There Ain’t No Easy Way Out (of the East Coast)

(Pardon my use of poor grammar. Blame Tom Petty.)

Blaaaaagh.

I’m being a total weirdo right now. But if you can’t be a weirdo on your own anonymous blog, where can you?

So.

If anything good has come out of my interviewing for the best job I will never have, it is the realization that I’m ready for something new. I’m fairly certain that something new is a drastic change in scenery. After 18 years as a Southerner and almost 20 as a Northerner, I’m ready to move West. This isn’t wholly arbitrary– Mr. O and I have visited various western cities over the last few years and really love it out there. Besides… why the hell not?

Now that Mr. O and I have pretty much agreed on a move being vaguely in our future… I agonize. Did you know that “West” is a pretty large portion of the country? We’ve narrowed it down to “Somewhere in California” and “Generally Seattle.” I start googling, feel nauseous, then google pictures of puppies in order to avoid any real decision making.

Because this is the only way I can tackle large problems, here is my list of criteria:

  1. Mid-sized city with a few larger employers. I tend to bounce every 3-5 years, so there has to be another game in town for me to rationalize moving there.
  2. Decent standard of living. I would like to be able to buy a modest house wherever I live next. No McMansions, just a nice lil’ bungalow with room outback for a smoker. (Cue my dream of smoking my own meats.)
  3. ~ 30 minutes commute time. I would rather spend time with my family than in traffic with thousands of my closest over-worked and over-tired friends.
  4. No hyper-conservative local governments. Look, I spent my entire childhood in a state that is currently under travel advisory by the UK because of its idiotic policies. I’m not subjecting myself or my family to that level of inanery.

Other considerations… I would like a good-ish school system, but I’m not above sending Chick to private school. I would love to send my kid to the public school system, but ultimately I’m okay with being bourgie if I have to be.

That makes it sound soooo easy, right? I want there to be some form on the interwebs where I can plop all this information and it will give me a list of the top 5 cities for me to focus on. But the best I can come up with are useless Buzzfeed quizzes that tell me my spirit animal is Wyoming or something else equally unhelpful.

Regardless, I need to come up with a plan to escape the east. Any thoughts, recommendations, or pictures of cute puppies welcome.

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15 comments

  1. Molly · June 6, 2016

    I have no advice, but seriously–if you find a city like that in California, please let me know because I want to move there too!!!

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · June 6, 2016

    I have no advice but I love your adventurous spirit and I hope it works out perfectly for you. 😊

  3. Fox · June 6, 2016

    I would caution against Seattle. At least not Seattle proper. Maybe Eastside (Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland). We are leaving Seattle anyway, but we are basically priced out of living in the city anywhere that can accommodate our smoker – yes, we smoke meats here 😉 – and a kiddo (or 2 since you’re thinking ahead). Neither of us are in corporate jobs (but have advanced degrees and professional jobs) so you *might* be able to afford it. Right now. This instant. Commute times are never going to be ~30min around here ever again as Seattle has it’s head stuck in the sand regarding planning for future growth. Local government is by no means conservative but it is quite stupid. Everything is funded by special levies and voted on. Want police? You have to vote to fund them. Want to fix the seawall so downtown doesn’t flood? Prepare for fighting about who should pay for that. Such is life in a state with no income tax. And the current mayor is actually decreasing lanes for cars and parking downtown. Because surely that will encourage everyone to start riding their bikes. In the rain. Up the steep hills. Oh, and funding for the bus system got cut. *eyeroll*
    Anyhoo…just my $0.02.

    • Fox · June 6, 2016

      *its 😉

      • AndiePants · June 6, 2016

        I’m a finalist for a job in Kent, WA. Is it bad news bears? We are in Denver now, so hella pricey housing market is something we are used to but. . .

      • Fox · June 6, 2016

        I’d research it. My gripes are mainly with Seattle proper. But my guess is that housing in Kent is more expensive than Denver. And getting into and out of Seattle proper from the suburbs is not easy given all the water obstacles/bridges. So if going into the city regularly is important to you I’d think twice.

