There is Life Outside the Bay Area: Two Years Later (Part #5)

Hello Friends & Family,

Holy macaroni!  Sarah, the girls and I are enjoying our two year anniversary in Park City, Utah this week!  Oh, what an adventure it  has been.  I’ve documented many of our move observations through my blog —

This will be the final installment of this series of blog posts — the two year check in.  I guess I could do a five year check in but that feels like a long way away.  I’m going to try something different this time around and make this an “ask me anything” type of format. I’ve collected the various questions folks have asked Sarah and I throughout.

Just as a recap, in August 2020 — Sarah, the girls and I decide to uproot ourselves out of Danville, California (Bay Area) to Park City, Utah in the middle of COVID.  I had originally moved to the Bay Area in 1999 with the first dot com boom.  20+ years in California with a brief stink in Seattle, Washington for two years. Sarah moved to California back in the 1980’s so many more years living in the Golden State.  Change and action can be hard so this was a big decision for us.  It’s amazing how fast life goes looking back but can feel slow when you’re in it.  I thought I would be in the Bay Area for a couple of years and then I would move back to the east coast.  

All great changes are preceded by choas.

Deepak Chopra

This week two years ago was absolute chaos. The house was sold and half packed. Realtors were coming in and out of the home getting the staging furniture out and the final fixes in place. The buyers were gigantic pains in the ass so we were dealing with 100 different details. And, a leak sprung in the kitchen that took us a week to figure out that that HVAC guy had screwed up the condensation lines.

Moving is the absolute worst. I had PTSD looking through the old photos.

Sarah and the girls left via car earlier in the week ahead of me so that I could deal with clearing out our old home and the movers. We had sold or thrown out half our stuff but we still had a ton of things to move. Sarah later told me that the car ride was full of tears from the Bay Area to Sacramento. We had to have a family meeting later that evening to discuss, “are we doing the right thing?”. There I sat outside Sarah’s sisters home with a beer in my hand going through the seven stages of grief in about 2 minutes.

  • Shock and denial — “What was going on? How did we get far into the journey and suddenly have second thoughts? It is not possible that this is happening!”
  • Pain and guilt — “Did I do this to my family? How could I have let this happen?”
  • Anger and bargaining — “Ok, we can fix this. Maybe there is a clause for me to get out of selling our house?”
  • Depression — “Oh, this makes me very sad.”
  • The upward turn — “No big deal. We’ll figure this out.”
  • Reconstruction and working through — “This change is the right change. We just need to get through this first week.”
  • Acceptance and hope — “Ah yes, we will get through this first week and it will be great.”

Well, we made it through that moment and I guess the rest is history. It was one of the best decisions we’ve made as a family unit together. And I think we’re stronger for having gone through it together. Folks have asked us so many questions along the way so here are just a few of them.

Q: Who brought up the idea of moving first? 

A: Sarah.  She started talking about leaving California probably back in 2015, maybe further back.  I was the hold out because I cared deeply about staying in the Silicon Valley community.  I had identified with Silicon Valley since I moved to the Bay Area in 1999. 

Q: How much did COVID play a role in your decision to move?

A: Some.  COVID definitely opened my mind to something different.  I think for Sarah it just added fuel to her interest of leaving California that started a long time ago.  Plus, the technology sector went 100% remote after COVID and for the most part continues to be remote.  It helped that Park City, Utah is the most accessible mountain town in the United States.  We’re < 30 minutes from the Salt Lake City Airport so jumping on a plane to get somewhere is very easy. 

Q: After two years, how are things going?

A: We love it here and love our decision to move.  No regrets.  Park City is one cool little mountain town. 

Q: How have the kids enjoyed Park city?

A: I think Molly and Brooklyn have thrived here.  New school. New friends. New sports clubs.  New activities.  Lots of new things and they have responded.  I don’t think moves are for every kid but I think ours have really enjoyed the change. 

Q: How have the winters been?

A: No harder than the winters in New York/Connecticut but the last two years have been mild winters so it’s tough to say yet.  There are some differences though. The snow is light, fluffy and dry.  I could use a leaf blower to clean my steps.  And as soon as the snow stops, the sun comes out.  The dry humidity and altitude makes the winters unique.   

Q: What have been your biggest surprises — either good or bad?

A: I’ve got a few —

  • The people are amazing.
  • The scenery and nature is out of this world. 
  • It is magical living 10-15 minutes from world class skiing, hiking, mountain biking, etc.
  • The snow is more amazing than i thought.
  • It is equally as magical being less than 30 minutes from Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City Airport. 
  • Everything is just more accessible here as compared to California or New York/Connecticut.
  • University of Utah is a hidden gem. 
  • Sundays are actually days off in this state.  Kids sports are discouraged.  Lots of things are closed. 
  • The taxes are materially less as compared to California or New York/Connecticut.
  • The restaurants / food in Salt Lake City and Park City are not great.  Specially, the Asian food scene is absent.
  • The booze laws in Utah are messed up and overly complicated. 
  • The soda shops are unique.  They combine Mountain Dew and Pepsi then add pixie stick flavoring in a 64 oz cup.  What the heck? 
  • There are less people and working class here which makes standard services or contractors harder to get.
  • Backyards in Park City don’t have fences. 

Q: What would you have done differently?

A: I should have listened to Sarah  and considered a move sooner than we actually moved.  It really has been great for us.

Q: Factoring everyone – personalities, ages – how hard was it to start over? How long did it take to feel settled?

A: I didn’t find it too hard starting over but I’m a unique soul.  Starting new challenges is fun for me.  I’d say it took 6-12 months to really feel settled.  There we were lots of moving parts. 

Q: How has the work transition been?

A: There really wasn’t a transition.  We just picked up in a different state.  But, that might have been a problem in itself.  We just fork lifted our lifestyle into a different state.  It took until the second year to make some real lifestyle changes. 

Q: What was the hardest part of the transition?

A: Leaving our friends and family. 

Q: Would you do it again?

A: Absolutely! 

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

Charles Darwin

So, what is the moral of the story? Change is good. Embrace adventure. Choose to do something different. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Thank you for reading and listening in on the journey.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment.  Sarah, the girls and I hope to see you in Park City, Utah sometime soon. 

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