Thoughts on Leaving California

One year ago in December we left California for Arizona. I’m loving it now. But I’ll admit it took me at least half a year to warm up to the move. During my week in California for Christmas, I got homesick for my new home, Olive the cat and our wildlife of coyotes, javelina, quail and the bobcat.

Here’s what I thought one year ago about the move when it was a couple weeks after leaving California:

archway gate
The entrance to our old home in Palm Springs.

Did you know there is a private Facebook group called Leaving California? I’m not sure how I ran across it, but before we made the move, I signed up. I was surprised to find out there are more than 30,000 members!

Scrolling through the posts made me feel sad in the beginning. I wasn’t convinced I wanted to leave. I loved our home downtown Palm Springs. We were two blocks from restaurants, shops and our views were breathtaking.

To add to my uncertainty, my “adult children” were beyond furious. That was the only home they’ve known prior to moving away for college and their adult lives. They both believe we made the biggest mistake in our lives by selling our home. It does have “location, location, location.” It is beautiful. But it also had its downsides. It was rustic without many modern amenities like closet space or a roomy kitchen. I was always freezing and my fingers went numb. It was big on charm, though. It was also big on expense. For some reason — partly because it’s located in California and also that it was built in the 1930s — it was terribly expensive to keep up.

birthday party for dog
My kids celebrating Natasha the rottie’s birthday.

The kids were so angry with us that they didn’t speak to my husband or me for a bit. This made me more sad. We invited them to come home to say good-by. We also asked the buyers if we could stay for one last Christmas. They said, sure, no problem — $8,000 and Christmas was ours. We passed and decided to bite the bullet. We left our home close to 30 days of selling.

I bring this up about my kids because I noticed this week on the Facebook Leaving California page, that a lot of people are going through the same thing with their adult children. The latest post garnered close to 400 comments. Most said “Tell them to buy it if they want it.” Others were a little more understanding to the kids’ feelings.

prom photos in backyard
Pre Prom Photo in our back yard.

I understand how my kids feel. My mom had to sell our childhood home, which was gorgeous with stunning views, too. Unfortunately, she had to sell after she and my dad divorced and she could no longer afford the expenses. I can tell you, that was an extremely upsetting way to lose my childhood home — and my nuclear family. I felt like my world turned upside down and there was no gravity to keep me on the planet.

My husband felt our kids were acting spoiled. They weren’t entitled to the house. He said he’d been working since age 13 and didn’t want to work until the day he died to pay to live in our home. Although, he’s still working now in our new home, there will come a day in a couple years where he won’t have to.

My kids are coming to accept our new reality. I’m looking forward to COVID-19 vaccines and their visits to our new home. I can’t wait to show them the hiking trails we’re discovering, the quail running through our backyard and the sunsets and sunrises.

Nothing can take away all the great memories we had of 28 years living there. I truly believe that home is not a structure, but is with the people who love you.

view of gorgeous Palm Springs backyard
Our former backyard all fixed up to sell.

What are your thoughts about selling a childhood home? Would your kids understand? How did you feel when your parents did the same?

22 thoughts on “Thoughts on Leaving California

  1. My family had a beautiful farmhouse in the Catskills with 14 acres. It was offered to my oldest brother by sale and he chose not to buy it. Did I miss it? A little but along the way learned that practicality replaces fantasy. Taxes were high and jobs well paying were not plentiful. We all moved for better opportunities and we found them. If you are self sufficient and offered to pay for something, the family expectations speak volumes. We are all self sufficient as are my stepchildren. Wonderfully so, but I can appreciate my father asking if my brother wanted to buy at a good deal for a house with property. It is best to know when to move or to travel when you retire. It is a possession but you remember more so the times and the people.

  2. Although when my husband and I visited the mountains a few years ago, the new owners had taken wonderful care of the property and the huge barns and the pool was still intact. I was happy to see that it was appreciated but the little town was still the same. Sometimes it is best to move on and my brother realized this early on.

      • Ironically, my brother’s daughter has chosen an area not that far from where we grew up. It is in Northern PA. I wonder about my brother’s influence.

  3. I can’t really relate because we moved around a lot when I was a child. But my children have spent the majority of their childhood in the home we presently live in, and and they tell us all the time that they don’t want us to leave. I’m not sure if they’re joking, but I can see why they would say that.

    However, I understand why you’d want to leave. They will grow to love your home in Arizona, it just takes time. But you’re correct, a home is more about the people who live inside of it.

  4. Like McWriterson, being an Air Force brat, I had little sentimental attraction to any home we were in. I was career military, so even our kids had no sentimental attraction to any one home for years. Made moving pretty painless in that respect.

  5. I was sad when my folks sold the home I had grown up in but I had already left the house a couple of years before. They decided to get a double wide trailer at a trailer park in San Jose. A few years after that my dad passed away and my mom sold the trailer home and moved to an apartment back up in San Bruno. Wish I had had enough money to buy the house. It is worth so much more now and was a really great house. But at 23, I couldn’t see it. The worst part is now I can still drive by the old house and I can see that they’ve made some changes. It makes me even sadder.

    • I’m sorry you drive by your old home and it makes you sad. My parents divorced and my mom sold our home. I understand why my kids were so upset, but they’ve gotten better about it.

  6. I only lived in one house growing up. After both of our parents passed away, we were sad to sell it (my brothers and I were all grown up by then and had our own homes and families). Your house in Palm Springs looks like it was unique and beautiful, despite its shortcomings. I can understand why your “kids” might have had trouble letting go of their childhood memories, but to not talk to you for a while seems a bit over the top. I imagine they will come to love your new home and understand that you as parents are allowed to move on when your wants and needs change.

  7. Our kids do like our new home and area now. Actually our daughter took it the hardest when we moved. Our Palm Springs home was unique and beautiful and one block from downtown with shops and restaurants. When you have one childhood home, I think you feel the loss more than people who have moved several times.

  8. Due the situation of our divorce, we had to sell the kids’ childhood home and it wasn’t easy. It hasn’t been a easy transition to a simpler life with financial strife for any of us, but we’re doing it. After my parents died, I had to sell their home as well and it was hard to let go of the memories. But life goes on and we hold those precious memories in our hearts for always. And yes, the kids and I have driven past their childhood home a few times, but over the years, it’s less and less. They have told me they’ve gone by from time to time to sit in front of it, but the new owners have changed some things so it no longer looks as they remember so maybe that’s easier..

  9. If you’ve checked out my blog Starting Over at you’ll see that I am back living in my childhood home. I have the luxury of deciding if I want to stay here or keep it or get rid of it. The house itself doesn’t hold that many memories for me and my sister will not even be attending Mom’s funeral on Monday. (Mom passed today but it was not a surprise and in some ways is a relief).

    If anything, I am lucky re my kids in this regard. They want to travel together to their grandma’s funeral and spend a few days here with just me. In some ways, that might make it harder for me if indeed I would otherwise be able to carry on with my pandemic-limited life and friendships maintained from a distance. Clearly, it is a strange and tenuous time for everybody now, and at the moment even more so for me.

    • Thank you. I missed my childhood home when my parents divorced. My kids and me miss the home we raised them in. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. It’s a tough time now and hits some harder than other.

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