the pros and cons of moving away

this has been on my mind a lot lately so i thought a post was in order!

how does a person make giant life decisions?! i have made it very clear that i’m incredibly indecisive, so maybe it’s much easier for some. BUT NOT FOR ME. i mentioned sometime last month that we’ve been considering a move…

but the idea is so daunting, leaving behind everyone and everything we know– i’ve been in LA for over 20 years and gid has been here his whole life. but neither of us actually like it here, and neither of us has a job that require we be here, so we’re only here because of the people we love — which is SO IMPORTANT i know, but i can’t help but wonder if it would be worth it to live somewhere we love (and somewhere we can actually afford to live more comfortably!)

i’ve written this blog for like a decade now, so why not just deliberate my life choices right here where i’m comfortable? i’m mostly talking it out, but even more mostly soliciting your input.

when i see people announcing they’re leaving LA – i have the exact same reaction every time. PURE, SEETHING JEALOUSY. is that normal? i feel like that doesn’t seem that normal!

what i like and don’t like about la

there are pockets i like, and there are things i love about it here. i’ve lived here most of my life and don’t really know much else!

i love the restaurants, the culture, the access to so much.

but it’s so hot and it’s just getting hotter. and all the rich people bought up all the neighborhoods that have better cooler weather and trees!

the traffic! it totally sucks.

there are beautiful parts, but overall as a whole i don’t think there is much natural beauty here in comparison to other places. a lot of it is concrete and ugly.

it doesn’t feel that safe, even in the valley, and doesn’t really feel like a great place to raise kids.

i’ve just always loved the idea of a small town, even though it might be a new challenge to not have tons of restaurants nearby, i think i could deal.

moving out of la, but staying a car ride away

i really like the idea of moving away from the city, but being able to drive back for important life events, parties, to see my people, et cetera.

for a brief time, i was thinking maybe we should go north to the santa barbara area, i love it there — it’s beachy, family friendly, laid back and i have 4 nieces and nephews there. but honestly, we can’t really afford it, even in the cheaper surrounding towns, it’s still so crazy.

then i thought ok what about santa ynez, carlsbad, ojai… but everything in california is just crazy (especially right now i know, but who knows when this is gonna end because we thought we overpaid for our house in 2015 which is quite a laugh now)

basically, i should never have started looking at real estate outside of california to see what you can get. because it stings a lot!

moving all the way across the country

if you’ve followed me for a bit, you’ve seen my obsession with the east coast. i’m not sure what it’s about, maybe it’s a deep rooted longing feeling because i sort of didn’t make the decision to ever leave officially when i moved here at 16. i was kind of shipped here as a troubled teen by my dad and ex-stepmom to live with my mom.

(sidenote: and by the way, my troubled teen days were very textbook, my mom moved across the country and my brother was sick for a lot of my childhood, i was clearly acting out for some much sought after attention! but i turned it around when i graduated from high school and ended up quitting [almost] all my bad girl antics and doing really well in college.)

back to the point, i don’t know what this yearning for the east coast is, but i just love the little cobblestone streets and the beaches with the wooden fences and the lobster rolls and the charm and the vibe everywhere you look. when we’re vacationing in martha’s vineyard, i’m typically kind of emotional because of how much i love it there. maybe i’m just constantly nostalgic for vacation, but maybe it’s because i don’t love where we live in real life like i do our pretend life there.

gid feels the same way, he loves the east coast and we even went on a maine road trip when we didn’t even have kids yet and could have easily gone somewhere way more exotic.

…but, obviously, it does feel scary to go SO far away and have WINTER.

but how does one even decide where to go?!

if arlo wasn’t in school, maybe we would be able to travel around and slowly figure out what towns we love most, but i don’t know how that would work! independent study?! compromising holidays to do so?! but i live for holidays! lol don’t mind me. but it seems complicated.

right now i’ve been focused on cute new england stars hollow-y type towns. we want good food, good schools, culture, artsy parents to befriend. the hard part is there ARE SO MANY TOWNS. i can share the towns in a separate post if anyone was curious, but this is already getting really long. but how do people narrow it down?! we started a pro and cons list to every town but the list isn’t short.

gid is afraid of living near the coast for future flooding, but i’m not ruling it out yet, sorry gid. but yes in a perfect world, i guess he wants to be inland a bit. but i would still require a lake then!

i can’t believe of the like 5 new england moms i’ve talked to, how they all seem to truly love their little towns and cities, it makes me realize that is a totally possible thing.

