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Thread summary:

Family of 5 relocating from Wisconsin to California, 130-150k income, diversity, city life, local markets, artistic community, good schools, safe neighborhood

Old 09-23-2006, 08:48 PM
8 posts, read 30,520 times
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I currently live in a rural area about 45 minutes out of Milwaukee, WI with my wife and 10yr, 7yr, and 3 mo. old children. I'm a software architect / manager at the higher end of the pay scale here with 2 years of school, 10 years experience, and 5 patents under my belt and started looking to relocate in January this year.

We visited some family in Berkeley in January, and got bit by the Cali bug (first time there) big time. Right now I'm making about 90k here (full time no contract - though been offered 110ish jobs here), and equivilent jobs in Cali seem to pay around 130-150 depending on where you go. I'm currently the only one bringing income into the house.

My wife and I are artistic types, I'm 30 and write songs, play guitar and drums etc. and she's an artist. We absolutely loved Berkeley, and also checked out SF itself quite a bit, San Mateo, Oakland, Alameda, and some of the other East Bay / Silicon Valley areas. I have never been to San Diego but lord, Cali is so much more our style than Wisconsin I can't stop thinking about wanting to be there (my wife and kids are excited too). The diversity would be such a welcome change from ol' whitey WI (as long as relatively safe areas) and I want to work in/near the city. My wife has always wanted to live somewhere where she can walk to grocery stores with local produce and stuff, from what I understand though that's more of a Berkeley thing so maybe she needs to cut loose of that to get out there at first.

What I'm wondering is - is it nuts to think of trying to move a family of 5 to this area, or perhaps near San Diego? I really like the idea of working in SF downtown, or the valley, or somewhere near San Diego. At the same time, a 500k house on 130-150 might be too tight (we aren't opposed to renting starting out, assuming we can get 3 bedrooms at least), and I don't see how I can afford 15k times two for private school if I can't find an area with good public schools.

We have looked at some of the further out cities from SF and SD (Antioch, Santee, etc.) however it seems like to move so far from our family here to be a far drive from the ocean defeats the point. We are SO sick of winter (30 years old personally and spent all of it in the midwest) and if we can find somewhere with doable housing, safe enough area, and access to the ocean and big city man we'd be there as soon as I can land something.

Any thoughts on our situation, my sanity, or other communities with some of what we're looking for would be so appreciated

Great board! Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-24-2006, 02:13 AM
Location: WPB, FL. Dreaming of Oil city, PA
2,909 posts, read 12,791,759 times
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A $500k house isnt even much of a house in south Cali, afraid to say. You make some very, very good money for living in a rural town. With the much higher costs of living in Cali, you should be looking for double the salary you make and two incomes would help mucho too. Have you considered other areas to live? Texas might be of interest for you. You can get a newly constructed 4 bedroom, 2000+ square feet house there for $150k! The climate is hot though. Theres alot to do in Texas, something you desire
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Old 09-24-2006, 08:25 PM
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I lived on that salary as a renter and it was just an okay lifestyle. I certainly couldn't buy a house and rent isn't that cheap for a nice rental you would want to raise a family in. Since that previous person had suggested Texas, I will say I have heard nothing but good things about Austin, TX - especially for musicians. My husband and I are your age and he is a musician and he raved about Austin, he just couldn't find a job there, so we ended up in NC!!! Talk about different from Southern CA where we were born and raised. We did it so I could stay home with our baby which we couldn't do while living in CA. I hope you can make whatever you decide work for your family and good luck!!
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Old 09-24-2006, 08:43 PM
1,398 posts, read 6,018,519 times
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To maintain the same standard of living that 110K affords you in Milwaukee, one would need to earn 220K in the San Francisco area; that it is 100% more expensive to live around the Bay area than your area. You will not be able to afford a house with the amount you posted, just a small condo.

If you give up all luxuries you can do it: you want to relocate basically for weather and image, and both are free. If you're relocating for something more tangible, you've got a lot of research in front of you. I hope your family isn't buying into the mistake that many make, fixating on where they had a great vacation as a place to live, which they probably cannot afford as full time residence.

