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We moved from California to Texas and back to California after 4 years. Now, we live in a mobile-home park by the beach.

Erin Snodgrass   

We moved from California to Texas and back to California after 4 years. Now, we live in a mobile-home park by the beach.
  • Dan Otis and Mary Collins moved from California to Texas in 2018 to be closer to family.
  • The couple loved the affordability and ease of Texas, but struggled with the weather and politics.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dan Otis, 75, and Mary Collins, 74, a retired couple who moved from Coarsegold, California, to Rosenberg, Texas, in 2018 to be closer to family. After four years in Texas, the couple moved back to California and now live in Santa Cruz.

Dan: I was born in the Bay Area. My wife grew up in Queens. She has a quick wit, so this hippie boy had no chance.

Mary moved to California when she was 20, so she's been a Californian longer than a New Yorker.

Mary: We met in Carmel, California. We were both 50 at the time.

Dan: Our eyes met across a crowded room.

Mary: The rest is history. It will be 24 years of marriage next February.

We both came to the marriage with two daughters. Now, we have a big ole family.

Dan: We share eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mary: We lived in Lake Tahoe for about nine months after we got married. We went from there to Coarsegold, California, which is up in the Sierras. And from there to Texas.

We had a lovely life in Coarsegold. We had a cute little house.

Dan: But our daughter and her family in Texas needed a support group.

We put our house on the market and moved to Texas in April 2018

Mary: Dan was really into the idea of the move. I was a bit more hesitant. But I was happy to be closer to my grandsons and my daughter.

Dan: We found a beautiful little house in a nice area. It was a brand-new home, and we were the first owners.

Mary: We bought a house in Rosenberg, Texas, which is about 20 miles southeast of Houston. You don't realize how expensive California is until you move away. Groceries were a lot less in Texas. Gasoline was very cheap.

Dan: We ran the air conditioner 24/7 for about seven months, and the electric bill never got over $100 a month.

Mary: Registering your car in Texas was about $75 or $80. I just did it here in California, and it was $300.

Dan: In Texas, everything was green. There were beautiful clouds in the blue skies.

Mary: But the weather was just the worst. You couldn't even go outside and take a walk.

Dan: We learned quickly about humidity. And when it rained, it was torrential. We were even there for the big freeze in 2021.

Mary: It snowed, and we had no power for about two and a half days. I never adjusted to the weather. It really depressed me.

Dan: The drivers were terrible, too. It took Mary a year before she felt comfortable driving. In Texas, drivers jump on or off the freeway at the last moment. They'll cross two lanes to jump off.

Mary: I never adjusted to the politics either. It was difficult for me.

We lived in a very Democratic county. But we still had the governor, who I find to be a despicable human being. He said a lot of ridiculous things that were very hard to take.

Dan: And Ted Cruz.

Mary: Most of the people we met didn't vote for these people. But Texas is huge, and it's a very conservative area.

We had started thinking about moving again

Mary: Dan was pretty miserable there.

Dan: Then COVID hit, and the grandsons became latchkey kids, and we only got to see them at their baseball games.

Mary: The hardest part was telling my daughter we were moving. She knew we weren't happy there, so she said: "I just want you guys to be happy."

We made a lot of money on our house in Texas, believe it or not. We had six offers, two of them in cash.

A lot of people are moving into Texas. We had an offer from someone in Boston and another offer from someone in New Mexico.

Honestly, I never thought we'd end up back in California. I wanted to move to a different town in Texas, but Dan said we still wouldn't be moving away from the terrible weather.

We thought about moving to Reno, Nevada, because the taxes in Nevada are so low. We went and looked, but it was expensive. All the Californians were moving there during the pandemic, so they increased the prices of everything.

My daughter, who lives here in California, called us and said: "You cannot move to Reno. You have to move to Santa Cruz."

I said: "We can't afford Santa Cruz."

So, she found us this mobile-home park, which is right on the bluffs, looking out at the ocean. They actually bought the place for us, they wanted us to move here so badly.

My daughter's wife works at Google, so she always says she makes enough money to support three families.

Dan: We have a nice little view of the ocean. We live less than a block away from the ocean.

Mary: I'm happy to be back close to my daughter here and close to my granddaughter. But it's been a struggle. We have a monthly rent because we don't own the land, and that's very high.

Moving back to California has been financially straining. We don't have pensions.

Both California and Texas have their pros and cons

Mary: I miss the conveniences of Texas. I miss my grandsons and my daughter. I miss the diversity of the Houston area. I miss the grocery stores.

Dan: I miss the green. It rained so much that everything was green.

Mary: But I prefer to live in California. This may sound silly, but I feel safer here. Not everybody's walking around with guns. I just feel safer in California than I did in Texas.

We go back to Texas every spring to visit and watch the boys play baseball. But we don't want to move again. We've moved six times since we've been married. Way too many times. My furniture couldn't tolerate another move.

We're happy with our move back to California even though we are strained a little financially. It's just a pleasure to live by the water and breathe in the fresh air.




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