pros (of said dream town)

live somewhere beautiful
a fresh start — this feels like a pro and a con
we could get a big house with land
live in a town with easy access to beach or a lake (really love that lake idea)
live in a town that my kids love growing up in
live a slow life where i do super quaint things
see leaves change in autumn! appreciate the seasons much more?


leaving our families
leaving our friends
having to start a whole new life aka a fresh start
what if we don’t vibe with people somewhere else?
what if we’re so bored because we’re used to our big city?
long, grueling winters (which we are obviously very not accustomed to)
being so far away from la that we can’t drive back for life events
who do we even celebrate holidays with?

so please, i need your help now! i don’t get a lot of comments here on the blog these days, but if you don’t mind, i’d love to hear your experiences on the following:

if you’ve packed up and moved away from your family and friends, could you please let me know why and how it’s been for you?

and if you live in a town (preferably new england/upstate new york/somewhere cheap and beautiful i don’t know about in california) that you’re absolutely in love with, can you tell me about it?!

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  1. I grew up in LA but also longed for the east coast. Every time I’d visit I would have a homesick feeling once I’d left. In 2021 we packed up and moved to Brooklyn, not a small town but, the timing was right and we figured if we didn’t do it now we never would. It has been amazing! We miss out on a lot of family celebrations, which is tough at times, but we also have an incredible life and are exploring a part of the country we haven’t had the chance too until now. Our first winter was rough, not even the cold or snow, the lack of sun, which is something I took for granted in CA. I grew up near the beach and not being within 10 minutes of one has been a huge adjustment for me. We’ve stayed upstate and in Rhode Island a few times, I love that you can be in a small town but 2 hours from a big city. The Hudson Valley is great, Rhinebeck, Woodstock have tons to do and lots of lakes! I doubt you’d be bored in a small town, most are 2-3 hours from a major city (Boston, NYC, Providence) with tons to do, but the lack of restaurants in some of these towns is an adjustment and prices can be just has high as CA. I second guessed our move but I tell myself LA will always be there, should we need to go back, nothing has to be forever.

  2. So I’ve lived in New England the majority of my life, 36 years. I currently reside in CT in a small typical Connecticut town with farms and woods and orchards and vineyards. I’ve lived all over New England though and I have to tell you, you basically have it all here. You’re never more than a few hours drive from a major city, the ocean, lakes. It is definitely not LA, but it’s really special especially this time of year when we’re starting to get fall color just a bit. I know you guys will love it here! All in favor of Molly and crew becoming New Englanders?! 🙌🏽

  3. coco beland says:

    Hi Molly 1 I love your blogs….I’m friends with your mom…we used to live in Laughlin Park…then moved to Pasadena. We got fed up with all the celebrities in our boys schools…sending the wrong message with excess…..and the traffic ! and the riots ! and the fires ! We sold our beautiful 1926 mini estate and moved to Montana……best decision ever..the schools are amazing…the air is clean, the people are wonderful. plenty of cool little restaurants and shops…The skiing and fishing are all here and close.. Our boys just blossomed here…and have so much freedom…..we all made lots of new friends..
    I hope you find a place that you love and is good for you family.Your kids are just adorable !!

  4. My story is different, but we share a few similarities. I was also shipped out of home in my teens (across the continent not the country) and have moved many many times. These days I feel so lucky to be where I am. Seriously sometimes idk how I got so lucky. Weather is good and allows outside activity most of the year, and I am appreciating the seasons change more. My home isn’t perfect but I love it. Kids’ school is good and the hobbies that are accessible to be here great. I live in The Valley.

    This yearning that you have to go… if I were you, and my partner was on the same page, AND we had jobs that allowed us to work remotely, I would totally do it. It’s a yearning girl. You gotta follow it and you can! Also better now when kids are younger. Moving is a big deal. Yes. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. And you can make the list of pros and cons but you won’t really know how much each pro or con will afffect you until you get there. All the cons might be right but just one pro might be more than enough reason to keep you there happy forever. Or you might miss your family so much you’ll realize this is where you’re meant to be. I have no idea. What I know is that you have an itch that you can actually scratch. And it will feel amazing to finally do it. I’m rooting for you!

  5. I’ve moved a lot – Austin, Tampa, Nashville, LA, Minneapolis, and now Chicago – and I always find it fun to start over, but I don’t know the stability of living somewhere for so many years and I also don’t have kids! Good luck with your decision – there is no right or wrong answer and you can always go back. Also would love a post on the towns you’re considering on the East Coast 🙂

  6. Georgianna says:

    I know of someone who just moved to Charleston South Carolina. She really likes it there. She has a family too. You wouldn’t have to deal with the cold. You’d be near beaches. You could live near a big city but not in a big city. I wouldn’t recommend small towns , at least not in the west where I live. People there are not very welcoming. Maybe you could vacation in Charleston before you make a big move. Or rent out your house for a year or two so that you still can go back to California if it didn’t work out. If you’re feeling the itch to move, I say do it. I’d love to move too even though I like where I live. But the winters are truly horrible. I’d never move somewhere with harsh winters again.

