An idea came to fruition in December 2020 that we’ve been kicking around in our minds since March. Keeping an eye on our local booming house prices in our sleepy southern California desert town spearheaded us in the right direction. We agreed on a profitable asking price but our realtor urged us to raise it even more. We studied market analysis and decided to go for it. Real estate inventory was drastically low during the pandemic, and as a result the prices for homes seem to grow astronomically by the day.
We finally decided to list our house way above what we’d paid for it just a few years before. After all, what did we have to lose? We lived in a gorgeous house with forever views in a great neighborhood. We thought its weighty price tag would give us some leisurely months to find a home in another state. However, to our dismay and delight within two hours of listing a “coming soon” teaser ad, we received a full offer with a 21 day closing. We accepted and our plans accordingly escalated to what felt like warp speed.
There were a lot of plates in the air before escrow closed but all we knew for certain was we were done with California. Part of our decision was due purely to politics. We were frustrated with the pandemic lockdowns. Governor Newsom had outlawed evictions, therefore properties that may have entered the market after defaulting in a normal year could not. The governor decreed a two week stay at home order to flatten the curve which was extended indefinitely. Restaurants and small businesses were closed or restricted to outdoor dining. So-called scientific information changed almost daily, sometimes hourly. Even experts could not agree. We ordered our groceries online then used sanitizing wipes on each package. Like most everyone who could think independently, we found ourselves off kilter but paranoia was making some people lose their minds. One such person proudly informed us she was even wearing her mask inside her home while alone. Palm Springs police were instructing lone people on the sidewalk with no one else in sight to wear their masks, so why not.
Like many people especially during the first month of lockdown, we never ventured outside our property and lived in fear while watching the daily briefings on television. But some ventured out to popular desert attractions even when closed, and we envied them. The desert is a big place, one could drive for hours and not run into another soul. In a misguided effort to help, the federal government offered incentives to work at home but many people figured it out pretty quickly that it was often more profitable collecting unemployment with an extra $600 stipend than to continue working. Big box stores stayed open but smaller businesses were shuttered. Nursing home residents could no longer receive visitors. Fathers could not be with birthing mothers in the delivery room. Then it was reported politicians like Newsom disobeyed their own orders and attended a large gathering at a restaurant where masks were cast aside. The same Newsom whom suggested one should lift their mask with each bite then reposition before the next one. The irony wasn’t lost on us.
We began asking serious questions. It became obvious that the governor had politicized the pandemic and in the interim had written many executive orders for reform that had nothing at all to do with it or for the protection of California’s residents. We felt the state was under tyrannical rule. How did it make sense that you could buy clothing at Costco or Walmart but not Ross or Marshall’s because they were deemed non-essential? Beaches and county parks were closed. Wait, isn’t exercising and being outdoors healthy for you? Some national parks like Joshua Tree were open with restrictions. Most people followed along blindly. It seemed a flimsy mask was like a pacifier to some. Virtual signaling was rampant and one could be called out for disobeying. So many questions, so few answers. We decided to regain control over our lives. That’s when a seed of hope took root and began to gradually emerge but could anywhere else compare to our beloved desert?
We found a house we liked a lot in Bullhead City, Arizona. The seller said she loved us and we were her top contenders. We were told the market was extremely competitive so we offered tens of thousands above its asking price. After waiting almost a week, we were informed our offer was refused. We found out what was happening was that seller’s agents collected offers for days, or a week at a time in order to select the best one. The house we liked had received 19 offers. Potential buyers were asked to sign a contract agreeing they would pay the difference if the house appraised lower than the offer. Talk about crazy! We looked at a few others that we fancied but couldn’t quite make the leap to offer. Since we had planned to live in our RV until the next house settled, we didn’t feel we were racing the clock but we felt we were still too close to California. Say what you will about state government but federal government is a whole different ballgame. Like millions of others in November, we woke up dismayed upon hearing the news of our newly elected president. The least we could do was to find a state where we all could be unhappy about it together.
We made a short list of other states that interested us and we intended to be picky. It couldn’t have long, cold winters. It had to have the reputation of looking out for its citizens, even if it meant defying federal orders and mandates. Palm trees would be nice, but not a deal breaker. Living near water is always appealing but it had to be affordable. A state supporting 2A was a bonus. We wanted a small community feel. Getting more bang for our buck in real estate was definitely a perk. Texas was on our list, as was Florida. It snowed on the final day escrow closed, as we slip slided our way back and forth to a moving truck before depositing our stuff at a storage facility in Palm Springs, close to the airport. There was no use hauling our belongings all over kingdom come since we hadn’t found a soft place to land yet. We loaded up our 30 foot Class A RV and Jeep with our three dogs, the bare essentials, and we hit the road without ever looking back. Join us for our next article detailing where our adventures led us and whether the grass was indeed greener on the other side of the fence.