Why I Left California

I always knew I would leave California. You know when you just know that something isn’t right? It’s that uneasiness in the pit of your stomach. 
Me and California, we were just never a good fit.
Why I Left California
I’d lived in California since I was 12. I lived by the ocean and later in the valley.
I visited LA and I spent a lot of time in San Francisco.
I even worked for the Governor at the State Capitol.
But in the back of my mind I always knew, I would leave this place.
You see, California is beautiful. There are landscapes that will literally take your breath away.
Sights that will change your whole view on life.

Yosemite, 2006
It’s epic.
It’s beautiful.
It’s chock full a liberals (my people!).
And let’s face it, it sounds a lot cooler to say you’re from California.
But the east coast called to me.
With each visit, I became more invested in the idea.
One day, I thought, I would pack up  my car and drive back here.
I’d build a life for myself. In a little brick house.
I’d marry an east coast boy.
He wouldn’t shy away from looking preppy.
He’d be a bit less laid back but perhaps have better manners than
the California guys I’d grown accustomed to.
I imagined myself happy there.
The power of the mind is incredible.
Mostly, I built the east coast up in my mind.
The same way so many people do about California.
I’m not here to bash but let’s just look at some of the reasons why
Me + Cali  M.F.E.O. (Made for Each Other. Duh)
1. Much of Southern California is a cement jungle. And the freeways are always crowded and happen to be 10 lanes across. Every time you drive on one, it’s terrifying.
2. SF’s real estate market is on target with New York. Ouch.
3. The central valley is a hotbed for gang violence and pesticides.
4. Too much fake. Everything. Think about it.
5. The job market sucked when I graduated. It still isn’t great.
6. Nothing is close together. You are either in SF or LA or SD. They are all hours and hours apart from each other. Where I live now, I have 4 major cities within 2 hours of me.
7. I don’t like stucco and terra cotta roofs. Spanish style housing, if you will. And there is tons of it. Give me an old building with brick and shutters and I’m a happy girl.
8. I couldn’t ever see myself sending my kids to school there. They wouldn’t get snow days and I’d feel like I was robbing them of a piece of childhood.
9. My family wasn’t there. Yup, all my people are east coasters. I had to be with them.
So there you have it. Why I left California. It’s the #1 question I’ve been asked since I moved to the east coast and it’s so easy but so difficult to answer. 
To put it in the nicest sorority girl terms, it “wasn’t a good fit.” Snap. Snap. Snap.

  • I think the sorority girl terms cleared it all up! ha ha

    • Haha, I’m glad. Gosh I miss those days.

      • Jeremy

        You also forgot to mention the lack of Dunkin Donuts California has. I also moved out to California when i was 12 from Boston. After This last year of college i will be moving out of SD and back home to Boston

  • Totally makes sense. If my family wasn’t here, I probably wouldn’t be here either, if not for the RIDICULOUS home prices in SF.

    • SF is the only place I could really see myself living if I had stayed in California. But I just had no plan as to how to afford it right out of college.

  • I know I’ve thought about living in California, I have a few friends from there and the idea of pretty weather all the time sounds awesome. However – I don’t think it would be a good fit for me either.

    • I got really sick of the pretty weather all the time. Like I just needed some snow occasionally. Or the opportunity to buy a nice winter coat.

  • I can hardly imagine moving away from CA. I absolutely love it here. mostly for the sunshine 🙂

    • I think you either love the weather there or really miss the seasons. I missed the snow and having a defined spring, summer, fall and winter. Where I lived in California, they kind of all blended together.

  • SH

    Definitely makes sense! Being near family makes all the difference.

    Happy Monday!

    The Hartungs Blog

    • It most certainly does.

  • i live in san diego but i have never fit either. i can appreciate how beautiful it is but i don’t want to live here. i can’t imagine raising my kids here and i know i will never be able to own a house here. plus there are so many rude people and horrible drivers.

    • San Diego is beautiful but I knew instantly that it wasn’t for me. The raising kids there was a big thing for me. The California school system is not as it should be.

  • ty

    Sorority term #2= California just “wasn’t Nadine material” 🙂

    • Haha it definitely wasn’t.

  • My husband and I moved from MN to LA about 2 years ago and I want to move away for basically every reason you listed!!

    • That must have been a rough transition! I know a lot of people get to LA and instantly love it but I just had the total opposite reaction every time I was there. I hope you make your way back to MN!

  • I hear you girl, I know how that feels too. Back a few years ago, LoLo and I moved to Vermont from New York. Almost immediately, we realized we were in the wrong place and started the process to move back to New York. After being in New York for a couple of years, we realized we just wanted to be in Maine. Coming home to Maine was such a good decision and we are living the dream now! Hope you had a nice weekend here and that things are better!!

    • Thank you so much Erin. I’m curious because I kind of always pictured Vermont as being very similar to Maine but maybe a little more liberal. What didn’t you like about it?

