What I’ve learned from five years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area

A post all about moving to and living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and buckle up, because this one is a book!

This blog is called A Lady Goes West, and in case you’re in the dark as to why, it’s because almost exactly five years ago to the day, this lady moved from Orlando, Florida to San Francisco, California — a westward move. It was huge. Dave and I had just recently gotten married, and we picked up and took a big leap of faith, knowing basically no one and basically nothing in the Bay Area, other than the fact that Dave had a great job offer.

What I've learned from five years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area by A Lady Goes West

Moving across the country is hard

I can definitely say that without a doubt, making that move was one of the biggest things that we’ve ever done. Perhaps bigger than getting married. Likely not bigger than becoming parents (which we will be very soon, as we’re anxiously awaiting the appearance of our little Baby Goes West boy). But huge.

It’s funny, because the first year that Dave and I were married and out here, we would often get asked “how’s married life?” and our answer was always that being married is totally easy and hardly a change from before we were married. However, moving across the country is super hard. Like really super hard. Not just the logistics, but also the adjustment to being in a place where you only know one person and you have to live a totally different lifestyle than you’re used to in a very urban setting. We leaned on each other a lot, and we needed each other a lot in our daily lives. And I can definitely say that our marriage is easier now, because we’ve done something as tough as make a move like that — we’re stronger because of it. And I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we didn’t have each other. I don’t think separately, we would’ve done it. So I’m sending major props to anyone who makes a big move on his/her own. You go!

The evolution of A Lady Goes West

When I first moved out to San Francisco, I started A Lady Goes West and wrote blog posts about nearly every single adventure we did and things we learned. I wrote about trying Uber, because it started here in San Francisco and we were very early adopters — back when it was hard to explain to people how it even worked. I wrote about taking the BART, our subway system, and all the things I saw on there, because public transit was completely foreign to me. I wrote about getting our groceries delivered, before that was even a thing. I wrote about searching for a job and building a life in an entirely new place on foot. And I wrote about missing my family, which I still do every single day.

And some of those posts are pretty raw and real. And, well, they remain live on the blog, and I don’t ever plan to delete them, even though they don’t totally go with the theme of what I write about today.

As the years have gone on, A Lady Goes West has morphed into a slightly more professional place, which still isn’t too serious, but is less like a diary and more like a resource. As I’ve learned more about fitness, become a personal trainer and picked up additional certifications, I’ve brought that to the blog, and it’s definitely grown because of it. And at times, I’m shocked and happy how this blog has become so much more than I could have possibly expected. It’s incredibly important to me. And I know for a fact that everything I am doing today in my career and life has somewhat been shaped because of that big move we made five years ago, particularly this blog.

Our respective jobs

Dave’s job is great. He works for the Golden State Warriors NBA team, and if you’ve not heard — they’re basically the best, and we’ve even walked in two NBA Champ parades — an incredible experience.

And my job is non-traditional, and at times, I know that some people back in Florida still don’t quite get it. I’m a blogger, writer and fitness professional, and that’s how I fill my days and make money. And I didn’t even really know that type of combination existed before I moved. When I lived in Orlando, I worked as a copywriter for a hotel brand at a desk each day and taught two group fitness classes on the side as a straight-up hobby, and I likely would’ve continued down the corporate path had I stayed there.

I never dreamed that the majority of my work would one day be related to fitness and not coming from a big corporation. But it does. These days, it’s becoming more common for people to have non-traditional roles all over the world, but here, it was understood very early on, because of the entrepreneurial nature of the Bay Area in general.

Last year, Dave and I won a “40 Under 40” award for the East Bay of San Francisco, and that honor was not bestowed to me because I had a desk job, it was given to me for this blog and for my place in the community touching a lot of people as an instructor. Had I not moved, I wouldn’t know that this was my calling, and I was actually cut out for something other than a respected and easily understood 9-to-5 gig.

At no point do I want to make it sound like I don’t absolutely love my home state of Florida, which is where so many of my life-long friends, and of course, my dear family live. I loved growing up in Florida and living in Orlando after college — I was totally happy there and likely would have remained happy. But I do want to make it sound like there are so many benefits to me from the way things have worked out and from what I’ve learned because of making a big move/transition to a new place — it’s because of that chance to wipe the slate clean and explore new avenues that I’ve been given many opportunities that I may not have ever had if I stayed in Florida. My eyes have been opened more. I’ve traveled more. I’ve been exposed to new ideas. I’ve put myself out there more. I’ve met so many new and interesting people unlike me. I’ve failed. I’ve triumphed. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve written an ebook. And I’m still going.