  7. i’m in new jersey so not quite the same area but even in the worst part of winter, i still love the experience of it! and you’re honestly so so close to so much on the northeast coast. upstate new york, boston, maine, new hampshire trips are all just a few hours drive! it really feels nice to have so many long weekend opportunities.

    from someone who picked up and moved to south florida for work and then came back a year later because of how much i missed home, a move is a move! life is not filled with permanent choices. you should try and find a place that makes you happy!

  8. Christine says:

    i live in new england and think you’d really like it here. LA is just a plane ride away and NY is within driving distance. i feel like you would love portsmouth nh, or the northshore towns like amesbury, newburyport, essex, ipswich, etc. since you love martha’s vineyard so much. also- arlo would LOVE salem which is basically the halloween capital of the US (and also very charming).

  9. We moved away from our family in Arizona to live in Charlottesville, Virginia for two years for my husband’s school. I had always wanted to live on the east coast and LOVED it. We were much further south than you are thinking, so winters were actually perfect for me. We experienced beautiful falls and some snow, but things mostly shut down there when it snowed so I didn’t have to deal with it! I probably would have stayed, but things didn’t line up with our work.

    Things I would consider are how long and how expensive trips home would be. Luckily getting a direct flight to LA is probably not a problem for you. For us we either had to have a connecting flight or drive two hours to a larger airport which is doable, but adds a lot of logistics that I hated, especially with kids! One good thing about being away from family is that if they are able to, they will often come visit for an extended time and you have all of their attention! When I had my first baby my mom came out and spoiled us for a week. When I had my other kids living close by it was more popping in to help here and there. One is more concentrated time and the other is small bits and pieces over time. When you live far away from family you make really close friends because you have to!

    One thing I think about is being the one who breaks the cycle of living in Arizona. I like a lot of things about living here, but it’s so hot. I’ve thought about moving somewhere else and starting a new family “tradition” that could possibly have ripple effects for my kids and grandkids.

    Like others have said, nothing is permanent! If you can afford to move cross country twice. Then try it!!

  10. claire le says:

    hiii so i neither live on the east coast nor have done a crazy move, so i hope you don’t mind the input. i live in cincinnati. it’s super cheap, has that small-town vibe in neighborhoods like hyde park and mariemont, and there is lots to do! it’s a great central starting point for road trips, and it only takes 2 hrs to get to the east coast by plane, and 3.5 to get to the west coast. just throwing it out there, but maybe living in between both places will get you the best of both worlds! the weather here is pretty temperate. we get maybe 2-3 large snowfalls a year which is plenty for the novelty, but not enough to be annoying logistically. have you considered chicago or cleveland? (look into chagrin falls, ohio – verryyyy stars hollow-y))

    ps the concept of “half-priced sushi” is really prevalent in cincinnati for some reason. i guess one store started it as a promo and then all the others had to follow suit to keep up with competition, so arlo can get salmy nigiri for like $5 a plate!!

  11. We moved from the Pacific Northwest (where we went to college, grew up in Alaska) to the East Coast for jobs after we finished school. Lived in a little town in Connecticut (South Norwalk) on the train line to NYC for 4 years, then moved to Brooklyn for two years. It was an exciting adventure exploring new places and being an hour or so from all that NYC has! But after baby#1 and with #2 on the way, we just felt it was time to move back closer to family- all our family was on the West Coast, and we wanted to see them more than twice a year which is what we could spare in time/money for flights. Also the area we were in was way more expensive, not really a place we could afford a house. We also discovered we like the West Coast culture more- East Coasters are great, (very direct!) but it’s a faster-paced life than we wanted.
    I’m really happy we did it though, it solidified what we liked and wanted. If you’ve been thinking about this for so long it seems like you should give it a try! Rent your house out for a year, pick out a house to rent in a town central to all your choices, and spend a year on trial exploring different areas. You can do weekend trips to different areas, meet new people, etc. If you think you’ll miss the big city maybe try a spot where it’s close to drive/train to one. The other option is to homeschool while actually living in different places every month, but that is a lot more challenging.

  12. Tiffany Stark says:

    We sold our house, packed up our two small kiddos and moved from Minnesota to North Carolina last year and don’t regret it for a second.

