So we're pregnant... selling the house... newly married... let's see, what else can we do to add some stress.
Go East Young Man
Some time back before we were married, my wife's company took over a bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. There was speculation that people might be transferred and she asked me if I'd ever think of going. My answer was a flat "no". However, post-wedding, with a family on the way and no encumbrances like property to worry about, things looked a little different.
I spent 3 years living in Northwest Indiana during the internet boom (and bust) of the late 90's and early millennium. I'd always joked with my wife that we could sell our place and buy something nice outright in Indiana and use the money to go on trips, spoil our kids, pay for their schooling, etc. A trip back to Indiana for a friend's wedding however showed us both that while San Diego was EXPENSIVE AS HELL, it was worth every penny to not be living in Indiana. No offense to the Hoosiers out there, there's plenty to love about Indiana, but Lake and Porter counties are oppressively flat, devoid of activities in the winter (other than getting drunk, it seemed), and mentally still struggling to get out of the 60's when it came to race relations. That said, I was able to enjoy living there as a bachelor and made several life-long friends (you know who you are).
But Charlotte was different. It seemed that most of the people I knew considered the Carolinas to be a haven of sorts and had aspirations to one day move away from "da region" and live there. Many of the large cities in North Carolina have seen tremendous growth and gentrification from people flocking there in droves from the north and west. Charlotte claims to welcome 28 people every day, and I'll admit it's extremely hard to find a native. This "melting pot" scenario makes the culture a bit more progressive. There are apparently a lot of "halfbacks" as well; people who moved from the northeast/midwest to Florida and then moved "half(way) back" to the Carolinas and Tennessee. It's quite the menagerie.
During escrow on the house, we arranged for a trip out to Charlotte to see the Charlotte office and learn more about the area. Prior to this, we did as much research as possible. If we decided to go, it would be optimal to go soon after closing escrow so that we didn't have to find an apartment or live in a hotel for longer than we had to. This would mean using some time during the trip to view places to live and probably putting down a deposit on a rental.
The trip was a lot of fun. Charlotte's airport is pretty small (There's a row of counters for US Airways and a row for anyone who isn't US Airways) but functional and not overcrowded so it was a pleasant travelling experience. My wife's office is minutes from the airport and the business park it's located in is very nice. My primary concern was if it would be as flat as NW Indiana and thankfully there are continuously rolling hills throughout the entire area and beautiful trees everywhere. The tour went well and since I would have to leave my job to move, I had an interview with a company not far from my wife's office. We toured the city and the communities to the south and found that we really liked the area.
So, down to the nitty gritty. The weather was beautiful the entire time we were there. We'd expect humidity and thunderstorms in the summer and freezing temperatures and ice storms in the winters, but otherwise mild weather in the spring and fall with the leaves turning and flowers blooming that go along with that. Wow, seasons. Gas was cheaper, groceries were cheaper, non-chain restaurants were cheaper. We've since found out that phone service is more expensive, but utilities are cheaper on the whole.
And then there's real estate. We rented a 4BR/2BA house for $1,500/month. My sister pays almost $2,000 for a 2BR/1BA apartment in California. Most of the homes we'd be interested in are 4+BR/2+BA on at least half an acre for $300-400K; we sold our 2BR/2BA townhouse for more than that. Sure, there are million dollar homes in Charlotte, but you don't have to live 30 miles away to own an affordable house. My wife's company offered to keep her salary, raises and bonuses on the San Diego level, so even if I wasn't able to make as much at a new job we'd still be doing fine and should be able to afford a nice place to live once we'd been in town long enough to learn where the best schools were, etc.
So, the path was set. We decided to move. I gave my boss 3 weeks notice upon my return to the office and we started planning the move. Next update: your virtual drive across the country on US20 in an overpacked Honda Accord with 2 pugs. Wheeee!