One year ago today I took the leap of faith and moved from California to Washington. I’d never lived in a state other than California, so this was a jump into the new. Even more shocking was the fact that I had nothing lined up out here. No job, my wife’s job transfer was still a maybe at best. But I did it anyway.
When I packed up the moving truck I didn’t even have enough gas money to get to Washington. I slept at a rest stop until my wife’s next paycheck came through and finished the trip the next day.
So why did I pick Washington? Well there is a number of reasons for that. The first was because I have wanted to move to Washington for some time, I’d come up here to test for a job years ago and loved it. The second was because it was cheaper to live here than in California but the jobs in my field paid around the same. And finally, it wasn’t so far away that having family visit would be financially impossible. Those were the main reasons.
But leaving a state you were a resident of for the first 32 years of your life is a big step. And like most things we do in life, lessons are learned. So, to go along with my one year anniversary in this state, I thought I’d share some of them. Some of these have to do with Washington itself, and some have more to do with making a move out of state.
1. The Traffic in Seattle is insane.
I learned real quick that one thing everyone in Seattle does is complain about the traffic, then we promptly go back out in that mess the next day. It is just what we do. And it amazes me that a state with so much rain would have so many drivers that have no clue how to drive in the weather. But if you mention that to a Washingtonian they’ll tell you it is because of all the people from California. Finally, any commuter that travels the I-5 knows about the Variable Speed Zones. I learned that when it says 60 MPH, it is really 50 MPH. 50 MPH means 40, and Any anything less than that means you’re stopping.
2. It doesn’t rain all the time, but there is always a chance.
Coming from California where there is such a major drought, I was ready for rain. Rainy weather is my absolute favorite weather and so this was the climate for me. Despite what people think, it doesn’t rain here every day. But if you check the weather there is always some percentage of a chance of rain. I never once saw it say 0% chance of rain. And the time of year doesn’t matter for the rain. But the great thing about it is rain never ruins anyone’s plans out here.
3. The Science Fiction and writing community is big out here.
Now I haven’t dived too much into this one. But I’ve noticed that a lot of writers have been following me on Twitter and Facebook that are from this area. Book shops are all around. And the library system is really good. This is something I hope to explore a bit more.
4. There is so much to explore.
There are something like 17 state parks within an hour drive from me. In the first year I think I’ve got to 10 of them. There are forests, beaches, lakes, and recreation facilities. Out door recreation not your thing? There are museums, architectural items, shopping, amusement parks, Pike Place Market, sporting events, and much more. Many things to do that are free or low cost. For example, $30 gets you unlimited yearly access to the Washington State Parks. And I just love all the rivers, lakes and water falls. And of course the sound is right there. I still haven’t been to so much of the stuff around here, I’m not sure I’ll run out anytime soon.
5. Your family and friends won’t visit as much as you think.
First off, my family and friends may take this as a jab a them, but it isn’t. As I mentioned above, I moved here because of a number of reasons, one being still pretty close to California. I am about 12 hours drive away, an hour and a half by plane. But there are other factors then travel time that play a role. Cost being one of them. The other is just time. When you’re around the corner people can drop in for a few hours to visit. But when you are twelve hours away, they need to block off a few days to do that. That isn’t always practical for everyone. The one annoyance I will say, your family will expect you to come visit them though. So far I’ve been asked to come to California for three separate trips in 2015.
6. Emergency Preparedness is important.
Sure, I admit this is true everywhere. But in California we don’t tend to take the threat of earthquakes very serious. And maybe Washingtonians in general are the same way with their storms, but as some one that moved to this state it opened my eyes to the need for emergency preparedness. For one, the storms take out the power all the time. Flooding is always a possibility. And there is the very real threat of volcanoes. I think the point here is that the change of perspective can open your eyes to the things you’ve taken for granted.
7. You can’t run from your problems.
I’ll admit that the thing that pushed me over the edge and made me move here was a run of bad luck with jobs in California. It hasn’t changed here. I, in no way, regret moving to Washington. But I have realized that a move will not fix the problems you have.
8. The world is a big place.
Travel is important, but actually taking roots in a new place is an eye opener. The world, and even different states, have different ways of doing things. You may not think they are all the best way, but seeing a new way to do things is good for anyone. It is important to expand your horizons and take risks. There are somethings that California does that I like better. But I am quickly finding there are things in Washington I like a lot more. And as I expand my travel locations, I am finding that there is a lot to see in this country and I hope to get to all of it. But it leads me to want to expand my view to a worldwide one. And I don’t see how that can be a bad thing.