11 September, 2009

The move: my current obsession

Sojourn: to dwell or live in a place as a temporary resident or as a stranger, not considering the place as a permanent habitation

I'm not doing what I should which is sort this very large and cluttered house ready for the move.

No. I'm spending my days obsessing about which bits of the Bay Area we might want to live in, how we want to live, where the children can go to school, how long a commute Tom will have and so on.

Actually, it's quite an interesting process if not for you, then certainly for us. And it's made us both reconsider what we are planning to get out of this sojourn in the States.

Now I know you all know me as a barn-dwelling, jam-making, chicken-chasing, veg-growing greenie currently residing in the glorious and under-populated Usk Valley in Wales. But not so long ago I was an inner city working girl, catching the Routemaster to work from leftie, trendy Stoke Newington to my publishing job in the centre of London. And now I'm trying to work out what is best for this family, what we will get the most out of in three or so years in the Bay Area. It is a sojourn - we're not planning to stay. We may fall in love with California - I'm certainly hoping to have a fabulous time - but we have family here and we love these hills and we love our own country. So for the moment, this is a sojourn, and that means that we should aim to get as much out of it, to play with ways of living and explore a new way of life, as much as we can. We should, I think, embrace this opportunity to try things we don't have in our green valley.

We started out looking at the suburbs on the grounds that Tom could get to work easily, and the schools were good. But I can't work out there, and frankly I was worrying that I would find myself trapped during the day in an area that didn't inspire me. So then we considered the East Bay and Oakland but after several people did that builder thing where you shake your head and whistle through your teeth, and then others told us Tom would spend more time on the freeway than at home, we decided that wouldn't work. So now we're thinking we might live in San Francisco itself and try to be one of those small apartment urban chic families that you see in big cities.

Each option has its ups. The suburbs mean a good commute, good schools, a safe neighbourhood, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it. Oakland/Berkeley borders could mean good schools, the area is much more interesting and there is public transport but the commute would be hell and Oakland has a reputation for being dangerous (hence the teeth whistling). And San Francisco? Commute is certainly doable and there might even be the option of public transport to work. The city is very interesting, walkable, has public transport. But the schools are a mixed bag. In fact by asking another blogger for some advice, I've started a whole train of comments full of conflicting advice.

We still don't know what the answer is but I think we're narrowing it down, and lots of people are helping us with advice and information.

And with that, I'm off to clean out the chickens.


Anonymous said...

I found your blog by following your comment from the SF K Files... I wanted to let you know that I am mortified at the responses you have received. The SF K Files may be the most snarky blog on the planet. The school system in SF brings out very strong emotions in people and somehow it always makes a turn for the worse. Anyway, just wanted you to know that people in SF are actually very nice and friendly, it's easy to meet new people and make friends, it's cheaper than London and it is a great place to live if you survive the school process. As for me, I have one daughter in a private school and I am absolutely thrilled with it.

Eliane said...

Don't be mortified. In a way it's what I expected because people do get very emotional about their children's schooling. We're looking forward to living in SF and I'm just really pleased that people were bothered enough to comment! That's friendly in itself.