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What I Learned about Work and Life by Living in California


Decades ago, as a young engineer, I moved to California to work for a major company. It didn't take long to realize I had made a mistake. For example, apartments in California don't come with refrigerators. And no one there thinks there is anything strange about that. I've lived in many apartments, from the East Coast to the West Coast, and California is the only place I've ever lived where apartments don't come with refrigerators. Some don't even come with stoves.

During my couple of years in California, I learned that residents of "the Golden State" are not aware of many things that people coming in from other places notice immediately--high taxes, a department of motor vehicles that doesn't answer its telephones and treats residents like they live to serve the DMV. The politicians are absolutely insane. The traffic makes you not want to drive. When you move to California, you are required to pay taxes on money you earned while you were living in your previous state! The Supreme Court decided that was illegal, but that didn't matter to the California revenue department. They still required you to pay taxes on money you earned while living out of state--at least in the year that I moved there. Apartment rents were two to three times what I had paid in my previous state. Some of my coworkers spent three hours a day in their cars commuting to and from work, because they couldn't afford to live close to work. This is a state that makes it obvious to you in every way that it doesn't want you there!

I really liked boogie boarding. But, I only did that about 10 times while I was there, and it didn't make up for everything else. In fact, with the sate taxes I could have saved by not living in California, I could have taken a two month boogie-boarding vacation there every year.

Here is what I learned by living in California. First, people who live in a place with a low quality of life don't know any better. They are not aware of the things that are wrong with the place. Second, human beings need a balance between the following to be happy: 1) good work, 2) an affordable place to live, and 3) people they like working with and living around. If we don't have those three things, we won't be happy. When you move to a high-cost-of-living location to take a job, you are already missing one of those things. From my personal experience, it isn't worth it. Let the people who don't understand that take jobs in places they can't afford to live. Be smart and live where you can afford to live.



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