Why I Hate Living in California

I’m tired of living in California. The cost of living is outrageous and the traffic is a nightmare. There’s supposed to be nice weather to make up for it, but that hasn’t been working out for the past few years. If it’s not a drought, it’s flooding that’s wiping out roads.

And then yesterday I received this text from my barn owner:

A few years ago, we debated buying a house up in the hills. The only way for us to afford horse property in this area would be to move far out into the hills (not in the expensive hills area where we live now which is actually close to things). While we knew in theory that wild fires are very common in California, actually being faced with one near you is different.  When the Loma Prieta fire broke out 30 minutes from our barn and forced the Quicksilver Fall Classic to be rescheduled, we felt like even that was too close to home and gave up on wanting to own property here. I don’t want to spend my life worrying about my home and animals being destroyed in a fire.

So this text was pretty terrifying. Because Mt Eden road is only a few miles from my barn. I can -and have – ridden from my barn to where this fire is. And the pictures my barn owner was sending me were not making me feel any better.

Thankfully, where this fire broke out is very close to a big winery and concert venue as well as a lot of very expensive houses (think multi-million dollar mansions) so firefighters were all over it. They had planes dropping retardant right away and over 150 firefighters fighting it within hours.

I waited for my husband to get home from a dentist appointment and then we drove over to the barn taking our truck keys with us in case we needed to trailer horses out. They had put a shelter in place warning in effect and I was worried they’d close the road to the barn. Thankfully, the road was open to our barn, but closed about a mile down.

Once we got to the barn, I wan’t to go get a closer look. So we saddled up Nilla and Levi and rode over to a spot near our barn where there’s a good view of the valley. The flames had been knocked down by the fire retardant and were just on the other side of the ridge, but we could see the smoke.

Does that look far away? I promise you it’s not. It’s about 1 mile away as the crow flies. Or, you know, as the helicopter flies:

We were actually on the way back to the barn when we saw the helicopter go by and raced back up to the view point to watch them dumping water on the fire. They were going so fast between the reservoir and the fire that I timed it at 3.5 minutes for a round trip. It was actually a really amazing thing to watch. Kinda takes your mind of the threat of imminent doom.

Surprisingly, our horses were totally okay with the helicopters flying overhead. And I do mean overhead. Back at the barn, they were flying directly over us and it was insanely loud.

Thankfully, the fire is already 40% contained and it looks like we won’t need to evacuate. As of the time I wrote this, no one had been injured and no property destroyed. Nonetheless, I don’t want to live here anymore. And if you think that’s a rather extreme reaction to a fire that hasn’t done anything to me, I agree. It’s not really about this fire. This fire is just another straw on an already broken camel’s back.

52 thoughts on “Why I Hate Living in California

  1. sarahczspots

    Come to VA, we don’t have fires…that I know of. And we have all kinds of trails and stuff. I can’t imagine how scary that must be to experience, especially on top of the rest of the reasons being expensive and inconvenient.

  2. Carly

    Sometimes I think that the only people that say they want to live in CA are the people that have never had to do so lol. Come east to snow storms. At least they’re only around for a few months. (And we have hunter paces 😉 )

      1. Nicku

        LOL, that’s a funny observation Carly. We’re happy to be ex-CAlifornians but still dealing with fireshete in NV :/

  3. hayflinger

    We’ve had a fire! They happen A LOT in California. But this one has been one of the biggest and longest I’ve seen in a while in our local area (started July 8, still burning as of today)

    I’ll need to post about it as we’ve remained at our barn, while a lot of people vacated (which makes no sense to me seeing how your fire was even closer to your barn than our fire is)

      1. hayflinger

        Yeah, it’s what, 18,000 acres give or take. It seems to be burning away from civilization though, although there is some concern about the southern edge. Still, we were never on evac orders much less warning and we are right near the firefighting command center again.

        The people who went off to play evacuation waifs are the usual suspects of drama.

  4. Lauren

    This is more than a California problem. We’ve had lots of wildfires in Texas too, and I don’t see them stopping as the planet gets hotter/dryer overall.

    1. Olivia Post author

      So true, I don’t know if any place will be safe to live if we keep up destroying our world. But Texas is definitely not on my move list.

  5. Kym Calvert

    I love California! I am so sorry for your anxiety. We had a field fire the next road over and I was chewing my nails. Don’t forget other states deal with hurricanes, tornados, tons of flying pests like my friend who just left CA for South Carolina. She thought CA sucked until they moved to S.C. I will never leave our beautiful state, I hope you don’t either 🙂

    1. Olivia Post author

      That’s so scary. I know other states have their problems too. It’s really not just the fire that has me wanting to move though. It’s mostly the cost of living. I want to own my own horse farm and can’t do that here.

  6. Gwen Dailey

    We had a fire here last week. Neighbor woke me up at 3:30 with a call, and saw the fire coming over the ridge. Evacuated the horse and mule (in the dark with a lot of smoke- they were so good) then brought the trailer back for the sheep and goats. Car was packed with pictures and computers (and the barn cat) when the firefighters stopped the fire at the street in front of our house. It was a wild night, but we were fortunate the 165 acre fire burned the grass but didn’t get into the oak trees, so it was stoppable.

  7. Dee Beck

    I was born and raised in So Cal. Now live in Nebraska and would not move back for anything!

  8. Teresa

    I understand why you would want to leave. No place is perfect though. It’s like horse shopping- there’s always a compromise.