    Leaving friends / family / the familiar is hard, but a fresh starts feels GOOD! We’re just outside of Raleigh and are 2 hours from the beach, 4 hours from mountains, and an easy road trip to lots of fun East Coast cities.

    Follow your gut! ❤️❤️❤️

  13. Wow I could have written that pro/con list a few years ago when we moved from Berkeley to Portland, Oregon for most of the same reasons- cost of living, better house/more space, nature, seasons. 🙂 We lived there for a year and a half during the pandemic and ultimately moved home to Santa Barbara when I got pregnant because we missed California so much and being close to friends/family and a familiar community was a much more heavily-weighted pro than we realized.

    Here are some of my takeaways from the whole experience:
    Moving somewhere new and having an adventure is really fun and challenging (in a good way!). I loved experiencing seasons for the first time, all of the access to forests and rivers, and tons of new restaurants to check out. And it’s refreshing to see how much you get for your money when you’re used to California real estate. It pushes you waaay out of your comfort zone to make all new friends (friend dating is a real thing!) and it takes a good year in my experience to even start feeling like the new place is “home.” Maybe that’s faster with little kids in school because you can tap into that network of people more easily (we didn’t have a kid when we originally moved from Santa Barbara to Berkeley for work, and again from Berkeley to Portland, so I mostly met new friends through vending at craft fairs and friends-of-friends). But you have to put in the work to reap the rewards of a new community for sure or you’ll feel pretty lonely. And frankly that feeling of loneliness sucks big time when you’re used to having an established community all around you.

    I realized that not everything in my pro/con list was weighted equally or the way I thought once we moved. Community and my identity as a “Californian” (silly, I know, but I discovered it’s a real thing!) and raising kids in a familiar town ended up meaning way more to me than I thought, and things like good restaurants and new things to do mattered less than I thought they would. Once we exhausted many of the cool things to do, it was kinda like- ok, now what?

    Another thing I realized was places are expensive for a reason, even if it’s very annoying paying what feels like way too much to live somewhere for what you get housing-wise. Great weather, beautiful architecture and town, day to day quality of life (outside of how expensive it is of course). I also personally like living in a socially-liberal city and found that there was definitely a political element in Oregon that made me uneasy… especially to raise kids there. Granted we moved right when the BLM protests started so there was a lot of violence and police presence, but it was definitely scary to live in closer proximity to violent white supremacists and a lot of Trumpiness that made up some of the areas close by to Portland. I know the East Coast is generally liberal too so it’s probably not as much of an issue, but otherwise I think there are fewer places in the U.S. that are as socially liberal as Socal and Norcal, so if that matters to you, it’s something to consider when choosing a town.

    You know that expression “Fast, Cheap, or Good? Pick Two.” When making the decision to move to a new place I think you can apply “Nice Big House, Great Weather, Liberal, Affordable” Choose Two.” Lol.

    Sorry for the novel! Happy to chat more anytime. We’ve lived in SB and Ventura county most of our lives so happy to give you a city-by-city breakdown lol if you’re considering SB, Ojai, or Santa Ynez 🙂

  14. I have lots of inside perspective- have lived on both coasts, lived in (and left) places with lots of family/friend support to go live somewhere that felt geographically “right” for our small family, and…in the end, there is no “right” choice. I will say, though:

    1. DO NOT underestimate the impact of leaving your family and friend support network when you have little kids. That can be brutal to rebuild, takes tons of time and effort, and in the end- you are choosing to see your family less. This is one of the most difficult things about moving, and puts tremendous strain on you, your relationship with your partner, and also you kid(s). Every time you’ve leaned on friends or family for a little break, or some solo time, or whatever- imagine not having that. It can be HARD.

    2. Vacationing somewhere is not living there. You have to really dig into the realities of day-to-day life. A small town is quaint, sure, but in New England, that can also mean that people are not going out of their way to meet you, become friends, or welcome you into the fold. It can be isolating.

    3. Are you itchy for change/new experiences, or are you really interested in living somewhere different? Those aren’t the same things.

    My family ultimately settled somewhere we don’t have any relatives, and we’re building our social network from scratch, but it’s a place that we like living day-to-day and feel good about raising our kid. It came at a tremendous cost, though (emotional and financial). Holidays always involve airfare and massive logistics. These things add up.

    The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, it’s greener where you water it. But also- regret about missed opportunity can nag at you until you act. There is no right answer, just informed, clear-eyed decisions. If you go for it, do lots of homework, be realistic about the parts that will suck, and make peace with what you’re giving up.

