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Old 08-16-2016, 08:00 PM   #21
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In the BA, Napa is not at all a bike ride away from SF; it's at least a couple of hours away by car. And there's no way you can rent a car in SF, drive to Yosemite, hike, and get back by the end of the weekend (unless you've got super powers). Housing in the Bay Area? Forget it. See this:

https://shift.newco.co/letter-of-res...4f5#.nhk1htz5i
According to Google maps, it is 3.5 hours from SF to Yosemite, 1.22 hours to Napa, more or less from the BA suburbs depending which suburb and if it is rush hour / prime tourist hours or not. Google maps is now showing Napa as 58 minutes from Berkeley.

People from all over the Bay Area go to Yosemite for the weekend. We've done it many times. It is a popular weekend trip, no super powers needed.

It is expensive all over the BA, no doubt about that, but according to Nerdwallet, Palo Alto, the city in your link, is the wealthiest city in the nation, not just the BA, so even most two income, white collar type households are not going to be able to afford to live there. The prices do drop further out into the suburbs. The median home price in Hayward is $525K and $488K for Santa Rosa.
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Old 08-16-2016, 08:50 PM   #22
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Welcome to San Diego! Hope you enjoy downtown living.
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:30 AM   #23
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We also lived in San Jose and sold our home there last year. We moved to Santa Cruz, only 30 miles from the old house. Housing here is a little cheaper, and traffic is definitely not as bad, though Hwy 1 can get backed up. We chose Santa Cruz to be close to the ocean while remaining close enough to see San Jose friends regularly. The weather here may not be as ideal as it is in San Diego, but it is warmer and less foggy than either San Francisco or the Monterey Peninsula. And because Santa Cruz is a much smaller city than San Jose and a college town, it is far more walkable and bike friendly than San Jose ever was. We are still close enough to go to a baseball game or a concert in San Francisco, but since it is about 90 minutes each way, we don't go as often as we once did.

Sometimes I do wonder if it is worth the expense to live in California, but I do love it here. We might have retired in San Francisco proper if real estate prices hadn't gone so crazy there, but as it is I don't see the value in it.

DH and I talked a little bit about Boulder as well, but as soon as we found our short sale in Santa Cruz we pretty much stopped talking about moving elsewhere. We never went exploring other possibilities, which I would have loved to do. I guess we will just have to explore other places without considering them as possible retirement locations.

We were in Downtown San Diego about a month ago and it is certainly beautiful and no doubt a great place to live. Congratulations!
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:02 AM   #24
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We probably had to leave CA to realize how much we like it.
This, in a nutshell, has been our experience as well.

When we FIRE'd we were very open to relocating away from California, anticipating that at some point during our RV travels around the USA we'd stumble onto our little piece of nirvana. However, after exploring something like 20 states in the last five years, that has not occurred, and we have returned to California at the conclusion of each trip newly appreciative at all that we already have right here.

For us it has come down to three factors - 1) Weather. It's often quoted, but it is indeed true, that we can be outside here doing something fun pretty much any day of the year. 2) Ocean access. I don't know how to put a price on what living near/alongside the Pacific Ocean brings to our quality of life - consistently cool, pleasant temps absent humidity (!), biking, hiking, running, wading, swimming, kayaking, RV'ing, gazing at . . . the list goes on and on. 3) Cultural norms. I think this is likely a result of what you are used to, but we have been very surprised at how much cultural variance there is, not just by state, but also within states, and now recognize that coastal California does indeed have a distinctive cultural vibe. One that we have realized over time we really like.

And regarding traffic - yes, we have it for sure. But as others have said, it is very easy to avoid once you understand how and when it occurs. And at the end of the day, traffic is simply the result of a lot of people wanting to live or get somewhere, which provides a good number of benefits for those of us already here, even if we tend to gloss over them in our rush to complain. Things like lots and lots of restaurants, live theater, sporting events, festivals, shops, movie theaters, concert halls, etc., etc.