  9. Shauna

    I think you should consider New England
    – no fires
    – no earthquakes
    – no tornados (ok, maybe 1 in the last 100 years)
    – no scorpions
    – no rattlesnakes
    – no sink holes


  10. Stacie Seidman

    The barn where I boarded growing up burned to the ground when I was 14 taking all the lessons horses with it. It was devastating. I don’t wish that on anyone. Thus, I don’t think you’re overreacting in the slightest!
    So scary to have a fire like that so close. I’m glad they got it under control quickly and everyone is safe.

  11. emma

    natural disasters are terrifying to me. like…. pretty terrifying. earth quakes and tornadoes and fires and all that. maryland very infrequently gets directly hit by hurricanes, tho we often get the aftermath. it’s….. not the same tho haha. like, at all. also, our winters aren’t as intense as further up, nor summers as intense as further north. we’re jussssst right haha. anyway, stay safe!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I like the Mid Atlantic a lot (I grew up in Philly and visited MD a lot for family), but my husband thinks it’s too hot.

  12. irishhorse

    Sorry you feel that way, maybe it is time to find somewhere less stressful. Or maybe just “differently” stressful, I think everywhere has positives and negatives, I will take my California positives (plus it is a really big state, there are a lot of options, so I wouldn’t paint one place like another). Weather, prices, jobs, population, politics, figure out what works for you and find it!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Trust me, I don’t hate all of CA. I love many parts and aspects of it. I liked CA when I first moved here, but I think I’m just over it. We thought about moving to another part of the state, but I don’t think there’s any part of CA that doesn’t have wildfires.

  13. Stubborn Together

    I hear you. I’ve wanted to live some place different for a long time but there was just enough keeping me here. Now this spring and summer have been MISERABLE weather wise and since winters are already horrific I’m completely convinced that I need to live somewhere else at least for awhile.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Yeah. I don’t know what they would have done a few years ago when the reservoir was empty and people were hiking through it.

  14. Julia

    New England. Plenty of water. Local hay. Affordable compared to CA. Horsey, so there are trainers, vets, trimmers, trailer mechanics, layup barns — so if you hate one, you can switch. Tons of options within a few hour drive. Sure, there’s Lyme. There’s that.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Yes, I thought about Lyme a lot as I pulled 9 ticks off of me after like 5 minutes walking through some grass while vacationing in Maine a few weeks ago. But I think I’d take Lyme over wildfires. I dunno. I’m sure I’d complain about Lyme too.

  15. Calm, Forward, Straight

    After dealing with the aftermath of multiple super destructive hurricanes in the last few years – I can relate to your desire to leave, although it’s not in the cards for me. Aren’t there climatological issues pretty much everywhere anymore though? I guess you have to pick your poison. Hoping the fires are controlled asap, and good luck with your move! If you end up on the east coast you can expect a visit from another of Nilla’s fans ;D

    1. Olivia Post author

      We’re not leaving anytime soon, but I am definitely looking for a place with minimal forms of world destruction. Hurricanes are not on my list.

  16. Sari

    Come to Florida! Around Marion County in NE central part of the state. Plenty of trails & the beach where you can ride your horses only 1 hrs away! Sure we have hurricanes but in the middle of the state not a lot of damage.

  17. julesatthebarn

    Just hoping all ponies & people stay safe and sound. I’m moving back to the NC mountains in October after living on the coast for over 15 years. Its relatively disaster free there, but we get gnats and some humidity. Super affordable cost of living, and large groups of outdoor enthusiasts and cultural/arts scene.

  18. Liz

    I don’t think your reaction is extreme at all. I heavily considered moving to CA a few years ago for a job but ultimately gave up that train of thought after visiting and giving it a critical eye. The weather had more extremes than I wanted; the drought was ridiculous and I didn’t want to worry about water restrictions; the threat of earthquakes (inevitable with the fault lines over there) didn’t thrill me; the cost of living was exorbitant; the threat of fire was so very real; and the cost of buying hay was greater than I ever imagined. So many things stacked up in the ‘Con’ pile!

    I may be in the middle of nowhere West Virginia, but my cost of living is minimal, hay is cheap, and natural disasters are at an absolute minimum! The humidity sucks but damnit, I’ll take that over a fire any day. Compared to other places, life is predictable so far as nature and that makes me feel much better.

    I hope you all can find a better situation that makes you happy in the near future. I can’t imagine having to worry about fire and having to evacuate the horses at a moment’s notice. =(

    1. Olivia Post author

      The cost of hay here is really ridiculous. But I could’t do the heat and humidity in WV. I worked for one summer there and I’m not going back. My husband still works here though so there’s no immediate plan leave.

  19. Megan

    i lived in CA for about 7 years collectively growing up and you could not pay me to move there again (there and NYC). was living there for the northridge earthquake, which was terrifying, and had to evacuate for a couple of brushfires.

    oh also there’s no water. like, anywhere.


    1. Olivia Post author

      There’s water this year. Too much of it. So much it destroyed a lot of roads. That’s sort of the problem: there’s never an appropriate amount of water here.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I could see staying here if it was affordable. But the compilation of all the down sides with the cost has me over it.

  20. HunkyHanoverian

    How freaking scary!!! So glad it didn’t come any closer. Wow! You should move to Texas- HUGE horse community, and fairly cheap land if you are outside major city centers!

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