Ashley full-body shot by A Lady Goes West

What I’ve learned from five years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area

Now, let’s get to the lessons … and remember this: Where you live is totally up to you. I am absolutely not saying that San Francisco is better than other cities for you, I’m saying this is how it’s worked out for me with the process of relocating to a bigger city and basically starting over. You do you, friends!

You can’t always get what you want, and that’s a good thing.

You may be thinking that this post is going to be about every single amazing thing that has happened to me or to us the past five years. But not so much. Some of the best lessons have come about because of the hard parts. In fact, one of the biggest reasons that I became a non-traditional blogging/writing gal, is because I was turned down from some very big jobs that I thought were perfect for me. I applied multiple times for open roles at POPSUGAR, and I never even got an interview that first year. Fast forward to now, and I’ve been interviewed as a quotable resource for the site, even had one of my original pieces appear on there and been invited to events at the headquarters, in which I met Lisa Sugar.

Ashley at POPSUGAR event in San Francisco

There was also another “job that got away” out there that really tore me up. Some of you long-time readers may know that there was once a San Francisco office for the Les Mills group fitness company (the creators of BODYPUMP, etc.), and I had the opportunity to work as a contractor there starting just a few weeks after moving to SF. I met some of the Les Mills greats, who worked in that office. I helped ship the Les Mills new release kits, when they were still in hard-copy form. And I also thought I was a shoe-in for a full-time permanent communications role with Les Mills, which was essentially promised to me. Guess what? I didn’t get the job in the end, and another gal, who was willing to work for a slightly lower salary and didn’t even know much about the Les Mills brand, got it. (I’m sure she was very nice and qualified, and I even worked with her on a few things years later via this blog, but it’s easier for me to have some petty disdain. You feel me?) I was so upset that I almost considered quitting teaching Les Mills programs once I got the news (via text … yes, I found out via text). At the time, it was devastating, and those feelings stayed with me for months. But, after it happened, I started doing a little freelance public relations and writing work, something I had NEVER done or considered before, slowly paving the way for my future.

What does all this mean? Those upsets were meant to happen. Truth be told — I don’t like having a boss, and I’ve always wanted to be able to write exactly what I want to write and come and go as I please — without having set office hours. When interview after interview for public relations and communications jobs didn’t quite work out … I should have known that the universe was pushing me elsewhere. I did end up working in a PR job in San Francisco for a while and a pretty interesting writing/content job in the East Bay for a while too — but both times I knew they weren’t the right fit. Yet, those jobs and all of my disappointments sure groomed me to be able to handle my own thing, just like I’m doing today.

Home is where you lay your head at night, and that’s really all that matters.

If you live outside of the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ve likely heard that it’s expensive to live here. You’ve heard right, but it’s probably way worse than you expect, and you end up spending way more of a percentage of your income on living costs than you should. When Dave and I first moved, we found a one-bedroom 700-square foot apartment in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco, and the rent was nearly double the mortgage we paid for a much-larger and nicer condo in downtown Orlando. 

We downsized like you wouldn’t believe — selling so much stuff (and selling my car, so we’d only have one) and beginning to figure out what it would be like to live with way less. And you know what? Living with less is awesome. Living in a small space is totally fine. And after that apartment, we downsized again to a 550-square foot place in the magical Nob Hill neighborhood, which didn’t even have a full real one bedroom nor a full-size fridge. These places were incredibly pricey to live in, they were tiny, tiny, tiny, and they were so charming. We shared a less-than-ideal closet. Dave’s dresser was in the foyer/hallway entrance to our place. My dresser was halfway between the living room and bedroom, which were only separated by a partial wall. And these space constraints meant that before buying ANYTHING new or bringing ANYTHING home, we had to think twice about whether we had the space for it. It made us much more thoughtful when it comes to material things, and I think that’s mostly remained. We also got rid of having a TV in the bedroom, which was such a great change for our sleep hygiene (such an important thing) that we’ve maintained to this day.

How to create a better sleep environment by A Lady Goes West

We are currently living in our third place in the Bay Area, and now we are in Walnut Creek, which is outside of the City across the Bay, and I have a car now too. Our place is much larger than our Nob Hill shoe-box, but it’s still pretty small and only has two bedrooms. And yet, it houses two full-grown adults, a dog and a baby on the way. It’s a super nice place, and unlike our other spots in SF, it’s much newer. We have a nice full kitchen with the latest appliances, and a decent amount of storage space. We like it here. But it’s definitely not what we would have pictured or envisioned for ourselves at this point in our lives — especially because we are still renters too.