  • Although I didn’t grow up in California (east coaster here, Ohio) I did live there for awhile and I never really got the appeal nor felt the love for the state that everyone who’s never been or lived there envied. It never felt like home, I didn’t have the friends I had growing up or HS/college & my family was across the country & multiple time zones away. Don’t even get me started on the lack of weather either, although I’m not a huge fan of cold temps & massive snow storms I do like a bit of variety in the air around me! Adding that to everything you listed (totally agree w/ all of it)and the fact that my husband at the time was military & deployed for at least 8 of the months I was there it didn’t really leave me with a loving (or liking really) feeling about going back to live any time soon. Although, now that I’m gone is when people I actually know & used to hang out with have decided they’re going to cross the country to go live & love it there! To each their own I suppose but I don’t ever see myself willingly going back to live in California again!

    • I’m definitely not a huge fan of cold weather either but I do get a little thrill out of a small snow storm and all of the great weather we have here. I missed it when I was there. I think you are right that a lot of people envy those in California. That’s what it always surprises me when people are like “why did you move back here from California?” with a tone of complete shock. Because put simply, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m glad you agree!

  • I can totally understand why you moved! I am Sacramento area born n’ raised and I am not a fan of the city. I grew up on the outskirts in a burbs/country area and I was happy there and then decided to move out and move closer to downtown. ACK! Traffic, wannabe AND real gangsters.. So many bums, tweakers..Hookers (ok i admit, we tried to be cheap and live in a not great area, but still) EW. Hubby and I are wanting to stay in CA with our friends and my fam, but we are definitely moving to a different town. We don’t work downtown anyways! The weather is okay, I love the proximity to Tahoe/SF/Santa Cruz etc etc though. I LOVE that you listened to your instincts and moved somewhere where you are so happy though!

  • I envy you. I was born a raised in CA, and I despise it. I actually hate the politics. I hate the heat in the summer. I hate the I-don’t-give-a-hoot attitude. I hate the…generic nature of it all. Box stores and chain restaurants and neighborhoods where every other house is exactly the same. I have always wanted to pack up and move east. In fact, even as a small girl, without having ever been there, I wanted to live on the east coast. But alas, I’ve married one of these California guys, my family is here, my friends are here and while that helps, I still feel a yearning to get the heck out of here. Maybe someday…

    • Anya

      Good to find what you don’t like before you find what you like.:) If you don’t mind winter, I highly recommend Boston, as everyone I know who’s been there absolutely loves it. If not the east, then maybe further north.;)

    • DeLeary M. Tremens

      Women are whores.

  • I’m new to your blog and have been reading through your past posts. I legit crack up every time you make a sorority reference because I totally do it in real life and my non greek friends don’t get it. Between this and basically everything else i’ve read so far, I’m absolutely positive we’d be friends irl 🙂

  • Hey Nadine! I have never been to California but I am born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina! I love the east coast….especially NC where you are smak dab in the middle of the beach and the mountains and have the feel of a large city and a small town all at the same time.

    The people here are transplants from all over but the locals never leave…if they do, they don’t go far. We have a little bit of fake, but pretty much all real. Not much plastic here:)

    Great post! Though we have some crazy traffic here in Raleigh, I would HATE HATE HATE that traffic you talked about! It would get old FAST!


  • I have living in San Diego most of my life and still I don’t think we are meant to be. We get along okay, but it’s not forever. I recently visited Nashville, TN and fell in absolute love. So here’s to the future in a southern state.

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  • I’m so happy I found your blog! I’ve been living in CA for about a year and half now. While I don’t hate it here, I definitely know it’s not for me. I am planning to move back to Chicago (the area where I grew up) next spring. It’s extremely difficult to have a social life in LA. While it’s not hard to meet people, it’s hard to keep up and have regular interaction because people are so into what they’re doing rather than fostering healthy relationships. Don’t even get me started on dating! California is definitely a great place to visit but not a great place to live. Who knows, maybe I’ll purchase a “fixer-upper” investment property in one of the small beach towns so I can have somewhere to escape the crazy Midwestern winters (and then rent it out on AirBnB for the rest of the time I’m not there). Great post! 🙂

  • Bryan Riverman

    Recently moved to California from Wisconsin and I cannot bear it. Not only do I miss the close friends I have been accustomed to I also find it hard to be away from family. This is not the ideal living situation I want to be in. Non-existent weather aside.

  • sasha

    I’m printing this out and taking it to my therapist. She keeps telling me “home isn’t a place, it’s how you feel inside” and I keep saying, “no, LA is NOT my home!” I knew it when I got here and that was over 13 years ago. I’m not sure if it’s Boston (my favorite city in the country — why on earth did I ever leave there???) or Md (where most of my family lives now) but it’s definitely east.
    Thanks for backing me up!

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  • Anya

    Ah, each place has their ups and downs. Yeah, I’d love to live in SF, but nowhere else in CA appeals to me. I think the laidback vibe isn’t for everyone, as I like a place with high-energy.:) Being from Baltimore and having travelled just about all over, I’d have to say it’s easier to make REAL friends in the Northeast and it’s nice when people mind their own business. Plus, I love my snow.:)

  • DeLeary M. Tremens

    You’re an idiot. A simpering, addled-brained little idiot.

  • Just came here by chance. Moved from Jersey to LA 11 years ago to work in movies. Met my wife out here (also a Jersey lady). Have a great kid, but we’re starting to wonder if a move back to Jersey would be good for us and the kid. I like my job, and my wife has family all in California. I’m worried about the transition back to the pace of life/attitude of the east coast. Also, job markets.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your view on the subject.

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