California Living

For those new to this channel, I relocated back to California after a 11 year detour through Arizona. Having been back now for almost 6 months, I have some observations as a new outsider.

California in general, and Silicon Valley in particular is like no where else in the world. Great climate, diversity of cultures, high tech and ghetto all blended together.

Some thoughts:

  • Apartment dwellers with nice cars – I have little choice but to park my car (a Honda S2000) in the parking lot at our temporary apartment. But walking through the lot, there are plenty of BMW 5 series and 7 series cars, as well as Mercedes. These are people living in crappy, 40 year old, 2 bedroom, and 3 bedroom apartments, that are decidedly budget for the area. I guess the adage car rich, house poor applies.

  • Alcohol prices – Holee shee-it, is alcohol expensive here. I never thought of Arizona as a low tax haven for booze. Heck, it has a remarkably high proportion of Mormons in the legislature who love to regulate and tax sins like booze and cigarettes, but the difference in crossing the state line is striking. Easily 20% more here. I guess I could look up if it is tax, or just opportunistic gouging that the market will bear.
  • Grocery prices – Again, another eye opener. Going to the local supermarket, the “ghetto” Lucky’s is as expensive or more expensive than Sprouts or Whole Foods in Phoenix or Tucson. Kind of confusing considering how much of the nation’s produce comes from California.
  • Weather – not all is negatives. We went through the heat of summer quite comfortably. The apartment is poorly insulated, and has crappy single pane windows, so since we face west, it got hot in the afternoons, enough to demand running the AC unit downstairs. But it isn’t at all like AZ where from April until October you have the AC cranked. Not enough rain though (we are having a drought), so it isn’t great. But I will not miss the brutal mid-day heat in Tucson and Phoenix during the summer months.
  • Traffic – I used to laugh inwardly when colleagues whinged about traffic in Tucson and Phoenix. Heh heh. OMG it can take 45 minutes to go across the valley of the sun. Puh-lease. One day last week, it took almost 45 minutes to go 3 miles to get to the 17 freeway. If I had to mention the biggest change since leaving and returning, it would be the asinine drivers. This deserves many blog posts.
  • Size of houses – Since we are temporarily camped out in rental apartment land, we are not as hawk-like in our house search, but we keep an eye on it. In AZ, our two houses we owned were 1925 and 2350 sq ft. We had lots of room for the two of us, and our two hounds. Our apartment is claimed to be 1100 sq ft, but it is upstairs/downstairs so the living space is cramped. Looking at a house yesterday that was 1680 sq ft, it felt palatial. We are going to be getting rid of most of our stuff in storage.

At least there is good bicycling around here.

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