    You may move and find that it clarifies why the place you left was actually better for you! That’s insight that you unfortunately sometimes have to live to really understand. No move has to be forever.

  15. I am SO HERE for this post and this turmoil. Me and my lil fam live in Kansas City – and have been unsettled for YEARS. Both my wife and I (neither of us from here) know it’s not the place we want to raise our kiddos, but the network and community we’ve built is SO HARD to leave. But man do I hear ya on the INSANE JEALOUSY ya feel when someone does do it, does up and leave. And the zillow hunting – dreaming of a life that could be/should be. It’s mind opening and heart breaking.

    We too idealize the Northeast…and I follow your NE trips like a hawk, collecting all my proof points of why it’d be so ideal, and so different than here. I will say, we recently landed on almost-probably-maybe North Carolina. The proximity to mountains and ocean, the liberalness of the 3 college towns… I have a friend that is considering moving, and they overlaid the 2020 election voting on top of a real estate map and are drawing their zones around those blue areas, might be a way to dwindle your list.

    I lived in AZ til I was 18 – then moved the midwest for school. And I gotta tell ya, winters and the 4 seasons…they grow on ya. They are such a beautiful, special part of the natural world, and y’all will adopt. It is hard at first, but rhythms and traditions settle on ya. We have a saying in our house (brought to us by my wife’s Russian dental hygienist) “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad coats.” So it’ll just be more gear, and I TRUST you’ll find the cutest greatest ones around. 🙂

    I look forward to following ya on this “do we or don’t we” journey. Know that you’re not alone, and thank you for making me too feel less alone. <3

  16. My husband and I are grappling with this same decision right now…it’s not easy. For us, it’s not about moving away from family, but rather, closer to. We’ve fallen out of love with where we live in California, and though the shock of a new England winter would be harsh after living on West Coast for last 15+ years, we both grew up there and are sure we would acclimate.
    One thing that holds us back right now is the double whammy of mortgage rates and property taxes. We bought in early 2016 and refinanced a few years ago when rates were at their lowest, now it feels like golden handcuffs. And property taxes! Even if all else considered you get more land / house / etc for what you’re spending, some areas of New England have property taxes that are nearly 4x what we are paying right now and that gives us pause.
    Ultimately for us it comes down to living slower pace of life, and getting closer to family (they all live in East Coast).
    Generally, I resist change, but once I make my mind up to change, I’m not very patient. And this kind of unwinding and starting over takes so much time, which is really hard to cope with when you feel like the time you have is slipping away.
    Not sure this was helpful, but it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one thinking about these things!

  17. Hi Molly! I used to live in California and feel your pain. My partner and I fell in love with the state, but it was ultimately out of our means to buy a house and live comfortably. The hustle life was also so brutal! We moved to Ann Arbor, MI a few years ago to be closer to family and absolutely love it. It has four seasons, a small town feel (but just a train ride away from Chicago), and we’re surrounded by trees, nature, and lots of lakes. Many people compare Ann Arbor to Berkeley, CA because of its hippie-ness + progressive culture (which can be hard to find in the midwest). The people are also super kind and there are amazing schools for kids. Highly recommend taking a weekend trip here in the fall!

  18. Hi Molly, I’ve been following along on your blog for years!! but this is the first time I’m commenting because this post feels like I could have written it! My husband and I both grew up in South Florida and have both our entire families there, but we both hated living there. We finally moved, after a few years of indecision and staying to appease a few family members. We moved to Baltimore, MD and are really enjoying it (I went to grad school up here and have always loved this city) but I’ll be honest… we’re planning on moving back to Florida:/
    I thought living in a place we loved with the option to travel to family would be the best of both worlds, but for me and my husband, the opposite is true. We really miss having family nearby, and the cost of flights home (especially for holidays when everyone is travelling) is more than we anticipated. Not to mention when those flights get cancelled, or changed and it messes up all our other bookings (hotel, rental car). Also, so much of our vacation time & money is spent on trips to see family! Though it is nice being up here with so many fun day trips and long weekend options by car.

    I am so glad we moved and wish we had moved sooner. I think you have to experience the change to understand what it really means, how it actually affects your life. We realized thru this move that being closer to family (and taking vacations wherever/whenever) is more important than avoiding the small annoyances of living day-to-day in Florida. In the end, I’d rather make the “mistake” of moving away than live with any “what-if” doubt. The good news is, nothing has to be forever!