And something I haven’t yet shared on the blog is that we really are ready to make that step to be homeowners here, and we gave it a try this summer. A big try. In fact, for about four months over the summer, I looked at probably close to 100 houses in the East Bay with our lovely realtor, who is also my friend. We went to countless open houses and we even put forth eight official offers on homes. We never got one though. Each time, there were multiple offers, and we were way outbid. Every time we put forth an offer, we would go in way over the asking price, drop so many of the contingencies that are supposed to keep buyers safe, just to make our application more appealing, and yet, we never won out. We even included a letter and picture of us, telling the sellers that we needed a home for to raise our first baby. None of that worked. We finally stopped searching once we realized the baby’s arrival was too close to deal with all of that stress. Why am I telling you all of this? Because this happens to a lot of people here. And because the houses we were bidding on were not our dream houses. They weren’t large, they weren’t fancy, and they weren’t anything special. Even though just the down payment for them is basically the price of a house in most locations. But we knew we would learn to love them once they were are own, in spite of small closets and older kitchens, etc..

You see, living in many parts of the Bay Area often means your “home” isn’t too big or too luxurious (well, for some people that’s not the case, but I’m talking about the average person here), and you definitely have to accept that you will pay way more than you want to pay, and people outside of the Bay Area will not possibly even believe the conditions. But, what you get is a spot in an area so desirable that every vacant apartment or house has a line of people out the door wanting to occupy it. In a way, that’s kinda cool. But in another way, it’s totally dreadful. It’s just something you learn to accept as reality. And it’s also something that makes it very hard for you to watch episodes of “House Hunters,” in which you see what you can get for much less money in other parts of the country. 

Dave and I know how to live with a little less stuff, place importance on our comfort and fulfillment, and not fixate or focus on having the absolutely largest and nicest house around. That’s just not all that important. What matters is that we’re together, we’re happy, and we’re growing our family in a lovely little rented spot, which we currently call h-o-m-e.

It’s harder to make friends as an adult, but that’s okay, because you can have many different kinds of friends.

When I first started making friends in San Francisco, I would get just a bit frustrated early on, because typically, everyone was so different from me. I also didn’t like that they didn’t know that much about my past and history — I was even called, gasp, very Southern. How strange, right? But of course the new friends didn’t know that much about me — we were just getting acquainted. The reason I felt this was because I had spent my entire life until then in Florida with some of the same friends from elementary school, adding onto my circle with other people who I had big experiences with, like college roommates, etc. My inner-circle in Florida had been around a long time, and although I added new friends all the time — for some reason, we often had a lot more in common, maybe some mutual friends, and they came into my established group, so it was just easier.

Fast forward to living in a big city like San Francisco, where a lot of people are from other places, and you’re all working adults with a lot going on, you have to try a bit harder to find that common ground. You have to hang out a few times to even be sure if you click. And sometimes, you will, and sometimes you won’t. I’ve made a lot of friends now in the last five years and have definitely made some really great ones (especially since moving out to the East Bay in Walnut Creek), but I’ve also realized that I’ve made some friends who may never be “great” friends, but they are totally good friends — if that makes any sense at all. We can have a few shared interests and hang out occasionally and not need to be involved in every aspect of each other’s lives, like I was so used to being with my best friends in Florida.

The whole point of this one is that it’s okay to have best friends, work friends, gym friends, casual friends and whatever-you-want-to-call them friends. We need all sorts of people in our lives, and there’s a time and a place for all of them. I like all of my friends I’ve made over the past five years here, and I’ve seen some come and go. I’ve also remained friends with my Florida people, and our relationships may not be quite as close as they once were when we were younger, but we certainly don’t skip a beat when we are together. They are still SO important to me and will always have a huge place in my heart, and we will always be that way. And that’s what friends are for. I love them, especially these girls … pictured at my baby shower in Florida last month.

Girlfriends at the baby shower by A Lady Goes West

When you’re younger, it’s easier to go “all in” with new friends, and it takes more time as an adult, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Not to mention, when you add the aspect of a spouse, sometimes you have to try to like the friends’ significant others too, to make sure you guys are all a match, which can be even more tricky.

No matter what, connection and community is essential, so keep trying, because friends are important. Make them. Keep them. Cherish them.

People may not understand your choices, and that’s fine, because they don’t have to get it, only YOU have to get it.

