as brown rice or whole wheat tortillas, vouchers for fruits and vegetables ( even organic!) and more options for dried or canned beans/lentils instead of peanut butter. Hooray! I get a little bit of money here and there for speaking gigs, friends buying the Jam I make and hopefulyl soon a few odd jobs some friends have offered to my husband. I've gotten quite good at Pinching a penny till Abe Lincoln cries ( thanks for that quote Kathe!). Our grocery bill for a family of 4 is around 300 a month, I think lately its been a little more with buying produce and canning jars in the summer. In California thats quite an achievement to be proud of.

Chris and I have been talking in earnest about possibly moving out of state where its cheaper, quieter, and life is less hectic, but we didnt have a clue where- being we've been in California our entire lives. This summer when we were in Missouri for a wedding we both kinda fell in love with the areas we drove thru: its was green, had trees, land prices were way cheaper, and somehow our blood pressure was considerably lower there even with the drama of a family wedding, our 2 small kids and knowing the clock on Chris job was running. So this week when I kinda just sat down, looked outside at the hot dry brown landscape that is SoCal in the summer and said "Man, why can't we just move somewhere else in the country" Chris actually agreed with me. He's really over California and is curious to live elsewhere and have a different lifestyle.

What a huge weight off my shoulders! I wasnt just a crazy wife wanting to drag my husband away, he seriously looked like he's also had enough of our states stupid budget, the politicians, the celebrities, lack of rainfall, crazy electric prices, even crazyer home prices, and the starbucks on ever frigging corner...the list goes on and on. I love the beautiful view of the San Gabriel mountains from our windows- but now that view is oftentimes obscurred with smog and the blob of urban sprawl keeps climbing up the foothills. Gone are the citrus groves, the vineyards, the windbreaks of eucalytus trees, wandering sheep herds, blooming yucca plants like giant candles in the moonlight. This area no longer feels unique- you can find almost exact copies of the housing tracts and shopping malls all over SoCal.

I tried to look and see how much renting a small home with a little bit of land ( an acre or less) around it was, and even a piece of crap house in a terrible area with an acre of land is renting for 2,000-2,200 a month. No thanks.

We've lost so much in the last year, but in return we've gained something precious: freedom. As weird as it may sound, the world is our oyster for a moment, if we can find a job somewhere else thats stable and meets the cost of living in the area, we're good. Problem is in this economy having a college degree and years of experience isnt the golden ticket to a happy middle class lifestyle like it used to be. So all we can do right now is plan, research, and look for work across the country.

I know some people would think I'm nutts for wanting to leave, I mean this place has everything, a baseball stadium down the street, a NASCAR racetrack in Fontana, a bunch of colleges nearby, 3 malls within a 30 minute drive, 40 minutes to the closest ski area, an hour from the beach, 90 minutes to wine country, an hour to downtown LA and that street scene- but we don't really care! LOL

What do we both want at this point in our lives?

* Peace and quiet. NO big rigs honking, sirens constantly from the freeway and streets, people and their pimped out cars with a subwoofer blaring the base for a mile around them. Car alarms, helicopters, drunk idiots walking home, airport traffic, I'm sick of never having silence not even in the middle of the night.

*Less Traffic- it shouldnt take 2 hours to do 20 miles, but at 5pm on a Friday, thats the minimum drive time. If you need to take the 91 or the 101, double that time. Even to cross the city of Rancho Cucamonga, which is like, 7 miles? Takes me an average of 25 minutes up one street. Yes I've been timing it. With nearly 250,000 people living in a 10 mile radius, theres almost always some traffic, and its worse with all the street expansions and new contruction going on.

*S-P-A-C-E: I hate seeing these new homes so close together you sneeze and your next door neighbor hears you from inside their house. I don't want to hear them arguing, watching TV, or having sex either when all I want is the windows open for some air.

*Privacy: goes hand in hand with space. I want to be able to walk outside, tend a garden, sit and read a book on a porch, or have a BBQ without 20 people being able to see me or hear me outside. I've heard strong fences make good neighbors, but an acre of distance would sure help it as well.

*Seasons: so far here we get wind, fires, floods, and 100+ heat. At any time of the year, and sometimes in the same week. I've had pool parties on my birthday (Jan 3) because it was 95 degrees. I've never watched the leaves turn to shades of red and gold, seen frost make lace on the windows, or looked for the first snowdrops of the spring. Thins other states take for granted. The days blend into each other and don't change much and somehow my body just feels tired and confused. Yes the sunshine is nice, but the sound of rain falling as I sleep is the sweetest therapy ever. As much as I hate cold, I would put up with snow so a hearty hot soup or stew is that much better, and so I'd appreciate spring more. Yes theres blizzards and tornados, but here we get earthquakes and santa ana winds. Its give and take, no place is perfect.