  19. We are retired but our feelings were very much the same. We are older and wanted to be away from really cold weather and snow. After a few years of should we or shouldn’t we it was time to make this important decision. We have moved south to north Florida and absolutely love it. It does get cold here in the winter, cool in the fall and spring and hot in the summer. The beach is beautiful and close by and not very crowded. We have found what we were looking for. The schools in our area are fantastic, restaurants are excellent with wonderful choices and people are very friendly. It was the right choice for us. Look for what will make you and your children happy and you can always travel back for a visit. Good luck!

    1. Cheryl are you on the east coast of n Florida? I’m thinking of where to move to.

  20. just do it! seriously. you clearly have a calling to a new town, so listen to it. what is the worst that can happen? you try it out and don’t like it? move back. your kids are young & very adaptable at this age. i lived in a midwest town my entire life and just last month, moved to mexico. only a short time in and i am already thrilled with our new life. and to see family/friends we just go back as often as we can! i think you’ll have more regret if you don’t try it vs staying in your comfort zone.

  21. I’m from Santa Barbara, moved away in my 20s, and came back. I would also love to recommend it, but ultimately, I’m not sure how long I can stay either. Buying is definitely not an option for us here. I truly think I lucked out moving back when I did because I’m not sure I’d be able to do it the same now.

    I have a friend who moved to Fort Bragg, and it feels very Stars Hollow-y, but they are childless, and I’m not sure how it is for kids. It’s a beautiful area, though, and the weather is everything I would want in a place!

    I’d love to see some of the places you’re thinking of! I always check Yelp for restaurants & coffee shops when I’m thinking of a new spot to call home.

  22. I feel you. I grew up in New England, a tiny (tbh—too tiny) town in central Mass. I always felt a yearning to leave, so when my husband, a professor, got a job in Tallahassee 5 years ago, we gladly moved and tried really hard to fall in love. Turns out, the south is not for us, for many reasons. I feel burned.

    So, I’m torn: my family is all in NE, and my parents aren’t getting any younger; my husband (who grew up in Marin) LOVED his decade there; and my son (same age as Arlo) wants nothing more than to be with his cousins there. The schools are good, it’s safe.

    But I never felt like I quite fit there. The energy feels more fast-paced and intensely competitive, and the claustrophobia is real, especially closer to the city, where we’d want to be.

    No answers yet, but a similar dilemma. I imagine we’ll end up there, in a couple years, but I wish I felt less ambivalent about it.

  23. I know this is likely a huge financial stretch, but could you keep your LA house as a rental property while buying or even renting somewhere on the east coast? Then you’d have a backup plan if need be, plus I’m sure your interest rate and property taxes from 2015 would be nice to hang onto in case you even did want to come back…

  24. Nicolette says:

    Hi Molly! Before moving I would try to visit in both winter and summer. Even though CA gets hot in the summer, we are truly spoiled here (humidity? Never heard of her). The number of unbearable days is truly so few.
    And I don’t mean to scare you but I feel like once you leave CA, it’s SO HARD to come back 😬
    Last, in addition to looking at home prices, take into consideration property taxes. My husbands uncle moved to Illinois and was unfortunately shocked when he realized the property taxes were just as much as their mortgage. Over all tax burden is another great thing to look at.

  25. View from the other side – My daughter and her family recently moved about 7 hours away from us. While I am heartbroken to not be able to see them often, I have to say they are incredibly happy. They moved to a lake town – Gilford NH and absolutely love it. It’s very beautiful, slow small town life. The kids are thriving in school, they love the lake and are 10 minutes from skiing. So as sad as I am, it’s not about me and seeing them happy is EVERYTHING! I wish you luck with your search and big decision!

  26. Liz Smith says:

    Hi there! I’ve never commented here before (though I love reading your blog). This post struck me though because, as a military brat, I understand living somewhere that doesn’t fit you and your family. It’s always been hard to put down roots when you moved every two to three years growing up. Anyway, I live in Maryland and I’ve travelled all along the East Coast. I am partial to it myself. Even though it was tough to settle, it has grown on me over the past 30 years and now it is home. First- I think that you would really have to pick a few towns and make it a point to travel there and just stay in them for at least a day. Feel their vibe and meet the people. It’s the only way you’ll know for sure. Second- I’m suggesting you check out Maryland or even PA for several reasons- 1) we have a lot of quaint rural towns that no one really thinks about that have all the charm of New England, but a dash of Southern flair, 2) though I live in a rural community, I am close to quite a few awesome cities- D.C., Baltimore, Philly, Richmond, and NYC is only a three hour drive away. So you’re never far from interesting things to do and culture. 3) We have the beaches all along our coast, we have the Chesapeake Bay, and we have mountains in the western part of the state. Besides the desert, we have it all. And finally 4) our house prices (especially on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Delaware) are much cheaper than a lot of other places in the East. Just a suggestion to check us out, but I def understand your plight and the urge to come over to the East :).

