Despite all its faults, California is home
The first time I drove into California in 1974, I came through Nevada to the eastern entrance of the Lake Tahoe area. I looked down into what I was sure was paradise and I was left breathless by the sight of the bluest waters and the most verdant forests.
My California love affair continued after I settled in the beach area of San Diego. There were lonely times as I tried to form roots in a new state, but summer nights when I happened upon a glittering beach of silver grunion or inhaled the scent of night-blooming jasmine wafting from an alleyway more than made up for it. I mean, where else do entire hillsides turn purple in spring? And where else can you grow just about any kind of fruit, flower or tree?
Yes, things have changed: the Chargers are gone (like the death of an old friend). The fear of fire is ever-present. Corporate greed has made living here ridiculously expensive. Yet there’s always some interesting, innovative local person to learn about in the paper (yes, we still have a newspaper), and there are my wonderful friends and family who appreciate this place as I do.
And when I return from travel or a family visit back east, my heart still flutters with happiness and a sense of relief when I arrive back at the gate of the beautiful San Diego International Airport.
Heidi Paul, Escondido
Texas is just a better fit for some people
After 47 years, I actually did leave California for Texas, based on four criteria that mattered to me: politics, economics, the fact that I was a renter in California, and a heavy-handed response to COVID-19.
I probably knew more people in Rancho Bernardo than anyone else due to my being a letter carrier there for 31 years, working out at the local 24 Hour Fitness and running a small, local personal computer repair business. Members of my family had an inside bet that the family member most likely to stay in California would be me. They lost the bet.
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So while I’ve left behind family, friends and memories, I now own a home and my neighbors — more than a few Texas natives — have welcomed me warmly, and I find Texans, in general, to be very friendly. Yeah, I miss the weekend motorcycle rides to lunch at Fidel’s in Solana Beach, followed by a ride up to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and then back home through Rancho Santa Fe, but at least I can say I’d done it. And I miss the huge network of friends and acquaintances I’d made in California, but life has far from ended for me.
Here in New Braunfels, Texas, we’re close to rivers, lakes and the Schlitterbahn for water play and we have our own Julian in the small town of Gruene, right next door. It’s a very different lifestyle here, and I find it somewhat culturally resembles the laid-back feel of San Diego some 30 to 40 years ago, but I didn’t come to Texas thinking I would compare the two because they’re decidedly very different animals. Did I make the right decision? For me, the answer is an emphatic yes, but to each his own. I’m of the opinion that one makes of a situation what one wants to make of it and in the immortal words of a song by the band, Island, from the first KGB Homegrown album … “So Long San Diego.”
Robert J. Salvi, New Braunfels, Texas
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Grass is not always greener elsewhere
We’ve traveled in the past to other states that are really great. I especially love Arizona. The morning desert smell is fantastic as are the vistas and sunsets. I even considered moving to Sedona or other great places in Arizona until I found out the only decent hospital is in Phoenix. That’s a long way away from anywhere in Arizona I would want to live. Being a klutz, having hospitals nearby is a good thing.
We realized we would never be able to own a house here, so instead we got ourselves a mobile home where we own the land the home is on and it was best for our budget. We only pay a fee for the HOA to cover expenses relating to the TV in-house program, gardeners, water and trash; we have to pay our own electric, though. Still it’s the best thing that is suited to our lifestyle. We’re old now and take things slower, but we enjoy the weather, the beaches, the mountains and the deserts which are within a few hours drive from us. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
If you think you can do better in another state, be aware you will have to deal with extreme heat, snow, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding and anything else that nature can throw at you every year. Here, I can live with an occasional earthquake, heat and cold, and without the fear of an every-year event. Fires you say? There are fires in most all states, so that doesn’t even count. Still want to leave? Good luck.
Shari Land, San Marcos
Planning to leave, but also to return again
I was born and raised in California and have only moved twice in my life. The first time was within Los Angeles when I was five and the second time, I moved from Los Angeles to San Diego to attend college.
Since I have lived here all of my life, it is all that I have known. When I was in high school, I was so quick to want to move across the country to get my life started and go for my academic aspirations. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely loved the weather and being so close to the ocean, but this change in my head was more important. Although that drastic move didn’t happen, this itch to explore never went away.
Within the past year, I have seen and heard of a lot of people leaving California for the exact reasons in the prompt. As I get older and become more independent, I can definitely relate.
I have come to realize how hard it may be for me to buy a property at my age. I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that if I want to buy a property, it would either need to be out of state or outside San Diego or Los Angeles in a smaller city. This is probably one of the biggest cons in my eyes.
In determining costs, the amount I pay for my one-bedroom apartment is the same amount that I could be making payments on towards a two- or three-bedroom house in Palm Springs, for example. If I expand my range, I could find a house that’s twice as big outside of California. Now that these topics are more relevant to me, I have definitely become a lot more aware of what my options are and what the best options for me may entail.
