In less than a week, my wife, daughter, and I will be packing what is left of our belongings and leaving the Santa Clarita Valley. I am very excited to leave. It feels like an escape. I have made a few efforts in leaving over the last 20 years and the timing just wasn’t right. This time everything has fallen into place for us to relocate. We are getting out!
“Escape” makes Santa Clarita sound like a prison; yet, it is far from it. The Santa Clarita Valley is a great place grow up, do business, and raise a family. However, I can’t help but to hate it here more every day that approaches the big move date. Why would I desire to leave such a great place? I guess because greatness is relative and subjective.
Last year, I touched on some of my reasons for moving in my Movin’ on up post, but here is more detail on what has turned me away from Santa Clarita.
This post is not about how my new home will be better as I am sure it will have its own set of downsides. It is more about why I desire to leave a place that is considered a very desirable place to live by many and been my home for 35 years.
Guilt by Association (cost of living)
It is not cheap to raise a family and own a small business in the Santa Clarita Valley. However, most of the high cost of living and business is due to being in the State of California. The state has many regulations, fees, and taxes that trickle down to every aspect of life.
The endless opportunity for high paying jobs in SCV and the greater Los Angeles area bring the cost of living higher. So, there is no shortage of people willing to pay the price of admission; keeping prices high.
Master Planned? (crowded)
Most of my time in SCV has been spent in the Valencia area. Valencia is a master planned community developed in the 1960’s. I often make fun of the phrase “Master Planned” when I am stuck in traffic, learn that the local emergency room didn’t have enough beds to support the community, or see that the schools are overcrowded. The developer should really be applauded that their community was so desirable that it was faced with these types of hyper-growth issues.
One of my biggest frustrations with SCV is the amount of people. Mostly, this is evident in the crowded roads and long waits at intersections. It is also apparent in the lack of open spaces.
I am aware that complaining about crowding and lack of open spaces from someone who spent over 10 years profiting from new construction is very hypocritical. The benefits to the construction industry and small business is excellent, but the resulting overcrowding is not for me.
Companies of all sizes continue to move their operations to SCV; increasing the density even further.
Let me Get the Door for You (negative vibe)
Over the years, I have met a number of friendly, warm and caring people. They greet us by name in the local businesses, chat with us in the grocery store, and we are glad they are part of the community.
What I find as a good measure of a community is the feeling you get from those you don’t know.
Here are few of the indicators I use:
- Are the “strangers” smiling?
- Do they look you in the eye when you pass them in the store?
- Will they hold the door when entering a building?
- Do people speed up when you put your turn indicator on?
Increasingly, I see the community failing these points. It isn’t that the people are mean. I believe they are just stressed; possibly from the crowded streets and high cost of living.
Been There, Done That (need change)
One of the draws to Santa Clarita is its proximity to so many great places. It is relatively close to beaches, a major city, mountains, deserts, and more. There is a lot see and do just within a 60 mile radius. However, after 35 years here we have seen and done most everything multiple times. The things we want to do again and again have become more expensive and more difficult to access.
For example, my wife’s favorite restaurant in Marina Del Rey is only 30 miles from us. However, the drive requires us to cross through the Newhall Pass and Sepulveda Pass by way of the 405 freeway. Between accidents, construction, and just general overcrowding the drive often takes 2 hours each way and it gets worse every year.
So, we often forgo doing things we enjoy because sitting in traffic takes years off one’s life.
Finding ourselves often trapped in SCV, there is even less that we have not done. It is not the fault of SCV, it is just time for a change of scenery.
Its always sunny in Santa Clarita (never rains)
Another reason people flock to Santa Clarita is the weather. I think you can count the days of rain each year on one hand. They are willing to put up with a few weeks of triple digit heat in the summer for mild temps the rest of the year.
The law of diminishing marginal utility might apply here. I have had three decades of sunshine and am really tired of it. It would be great to have some clouds, rain, a little snow, and more cold days. It would also be nice to have the affects of those (lasting more than 1 day); such as, snow-capped mountains, green hills, and fall colors. SCV could use a little balance in the weather area.
Lack of rain means that most days the forecast calls for blue skies. This is a bit misleading as much of the year the sky is not actually blue above SCV. It is a greyish blue tinted by dust and/or smog. Even at night the sky is the wrong color as there are no stars.
Of course, I am not a doctor but do have theory that many of my friends and family members that live in the area with mystery sicknesses and extreme allergies are caused by the poor air quality. It also may be one of the reasons strangers aren’t smiling. They can’t breathe.
Don’t let the door hit ya
In summary, there are a number of reasons why it is time to leave Santa Clarita and Southern California. Most of the above can’t be corrected without relocation and will likely only get more annoying for me as I evolve into a grumpy(ier) old man.
A couple positive things Santa Clarita has for us are great memories and lots of friends and family. We will definitely try to visit often so please don’t revoke our Awesometown Passport.
Look for my post this time next year complaining about the rain, slow drivers, and cold 🙂