  27. Hi! We moved from the SF Bay Area to the Reno area, around 13 years ago. My boys’ dad’s job got transferred. Reno is close to Tahoe, Truckee, the bay area, etc, but still feels smaller than California cities. My 3 kids go to charter schools, and there are many good schools. It’s becoming more expensive, but still cheaper than California. It was hard to leave friends, family, etc, but I seriously love it here. I work in Reno, but we currently live about 45 minutes away. Our town has 4 stop lights, tiny restaurants, slow pace, but if I need something specific I can’t find, I’m in Reno every day for work anyways!

  28. Hi!! I grew up in Maine and I reeeeeally wouldn’t recommend the winters. Many of my friends still live there in the Scarborough/Portland area and it’s so beautiful and wonderful and they have such a cute community that I sometimes feel jealous but then I remember the winters and even as someone who is used to it, I would never want to repeat it so as an LA person maybe don’t go down that road? I live in New Jersey now and I love it so much. The winters are milder and I live in an incredibly cute small town (Google Montclair!) where it’s incredibly walkable with lots of great small business and restaurants but it’s also only a 30 minute train ride into NYC. Having that accessibility and a small town vibe was what made my family feel ok about moving to a place where we didn’t know anyone. We were just SO confident that it was the right choice for us. I agree with Danielle on the Hudson Valley, too!! You still get those milder winters but it’s very glorious east coasty. But also move to Montclair! It’s suuuuuper cute and the schools are amazing.

  29. I recently moved from California (Silicon Valley) after 12 years there. We did some thinking, researching and talking, as you are doing now. We made a decision over a weekend and then 6 weeks later we were on the other side of the world with nothing more than an airbnb, a hire car and 2 suitcases between 3 people. It has worked out wonderfully, I can hardly believe I get to live where I do. I am truly living the dream. We could easily have kept talking, thinking and making lists for another few years, but I am so glad we made the decision and did it quickly.

  30. Hi! I am also a VERY indecisive person and totally get what you are saying. Moving is such a complicated and hard process. Personally, I feel like if you are not happy with where you are, then you should do something about it! But i also completely understand the not wanting to move away from family, friends, and all the things! Such a hard decision!! 😫 I don’t know if I’d be much help to you, but a friend of mine, very recently moved to Santa Clarita CA. It is such a pretty place and is close to LA! The vibe is also so different. So beautiful and secluded. Not sure about this cost of living or anything though! Hope you can figure out everything! 🤍

  31. Hi! Just curious if you have considered a southern coastal city such as Charleston? I know the south is much different form new england vibes but it has all the charm you describe minus the grueling winters. My husband and I are in San Diego, considering moving there as we start a family

  32. I could have written this article! I moved to Miami from France in 2011. I was supposed to be here for a year, as an au pair. 12 years later, I still live in Miami, married, with in child. But…I never liked Miami, summer is awful, traffic is horrible, people are not nice and since covid it’s extremely expensive. But my husband is from here, has a carrier here, family, friends…
    I also dream about living in New England! We just came back from a week in Cape Cod, it’s beautiful!
    I hope you find the perfect place for your and your family to live in!

  33. coynestar says:

    Yup, you need to move to MA! (Cape Cod to be exact)

  34. Molly!

    I know this is an older post, but I’m sure the topic is still top of mind for you!

    A bit of background, I grew up in Santa Clarita (saw the mention of it in an earlier comment!). My sister and I were both born in Massachusetts and we moved to CA (away from family) when we were young (about the same age spread as your sweeties). All my extended family was in coastal New England, so we spent much of our summers near Boston and in Southern Maine.

    I love having grown up in California, but perhaps we weren’t as emotionally close to our extended family as my friends who had family nearby were. But we didn’t have iPhones and FaceTime and all the various forms of connectivity that is available to us today. You could do the reverse, live elsewhere and spend king chunks of time in California.

    I went to college in San Diego, then my husband and I lived in Brooklyn for 10 years and then, about seven years ago, we decided to move to South Carolina, where my husband is from. We bought a house on a lake in a quiet secluded community. We now have two daughters.

    It’s had its ups and downs. I really miss all the great things that come with being near big cities, but I also love our life here. My family ended up moving to be near us—so now everybody is in the southeast. Maybe yours will do the same! Your cute kids will be a very big draw!

    Before both our moves to NYC and South Carolina, I agonized over the decisions. Leaving family and great friends, familiar and wonderful places, was hard, but the longing I felt for those changes was only alleviated by doing the dang thing.