Clearly not everyone has interest in being surrounded by the number of people living in a congested area delivers, but if you do, the rewards of doing so in California are many IMHO.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:12 AM   #25
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Not clear why your Net Worth dropped when you bought condo - unless you don't consider owned property as part of Net Worth. I would. Yes, you have less investable/spendable assets, but condo still worth what it's worth.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:26 AM   #26
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Boulder is great little town and I'm sure we would have been happy there (and in other cities along the front range like Denver/Fort Collins). But I think it boils down to whether you prefer the mountains or the beach. Do you like RMNP or Yosemite better?
+1. Obviously a personal choice, but being near water (less than an hour) is essential for some, DW and I are in that camp. And I don't think anything short of an ocean or a Great Lake will do...YMMV

Thanks for the nice write up photoguy. You shouldn't have regrets about your long visiting phase, you'd probably have always wondered about those other places otherwise. So you've made an infored choice, doesn't get much better.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:53 AM   #27
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It's a shame you just didn't have time to go to more diverse places in the U.S. than you did. But you cannot visit everywhere on a fact finding expedition.
When we were coming up with a short list, I felt like we had a huge gap in our knowledge of east coast cities. Besides DC (wife lived there previously and I visited many times), we really didn't have a good read on areas. But we do really like the west due to the variety of national parks here.

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We also lived in San Jose and sold our home there last year. We moved to Santa Cruz, only 30 miles from the old house. Housing here is a little cheaper, and traffic is definitely not as bad, though Hwy 1 can get backed up. We chose Santa Cruz to be close to the ocean while remaining close enough to see San Jose friends regularly. The weather here may not be as ideal as it is in San Diego, but it is warmer and less foggy than either San Francisco or the Monterey Peninsula. And because Santa Cruz is a much smaller city than San Jose and a college town, it is far more walkable and bike friendly than San Jose ever was. We are still close enough to go to a baseball game or a concert in San Francisco, but since it is about 90 minutes each way, we don't go as often as we once did.
Walkable is very important to us. In San Jose we lived in willow glen just a few blocks from lincoln ave which is probably the best area outside of downtown. Still our walkscore was only 80 and we needed to get in a car to get groceries. Here in SD we are at 95+ and probably only need to drive to get to a medical center.

We looked at both santa cruz and santa rosa as options. Good chance we would have gone there next along with portland.

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DH and I talked a little bit about Boulder as well, but as soon as we found our short sale in Santa Cruz we pretty much stopped talking about moving elsewhere. We never went exploring other possibilities, which I would have loved to do. I guess we will just have to explore other places without considering them as possible retirement locations.
You're lucky (or extremely good) to have found a short sale. In SD short sales have almost completely dried up.

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Not clear why your Net Worth dropped when you bought condo - unless you don't consider owned property as part of Net Worth. I would. Yes, you have less investable/spendable assets, but condo still worth what it's worth.
You're right the chart is mislabeled. It should be net investible assets or investment portfolio. During the recovery, I had no clear idea what our home would sell for (very little volume and wide fluctuations in price, possible equity loss) but so mentally I just counted it as zero. Eventually I will put both lines on the graph.
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:44 AM   #28
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Nice Post OP'r. We lived in SoCAL for almost 20 years. Honestly, we do not miss it that much other than our old friends and of course the Weather.

Traffic and Posing people were the worst parts, especially the "You are what you drive" mentality. If you can keep away from these then it is as close to paradise as you can get (If you are prepared to pay the Housing Costs).

We now living in St. Augustine, FL. It is about as close to Paradise as you can get too with ONE exception, the brutal heat of July, August & September. But honestly you do get used to that. The Slower place of life without stress, priceless.
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Old 08-17-2016, 08:29 PM   #29
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There and Back Again (Relocation Update)

To the OP: Thanks for starting this interesting thread. Can you tell us how long you lived in the Santa Fe/ABQ area and you impressions of it?


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Old 08-17-2016, 10:46 PM   #30
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We now living in St. Augustine, FL. It is about as close to Paradise as you can get too with ONE exception, the brutal heat of July, August & September. But honestly you do get used to that. The Slower place of life without stress, priceless.


