Where Should I Go?

During quarantine, my best friend moved to Seattle. She had been thinking about it for years, but firmly decided only a couple of months before she left. Part of that was due to the fact that her ex-boyfriend patently refused to remove himself from her apartment. They broke up, he dug in, and she said, “fuck it, if you won’t leave, I will,” and moved to Seattle. I don’t blame her. Who wants to be quarantined with their ex?

It was a good move for her. My best friend and I never really belonged in Los Angeles. It has never felt like home, but we stayed here for 20 years anyway. Before Male died, he and I were planning to move away, most likely to Seattle or wherever he got a job with his new law degree once he graduated. He died before we could make that happen.

Perhaps the only place that ever really feels like home is, in fact, home. I’ve lived in three different states in my life, and the only place I miss is Michigan. If I moved away from LA, I would miss my friends and the food, but probably not much else. I have no roots here. In 20 years of living here, I’m still just a potted plant.

Right after my dad died, I seriously considered moving back to Michigan. My mom has been living in the north woods of Michigan on her own with her newly adopted bulldog. For the most part, she’s fine on her own. She has a ton of friends who are always pestering her to do things. Still, I do worry about her, particularly in winter when it’s not the easiest to get around.

I would move back to Michigan in a heartbeat if its winter was the size of a regular season and not a supersized big gulp of extreme winter conditions that persists anywhere from 6 to 8 months. I’m not sure I ever want to do winter like Michigan again. Particularly where my mom lives in the northern part of the state, it’s like an icy tundra for half the year.

This is the view from the front of my mom’s house:

Pretty, right? I would have already moved there years ago, if this wasn’t also the view from the front of my mom’s house:

Plus, my mom lives 23 miles from the nearest town/micro-city. There aren’t many economic opportunities and there’s not much to do in winter besides drink, ice fish, and snowmobile. She thought about moving to LA, but she can’t afford it.

My mom is a local elected official with 2 years left on her term. She says she’s not going to run again and she wants to move somewhere with less severe winters. Yeah, but where? While I don’t relish living with my mom, it would be nice to live near her.

Like my best friend, I have been thinking about moving away from Los Angeles for years, but I just don’t know where to go. Seattle is nice, but it’s becoming just as expensive up there as it is in Los Angeles. I want to buy a house. I want to own a little piece of land with a fenced yard around it for the dog(s). It doesn’t have to be a huge house with a pool, tennis court, and butler–just a perfectly ordinary 2 or 3 bedroom house on a regular, wider than the house sized lot in an ordinary neighborhood. That dream is completely unattainable in Los Angeles.

Every time a for sale sign goes up in my neighborhood, I look it up online. There isn’t a single house for sale in my neighborhood for less than a million dollars that isn’t a total tear-down or doesn’t require at least a few hundred thousand to make it livable. That’s ridiculous and completely unattainable.

Are you freakin’ kidding me?
Screenshot from zillow.com

So, yeah, I can’t afford a house in LA, and by the looks of things, I can’t afford a house in Seattle either. So, where can I afford to live? Where can my mother afford to live as well?

Partly as homework and partly because I find it very relaxing to watch, I’ve been working my way through a show called Aerial America. The blurb is as follows: “Take off on a thrilling flight across America. This epic series offers rare glimpses of our nation’s most treasured landmarks, all seen from breathtaking heights. From busy cityscapes to quiet landscapes, we capture the history and the pageantry of our amazing country, which is as diverse as the people who occupy it.”

One thing I’ve learned is that every state has pretty parts. Even the states that I personally find repugnant like Nevada, Arizona, and all the desert states. Another thing this show will teach you is that, throughout history, white people have been despicable, dishonorable, and prone to murder.

I’m roughly halfway through the series. Out of the states I’ve seen so far that do not have arctic style winters, the prettiest are the Carolinas and Virginia. If I haven’t mentioned your state, you can assume that a) I haven’t seen it yet b) I do think it’s pretty, but I crossed it off because of winter (like all of New England) or c) you live in the desert and your state is not for me. I do not find the desert even the tiniest bit pretty. I find it foreboding, uninviting, and portending of doom. Same goes for wide open prairies. I don’t like feeling as though I’m in the middle of the ocean, but the ocean is made of land.

Here are my criteria:

  • Topographical: lots of trees and water (lake, river, ocean)
  • Weather: moderate summer heat (highs of 90–occasional heat waves okay); moderate to mild winter lasting less than 6 months per year (occasional snowstorms okay)
  • Real estate: ordinary 2 or 3 bedroom single family houses for less than a million dollars (preferably half that)
  • Population: ranging from way less than Los Angeles (1 to 2 million or so) to possibly as low as a few thousand
  • Politics: not full of confederate flag-wavin’, gun-totin’, bible-bangin’ hoohaws. Blue is best, purple is good, predominantly red would be okay, too, as long as there’s some blue.
  • Diversity: I would prefer to live in at least a halfway diverse area with significantly less than 100% white people. Too many white people in one place makes me itchy.

So, where should I live? Feel free to make a case for your city or town. Convince me.