Back in 2013, John (my husband) and I went on a little road trip with some friends up to Washington to visit their house in Gig Harbor. John was looking for work. The company he had been with for over a year had let him go because the owner of the company wanted to hire his best friend. And rumor was that Washington had more opportunities available for welders. So the plan was that we would hang out for a week, he would do interviews while we did some sight seeing, and then we would come back home. If he found a job during that time frame, awesome. If not, oh well.
We fell in love with Washington while we were up there. Unfortunately, John did not find a job while we were visiting, but we knew that living in Washington was in our future.
And then I got pregnant. Since it was a high risk pregnancy, and because Boyo came so early and was having some medical issues, we decided to go ahead and wait until things were a little more stable. Maybe after Boyo was a year old and had been discharged from his specialists we could revisit the subject.
Well, in 2015 things seemed to be more stable financially and medically. John’s job was cutting back his hours. My job was driving me crazy. So we decided to try to move to Washington again.
Yet again, it didn’t work out.
My husband was offered a really great job with a local company a month later, and we found a mobile home within our price range around the same time. Plus, the Boyo was diagnosed with a few behavioral and speech delays, and California’s early intervention program is one of the best in the country. We still felt that Washington was the place for us, but it was clear that we were right where we needed to be for right now. So, we settled in and decided to wait until Boyo was five and then see about moving.
And for a while, things were pretty good.
In 2017 a number of things began to happen that made us realize that staying in California was no longer an option.
First off, the mobile home park we lived in hired a new manager. For some reason, this manager took an instant dislike to us and proceeded to pick on us over every little thing. We would get notices to pick up the toys on our patio. However, the only toys we had out would be in our back yard area – and in order to see those you had to walk up the driveway, walk down the pathway in front of the house, up the steps to the patio, and look over the gate to see them. Meanwhile, our neighbors had their kids toys sitting out, as did the house three doors up from us. We were also told that where we were putting our trash cans wasn’t acceptable – even though we had been doing it for over two years, and other people in the park stowed their trash in the same area around their houses. And weeds? The moment we had a weed, we would find a notice in our mail box.
The manager was also charging residents for their utilities wrong. Any time we would complain and insist that there was no way we could use $300 worth of electricity in a month (yes we had AC, but our house wasn’t that big, and we didn’t run it all the time. The only things that were constantly on were the TV and the fridge) she would swear that she would check the meter, never send anyone over, but later claim that she did and the numbers were right.
It was ridiculous.
Meanwhile, the manager would be getting into arguments with her son and boyfriend. And the boyfriend would be getting in to arguments with their neighbors. The son would also yell at and beat up his pregnant girlfriend on a fairly regular basis. Cops were being called out almost every other day. And if you complained to the park owners about the manager, they would just shrug and ignore it.
At John’s job, he was dealing with a new supervisor (the sixth since he had been hired) who thought that harassing his employees was a great way to get them to work better. However, no matter how often John and his coworkers complained, either through their union or through the HR department, the HR department would insist that there wasn’t an issue.
And while our financial situation at the start of the year had been somewhat stable, within a couple of months we were back in debt. Part of this was due to the issue with the utilities. Part of it was due to the stress leave. A lot of it, we realized, was due to the fact that California’s high cost of living meant that it was impossible to survive on one income.
Unfortunately, it was just as impossible for me to return to work to help shoulder the burden. If I did go back to work, a majority of any income I made would go straight to daycare. Daycare in Southern California is that expensive. Plus, Boyo had just been diagnosed with Autism and was receiving 20 hours of therapy a week. Finding a daycare that would allow a therapist to come in and work with him was almost impossible, and even if we did manage to find one, he would be too distracted by the other kids to focus. And in the fall he would be starting preschool, so there was that to consider as well. While I had taken the test to become a real estate agent in the hopes that I could work my schedule around the Boyo’s, I soon realized that my availability was so restricted that I couldn’t even do that. I would have to wait until Boyo started Kindergarten – which was two years away.
It was depressing, and it was taking a toll on our mental and emotional health. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place. Something needed to give.
So we started to pray.
Was it time to sell? Was it time to move to a different city?
Or should we make the big jump and move to Washington like we had been discussing for so long?
Give us a sign, Lord, we asked. Tell us where we should go.
For John, the sign was his need to go out on stress leave to escape the harassment at work. For me, the sign was us selling the Jeep – which probably seems a bit silly because that’s something we humans do every day. We make the decision to buy and sell cars. But the Jeep was having issues, and we owed so much on it, that I knew the possibility of selling it, and finding a car within our price range to replace it, would take a miracle.
Somehow we did. We found a company that would take the Jeep, and we found a new Jeep that was actually way below our price range.
So now the question was, do we stay in California or do we move out state?
There was no way in hell we could afford a normal home or even a condo in Southern California. Nor could we afford to go back to renting. We were paying around $1700 a month for space rent plus utilities. A two bedroom apartment in Orange County for around $1500 to $1600, and an apartment in Corona wasn’t much better.
We briefly considered buying a mobile home in a different park, but it was hard to find one in our price range. Those that were in our price range had high space rent like our park. Those homes that were located in parks where the space rent was low, were selling for over a $100,000 more than ours. Getting a mortgage for a mobile home is damn near impossible in California – you need to have better credit than what would be required for traditional home loan, plus the down payments are generally higher. Once we ran the numbers, between the mortgage payment and the space rent, we would be paying just as much as we were currently paying.
At that point we realized that this was a sign.
It was time to make the jump to Washington.