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Maybe the Grass is Greener

Taking a huge leap of faith, I'm leaving my beloved California in hopes of owning a home.

Growing up, I dreamed of one day owning a big house with a beautiful front yard, four or five bedrooms and maybe even a pool.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would cost more than half a million dollars. (And that’s without the pool and extra bedroom.)

My husband has a very good job and makes what would be considered in most states decent money. I also have the potential to bring in a fair income. 

But even with those two fundamental positives working in our favor, the prospect of buying a lovable home in the Bay Area just isn’t panning out.

We’ve been back to the proverbial drawing board for years trying to figure out a way to own a house and manage a realistic mortgage.

Like countless others, we were tempted a few years ago to get in on the "easy" home loans, (which then ballooned), but common sense got the best of us.

Always remaining cognizant that our mortgage payment has to be pragmatic, we just can’t settle for the houses available within our price range in the Bay Area.

Surely all home buyers want to fall in love with the house they will pay for over the span of 30 years.

Our consideration always included time that would be taken away from our family in order to keep up with a high mortgage. If my husband and I have to work 50-plus hours a week to keep up with a mortgage, that means more time away from our daughter and as a family unit.

We figure that is too high a price tag, considering after the hectic workday we’d be coming home to a house built in the '60s, which will most likely need work. (Which of course, we will not have the income to pay for.)

On the other hand, paying someone else’s mortgage isn’t a great gig, either.

So far we have paid nearly $150,000 in rent, and that’s just in the six years we’ve occupied this house.

It’s a rock-and-a-hard-place situation for us. So, in the pursuit of attaining our dream—owning a lovable home—we are headed out of California to South Carolina.

I have lived in California, on and off, since I was 5 years old. But I’ve also lived in England, Hawaii, New York, Lake Tahoe, Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma, and I've visited most states in between.

Because of the travel, I consider myself an adventurer. Yet intrinsically, I know this move is going to be the adventure of them all.

My husband is from the South and can’t wait to get back to his roots. When he was a kid, he told his friends the two places he would never live were California and New York.

Somehow love blinded him, and he moved our family here when I was pregnant with my daughter, so I could be near my mother. That was 10 years ago. Although he has no family here and isn’t in love with the Bay Area, he has been working hard to buy a home and plant new roots here.

Not yet willing to accept it, I avoided the conversation about moving to South Carolina for many months. But the jig is up, and I’m coming to terms with it.

There are two things I know: My husband wants the best for his family, and this could turn out to be a great thing.

A California girl at heart, there are so many things I will miss—the beauty, the beaches, the weather, the familiarity and the fast-paced excitement.

The hardest part of moving away from California is that it feels so final. Yet my husband assures me it is not final, and that if we don’t like it, we don’t have to stay.

Somehow, something has always compelled me back to California. 

Yet, I can’t ignore the great things I have heard about South Carolina. Our research shows we will be able to afford a three- or four-bedroom house, with a yard and maybe even a pool.

The houses we are looking at in the $300,000 range in South Carolina would cost nearly twice that amount in the Bay Area. Granted, the pay in South Carolina is less, but so is the cost of living

Not only that, but my husband’s new job location allows us to live right near the coast. How can I argue against that?

For the next few weeks we'll be downsizing, garage selling, eBaying, purging and throwing away. 

It will be symbolic rolling into South Carolina, checking into a studio hotel room with nothing but an over-packed U-Haul truck, two cats and a family filled with hope for a better life.

Sometimes, you just have to leap.

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