As most of you know, Sue and I moved from Orange County CA to Cedar City UT this week.
Among the reasons, there are no CPA jobs in Socal now, prospects here actually look better for Sue, and we bought a duplex with friends and are living in one unit, substantially dropping our expenses. Unemployment in Utah is 2% less than the national average while California is 2% higher. Catastrophic budget problems in California coupled with utter gridlock in the legislature portend no easy answers or solutions. Things there are going to get worse before they get better, IMHO.
Those fly-over states that coastal types mock generally are now doing substantially better economically than California, New York, and other coastal areas. The real estate bubble wasn’t as insane so the crash hasn’t been as bad. In Orange County CA, 25% of the economy was based on real estate. Most of that has gone away and won’t be returning any time soon. Also, it really does seem that fly-over states managed their budgets more conservatively and thus aren’t getting whacked as hard.
So, what’s Cedar City like?
As you can see from my iPhone photo, the area is stunningly beautiful. It’s near Cedar Breaks and Zion National Park with lots of hiking and camping. There’s considerable tourism here as well as a highly regarded Shakespeare festival.
The people are friendly and they mean it. It’s not faked. The night we moved in we went out to dinner. They gave us free desert when they learned we’d just moved.
Cedar is about 30,000 people and is home to Southern Utah University, so it’s a college town. In a coffee house yesterday, there were Asians speaking in their native tongue, hipsters on laptops, lots of tattoos, it could have been a coffee house in Venice CA.
A few days ago it was 27 degrees at night and 65 during the day. Wide temperature ranges are common.
A few years ago there were no Mexican restaurants. Now there are several. Grocery stores are large and well-stocked. And there’s a 24-hour Walmart.
It’s on I-15 and the speed limit is 75 mph. You can be in Vegas in 2 1/2 hours.
We’ve moved 4 times in five years and were in south Orange County for a year. Unlike other areas, upon moving, it has been erased from my data banks. It’s like we never lived there. It was just endless, enormous outdoor shopping malls and gated communities, all carefully manicured, but with no personality or unique characteristics to distinguish or separate anything. You absolutely need a car to survive. The area is totally based on the automobile. We can walk to stores now. And they don’t know what traffic is, either!
Will we be here long? Who knows, but it’s a small town with a more cosmopolitan feel than its size might imply. And I plan to do lots of hiking and I bet we get lots of house guests this summer too.