There have been times when I’ve mentioned to someone back in Florida about how much I hate that I don’t live closer to my Mom. And oftentimes, his/her immediate response is to say that we should just move back to Florida. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. I would absolutely LOVE to have my parents, brother (who is actually in Atlanta) and long-time friends nearby … but I can honestly say that I don’t want to just move back to Florida at this moment and go back to what I did before. It’s not that simple. My family would love nothing more than to have me closer, but they also are supportive of me and of us and know that we’re making the right decisions. Do I feel bad about being far? Every day of my life. But do I know this is right for us right now? Yes. We wanted and needed this experience.

When you move to the Bay Area and it clicks for you and you’ve all of a sudden seen what it’s like to live here, you may not want to leave either. I’ve had numerous conversations with friends here who have moved from other places, in which their friends/family back home can’t understand why they deal with the traffic, public transportation, cost of living and hustle and bustle. They don’t get it. But I always tell those people and tell myself — as long as YOU get it, that’s all that matters. And some of you may be thinking you’d not be into that at all, and that’s totally fine — what we like and where we live is hopefully entirely up to us. That’s the beauty of America.

I’ve known people who have become a little fed up with life in the Bay Area and left for cheaper spots. Not a single one of those people doesn’t say how much they miss living here and wish they could return. Maybe their wallets are thanking them, but they know what they’re missing out on. Living in a place like the Bay Area definitely has its pros and cons, and I know that if we ever leave, we will probably miss a lot more than we don’t. And nobody really needs to understand that except for us. And I’m sure many people feel this way about their lives in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, or any other big city, which I’ve never experienced as a resident and may be equally as awesome.

No location is perfect. No city is perfect. No state is perfect. But if you find more enrichment out of one spot than another, then that’s where you should be — even if it means you do endure a few sacrifices to be there. And it’s not up to anyone else to tell you where you should be living.

San Francisco view by A Lady Goes West

A few other things I’ve learned 

And for a few shorter tidbits …

  • California is huge. And there are distinct parts to it. Before I moved to California, I would’ve assumed that San Francisco and Los Angeles were similar and close to each other. That couldn’t be further from the truth. If there is no traffic (and there is NEVER no traffic), you could drive from SF to LA in about six hours. But that never happens. And what you would experience after making that drive would be two entirely different places. Northern California and Southern California are quite opposite with many things. They have their own reputations, and they have their own character. Of course, being that I live in the Bay Area, I think Northern California, with it’s cooler weather, more laid-back attitude and hipster tendencies is superior. But there are millions of Southern Californians who would disagree. It’s actually quite funny how there is a bit of a rivalry in the state. I like it.
  • You are close to everything in the Bay Area. We can get to mountains, the Pacific Ocean, islands, the beach, an urban downtown, wine country and even a redwood forest in less than an hour. That’s a lot of great stuff to have in your backyard.
  • Good things come to those who wait. People get married and have kids later here in the Bay Area (and in most larger cities, from what I hear), and they’re not at all upset about it. In fact, when I first arrived, people thought it was so weird that I was already married. You see, oftentimes, people here are a bit more focused on their careers and making money and going to festivals before marriage, etc. They often wait to find a mate and settle down with a family well into their 30s instead of their 20s, and that’s fine if that works for them. I even know some ladies freezing their eggs. So cool! And to each his own! (Of course, with our situation, we had a little setback in the fertility/fitness department, but we still weren’t ready for kids until later anyhow.)
  • Nicknames are particular. Here’s a funny and slightly petty thing, but you should never call it “San Fran.” This is a mistake my friends from home and many tourists make, but people in SF don’t like that nickname at all — they consider it degrading. You can say, the City, SF or San Francisco, just not “San Fran.” I’m thankful that someone told Dave and me that before we even moved, but quite honestly, I don’t quite get it.
  • It’s truly ground zero for innovation. So many companies and products start out in the Bay Area, so you will often get the chance to see things before they hit the shelves across the nation. Uber, Instacart, you name it, we had the opportunity to use it before it became a household name. And I happen to love that. When “they” say there are a lot of start-ups here, they aren’t kidding.
  • Saying goodbye never gets easier, nor does distance. I cry every single time I say goodbye to my parents after a visit. It’s always hard. It will always be hard. Distance is tough. And no situation is perfect. If it were up to me, my Mom would live close enough to be my on-call babysitter and shopping partner. But she doesn’t live close, so we make it work as best as we can with longer visits a few times a year, and lots and lots of phone calls. And the reality of having a baby with my family so far away is hard to handle, but it’s about to happen. Clearly, I’d way rather live closer, but that’s just not in the cards right now, and the distance just doesn’t get easier.