As I said, you can do it, but there are masses of trade-offs that you probably haven't calculated. You might find yourself living like poor graduate students in tiny hideyholes for a long time, to afford being in the spot you want. Speaking for myself only, just because an area "feels right" to me has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not I can afford to live there! Enclaves of the super-rich feel just dandy to me! My purse, however, says, "never in this lifetime."

Last edited by Yac; 10-30-2007 at 01:39 PM..
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Old 09-24-2006, 09:07 PM
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Thanks for the replies so far, I am definately aware that our lifestyle would be tighter but so far we are weighing what we would have to lose (house size, spending cash) and we are fairly frugal here, so we hoped we might make it work. Can anyone tell me if some of the areas around San Diego might be more reasonable than the bay area? Does anyone have any experiences to share with decent public schools in that area?

I know we would not find a house or condo out west that would be anything like the place we are staying in now size wise (for what we can afford) but that is ok - we've done the big yard thing and it's a bunch of work we don't need. We and our kids love the outdoors but don't really do much on our property - frankly, the woods and such out here gets boring after 30 years. Some people just love it, we just don't.

A warmer climate and access to the ocean I know can be had in other places than cali however most of these dont seem to have the job market I would need to find a job that will let me really learn some new technologies like it seems the western opportunites are.
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Old 09-24-2006, 09:34 PM
279 posts, read 1,673,210 times
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There is a reason native Californians are leaving in droves. Just click on any of the states forums and you will see CA's looking for advice like you on other states. I cannot wait to get my 3 kids out of here. All my family is here and I've never lived anywhere else, but good public schools in CA is an oxy moron. The weather isn't worth it. Try Idaho, we a few people that have gone there and love it and wish they had gone sooner.
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Old 09-25-2006, 07:52 AM
1,398 posts, read 6,018,519 times
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I am another who is counting the seconds until my husband retires so we can get the heck out of Los Angeles. We California residents have observed the sweep of the decline of the standard of living here for the non-rich, and it's both depressing and frightening. Near the cities, low-cost living means residing in areas that would be dangerous to your family. Out here, low-cost translates differently: it doesn't mean less amenities and merely smaller necessarily: it means you'll be living amongst some dangerous people, and whole communities where your kids will never hear English spoken ever.

Maybe this is a good time to bring up the Harrison Ford movie "Mosquito Coast," wherein the father thought he was doing a great thing for his family, moving them to a radically different environment that he thought perfect, but hadn't really thought through the entirety of the implications and reality for his family rather than his personal obsession. I still think you have a lot hard research ahead of you. This isn't Dreamland near the oceans, except for the mega-rich. And when you're already living frugally (as I am as well) it's hard to cut back further. I'm not a parent, so I don't know how most kids react to even stricter cost-cutting.
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:37 AM
Location: Rolando, San Diego CA 92115
8,146 posts, read 25,630,181 times
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You can find a decent condo in a good school district in San Diego for ~500k easily, but I would think it impossible in the bay area.
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Old 09-25-2006, 09:46 AM
7 posts, read 29,256 times
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Don't give up your dream. With enough research you just may be able to do it. Maybe not in the San Francisco/Berkeley area (highest rent district in Cal.), but San Diego is a good second choice. If you look into San Diego and don't mind commuting, try Poway. There is also La Jolla, although that may be still be too pricey. My friends moved to Poway so that the mom could be home with the kids, and it's a great community to raise a family in. There's also Fallbrook, north of Poway, but its more of a retirement community, and also look into Temecula. It is a fast growing community and perhaps the developers will be more likely to offer incentives to get you into a home. Just remember, the farther north you go, but tougher the commute will be.
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:07 AM
9,716 posts, read 12,940,289 times
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I think you will be able to do far more "money-wise" as far as employment goes. Five patents is nothing to sneeze at and California is Venture Capital Central. There are a lot of start-ups out here and if you choose carefully, you might find yourself making a lot more than $150K in a relatively short time. You might also want to look at other coastal areas like Orange County and Ventura County.

Housing is expensive everywhere out here. If I were you, I would just plan on renting in the beginning. You can always decide where you want to live permanently after you find a job and know a little more about the areas.
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