*Land: I don't want a landscaped front lawn, or a backyard or a cul de sac lot, I want land. At least an acre or 2. Room for a well planed intensively planted fruit orchard, a sustainable tree area for firewood, a large compost area, a vegetable garden, a berry patch, Bees, space for a couple of egg laying chickens or ducks and agoat or 2 for milk someday down the road round out my American dream nicely.

to be continued.......


Jennifer said...

Sorry to hear about your husband getting laid off.

My husband and I were searching for a way to escape California three years ago, when it appeared we'd never be able to buy a house. Our goals and dream lifestyle are a lot like yours ("Oh give me land"). Based on my husband's work (he's an electrician) we narrowed our search down to Oregon, Colorado, and North Carolina, even traveled out to NC to check it out. Hubby is from Louisiana, and the South would have been great, if not for the work situation being a little lackluster.

We managed to find a niche here in the Bay Area, about 35 miles inland from SF, where the rents are more reasonable, the lot sizes are larger (we rent a home on a little over 1/3 of an acre) that is in a quieter and less-hectic world than over the hills towards the city. My husband takes the train into the city to work, and I have plenty of room and parking and have shed the pushpush-gogo syndrome that marks most of the towns around here. And property values here have gone down almost 50% in the past two years, so buying a starter home in the next few years is looking more affordable to us.

I guess my point is that in some ways it isn't California, per se, that's entirely the problem, just our wigged out metro areas. You could probably find a more peaceable and rural existence here, but the clincher is always finding work to go along with it.

Good luck to you, though, in your search for a new home!

Margarita Stewart said...

I love your blog!!!!

Cat said...

Work anywhere is tough at the moment, The Bay area has a good transit system so you don't need to live in a high rent area, but can still get around.
Best wishes!

AJK said...

Wow! I'm very sorry about your husband's loss of his work, but what an opportunity to start afresh! I'm envious. I dream about having land in the country too, as I am stuck in smoggy ol'San Gabriel valley myself. Best wishes in all you do!

Not Hannah said...

I haven't been around in soooo long. It sounds like you are really in a good place, even as everything is up in arms.

How far east would you like to go?

Not Hannah said...

Um. I meant "up in the air." Looong day.

1916home said...

As I said on the FG site, thank god you prepared before the SHTF in your life. Its going to be a lot easier for you than it will be for others in your situation. I think we can all learn a lesson or two from you. Please keep blogging your experiences.

I agree with you... L.A. is over and done with. There used to be wineries along the 210 and right up the 15 when I was a kid. Now its just endless homes. With my wife being from Europe, and with me spending a lot of time in Europe... we have no problem getting up and leaving. It is just a matter of time for us really. Im not even sold on "America" anymore. Its just become an ugly place I call home filled with gang violence, uneducated people that spend far too much time in front of the programming box... its no longer a place I would want to raise my children, when we have them soon. The American dream is no more IMO.

We are considering leaving LA area before moving abroad. As another poster mentioned, outside Sf is a pretty good option. I have some relatives from SD that first moved to SF, and now on to Portland, OR and love it there. Im a fan of the northeast, but its COLD there in the winter.

Good luck whatever you decide!

Brad n Charly said...

i live in north west louisiana but i go to los angeles (carson off the 91 at wilmington) twice a week from houston.i have to say ,hopefully without offending anyone, how in the hell do people live in california and not go postal?its congested ,everything is overpriced and outrageous, i was always lead to believe that people live there because the money is good. but i started asking people that i knew well enough,how much money and was astounded by the answers. i am a lowly trucker. i have a six figure income and live in a large house on a 5 acre chunk of land(pictures on my blog)please LEAVE california!!!!there is a better life for you in any other state!every time i leave california(on the worst roads in the country) i ask myself why are californians the most overtaxed over regulated over governmentally burdened peolpe in the u.s?you all have been duped! ther is a better life elswhere .take the leap ,you will be glad you did. missouri is a fantastic place as is arkansas and texas and louisiana even kentucky(but they get a winter)your kids will thank you. in other states a working man can achieve the american dream of home ownership and a good job.sorry if i offended anyone but im honestly baffled as to why anyone would choose to live in california.