I could literally go on and on forever, in fact, I deleted an entire additional section about some of our fun times and memories over the past five years, because it was just too much. And clearly, I needed to write this all out, because the words were a-flowing from my fingertips. 

I think this is one of the longest posts ever on A Lady Goes West, and with good reason — moving to and living in the San Francisco Bay Area is a huge thing in my life and marking this five-year point is necessary. We never intended to move out to San Francisco and be here five years later with plans to buy a house in the East Bay. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and we’re grateful for that. This place, as far away as it is from my parents and dear friends and the only other state I’ve ever known as home, is a great place. There’s just something about it.

People often ask me if we are here for the long haul, and I HONESTLY do not know. We had no idea that the opportunity to move to San Francisco would come up when it did, and there’s always a chance something else like that comes along one day (would I have to change the name of the blog then?). What I do know, and what Dave does know, is somehow this was all meant to happen. In spite of the hardships, the failures, the expense and the distance from Florida, we’re right where we are supposed to be right now.

Ashley and Dave at Heritage House by A Lady Goes West

To all of you out there, my friends, who have been around A Lady Goes West, reading my rambling words for so long — thank you. I hope wherever you are in your life, you can look around and see that you’re probably right where you need to be too. Remember … always DO YOU!

And in case you haven’t had enough, for some more reading, a few posts you may enjoy …

What it's like to move to #SanFrancisco. Lessons from five years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area on A Lady Goes West ... Click To Tweet

Questions of the day

Have you ever made a big move?

What’s one thing you LOVE about where you live?

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44 Comments

  1. The house market is insane everywhere! In Charlotte you have till the end of the weekend that the house goes on the market before a diserable house is gone. Luckily even bidding wars stick close to asking price though.

    Our house in Tampa was only on the market 15 days and there was so many things wrong with the location of it but it was still snapped up.

    I can’t even imagine big city searching. Good luck when you decide to persue that dream again!

    1. Hi Amy Kaye! I hadn’t heard that Charlotte was competitive with homes, but the time-frame sounds similar to how it is here. Houses were on the market for like 5 days, until they had a specific date they would accept all offers, then it would be gone. Craziness! Asking price is absolutely not important here — because everything goes so far above. Very frustrating! I’m glad your house in Tampa sold pretty easily. And as far as looking for a house, we will start again in 2018 and see how it goes. Hope all is well with you, lady! Are you loving Charlotte!??? πŸ™‚

  2. Such a great reflection post. I’m a new reader to your blog though i think I have been following your Instagram for a couple years. Back in 2014, I was laid off from my first post college job. I decided to move from the Chicago area where I grew up to Philadelphia. This was because I liked cities, it was closer to my now fiancΓ© and I needed out of my parents house. While it’s not as big of a move as across the country, it was a big move to me and taught me to let go of quite a few material items along the way. I lived in the Philadelphia area for 2.5 years and honestly it was quite a time for me to evolve and grow (a post I need to work on writing for my blog) but it never felt like a place I could settle. My fiancΓ© and I took time to travel the first quarter of this year to Australia and New Zealand and that opened our eyes further to living with less. I’m now in a small town in New York State. I don’t know how long I will be here or where I will possibly move next but for now exploring this new area.

    1. Hi Alicia! So nice to “meet” you! Thank you for reading and saying hi! First of all, MAJOR props to you for having the guts to make that initial move from Chicago to Philadelphia! I’m sure it was hard at times, but I bet you are so much stronger because of it. You should totally get your thoughts together about it in a post on your blog! And I want to read that post. As far as your travels, SO COOL! I’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand but would LOVE to see what life is like there one day. Isn’t it funny how totally new environments can change your perspective on belongings, necessities and all of that? Thank you for sharing, lady!!! I hope you find the perfect next stop after where you are right now!

  3. Ashley, I really loved this post. Dane and I are in a weird place right now with our situation in the city and this resonated a ton with me. At least to the part where you two were living in the same neighborhood we are right now. We’ve been back and forth for months on what to do, where we belong etc.. Thank you for this!

