This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Calli Edington, who moved from California to Georgia with her family. It has been edited for length and clarity.
My family and I lived in a small town in northern California called Magalia, 90 miles north of Sacramento. I was working as a director for a sober living environment and I loved my job and my coworkers.
There were things about California that I enjoyed, but due to the high cost of living and the increase of crime in our local area, we decided it was time to leave for good.
So we packed up and moved to Douglas, Georgia because we wanted a slower pace of life, and we absolutely love it here. It’s a quaint little town with every amenity you might need.
Before we purchased our home, we visited Douglas a few times. We noticed both Douglas and Magalia are comparable in size and population, but the people here are more welcoming. I lived in Magalia for almost three years and barely knew our neighbors.
But Douglas has that small town feel: everyone is inviting you to their church or they are stopping by to bring you something they have grown. We’re now roughly three hours away from Atlanta, and only two hours away from the beaches of Florida.
We tried to downsize as much as we could before leaving California. We sold and donated a lot of our stuff and got rid of most of our clothes, furniture, and kitchen gadgets. We really just brought our sentimental things with us.
Despite downsizing, the move was still very expensive. We had to rent a uhaul, and pay for gas, food, and hotels — we spent over $8,000 on the move alone. The trip was costly and it took a total of four days to complete, but it was worth it.
Our family loves Georgia and we don’t see ourselves going back to California. While we did a lot of research before coming here, we are surprised daily by the differences between the two states.
1. Cost of living
California is known for being very expensive, and things like insurance, taxes, and gas were all so pricey. Before we left California, gas was over $5 a gallon. We obviously have to pay for each of these things in Georgia, too, but it’s cheaper and more affordable. Right now, the the average fuel prices range between $3.15 a gallon and $3.60 a gallon, and it feels like such a big difference.
My husband and I both worked 9-to-5 jobs in California, and we still weren’t able to afford a house. This was a big reason why we moved. We do earn less money working in Georgia, but because the cost of living is significantly lower here, our money goes further here and we were able to buy a two-story, five-bedroom house for $300,000. It sits on roughly two acres of land and was built in 1942 — it’s full of character and craftsmanship. Back in our old neighborhood in California, this same house would have gone well over $800,000.
In Magalia, safety was an issue. The crime was bad, and we were constantly seeing small businesses getting broken into. I know that it’s easy to get sucked into the wrong crowd, and as a mom of two teenagers, it was my priority to find a city that was safe, yet affordable.
We did a lot of research on Douglas and found the crime rate was lower than Magalia. There’s also a big feeling of community here, which I love. It’s like everyone watches out for everyone, and as a mom I really like that.
People in the south are known for being polite, but I was shocked by how nice their manners are. It’s unbelievable, really.
Every child you meet, no matter the age, calls you ma’am, or sir. I come from an area where people were often rude, and it feels different to hear people being so polite and respectful. It’s definitely a nice change.
People are also very conversational here. When you’re out in public, everyone is willing to have a conversation with you — everyone just seems so friendly.
Things I miss about California
There are things I miss about California, like my brother who lives there, my old coworkers, and the mountain ranges. We have mountains here in Georgia, too, but they aren’t the same. After spending 36 years in one place, I do miss California’s snow-capped mountains.
I also miss the weather in California. It’s very humid in Georgia, which can be uncomfortable. It was the most shocking thing to me, I didn’t know how bad it would be until I arrived. I remember thinking that this level of humidity couldn’t be normal. I asked my neighbors when things would begin to cool off, and they said it wouldn’t get cooler until January.
Still, I don’t want to go back to California — I love it here in Georgia. I always tell people, if you’d like to move out of state, do a lot of research first. Driving across the country and moving to a new state isn’t easy, but it’s possible.
If you moved out of state and would like to to share your story, email Alyshia Hull at [email protected].