As I sit in a hotel reminiscing on my life in California I thought I would write down the reasons about why I loved living in California. I am doing this for two reasons really, one it might help me move on from what I classed as a very happy period in my life, and two it is a written reminder of the fun I had for when I get older and my ol’ mind isn’t what it once was.
Let me begin by saying that living in California was my life’s ultimate dream. Specifically it was living and working in Silicon Valley that was the dream. I have been interested in computers and technology ever since I was a young boy (read this article about my early computer years). I remember being 15 years old on a family holiday in France, talking to an American, who constantly kept going on about Silicon Valley. “If you are really interested in tech you need to get to Silicon Valley” he said. He had a lot of stories to tell and I was enthralled. One day I thought, I would make it to Silicon Valley! How awesome too, I have achieved one of my life’s ambitions.
The work culture
In California and I think America as a whole, most people have a positive outlook on life. If you work hard you can achieve your goals. Nice house, nice cars, educate your children. It is after all the American Dream that we have heard so much about over the years. Coming from the UK the mentality is a bit different. Its not always as positive, people like to complain (I am one of these people who like to complain), and generally the glass is half empty. This is why I think EastEnders is so popular in Britain. I have never watched a more negative programme on TV.
Anyway, the general outlook in the work environment in America is lets get this done. LETS DO THIS! It rubs off on you. The whooping and the high fiving really does energize you. Looking in from a more reserved culture in Britain you think its kinda crazy, but after a while, you discover its really beneficial. Positive thinking and being excited about stuff is really motivating.
The Weather aka The Outdoor lifestyle
The biggest part of living in California for me was the weather. The sun is always shining, it is always warm. Even when the fog rolls in off the sea in Santa Cruz its still warm. This was the driving factor for me wanting to stay in California. It allows you to do so much as a family. Having two young children, being able to play outdoors all day every day is a major bonus for their upbringing. You can open the back door to your yard (garden for us British) and they can just play, whether it is January or July!
You have state parks round every corner. Bored of being in your garden? Go for a walk in the woods… Its warm, so you have no concern about the weather, you simply just get up and go.
For my son and I we used to go for a bike ride around the area we lived in every night when I returned home. My wife would kindly be preparing dinner and my son and I would just jump on the bikes and go riding for 45 minutes or an hour. I personally found it to be the most amazing experience of my life, bonding with my 3 year old son as he was gaining more and more confidence on his bike. Watching him trying to jump up little ramps. It was amazing. When we go for bike rides in the UK, he complains its too cold 🙂
I spent my weekends either walking round woods, visiting children’s museums, in the swimming pool with my family, or at a friends house chopping wood.
This is the epitome of the outdoor life. There is something extremely relaxing and soothing about being at one with nature chopping and splitting wood (albeit with petrol driven machines lol). It was like a sanctuary 30 minutes drive away from my home. I found it truly amazing to spend hours just working miles away from an office or even a phone.
Out of this world! Truly Amazing! California beaches are amazing. Clean, beautiful and amazing! You can sit on the beach and watch dolphins swim by. Truly wonderful sight. I had all this five minutes walk away from home. We lived in an area called Aptos, which is in Santa Cruz county. Within five minutes being able to be on a beach is truly awesome.
Having a young family, what I was impressed with the most in California is how there is so much to do with Children. Around every corner is a childrens park, or an event going on to take the children too. You just see signs up in the street advertising play areas, or events for children. Dinosaur events, Childrens Museums, face painting in the woods. Its just all round the corner and you don’t even need to look for it.
Cost of Living
Now a lot of people say California is expensive, and compared to the most of America yes it is. However, coming from the UK, I found it either comparable or cheaper. Fuel is a massive difference. Paying on average $12 a gallon in the UK, then living in California where the average gallon of fuel is $3 is massive. House prices are also very similar to what you find in the south of England. Of course if you want to buy a 5000 SQ FT house in Downtown Palo Alto, your going to pay about $20 million, but that’s no different to trying to buy a 3 bed apartment in the center of Chelsea to be honest. You can find amazing houses with acres of land in Santa Cruz County for between $600,000 and $850,000. That’s around £300,000 to £500,000. Comparable to the south of England again.
Food prices are comparable to England too. You find that fruit and vegetables are more expensive, but they are freshly grown 10 miles down the road. Not trucked into Tesco’s every night from somewhere in Africa.
Recapping on my two years living in California I can honestly say they were the happiest days of my life so far. Spending so much time with my family outdoors was truly awesome fun. I really do miss living in California. I really do. It was a truly awesome experience that I want to live again someday.
So why did we move back if that was that great? Long story short, having such a young family and living a long distance away from family (grandparents who can babysit at short notice) can be a challenge. We decided that we would come back, but how I miss living in California.