    1. Hi Carrie! I know I told you this, but one day I woke up and was DONE with city living. I didn’t want to walk anymore. I didn’t want to go up the hill to our place. I wanted to have a car and a slightly less urban lifestyle. But honestly, I wish we had stayed just a BIT longer in our place in Nob Hill — the perks of city living are HUGEEEEE. Granted, Walnut Creek is pretty awesome too, and definitely isn’t too suburban at all. I think you guys will know when it’s time to move. Maybe you could get more space further out in Sunset area or something? Nonetheless, YAY for the Bay Area!! πŸ™‚

  4. We moved here a little over 2 years ago. Like you, I am from Florida. Unlike you, I say “GO NOLES” πŸ™‚ Even though you very eloquently described it, I still say unless you actually experience it, you will not fully appreciate the housing sticker shock you get when you move here. (It hurts me to watch Fixer Upper also) We actually received an email after attending an open house, advising us not to bother submitting a bid unless we were going to bid considerably higher than the asking price. We did eventually buy a house in Pleasant Hill, and I luv, luv, luv my neighborhood. (We have 1/3 the house, for three times the price of the house we left behind.) But I am close to hiking trails , a running trail, and my neighbors are wonderful! Good Luck, it can be done!!!

    1. Hi Dawn! No way! You are also a Lady Who Went West! hahah And Go Gators! And Fixer Upper is worse than House Hunters, because those little towns in Texas have the LOWEST cost of living hahahh — and they have the prettiest houses and huge amounts of property — it definitely hurts a little. I’m SO happy to hear that you found a house in Pleasant Hill and love it. We put an offer in on a home in Poet’s Corner in Pleasant Hill — but of course — you know how that ended up hahaha. I really hope to have good neighbors and a nearby trail when we are eventually able to find something! Thank you for giving me hope! πŸ™‚ Have a great day, lady!

    1. Hi Alexa! I’m so surprised when people IN the City use San Fran. I don’t know why it’s wrong, I just know it irks me, because it’s wrong hahaha! πŸ™‚

  5. I can 100% relate to your house hunt struggle! We spent the last 6 months searching on the Peninsula, getting outbid on multiple offers where we went way over asking (places we’re going for $300-500k over!), dropped all contingencies and wrote a sappy letter too! And I don’t even know how many open houses we visited! We JUST got one and it’s definitely not perfect (my husband has a looooong “honey do” list) but like you said, you learn to accept that to live in the bay area. Once the baby comes and you’re ready to search again you’ll find one. Just requires sooooo much patience here!

    1. Hi Julie! 6 months of searching — oh my! I’ve heard that the Peninsula is just as bad as Walnut Creek, and those prices and overages are totally insane. I’m glad you finally found a place, and hope that you are SUPER happy there — because it is YOURS! Yay for you! I’m not super excited about us starting our search again next year, but maybe it will go better this time hehe! πŸ™‚

  6. Love this! It is great to not always get what we want! I have moved 4 times in 8 years. During these 8 years I have lived in AR, Europe, and now Asia. Moving is hard but I have grown more and more as a person each time. Home is where my family is and my love for my family back home doesn’t change when we move. It is also super hard to find friends as an adult. I struggle with this. Luckily I have an amazing husband and relationship with God that keeps me sane and grounded.

    1. Hi Bethany! That’s a lot of moving! Wow! And YESSSS it does make you stronger each time. I feel like we can learn SO much from transporting our things, starting over, seeing new places and leaning on spouses/partners etc. and then building up again as we get acquainted to our new place. I doubt you will ever regret all of your experiences all over the world! πŸ™‚ Have a great day, lady!

    1. Hi Emily! Thank you so much for reading, my friend! And yes — it’s rough out here trying to get a place to live — particularly purchasing. Oh well! We’re still happy to be here! Have a great day!

  7. Well, just as I suspected I totally LOVED reading this long post. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with your readers. I feel like I knew most, but not all of this and I really enjoyed getting to hear more details.

    You are doing so amazing and truly are a daily inspiration to me in all areas of life.

    Xoxo.

    1. Hi Courtney! You are the SWEETEST — and you are one of the long-time readers who probably remembers those initial diary type posts and days of working at Les Mills and figuring things out heheh! I appreciate that! As always, thank you for reading! Keep up the great work on being YOU! πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks friend. I am doing my best to follow that advice!

        And yes, I proudly am a long-time, loyal ALGW follower and reader and I will forever stay that way. A very big moment for me would be seeing a comment from you on my someday blog! πŸ™‚

  8. What an amazing journey! I moved twice by myself as an adult– once to Macon, GA and once to Asheville, NC… both for my tv jobs. My plan was to stay in NC and move back to FL after two years. 14 years later and I’m still here and wouldn’t change that for anything. Life takes you on some amazing journeys.
    And I totally agree on the “it’s harder to make friends as adults.” I say that all the time!

