3 Reasons Why I am Happy to Not Move Back to the Bay Area

3 Reasons Why I am Happy to Not Move Back to the Bay Area

So yes, everyone has heard that it’s way too expensive to live in the bay area which is so true. I lived in Berkeley CA and surrounding cities in the Bay for about 12 years and I never thought that I would leave. I went to school there, met my husband and had my first child there. While living in the bay, I always had at least 1 roommate if not 4.  But now, rent has increased ridiculously that even having roommates does not make it at all affordable. According to Michelle Robertson with SF Gate, A 6 figure salary is considered low income in SF. Many of my friends that have no family ties to the bay have also moved away. If your parents or relatives didn’t buy a house there a long time ago, then your probably going to be working really hard to stay. In all honesty, I enjoy everything about the Bay area. The weather, the culture, lots of great food options, plenty of outdoor green spaces, bike lanes, and accessible transit systems. But guess what? I moved away and I am happy.

1) My cost of living is low now that I have moved

Since I moved away from the Bay

For almost 3 years now, I have definitely felt a gradual shift towards enjoying life in the central valley which, did not happen overnight. I have come across many families who have also made this transition. What us families have noticed is that in raising our kids, the central valley has everything you need and you can save your money.  I have been living in a 2 bedroom apartment with access to a pool, gym and paying less than $1,000 a month. The housing prices to buy or rent are extremely low when compared to the Bay Area. According to Forbes.com in 2018 the average home price in San Francisco were $1,097,000, in Oakland $606,000, Fresno $230,000 and Visalia $208,000. As you can see, the cost of housing in Fresno & Visalia are much more affordable than places like San Francisco & Oakland. Think about what you can spend your money on if you’re not spending it all in rent or a really expensive mortgage?  

2) We can travel easily without worry 

Being able to afford to travel with family and even pay for extended family to join us in mini or long distance vacations has been a great advantage in living in a low cost of living location.

red wood trees, Sequoia National Park

The above picture is from the Giant Sequoia Groves in The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. There are beautiful Redwood trees and Giant Sequoia Groves, Crystal Caves, Lakes, Rivers, hiking trails and plenty of activities like skiing and horseback riding. 

Some of the great outdoor spaces that we enjoy and frequent often

 The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite, Three Rivers and lakes like Avacado Lake. Kid friendly beaches like Avila and Pismo can act as a fun day trip or make a weekend out of it. For longer trips, you can still choose to go to your major Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. And for long distance plane trips, averaging from 2-5 hours we have gone to Playa del Carmen, Xcaret, Cabos, Mexico City, and Oaxaca Mexico.  

Left top: Oaxaca, Mexico Left bottom: Xcaret, Mexico Right: Hotel Xcaret

When we decide not to travel 

We hang in our town. There are plenty of things to do such as; salsa dancing, festivals, social events, farmers markets, hanging out at the park with friends and the great thing about it, is that it does not feel overly crowded. During the week there are kid-friendly activities like storytime at the library, the children’s museum,  parks, kid-friendly classes at the recreation center, a splash pad, adventure park, a water park (being built). Basically, similar things that you would see in a major city like the Bay area. Bike lanes are also popping up more and more along with walking trails and of course your typical restaurants and shops. We have everything that a city would have just fewer people, fewer lines, reduced traffic, and less stress.

3) Life has become far less stressful 

Every time I go to visit the bay

I immediately start to feel my shoulders rise towards my neck. Driving there is stressful and finding parking can be really difficult. There seem’s to be more people driving but the same amount of limited space as before. While living in the central valley, I have never experienced bumper to bumper traffic. It is so much more relaxed and you get to your destination without having to worry about getting there on time. If you’re toting around little kids in the car like I am, the last thing you need it traffic. According to Carolyn Kylstra in her article 10 Things Your Commute does to Your Body, commuting and traffic can have an impact on your mental and physical health. So this is definitely one of my reasons that I am happy to not move back to the bay. We have to take care of our mental and physical health, so reducing the amount of stress we accumulate throughout the day is one of my priorities. 

While living in the Bay there was always this one question

That would always pop up, that has always stuck in my head. It was during random conversations with other families that I would see at the park or playgroups. The question would always be, “is it worth it?” Is it worth, living paycheck to paycheck? Working 2 jobs? Having less time with friends and family? Renting a home vs owning? Traveling or staying put? Having some sort of savings for retirement? Being able to afford to have kids?  Well, I think you know my answer. What do you think? Is it worth it?  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts below. 

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Blogger & Parent of 3 wonderful kids (Preschooler, Toddler & Newborn :) We are inspired by travel, nature and creating joy in everyday life. Our family motto is to live by creating memories rather than owning things. My goal is to help Families find happiness in everyday life, build community, and to practice living life playfully.

6 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why I am Happy to Not Move Back to the Bay Area

  • February 9, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Laura,

    I came across your post at the perfect time. So much great information. We moved to the central valley from LA about a year ago. We do like a lot of things the Central Valley offers. However, in LA my daughter was exposed to so much culture and diversity for the 6 years we raised her there. I worry if raising her in a smaller city with less cultural diversity and arts will affect her. I figure, we will expose her to culture by visiting museums, events, big cities, etc. but I worry how growing up in a smaller city will affect her development, outlook on life, specifically during the teen years. What are your thoughts?
    I appreciate your insight.

    • February 12, 2021 at 3:52 am

      Hello Kristen….welcome to the central valley. Yes, LA and other major cities do over a large number of cultural experiences whereas here there is a limited amount. The central valley is growing though, and there are museums and events that happen here as well. (during non-covid times) Unfortunately due to the pandemic, a lot of things have closed but hopefully, once everything starts to move forward, we will start to see more options here. We have a lot of nature like the sequoias, lakes, and rivers so which can be its own experience. There are pockets like the Japanese tea gardens in Fresno, kids museums in many smaller towns like Hanford and Visalia, events like Pride, Marti Gras, Swedish festivals, dance performances from Mexico, etc. I mostly have young kids (not teens yet) but I have seen parents create groups where they will go places together with the teens to events and travel to museums in other cities as well. Maybe check out some of the groups on Facebook that you can connect with other parents of similar age and explore together. I hope this helps 🙂

      • February 23, 2021 at 3:22 pm

        Laura, Thank you so much for replying and your insight. It is great to know there are cultural events and museums we can visit in the Central Valley. I love that there are many beautiful national parks near by too. I can’t wait for non-COVID times to be back! The part of your article that really made me feel better about our move was having more money to do fun things because the cost of living is lower! Being in LA was fun, but that also meant less money to travel. You’re insight has been so helpful. Thank you!

        • February 26, 2021 at 6:24 pm

          No problem Kristen. Thanks for check out out the blog 🙂 And yes, the national parks are so much fun around here. Even just the local lakes and rivers.

  • May 6, 2019 at 2:30 am

    Great Article Laura!! I too believe its not that worth it but I also know that its easy to say because I moved from there and now I know a new way and I have adjusted pretty well. Excited to see how your thoughts continue to evolve ❤️

    • May 6, 2019 at 6:41 am

      Thanks for your comment Charlotte. Im looking forward to your comments and thoughts too 🙂


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