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?


  1. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter Reply

    I have actually been craving a move for sometime. I grew up in the city I still live in and it would be a great change. I would leave a lot behind like family, friends, and a good job. This is probably why we haven’t done anything about it yet. I am not sure if we ever will move but I do think about it sometimes. Travel is how I get it out of my system for now.

    • @Miss T -That might be part of my problem as well. I’ve lived with in a 5-mile radius for 30+ years! I need a change. And, I’ve seen the graffiti and litter increase and I don’t like it. Also, teaching jobs right now are really few and far between in the districts near me, there seem to be more open positions up north. My search continues!

  2. I’d have to say, yes, I wish I had done a little more research. I

    ‘m in a relatively small town in the midst of a metropolitan area. There are a lot of things I like about our town. We have several good places to eat, we’re in a great school district, and lots of great places to go shopping were either already here or have been built since we moved here.

    The one big problem with where I live is I have no freeways nearby. The closest one is 10 minutes away. So if we’re wanting to go to other parts of the metropolitan area, it takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to get anywhere, even places that are fairly close to us, relatively speaking. If I had to choose again, I’d find something a little closer to a freeway to make getting other places easier.

    Great post! Next time I move, I’ll definitely do a bit of research before moving! Thanks for sharing!

    • @Grady – That’s a good point. Even if you don’t live in a bustling city, you need access to one. I’ll have to take that into consideration when researching more towns.

  3. retirebyforty Reply

    It’s good that you went for a 2nd trip! I moved to Portland for a job and didn’t do much research at all. The first few years were very difficult because it rains so much here, but I got used to it. I’ve gone native now and probably can’t move back to CA. 🙂

    • @Retire by 40 – We had friends that moved there and the weather is really rainy. I think it took them quite a few months to adjust. But now they really like it. I think I’d love the bike lanes if I lived there, but I’m not so much a fan of rain or cold weather. That would be difficult for me. I just need to keep looking!

  4. Ashley @ Money Talks Reply

    I moved from a small town in Massachusetts to Mesa AZ almost on a whim. I pretty much just packed up and drove out here. Do I wish I had done more research? It probably would have been a good idea, but here I am 11 years later still living in Mesa.

    • @Ashley – Whoa! You are brave. Mr. LH’s family lives in Mesa and there are some things I really like about it. Actually, I think Gilbert is an adorable town and Tempe has some great restaurants (all within a few miles of Mesa.) However, the heat, the heat! I don’t think I could do it. But again, I guess you get used to it and figure out how to make it more comfortable. 😉

  5. My husband and I up and moved to Seattle without a plan or any research when we were 22. I wouldn’t suggest the no-plan thing; we were extremely lucky to find jobs and an apartment within a few weeks. But we loved the city, possibly more than anyone should love a city!

    • @Christa – When I was in my early 20’s, I’d do just about anything on a whim. Now that I’m almost 20 years older (yikes!), I’m not so spontaneous anymore! Planning and research is more my style. But who knows. We might chance upon a city we never expected!

  6. When we moved to California (Los Angeles), it was for a job. We had a choice of several places including San Francisco. I visited my (half) brother who lived in Los Angeles years before. We had some friends in Orange county. We did very little planning, but we knew what it was like before we moved. I think you are doing the right thing visiting twice revealed more than the first time.

    • @Krantcents – I’m pretty open to almost anywhere in California. But it’s going to really boil down to where I can find a teaching job. Who knows. I might end up staying where I am or moving somewhere unexpected. (even if I get a job with LAUSD, the chances of me keeping it will be slim. – good ‘ol LAUSD!)

  7. Well Heeled Blog Reply

    I think Fremont is actually quite expensive… single family houses are going for $400K-$800K+. I’m not sure about Danville or Concord, but honestly I think if you move inland as opposed to north, you can find really good deals (compared to LA proper). In Ontario, for example, you can have nice SFH for $200K-$300K.

    • @Well Heeled Blog – That’s good advice. I hadn’t researched the two cities Penny from the Saved Quarter mentioned. After doing more homework, I might have to look further east of the bay area. The biggest advantage of that area right now, is that there are teaching jobs.

  8. If we’re talking about the Concord in Contra Costa county, I lived there fr a couple years back in college. Definitely not cheap now, and blazing hot in the summertime, much more so than other cities on the bay.

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