    1. Hi Julie! Totallllly! Funny story, I initially wanted to do broadcast journalism and got scared into PR when I heard I’d have to move to a really small market to get started — but sounds like you ended up in a great place in Asheville! I’ve visited and loved it here. Glad you enjoyed and could relate to this one, my friend!

  9. I really enjoyed this post! I think it’s so great that you were able to reflect back on your time in San Francisco and recall all of these great memories and lessons. It’s also really wonderful that you and Dave are able to recognize that this is exactly where you are meant to be right now and that you have your family’s support, despite the distance and missing them.

    Although not nearly as insane as the housing prices in San Francisco, I live in a wealthy suburb outside of Philly and completely understand being able to get virtually nothing for high costs! My husband (Dave!) and I bought a small two bedroom townhouse since that’s what we could afford at this time, but hey, it’s just the two of us right now and it’s working! Hopefully the equity we gain here will allow us to eventually buy a bigger, single home in the area πŸ™‚

    1. Okay — STOP — you are Ashley and Dave too? I LOVE IT! hehehe! When we were first together and in a big group of friends in Orlando — our beer pong team name was “Dashley” hahaha — don’t suppose you guys had one of those names too? Anyway, we are in a two-bedroom townhouse as well (just renting, as you know), but seeing as we have a third human arriving any day, know that we probably need that third bedroom if we can get it when we try to buy again. But there’s NOTHING wrong with small spaces right now, so I’m glad you guys are comfy — we’d be FINE in the two-bedroom if it was just use, and yes, equity is good! I’ve never been to Philadelphia area before. Thank you SOO much for reading, my friend! Enjoy your day!

      1. Haha! We have definitely been referred to as Dashley in the past – and I’m pretty positive we’ve used it as a beer pong name in our younger days. Too funny! It’s definitely a nice area to visit if you have the chance – we’re about 35 minutes outside of the city so we don’t spend too much time there, but definitely still close enough to make it in when we want to πŸ™‚ Have a great rest of the day!

  10. Hey Ashley! So much to relate to here even though my move was from NYC to France. The friends thing and people not understanding your decision. Even before I moved, lots of what you’re saying rang true for me living in NYC, especially the cost of living and the job stress. My apartment was a 290 sq ft studio.
    Anyway, just wanted to say hi and say I enjoyed the read!

    1. Hi Diane!! Okay, your move is even bigger than ours! I mean to a foreign country? That takes the cake! And of course, you’ve been able to use your move as your platform for your blog too — which I love. I’ve heard that NYC prices can be similar to the Bay Area, and those micro-apartments at less than 300 square feet — I mean WOW! That’s really small heheh, but then again, I bet you don’t spend a lot of time at home there. I love that you’re sharing your adventures in France, lady! Keep it up!

  11. Great post. I’ve never ever done a big move, and it’s interesting to read all these thoughts and take-aways. I’ve only moved from my mum’s, to my in-laws, to my first place with my husband. I am thankful for my experiences in different ways (my in-laws are TRULY like my own family after living under one roof!), and we have always been close to family, I don’t take it for granted. But never a fresh new city of our choosing. We live in/near a crazy high COL city in Canada with an insane housing market, I so relate to that. We are so grateful to be here and we live near the lake, trails and also transit and highway access. We got outbid way over asking more times than I could count. Getting this place was a combo of timing, luck, and knowing to Jump on it before other offers came in (lucky situation). I sometimes dream of living in a tiny little town where we could have a mansion/land for half of what this home costs, but I wouldn’t trade away the perks (hubby’s job, family, access to big city benefits/fun, etc).

    1. Hi Rose! That is so awesome you are so close to your in-laws and were able to live together. And I definitely get why you enjoy all the perks of where you live, right near the big city. The most important thing is to appreciate what we’ve got where we are!! πŸ™‚

  12. Hi Ashley!

    I have been a long time reader, and absolutely love your blog! πŸ™‚ The timing of your post is SO perfect, as me and my fiancΓ© are considering jobs around San Francisco. We live in Indiana, so the idea of moving is a little scary as well as the cost of living!! I really appreciate you sharing your reflections! And thanks for the tip about not saying San Fran, I may have been saying that all week..haha.

