Potentially Moving from Alberta to California, and Terrified of It

Tim is on the InternetTim is on the Internet On the InternetEdmonton, ABRegistered User regular
After three years of marriage, my wife and I are finally buckling down and figuring out where to call home. We met online, she in Sacramento, California, and I in Edmonton, Alberta. We have spent the vast majority of our time together in Edmonton, only having rented a house in Elk Grove for six months in 2013. She has been increasingly homesick lately, and for very good reason -- family misses having her around for the little things, nieces and nephews are growing up, and old friends are starting families and buying houses near each other. For many reasons, I think moving back to California would be the right choice for us, but I do have some very strong reservations:

- Having been born and raised in Canada, the American health care system scares me. What are monthly insurance rates like? How much would the copayment be on emergency procedures? I had an appendectomy a month before we rented that house in Elk Grove, and I've heard accounts of people paying upwards of $20,000 for something for which I had to only pay for parking. I just keep thinking that if my appendicitis happened two months later, we would not have been able to pay for it.
- The political situation also scares me. I have concerns that Republican governments will make things backwards.
- California's current drought gives me anxiety when I think of moving there. My wife and I have talked about how neither of us could live in San Francisco because of a fear of earthquakes, and I honestly don't see this potential megadrought any differently. I feel like moving there might be intentionally putting ourselves in an unsafe situation, especially in the long term, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing I did that.

Thoughts and feelings?

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    After three years of marriage, my wife and I are finally buckling down and figuring out where to call home. We met online, she in Sacramento, California, and I in Edmonton, Alberta. We have spent the vast majority of our time together in Edmonton, only having rented a house in Elk Grove for six months in 2013. She has been increasingly homesick lately, and for very good reason -- family misses having her around for the little things, nieces and nephews are growing up, and old friends are starting families and buying houses near each other. For many reasons, I think moving back to California would be the right choice for us, but I do have some very strong reservations:

    - Having been born and raised in Canada, the American health care system scares me. What are monthly insurance rates like? How much would the copayment be on emergency procedures? I had an appendectomy a month before we rented that house in Elk Grove, and I've heard accounts of people paying upwards of $20,000 for something for which I had to only pay for parking. I just keep thinking that if my appendicitis happened two months later, we would not have been able to pay for it.
    - The political situation also scares me. I have concerns that Republican governments will make things backwards.
    - California's current drought gives me anxiety when I think of moving there. My wife and I have talked about how neither of us could live in San Francisco because of a fear of earthquakes, and I honestly don't see this potential megadrought any differently. I feel like moving there might be intentionally putting ourselves in an unsafe situation, especially in the long term, and I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing I did that.

    Thoughts and feelings?

    I think and feel you should look into someplace further north than Sacramento. Perhaps Oregon or Washington. I am from California. I have lived in California many times, moving away and moving back for one reason or another. I cannot think of a good reason to move there right now beyond homesickness. If she has never lived away from her "hometown" for a period of time, this may be a difficult thing that even going back to her former city wont fix. You can't go home again, it sucks and nostalgia is a fucking asshole but even if you go live in the same house on the same street as the one you grew up in, it wont feel like what she's expecting. Family grows up, people end out doing different things, for me being homesick is less about the place and more about the way things were before I had responsibility and everything got complicated with adulthood.

    The American health care system should terrify you. I work in healthcare, I have good insurance and it scares the fuck out of me. My monthly benefits are valued at around $900-$1100 per month by my employer. My copay is 5$ for everything. This is because I work for a hospital system. What your insurance options are really depends on who hires you and what they can offer. If you would like to browse the plans offered on the marketplace in California, there is Covered California. Right now the penalties for being uninsured are sort of vague and it's still up in the air as to how they will be enforced, but at some point you will have to have insurance.

    I think you should visit Sacramento for a couple of weeks before you decide, but do so with the intent of investigating the costs and resources available to you if you move instead of as a vacation. Without information about your expected income and expectations of what kind of space you would need it's hard to say you can or can't afford it. I think @ElJeffe still lives in the area maybe?

    I do think it's sort of funny, earthquakes are non-events in the Bay Area and somehow are at the top of your list of shit to avoid. Entire cities get wiped off the map in northern California from fires every year, but everyone's afraid of quakes :P


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  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    Also, do either of you have employment lined up? The job market for me sucked there (hence why I had to move across the country to North Carolina), and the cost of living isn't exactly cheap. Elk Grove was pretty dang expensive from what I remember. There's some suburbs going up near the Rocklin/Roseville area (off Highway 65, on the other side of Sacramento) that were advertising cheap housing (and they are nice) but there's nothing out there yet, no schools or anything, just strip malls, industrial parks, and a casino.

    A possible idea might be living in/near Reno. Different state, but you're about 3 hours from Sacramento (longer in the winter/bad weather).

    Also, don't let the talk about splitting off into 2 states or 5 states or whatever that you might hear deter you. That proposal was shot down years ago, but some die-hards (like my friend) still think that "it's going to happen this/next year and we'll break away from those damn liberals and show them how to run a state!"

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  • ASimPersonASimPerson Cold... ... and hard.Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Well, it's a lot warmer here than Alberta. Maybe you won't miss digging out from feet of snow every winter?

    But seriously though, you should probably be most worried about employment and immigration. If you have jobs now, will you be able to get as good or better jobs here? And yeah you're already married, but getting your visa will be a huge pain from what I understand.

