Sometime in the next few months (we're hoping sometime this summer, so knock wood), my lovely wife and I will move out of the house we've been renting in Oakland for nearly 20 years (wait! that's impossible!) and into a house we've recently bought in Palo Alto.
Why are we moving? This wasn't something we specifically planned. In many ways, we love our home in Oakland and would be happy to stay there, although it's true that the neighborhood can be noisy sometimes, and we did experience a bit of a crime wave in the last year or so (most likely exacerbated by the great recession). But I'm not writing here to bash Oakland. It's been a really good home for us for a long time, and when we do move out, we are surely going to miss it (as well as our East Bay friends)!
No, there are two major drivers of our move. The first, and most important, is that I work in Palo Alto. A little over a year ago, I started a new job at AOL. Our office is on Page Mill Road, not far from California Avenue, Stanford, and all the venture capitalists up on Sand Hill Road and thereabouts. (Side note: AOL owns Patch, and I'm in fact partly responsible through my role there for the launch of this new blogging platform I'm writing on right now. Let me know what you think of it!)
Today I have a commute that's reliably longer than 70 minutes each way. That's really just too much time to spend in a car, especially when you spend most of the rest of the day hunched over a computer screen. We were going to have to deal with "the commute problem" somehow. I don't have enough colleagues to reliably carpool or to ride the sort of privatized mass transit that Google and Facebook and Yahoo employ up and down the Peninsula.
The second thing that happened was that, sadly, my wife's parents both passed away in the last five years, and they left their house (or at least a big chunk of it) to us. So we've spent much of the last year executing the estate and then buying out the other shareholder in the house, and then obtaining a second loan to handle the renovations needed to bring the home up from its circa late-1950s state to the way we live now.
So, as I said, sometime this summer, or at latest this autumn, we'll be making that big move, packing up (or getting rid of, or storing) 20 years worth of belongings, the kind of accumulation that's only possible when you have a big unfinished basement like we have today, and trucking some of them down to the new place (which has no basement and less storage space overall).
Once we do move, I'll be able to ride my bike to work (!), come home for lunch with my wife some days, and, most importantly, have much more time for living (or, as needed, for work) and less time for sitting in traffic like a zombie.
I plan to use this blogging space to discuss what it's like to move to Palo Alto and to solicit advice on living well here. I'm looking forward to meeting some of my new neighbors through this medium, and I welcome any advice anyone might have to offer to a newly arrived PaloAltan. (Is that how you say it?)