    1. Hi Isabel! OMG! Hi! Thank you for reading and for saying hello. I know it can seem totally overwhelming to see the prices and hear the stories of living the SF Bay Area, but it’s SO worth it! You can find places in SF with roommates, or even live slightly outside the City, or just accept a tiny, tiny place. You won’t be home as much anyways, with all the things to do in the City. And once you are here, typically salaries and income is a little higher to help with expenses. Let me know if I can answer ANY questions at all!! πŸ™‚

  13. Oh my god, I love this post SO much. I feel like so much of this in similar in NYC — for starters I cry every time I watch House Hunters thinking about the mini mansion I’d live in ANYWHERE but here while instead I live in a converted studio apartment.

    1. Hi Kayla! Ahhh yes, I hear that NYC is about as bad as SF with housing, so I know you get it. But you probably wouldn’t be Kayla in the City, if you didn’t LOVEEEE that expensive City life hahah! πŸ™‚

  14. I love this post because I am a Bay area lady and I love it here in Santa Cruz. I do appreciate your honesty and wow yes having a baby so far from your Mom will be hard. Moving across country is hard and you guys have not been here that long so its still fresh , missing everyone and all that is familiar.
    I agree with you about friends here. I had to learn that its ok to have gym people, yoga people, walking people etc The part that still is a source of upset to me here in the Bay area is that people place emphasis on being busy rather then spending time getting to know people. They don’t want or need to be involved in each other friends life and I find that infinity sad . I have lived in So Cal all my young life so I did not get this aspect of Bay area people and still don’t. Honestly I don’t consider them “friends” unless they are wanting to be involved in my life so I have 2 of those and the rest I consider “people you meet up with but don’t talk abut your life to or hang out with”. I find that aspect of life here very sad. They are also very superficial. Infinity sad and it still hurts when you invite someone to have coffee, or lunch and they are “to busy” but I’ll see you at Yoga.” That hurts ! They are missing out on great connections and friendships with wonderful us !
    I think its wonderful how you found your professional niche here and made it work according to what you love to do and your passion. That is my favorite part of your blog is your passion for what you love to do. You are right we are innovation first here and everyone can work independent which is remarkable. I hope you will continue to be happy here. The right home is out there and you will find it when its time. Have you two considered moving inland toward San Jose? Campbell is really nice with lots of houses available. It may be to far of a commute for Dave. Or Redwood city closer to the “San Francisco” (Never Frisco) (never San Fran) LOL (but “The City”) is acceptable.

    Great post ! Great writing.

    1. Hi Lexie! Thank you so much for reading for so long and always keeping up with the blog! We have not considered San Jose or any North Bay or Peninsula locations because of the commute for Dave to Oakland would be too rough — that’s why we stick to East Bay searching – and we are hopeful it will all work out when it’s supposed to one day. I totally get it about people being SO busy — like they are over-scheduled with many extracurriculars in addition to work. It’s crazy. I’ve met my closest friends out here through mutual friends, so we aren’t really tied to just one activity together, which helps. I wish you the best of luck thriving and making it in Santa Cruz — another expensive but lovely place to live! πŸ™‚

  15. Really loved reading this post! Your writing is very refreshing and honest. I had NO idea that the houses go for OVER asking price in San Francisco, especially quite a bit more than asking price. I grew up in Northern New Jersey (25 minutes outside NYC without traffic – and we know how that goes) and the houses are also very, very expensive.

    I’ve been in southern Connecticut for the past 5 years but also in one of the most expensive counties in the country (Fairfield County). Like you, my husband and I rent a two-bedroom townhouse, and it’s actually quite an upgrade for us after living in a 1-bedroom apartment for a few years before that. I would really love a house but it’s just so expensive here, especially given that the house wouldn’t even be what I wanted.

    We’ve been debating a big move as well, possibly to Massachusetts (where my husband grew up) or North Carolina (where we honestly know no one but have heard great things). We’re so torn about how tough a move to NC would be at this stage in our lives – we’re around the same ages as you! It’s nice to see that it’s worked out in all the right ways for you guys. And just remember that NOTHING is ever set in stone and a new opportunity to live someplace else or to find that perfect house might always arise.

    1. Hi Traci! Thank you SO much for this thoughtful comment — yes — it could be hard to leave behind the awesome place you guys live. Because we haven’t done it yet, I have no idea what the transition is like to go to a slightly less bustling area and get more for your money — it could be perfect for you at this time, as long as you guys are happy together. And I’ve always heard North Carolina is a nice place to live too, but I’ve not ever lived there heheh. Once again — DO you!! Good luck with your decisions!

    1. Hi Ashley! I can’t imagine being born here, because I’m sure that would make it even harder to leave! Glad you enjoyed this post, lady! πŸ™‚

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