I’m leaving California. Six years after this journey began, my California adventure is coming to a close. I came, I saw, I conquered. And now I’m leaving for reasons I’ll explain below.
I’ve seen so many wonderful things in six years, and still there is so much more to see in this great state. California is truly its own continent, a state of mind, the vast western coast of America. I’ve loved the liberalism, the way people actively participate in democracy. I’ve been here through a tumultuous time and yet a glorious time. It was wonderful to feel like I had found a place where I wasn’t judged, where I almost fit in. I found so many opportunities to broaden my spirituality, my thinking, my personal growth. I leave with much more than I came.
So why am I leaving? It’s complicated.
This area has changed a lot since I came. One year after I arrived, the real estate market started to rebound, and rents doubled and tripled. Home prices began to shoot up quickly. I jumped in and bought a home in a questionable neighborhood, while I could still afford it. People began moving to San Francisco in droves, not unlike the Gold Rush of 1849. And it’s predicted to get worse. Suddenly, there were more things I didn’t like about the Bay area, than I liked.
- It’s crowded. Roads, restaurants, shopping. Almost gridlock crowded. Sure, there are lots of attractions to see, but you have to spend so much time getting there it’s almost not worth it.
- It’s dirty. Not sure why, but trash and dirt and refuse are everywhere, even on the streets of San Francisco. Everything looks like its been abandoned and needs a fresh coat of paint. Roads are rough, pot-holed, uneven, while in a perpetual state of disrepair.
- Commuting is a nightmare. Even with the many transit options, there are just too many people. I spend 2 uncomfortable hours a day on a bus to commute 13 miles, and that’s when everything goes right.
- My neighborhood sucks. And it’s dangerous. Helicopters fly low overhead EVERY EVENING looking for criminals. And more. I’m tired of living in stress.
- It’s expensive. My property taxes are approaching $5,000 a year. Sales tax is 12%. And still, they can’t clean the place up or clean the streets. I make more money than I ever have or ever will (6 figures) and can’t afford a decent house in a decent neighborhood. If I could just sell this house and move to a better neighborhood, I would. But I couldn’t even afford to buy my own house in this market. There is literally no where I can afford to live comfortably in the Bay area anymore.
- Homeless epidemic. It’s even in the national news. The Bay area has so many homeless people, maybe because they can’t afford a place to live either. I empathize, I do, but when they roam the streets, filthy and stinking, squatting on the sidewalk to crap in front of me – I’ve had it. One day on my lunch break, I noticed a fellow walking barefoot. His feet were soot black with dirt and it was cold outside. I dashed into a nearby Walgreen’s and bought a pair of men’s socks for three dollars. When I offered them to him, he refused so I said “I’ll just leave them here then,” as I dropped them on the sidewalk beside him. I hope he picked them up.
I’m not alone in this. Many people are packing up, giving up, and leaving for a better quality of life.
It’s been fun (mostly), but my California adventure is over. Next up? My Arizona adventure.