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  • DeathwingDeathwing Registered User regular
    edited May 2015
    RE: Insurance:

    Yeah, it really depends on where you end up working - then what coverage they offer, how much they pay towards the premium, any optional coverage you want, etc., but I can give some of my experience:

    Insurance at my previous job (for my wife & myself, plus vision & dental) was about $350 or so per month. Now i'm working at a state university, so they pick up a larger part of the premium and it's only about $240/month. Copays for normal checkups at a doctor tend to be $20-25, prescriptions range anywhere from free (birth control) to $4-10 for generics, to $20 or higher for stuff they feel is extra-costly for whatever reason. Thankfully not many emergency visits, the only one we had in recent years ended up actually being free because my wife was admitted for the night, otherwise it would have been about $100.

    Can you run into stuff that might cost megabucks? Of course, but there's not really any reason to worry that you're randomly going to be charged thousands for an annual physical or something - and probably not for most emergencies either, I have a feeling that the stories you've heard of $20k+ appendicitis may have been people that were uninsured or had really crappy coverage. And generally there's a limit per year on out-of-pocket expenses (I think mine is $3000), so you want to look at that when/if you're deciding on a plan.

    Dental and vision stuff (but dental in particular) is another matter - for whatever reason, the insurance industry is stuck in the mindset that most dental work is really just cosmetic/and or should have been preventable apart from a free exam or two every year, so the coverage is usually far less generous. Usually "light" care like fillings or pulling a tooth, root canal, etc. is 80% covered, then major stuff like crowns/bridges/implants/surgery/etc. is 50%. And usually you have a relatively low maximum amount they'll pay out for the year, so after that it's $BENDOVER.

    That all said, I can only speak for myself, so do as much research as you can if you end up taking the plunge :)

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  • HollerHoller Registered User regular
    Honestly, I think you're right to be afraid, and if it were me, I would put a lot of energy cultivating stronger relationships and hobbies in Canada to feel less like I'm missing out while there, and try to avoid a move to the US if at all possible.

    But the fact that I'm halfway through a round of pretty basic dental work (fillings) that is going to cost 1,400 dollars out of pocket on my basic insurance plan probably makes me a little biased right now.

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  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    As a biased Canadian I don't see why anyone would chose to live in US instead of Canada unless you have very high paying jobs waiting for you in the states. US is better for the wealthy elite.

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  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    I wouldn't consider the draught to be a safety concern on par with earthquakes or hurricanes. It means that wild fires can be a problem and there are water regulations, but it's not like you are going to die of thirst in our state. Just dint live in a place historically susceptible to fires.

    Other than that, the economy is an issue, but it's getting better. Unemployment has been steadily dropping for years, and median income is going up. It mostly depends on what area you live in and what you want to do. I live in Sacramento, which is a decent area (albeit hot in the summer), but was one of the harder hit areas because so many of our people are government sector, and our government swallowed its own tongue a while back. Still getting better, and my department is sending out new job notices all the time.

    Housing values vary wildly across the state. Here, you can get a decent 2 bedroom apartment for about a grand. Houses will be more, and if you're looking to buy, you won't get anything under about $300k. Unless you don't mind the ghetto.

    Anything in LA or the Bay Area will be expensive as fuck. North of Sacramento isn't necessarily bad, but it's all God and guns territory, and I don't know how easy it is to find a job in most parts that doesn't involve antlers or car maintenance.

    Places along the coast tend to be nice, if a little pricey. I have not been to San Diego, but everyone I know says it's pretty great. It's also right across the border from Mexico, so if you've always wanted to see a donkey show, this could be an excellent opportunity for you.

    There's also Fresno or Bakersfield if you feel you have sinned and wish to punish yourself.

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  • Tim is on the InternetTim is on the Internet On the Internet Edmonton, ABRegistered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Thanks for the input. Employment has been a worry of mine. I'm not traditionally skilled in the way most people working internationally are, with most of my background being in clerical work and editing, so I'm concerned that no one would consider me over a local candidate.

    After a series of intense discussions, we've figured out that the root of my wife's homesickness is a need to be with family and friends raising their babies at a time when we're raising ours for support. We won't have a baby for a couple years now, but she's very family oriented and I understand her want to be with people she's close to going through the same challenges. Pretty well none of our friends here have any interest in kids, and that's kind of a turnoff for her.

    A potential compromise we came up with would be to move down for maybe five years shortly before we have a kid, have that support there while they're still a baby, and move back up to Edmonton once we feel like we've got a handle on things. I'm still very torn, what with employment and finances and immigration (especially since we're currently partway through getting her Canadian immigration sorted out) and everything, but I feel like it's more doable than going down for the long run.

    I just don't know, friends. I'm still very on the fence about moving, even temporarily, but I would also like my wife to be her happiest.

    UPDATE: Looks like we'll be staying here. Apparently, she's supposed to have been allowed to work here since December and our immigration lawyer didn't care to tell us.

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    Anyway, we're going to try to make her feel more at home here by cultivating relationships with the few people we know here starting families, finding a house we can stand (it's not this one), and getting her a job in her field here.

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  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2015
    Glad to hear it's working out.

    I can only guess bouncing back and forth between countries would be a hassle.

    When I was looking for Meet-up group the first things that popped up were always people looking to bring their kids together for various activities, so maybe look into something like that?
    If you're having trouble finding new people.

    Edit: Joe User in the SE job thread is miracle worker in finding people employment opportunities. Might I suggest asking the panda for help?

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  • 74catch7474catch74 Registered User new member
    Sent you a DM, hoping for some help. Literally in the exact same situation, and have the exact same concerns. (though as people point out, the fires are higher on my list, but still the same other concerns).

This discussion has been closed.