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California Dreamin'

It's no secret that laurie_robey and I have been kicking around various "Where will we go?" ideas for some time, and that the Bay Area of California is high on our list. So one of the things I was doing on my trip out there for Further Confusion last week was to give the region a hard look as potential "new hometown" material. Starting from the ride on CalTrain to the very last wait to get back on the plane home, I was examining every little nuance and interaction with a critical eye. And here are some conclusions I reached.

"So, I Hear You're Thinking of Moving Out Here..."


I cannot believe how many people at FC2015 opened conversations with this. Old friends, sure, I figured they'd be interested. But people I barely knew or didn't know at all have apparently been following my proposed relocation with interest, which astounds and flatters me. I don't know if it's just a more tight-knit community out there, or what, but it's certainly nice to know that there'd be a welcoming committee. sirfox maintains that there's a finder's fee for bringing people to the area; I'd think in my case it warranted a fine, instead. ;)

Sunshine, Yum!


The Bay Area is renown for its microclimates. Redwood City supposedly has the "Nicest Weather In the Country," based on mildness of temperatures and high number of sunny days. The city of San Francisco, on the other hand, is foggy. A lot. San José, the convention locale, split this down the middle, being sunny some days and cloudy others, but with a persistent fog always on the horizon. Each morning I would look out of my hotel room and see the mountains in the distance covered in gravy, so to speak. I was particularly amused at SFO to notice that while it was foggy around me, it wasn't foggy above me– which made it foggy and sunny at the same time. Which was just plain weird.

That said, I saw more (and more consistent) sun in the five days I spent in California than I had in the month leading up to it in Virginia. On Monday, when sirfox took me driving around the valley area, it was pretty much constant sunshine once we got south of Los Gatos. According to Sirfie, it's pretty much like that most of the time.

Graffiti Frickin' Everywhere, My Gawd


This was less true once you got out of San Francisco/San José, but there wasn't anywhere you completely escaped from it. I mean yeah, any relatively built up area is going to have graffiti, but DAYUM. There were freeway signs completely obliterated by the stuff. It was bad. Once you got into more suburban areas it lightened up a bit, but any kind of canal, the underside of any bridge, or any rail car that got below 25 MPH was covered with it.

Trees, Please?


This is my biggest sticking point for not immediately jumping out there. "Hilly forest" is my natural habitat, while "flat and bare" is the prevailing mode out there. In the city, or in the valley, what trees there are tend to be gnarled bushy things, or tall, straight palm trees with a cluster of fronds at the top. But mostly what tends to be there is pavement and rooftops. Even lawns are tiny and often gravel, because the soil is sandy with rock underneath, compared to the relatively soft (and vegetation-friendly) clay around here.

The only place this wasn't true, and this will lead me into my next point, was the mountains. Route 17, which Sirfie used to take us through the hills/mountains to Santa Cruz, was all cedars, redwoods, and leafy ferns, and reminded me more than anything else of the Blue Ridge around here or the roads leading into Pittsburgh. After having spent several days pining for the... uh... pines, this leg of the trip was a badly-needed soul refresher. It also led to my favorite place on the whole trip...

Santa Cruz– Gneech Digs It


Santa Cruz is a tourist town, built on sand, sunshine, and surfing. There's no getting away from that fact. But here's the thing: Santa Cruz is in this little bowl, right at the foot of the mountains, and the net result of this is most of the town has got plenty of hills and trees, and then there's this beautiful sunny beach down at the south end of it.

Of all the places I saw on this trip, Santa Cruz was where I felt the most at home. There were no fewer than two comic shops, four bookstores, and all the coffee shops I could shake a stick at, there were craftsman-style homes (granted, many of them painted in gaudy beach colors), and so forth. Of course, being a tourist town, I'm sure Santa Cruz is not a cheap place to live, but neither is where we are now. But, y'know, the barista's gotta live somewhere, right? So unless they're commuting 20 minutes from Gilroy, there has to be somewhere affordable in or around Santa Cruz to live.

The Search Continues...


There are other places we still want to look, including some on the east coast. The real estate agent assures us that we're "in the endgame" stages of the short sale, and I certainly hope he's right, but assuming he is, we're going to be looking at some kind of rental around here for the near-term still, at least until Laurie's job actually either goes blooie or recovers. However, that has not stopped me from putting in applications for jobs in Santa Cruz– at one company in particular that I was already following on Twitter just because I like the company. When they posted that they had a job opening in Santa Cruz, for something I might even vaguely be qualified for, my brain just about exploded.

We'll see. :) Life is always an adventure.

-The Gneech

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
makovette
Jan. 25th, 2015 11:04 pm (UTC)
there has to be somewhere affordable in or around Santa Cruz to live.

No, no there doesn't have to be :)

Santa Cruz is not cheap, you're looking at Scott's Valley and Ben Lomond/Felton (Redwoods and hills) or maybe south towards Watsonville (farmland growing into surburbia) to get out of the $$$$$ into just $$$ areas, but then the commute rapidly becomes more unpleasant.

Taxes are high in Santa Cruz, it's got a strong socialist/left/hippie world view culturally and they soak businesses and home owners accordingly. Pot is everywhere, hard drugs in particular are a huge problem in the "flats" south and inland of the boardwalk area. Property crime is rampant there as a result, stay far far away from the Flats.

Not that costs and crime soaked areas any lower, at all, in the Bay Area. :)

Keep in mind home ownership requires a family income of at $150K per year minimum for anything not in a Kevlar vest required neighborhood. You're competing with double 100K+ professionals from Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple &ct. for living accommodations.

Bottom line is to run the numbers realistically and choose your location wisely before committing to come out here.

That said, I would be thrilled to be part of the Welcoming Committee for you and Laurie. I hope you two like poolside BBQ's cuz you're both invited!

CYa!
Mako


Edited at 2015-01-25 11:05 pm (UTC)
the_gneech
Jan. 25th, 2015 11:51 pm (UTC)
Useful input, thanks! :) As I say, we're still hunting for the right spot, on either coast.

-TG
c_eagle
Jan. 27th, 2015 10:46 am (UTC)
Good lux with the hunt, bud!... Graffiti... yeah.. yecch. .. ;P ..... though I must say I was really surprised with the ... graffiti in some of Europe! ... Germany a bit, surprisingly.. and France...jeeeeeeesh... especially horrid throughout the train routes!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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