We haven't spent enough time in St. Augustine, but it's the one FL location I would seriously consider if HI doesn't work out.

Loved SD, but more expensive in many ways than HI - especially housing. Traffic is MUCH worse in just about any part of costal CA than in HI. Still, I see the draw of the California experience. I think I could live there - if I could afford it.

Thanks to photoguy for nice review of the process you went through to find a retirement home base. Very interesting and informative. Enjoy!!
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Old 08-17-2016, 11:17 PM   #31
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Congratulations, Photoguy! I agree with you that it's hard to beat San Diego. Several years ago, DH & I checked out several alternate locations we might be able to live in retirement. We eliminated all small cities not close to a major airport, all landlocked cities, and anything not reasonably warm. We focused on NV, TX, & FL since all are zero state income tax states. We made trips to each, looked at real estate, and visited local events, restaurants and grocery stores to get a sense of culture and cost of living. We found that apart from housing and taxes, other costs overall were pretty comparable to CA. After a lot of soul searching, we decided we would just work for an extra 5 years so we could afford to retire where we really wanted to live. Will be pulling the trigger on ER soon, still in our 50's. We live in a smaller space than we likely would in the other areas, but still very adequate for our needs. We are really looking forward to spending our time enjoying the So CA sunshine hiking, biking, boating, and doing a variety of other outdoor activities year-around. Don't need to drive more than a few miles to do any of these things. Life is good! 😎


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Old 08-18-2016, 05:43 AM   #32
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Thanks for the story and photos, Photoguy. It's great that you could downsize to so few belongings and travel for 2 years searching for the best ER spot. San Diego area would be high on my list as well.
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:56 AM   #33
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We haven't spent enough time in St. Augustine, but it's the one FL location I would seriously consider if HI doesn't work out.
We often thought about moving to HI. They have one of the best (Highly Rated) health care systems in the country. But to maintain our standard of living we would have to compromise too much on housing as it is so expensive. Even on the Big Island that we do like so much.

Having lived and worked in SoCAL for so long up to 2004 where the traffic was terrible. (We lived near Laguna Beach) and Home prices very steep. I cannot see us going back.
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:40 AM   #34
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To the OP: Thanks for starting this interesting thread. Can you tell us how long you lived in the Santa Fe/ABQ area and you impressions of it?
We were in the Santa Fe/ABQ area for only one month. We realized pretty quickly (within the first week) that it wasn't going to work for us and decided not to stay any longer. In fact, Boulder pretty much dominated Santa Fe on all the criteria that were important to us.

Some things we didn't like about santa fe:

The crime rate is noticeably higher. The first week we were there the city went on lock down due to an escaped felon from a work detail. What's crazy is that the person had previously attempt an escape before. My wife was also threatened with a beating right in old town square. Mail theft is apparently an every day issue as we saw a few households with signs telling the postman to not leave mail in the box at the curb/walls. Broken windows theory and everything.

The vibe was unappealing to us. Santa Fe felt like a tourist town where rich old people go to die retire and there's no real industry or jobs outside of tourism and the government. In contrast, Boulder felt younger and more energetic with people coming to live there specifically for outdoor activities. Boulder has a pretty healthy economy and even a small tech scene (in terms of the people we met, it actually felt pretty similar to bay area. In fact, Google is expanding their footprint and expected to have 1500 employees in a city of 100k). CU Boulder is a top tier research university (I interviewed there a long time ago) whereas there's nothing comparable in Santa Fe. Median age in Santa Fe is 45 compared to 28 in Boulder, 36 in San Jose, and 33 in San Diego.

Santa Fe also felt very bimodal. Lots of very rich and very poor people. On paper, Santa Fe is more diverse with nearly a 50-50 split between whites and hispanics, but it was quite easy to go into a restaurant and see only white patrons. Boulder is basically all white but is diverse in a different way -- we ran into quite a few people who immigrated from foreign countries (also many US transplants from HCOL areas).