    I think the idea of renting your LA place is a good one, as is doing a long term rental in another place.

    Also, I think it’s good to think about how you will make friends in your new place. I am very slow to make friends and it’s hard to get together with people with kids/work schedules, but I’ve found some wonderful people I call friends.

    Golly—this is a very long note! TLDR—I’m glad we moved but it hasn’t been perfect and it still isn’t but it is wonderful! What did Mary Oliver say — “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

    Good luck to you!

  35. Amy Rigell Fosner says:

    Hi Molly! We got pregnant with our first kiddo after living in LA for 7 years. When we looked at housing prices we were so discouraged so we decided to move to Nashville where we could afford to buy a house with a yard in a safe neighborhood.

    We left all our amazing friends in LA and moved to a new city with a 2 month old baby. It was really freaking hard but 5 and a half years later I can say it was the best decision ever. Nashville is so fun, full of great food and nature and the people are the best. So kind, friendly and down to earth. I’ve also loved that Nashville is surprisingly liberal compared to the rest of Tennessee.

    Anyways! I support you all making a huge move it you don’t feel like LA is your home! You can do it! ❤️

  36. Hi! I live in a river town in Westchester (right by the Hudson river) and I love having the space to have a yard and being able to hop on a train and be in NYC in less than an hour. Its the best of both worlds.

    Now, for me personally, being close to family is a must. So my two options have always been, close to my husband’s family or close to my own family. I think Friends you can make anywhere, just bring your kids to the new town library classes or go to silly little activities like a Holiday Tree lighting or Pumpkin festival (we have both of those), also through school you’ll meet other parents and friends.
    Im not from NY (Im actually from Chile!) and the winters feel LONG. but we always travel to a warm place in February which “cuts up” winter and makes it more bearable. The changing leaves and Holiday lights make it all worth it!

    Feel free to email me if you are considering a town in Westchester!

  37. I grew up in San Diego (Carlsbad) and loved it back in the 90s/early 2000s. I moved to Boston for college 2003 and have stayed on the east coast since. My family (husband + 2 young kids) live in Saratoga Springs, NY and we love it. I travel back to CA between 1x-2x a year and every time we go, I like to visit but am so grateful I don’t live there anymore for all the reasons you state above. We have lived in New England and various parts of NY and love it here because it is a small community, with great access to things for kids, safe, friendly, and very accessible to all kinds of cool towns and places in the area (Hudson Valley, Berkshires, coastal CT, NYC, Boston, etc.). Everything feels so much more management here because it is more affordable, the people seem nicer, traffic doesn’t exist, and people truly enjoy/value the four seasons. I couldn’t recommend a cross-country move more!

  38. I love the cute town idea!! I will say that even having grown up my whole life in Michigan, the gray winters ARE brutal. Def try to take that into account and maybe plan to visit LA around February or so in order to pull yourself through.

    Another thing that is an East Coast pro is that it’s a close plane ride to parts of Europe! It’s faster/easier for me (in Detroit) to visit Greece than Hawaii (though I am sure Hawaiian proximity is a big pro for LA).

  39. We left the Bay Area for Colorado last year, due to a lot of the same issues you have in LA—especially the cost. We love it here! It’s only a 2-hour flight if we want to see family, and driving is technically possible. The best part is how sunny it is here, even in winter! Yes, it gets cold, but that has meant I can finally wear cute coats and boots that I never could in CA. Plus Colorado has so much natural beauty, and we have loved exploring. And fewer people! That’s a great feeling – not being surrounded by millions and feeling invisible or unsafe.

    I think you guys should take the leap on a big move, so worth it!

  40. Hi Molly! I’ve lived in a few different of places as an adult – Boston, SF, Ireland and now live in Biddeford, Maine (like 20 min south of Portland) and I love it. There are some downsides (some that you’ll find in any big town — drug abuse, homelessness and some that are unique to Maine … the winter is pretty intense) and when I moved to Maine I did it with the idea that I would split time (ideally between Maine and Asheville NC which is the cutest btw). But now that I’m settled in Maine I’m pretty happy where I am: train goes right to Boston or up to the tip of ME, lots of breweries, good food, so many book clubs, beaches, relatively low house prices, and I don’t have kids but from what I see around town kids play outside together like I remember growing up in the ‘burbs). It’s not a fancy town, but it works for me. I’d recommend you all look into college towns — they tend to be less expensive but still have all the amenities of a city. Also, I have friends living in Beverly MA and I think you’d love it there too! Good luck!