      • AndiePants · June 6, 2016

        Hmm, interesting. Denver has one of the most expensive markets after Seattle and SF, it looked like the Tacoma area was cheaper. But this is all good to know.

      • Fox · June 6, 2016

        Tacoma is definitely cheaper. I hear it can be nice but it comes with the rep of being Seattle’s armpit. 😉 I honestly don’t know enough about the surrounding areas to give accurate advice. I’m surprised about Denver as it looked cheaper to me when I looked into it a few months back. But then, I don’t know the city and may have been looking at less nice neighborhoods.

      • AndiePants · June 6, 2016

        Hmm. We’ve been on a crazy trajectory for they last few years. Seattle is definitely still more expensive, but just for comparison, the house we bought fit 160k 4 years ago would be listed at 275k abusing to our realtor. Huge bubble. Part of any we are considering leaving!

      • Fox · June 7, 2016

        Based on projected growth I think it’s only going to get worse here. But I don’t know how far out to the suburbs it will trickle. 275k won’t get you much of anything in Seattle but maybe in Kent it would. Also something to consider in case it’s a factor – this is not a very racially diverse area. Given the audience on this blog I mention it in case of transracial adoption.

      • AndiePants · June 7, 2016

        All good to know. Thanks!!

  4. JD · June 7, 2016

    If you’re open to the Midwest and OK with a healthy dose of winter, consider Minneapolis/St. Paul. Yes, it’s a bigger metro area, but it easily meets all of your criteria: good standard of living, with lots of fabulous and affordable houses closer to the cities, and lots of lakes and nature (true, no mountains) and urban greenspaces; plenty of employers; if you assume you’ll be working in one of the downtowns you can easily find housing that meets your commute priorities (I’ve been at the same place since we moved here 13 years ago, buy my husband has had 3 jobs in 3 completely different places and has never had an average commute over 30 minutes); multiple great public school systems; a generally progressive culture (Michele Bachmann notwithstanding).

  5. Emily · June 7, 2016

    Random internet stranger stopping by to suggest Sacramento. It doesn’t have the most happening employment scene–as the capital, it’s very government centric here (our government is liberal!). But it’s mid sized as far as cities go and government isn’t the only game in town.

    Prices are very reasonable compared to the larger cities in California. If you live in the suburbs you might have traffic on your commute; if you live closer to the center there are a few more transit options (bus, light rail) and likely less traffic. Most people in California think of suburbs when they think of Sacramento but there are very nice, family friendly places to live closer to the center of town as well.

    Pros:
    Moderate prices (real estate market is heating up right now but it will never be as expensive as the bay)
    Nice parkway along the river
    Very bike friendly (decent bike routes and flat)
    1-2 hours away from the beach, bay area, mountains, great hiking
    Decent amount of fun stuff to do for kids

    Cons:
    Weather: Gets hot in the summer. Not a miserable humid heat but you’ll want AC. If you like snow, you won’t find it here (but you can drive an hour or two to get to snow).
    Suburbs are… suburban.
    Public transit is okay but not fantastic.
    Freeway traffic sucks only a little bit less than bigger cities like Seattle and San Francisco
    School system is not amazing but there are some decent neighborhood schools

    Just bought a house in Sacramento and have lived here for a few years so feel free to email me if you have questions. Another option is Davis: feels more like a small town (very university heavy), more expensive. *Fantastic* schools.

  6. labmonkeyftw · June 9, 2016

    Emily beat me to suggesting Sacramento – otherwise Northern Cali is going to be way too $$ (I don’t even need to know anything about your economic status to say this. Northern California is ridiculous unless you were one of the first 100 Facebook employees). I have a few friends in Davis who love it, but it is much more country than urban.

  7. Pingback: Panic in the Mother’s Room | the ostrich

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