There were some factors personal to us. Specifically, Boulder is within a day's drive to IA (wife's family) whereas it would take 2 days from santa fe. You can get direct flights from denver to des moines but not from the santa fe airport (or abq)

Sorry if this seems so negative on santa fe. I don't think it's a bad place but rather just that Boulder so was much better for us personally. Santa Fe has a great arts scene with a ton of festivals, museums, and galleries. You might also run into GRRM.

Albuquerque was eliminated because it was just too hot.
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:55 AM   #35
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Great thread.

The California weather is hard to beat and, at least for me, weather goes a long way toward making a place great (or not) to live.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:23 AM   #36
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My wife and kids and I went on a long trip about 35 years ago wondering if there might be some place that we would prefer living to Puget Sound. When we got home and saw the mountains and sea, we realized the quest had been basically a waste of time and money other than the visiting. We went east to my old family home, visited family, then dropped down into Tennessee and on through Arkansas into her family in Texas, across Texas and eventually to more family in Santa Barbara and up I-% to home. The only place I felt I might like was El Paso, and then LA beach up to San Francisco. So we went home. By then I had the ER bug, and although I hadn't been gone from SoCal beach communities very long, I felt that I had been priced out given my ER obsession.

We cancelled El Paso because I had long realized that if you love your children, raise them somewhere economically and culturally attractive to young people and with luck you may see a lot of them. El Paso didn't seem to fit that bill, though it was as you know a dry heat, and in winter a mild and dry cold with lots of sun. Reno is also a very attractive place, but I worried that I might become a regular in Cal-Neva casino.

My only complaint where I am is that there are very few housing units with AC, and though I am fine with probably 48-49 months of any year here, it can get muggy and hot from time to tome, We are due to start a 4 day heat spell just when I thought I was home free.

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Old 08-18-2016, 02:12 PM   #37
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<SNIP>

My only complaint where I am is that there are very few housing units with AC, and though I am fine with probably 48-49 months of any year here, it can get muggy and hot from time to tome, We are due to start a 4 day heat spell just when I thought I was home free.

Ha
In our old place, we put a window AC in our BR. That was enough for the half dozen days/year it got too muggy in Kaneohe. Now, if we start getting too warm (not so far) we might consider one of those portable units that you roll around and use a window for both intake and exhaust. Can pick up a lightly used one for $100 or new one for $500.
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:20 PM   #38
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We often thought about moving to HI. They have one of the best (Highly Rated) health care systems in the country. But to maintain our standard of living we would have to compromise too much on housing as it is so expensive. Even on the Big Island that we do like so much.
We're pretty much satisfied with the HC system in Hawaii, but I'm not aware of it being "highly rated" - but that's for another discussion. For those considering the Big Island because IT IS much less expensive for housing: Significant health care procedures are carried out on Oahu. So if you need anything significant (even some testing) you fly to Oahu to get it. Emergency air-lift to HON from other islands is fairly common.

I share your love for the Big Island. We hope to get back there this fall or winter. (Love to use that term "winter." It always makes me smile.)
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Old 08-18-2016, 05:24 PM   #39
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We're pretty much satisfied with the HC system in Hawaii, but I'm not aware of it being "highly rated" - but that's for another discussion. For those considering the Big Island because IT IS much less expensive for housing: Significant health care procedures are carried out on Oahu. So if you need anything significant (even some testing) you fly to Oahu to get it. Emergency air-lift to HON from other islands is fairly common.

I share your love for the Big Island. We hope to get back there this fall or winter. (Love to use that term "winter." It always makes me smile.)

This made me take a look at the big island. Found a rental for a studio condo unit for $900/mo 6 month minimum. Had nice pool and easy enough drive or bike ride to the beach. Starting to dream of retirement 6 months at a time in beautiful and fun places.
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:08 PM   #40
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I get what you mean about deciding between mountains and beach, but we'll never leave Colorado. Here's our view off our back patio. Hard to beat...if you like the mountains.
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