I’ve been toying with the idea of moving out of Los Angeles County within the next few years. Since I don’t own a house, I have a little bit more leeway when it comes to when and where I can move. I want to stay in California, preferably somewhere near the coast, and have a few cities ear marked to visit based on cost of living. A key factor we are looking at is finding a city slightly less expensive than Los Angeles.

This past year, Mr. LH and I visited Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County. Based on a cost of living analysis, it is a little less expensive than Los Angeles. Our first visit was in April and the weather was very pleasant and similar to where we live now. We liked the quaint downtown area with the park in the center of town and we liked how close it was to surrounding cities.

However, we visited Paso Robles again in August. Boy, was it hot! It was topping 100 degrees, slightly warmer than we like. We spent more time wandering the downtown area and noticed a few things we hadn’t noticed before. We enjoy Los Angeles because of its cultural diversity. Paso Robles isn’t as ethnically diverse. Instead, it seems to be more economically diverse. In the summer, Saturday evenings are free music nights. I liked this idea. People were gathering in the park with their coolers and lawn chairs. But during the show, police cars showed up and the officers started roaming around the park. This made me uncomfortable. I felt like there was a dangerous element going on that I couldn’t get my head around.

Now, I’m not a chicken, I live in a big city. But where I live, the dangerous areas are well marked with graffiti and visible gang members (hey, that’s just LA). I felt that in Paso Robles, the “dangerous” areas were more hidden making it difficult to navigate. Mr. LH also thought there was more of a cowboy element going on. Having lived in Texas for a few years during college, it’s not a scene he feels is right for him.

After this most recent visit, we both agreed that maybe this isn’t the town for us. But it took us a second visit to feel this way since the first visit was more of an introduction to the city. At least I’m now prepared to do more homework on the next city on our list (Concord or Fremont or Danville – per the Saved Quarter’s recommendation.)

However, our trip wasn’t all bad. Our tour of the Firestone Walker Brewery was quite entertaining. They have terrific micro-brew beer samplers before, during, and after the 30-minute tour.

Have you ever moved to a new town not knowing what to expect? Did you wish you had done more homework?