Spring cleaning, just as the dust settles.

It’s March 19th, 2015. The latter part of that will take a bit to sink in. Earlier this year, the needle ticked ever so slightly past 30 on the age scale. The only real reflection of that is the war of grey hairs being waged upon my head. Sadly, that war will have no winners. Little does the grey side know, they’re fighting a losing battle for whatever flesh they’ll reign upon. When they do finally win, their win will be short-lived. Thirty was pleasant. As a family, woah. I will have to let that word sink in for a bit as well. I’ve avoided this blog for a number of years in any depth, but I suppose it deserves a bit of attention – mostly for my sake.

In 2015, we (that word strikes again – deserving of it’s own diary, and perhaps at length a book or two) migrated from California to Grand ol’ Chattanooga. A year ago, in fact. Our end in California was disappointing to say the least. There were a long list of contributing factors, mostly of the fiscal sort. A panic attack, a tax bill, and a sudden disenchantment with the church we had been attending there erupted all fairly suddenly.

We, I, well, my family & I were outgrowing our meager apartment in San Diego. The city was beautiful in every respect. But, due to budget constraints & a long-term desire to own our own home, we chose to move into the seedier side of town to save up funds. Seedy is extremely relative, however, and neither my wife & I thought negative of where we resided. After lengthy stints in Chicago & spending enough time browsing East Vancouver’s alleys, full of needles & addicts, San Diego had few parts I would consider worth avoiding. Nonetheless, to our dismay, shortly after moving in our car had a fresh new bullet hole. Likely “A Twenty two”, my friend Brian explained. I knew very little about firearms, and had no interest in knowing much more about them than that, at least at the time. “Get a gun! A big one!”, my wife responded, at last, to all of my requests to acquire a weapon of our own. I didn’t, but sincerely thought about it long & hard.

That (admittedly, it was one of the lesser reasons), a panic attack or two later due to finances, and, we were well along our way of deciding to depart. As we had with our migration to San Diego, I compiled spreadsheet upon spreadsheet of cities & started researching them all heavily. Somehow, out of all of the places we had to choose, we picked Tampa. We hesitated, procrastinated and hesitated even more. We browsed all of our favorite apartment & housing websites and fully realized we could afford to even purchase a home in Tampa. The prospect of home ownership was one that we couldn’t ignore – with a growing family & a desire to finally settle down. Nonetheless, something in us had us hesitating to make the jump.

I have to admit, I had lived in Florida for many years prior. The idea of moving back didn’t have me at all excited for all but two reasons – lack of income tax (One reason we were departing California), and, cost of home ownership. Admittedly, there’s a higher property tax, but, the lure was set – and we were hooked. Neither of those two could help me overcome the humidity, something I had not at all missed residing in San Diego.

Even the fleeting idea of owning in San Diego had long since vanished. When we had first arrived, pricing there was more than reasonable – part of why we unloaded the truck there in the first place. We could have a nice little humble abode in a dense community, and, still not sacrifice eight months of the year to the (apparently angry) weather gods. We loved every bit of the place, and, my wife’s family there are on my shortlist of ‘Most amazing people in my life’. Still, spending over 50% of our income on rent is quite frankly outlandishly insane to me.

Tampa, on the other hand, was cheap in comparison. Hell, it was cheap compared to just about everywhere, and, closer to the bulk of my family. We started looking around, and, during that process another interesting city popped up on my radar. “Chattanooga? Where’s that even… at?”, my wife responded at first. Chattanooga, if you frequent the highways nearby, is one of those places you simply pass up. I had driven by at least a thousand of times and cannot think of a single instance we even considered stopping for gas, let alone to see the city.

Yet, here it was, suddenly on my radar for internet speeds, of all things. Chattanooga has gigabit internet. Now, I fully realize this is fairly low on most people’s ‘have’ list. And, it’s fairly low on mine as well. I do need somewhat reasonable internet speeds to operate my company, but I’ve done it from the slowest connection in the woods & mountains, to some of the fastest in the world: Neither end of the spectrum really made much of an impact. However, faced with the idea to be amongst some of the nicest mountains & rivers in the country, coupled with having no income tax, a reasonably low cost of living & inexpensive home prices? I grabbed my bag & departed on a scouting trip within a day.

Even for me, that’s spontaneous (the wife likely disagrees). Less than 24 hours later I was perusing town, and, checking out places to rent. Houses three times the size of what we were living in were the same in rent, and, if we had chosen an area of similar reputation as the one we were residing in out West, we likely could have scored an apartment for half the price.

A lease was signed, trucks were rented (and my brother & father gracious enough to join us on our trek), and we were off. A year later, well, we’ll save that for the next post.