Although this reason is important to me, the main reason I can see myself leaving California would be to experience different weather, culture and places. I believe the world has so much to offer, why wouldn’t I want to experience life on the opposite side of the world? I have only traveled outside of the United States one time and that sure did not scratch my traveling itch. I am excited for my goals to live abroad and to be able to take in all of life’s experiences that come along.
Although California may have its negatives, I have come to the conclusion that every other place does, too. Whether it’s more frequent natural disasters, experiencing a harsher climate, or even not having an In-N-Out, there will always be pros and cons. I think what each person should decide for themselves what is most important to them and act on that.
Deep down in my heart, I know that one day I will return to California and settle back here to live the rest of my days. I have many reasons to want to come which include my family and tons of childhood memories and even attachments to certain places. I know California will welcome me back with open arms when the time comes, and for now I will cherish my time here greatly.
Sarah Wall, La Mesa
San Diego is the best, at least in the U.S.
The best place to live in the U.S. is San Diego County in spite of the cost of living. However, I argue that the U.S. is not the best country to live in.
No other first-world country has regular mass shootings and police killings of unarmed citizens. They don’t have people dying for lack of medical care (or going bankrupt to pay for it). People don’t live under bridges or in tents on city sidewalks. Other countries provide child care, free college and national health care. Even Russia and Cuba provide free health care. Of course their taxes are high — how else to pay for these measures of care and security?
I have traveled extensively and lived abroad. We do not have the best systems that promote equality, fairness and opportunity.
In the U.S., we have rampant racism (anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, etc.) The U.S. is no “shining city on a hill.” We have enormous wealth and income inequality and tax loopholes that benefit the rich and powerful. We do not have full democracy because we have the Electoral College, gerrymandering and the filibuster to thwart the wishes of the majority of the people. To quote author Greg Palast, we have “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.”
As a senior citizen, I’m too old to emigrate to Canada, New Zealand or Western Europe. If I were younger, I would be packing.
Karen Seal Stewart, Oceanside
Moving but not so far we can’t visit often
My wife and I just moved from San Diego to Las Vegas in December.
In this new work-from-home reality, we were looking for a bigger space for dedicated home office space. Upgrading in San Diego was too expensive, so we cashed out our two-bedroom townhouse for a new four-bedroom house, and have an even lower mortgage now.
Add in zero state income taxes, and I kind of wish we would have made this move earlier as we’re able to put more into our retirement accounts.
And last, we’re still close enough to come back for weekend trips from time to time.
Michael Nowatnick, Las Vegas
Those who chose to stay were rewarded
I can’t seriously consider leaving California because if I sold my home I’d have to pay a six-figure income tax bill on the capital gain. And if I bought a home in another state I’d see thousands more in property taxes compared with the low rate I now have due to Proposition 13.
But if I could sell tax-free, I’d have enough money to buy a fine home in a northern climate, a second home in Florida, and enough left over to buy an RV and a boat.
Tempting I suppose, but do I really want an RV and a boat, and to live in either the north or Florida? No, I’ll stay here for the climate, the lifestyle, the culture and my friends and family.
Fortunately, I can afford the joy of travel for short-term relief from the boredom of this perfect lifestyle. But leave permanently? No way.
Robert Irwin, Carlsbad
Some of the reasons to stay in California
Endless summer, the ocean, sunsets, Coronado, Mission and Pacific beaches, La Jolla, Windansea, North County, Torrey Pines and Balboa golf courses, surfing, skate boarding, beach volleyball, UC San Diego, Scripps and Sharp hospitals, the Padres, rolled tacos, Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Disneyland, Laguna, Corona Del Mar and Newport Beaches, Venice Beach, Abbott Kinney Boulevard, the canals, Santa Monica, Malibu, Sunset Boulevard night clubs, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood sign, Hollywood, movie stars and celebrities, great restaurants, fabulous homes, beautiful woman and men, Highway 101, Pacific Coast Highway, the Lakers, LeBron James, the Clippers, the Dodgers, Angels, Rams and Chargers, the Grapevine in spring, Palm Springs, the desert, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Anderson’s pea soup, Moss Beach, Paso Robles, Carmel, Pebble Beach golf, Pacific Grove, Big Sur, Apple headquarters, Google and Facebook, the 49ers, Stanford University, the Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry, the Giants and A’s, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars climbing halfway to the stars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, Haight-Ashbury, Pacific Heights, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, fabulous restaurants, UC Berkeley, BART, Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Stinson Beach, Muir Woods, Mt. Tamalpias, the Napa Valley and wine country, Petaluma, North Coast beaches, Sacramento (old and new), Interstate 5 heading north to Mt. Shasta and sooo much more.
Alan Segal, South Mission Beach
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