GOONHOUSE is moving to California!

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It's official: I'm leaving East Van and moving to California.

I'll miss my life and my crew in Vancouver—but when you're given a chance to live in California, you take it, right? 

Even when it's during one of the most tumultuous times in recent US history, right? Even when you're terrified about gun violence and mass shootings happening throughout the country, right? Even when the very fabric of society seems to be hanging on a thread, right? 

Hahaha...no but seriously. That's a big part of why I'm reviving this blog again. I want to chronicle everything that happens to me here. I'm especially interested in the small cultural differences between the US and Canada—like why the heck can't I get vinegar for my fries?! 

I've never lived in the US before, but I'm equal parts excited and terrified. This blog will hopefully help this goon figure out how to make a life in this beautiful and strange country that is the USA.

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House hunting in the Bay Area, baybeee

Until the New Year when my new job begins, I'll be chilling here at home in East Van.

But in the meantime, to help ease the stress of moving, my future employer hooked me up with a house hunting trip to the Bay Area.

Adam and I took four days to fly down to SF, rent a car, and play Count the Teslas up and down the 101.

But first things first: a stopover at the holy land. Any pilgrim seeking the Mecca of California will tell you this is it. The best bang-for-your-buck burger in the land: In-N-Out Burger.

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Animal-style on the left, regular cheeseburger on the right.

 Me and Adam chowing down

Me and Adam chowing down

The parking lot of the In-N-Out was packed, and the drive-through line snaked down the middle. Parking was less than fun. Now in hindsight I know that this is standard fare for the Bay Area. Everyone drives everywhere, and parking lots are a nightmare, but at the time it was a bit shocking.

After our classy, just-off-the-freeway dining experience, we checked into our hotel. Here's me excited to be staying in a free hotel room.

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We spent the rest of the Friday evening driving down the Peninsula. I wanted to check out the small towns I'd researched, but had a feeling they'd be too rich and Disnleyland-feeling for me. Facebook and Google tend to dominate the culture in those places, and I'd prefer to get a breather from the tech industry vibe if I can.

San Jose

Based on gut feeling alone, I was leaning heavily toward living in San Jose. I figured San Jose would be more blue collar than SF, and was hoping for a cool, industrial feel. Something more akin to Detroit.

When we got to downtown San Jose, the city was hosting an adorable Christmas experience for families. I'm talking trees donated by local businesses and community groups, plus displays of shitty, animatronic reindeer and singing Caribbean Christmas frogs. We were very into it. I did a little research and it turns out that the city has been doing this every year since the 80's. Hundreds of volunteers help run it and it felt very community-minded and sweet. 

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But overall I knew almost immediately that downtown San Jose wasn't for me. There was a nice art gallery, and we ate dinner at a decent Mexican place, but the overall vibe felt very quick-build and suburban to me. I'm not saying that aren't more cool spots I didn't see—I'm sure there are!—but since I needed to be close to the Caltrain that meant downtown was my option. 

That night we drove back to our hotel in Redwood City and I thought about the small cities we'd seen on our way down to San Jose. Menlo Park and Palo Alto seemed okay, but I surprised myself by falling hard for Redwood City. When I initially learned that my work was there, my desire to rebel kicked in and I immediately wanted to live anywhere else. But now that I'd seen it, I realized how Redwood City had everything I'd been looking for—small town feel, a walkable downtown, and lots of old, preserved character.

Before I went to bed, I cancelled the San Jose viewings I had scheduled, and made arrangements to check out a one bedroom at the Sequoia in Redwood City tomorrow. More on that later...

"I've never seen so many buttholes."
Sara, on life in San Francisco

On Saturday, after checking out the Sequoia apartments, we took the Caltrain into SF to meet up with my friend Sara for dinner in Dogpatch.

Sara and I used to work together at a startup in Vancouver. I remember being into her vibe right away: girl just exudes happy, bouncy energy, but she tempers it with realness. Also she was wearing a cool leather jacket! (I'm simple, ok? Traditional markers of cool impress me.)

Green Card blues

While I got indecent over a $16 cheese plate, Sara gave us the quick and dirty on the US Visa process. With my TN visa, Adam can live with me, but he can't work. As much as I love him, I'm not into Adam living that kept-man lifestyle (to his credit, Adam isn't either), so our plan is to aim for the holy grail: the green card. Sara gave us hope; she got hers pretty quick. I work in tech too, so we're both lucky that way. Here's hoping Adam and I won't have to do long-distance for longer than a year :(

Dogpatch

Meeting Sara for dinner in Dogpatch was a great chance to check out the neighbourhood too. According to our bartender at the Sea Star, Dogpatch is "up and coming" —a.k.a it's in the early stages of gentrification. Ryan the bartender was cool though. Turns out he almost moved to Vancouver! As someone born in the Bay Area, he was tempted, but when he visited and realized it's a lot like a SF with more rain, he changed his mind. LOL

 We had dinner at Alta MSP, but those people are actually lined up to see da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ just next door. That's the painting that shattered all previous auction art sale records by selling for a whopping $450.3 million!!!

We had dinner at Alta MSP, but those people are actually lined up to see da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ just next door. That's the painting that shattered all previous auction art sale records by selling for a whopping $450.3 million!!!

 

Dogpatch stood out for me when I was looking for SF apartments online. The name is super cute, but more importantly, lofts in Dogpatch are priced slightly lower than the usual $3000+ for a one-bedroom in SF. Plus most are cool industrial lofts with giant windows and high ceilings! I thought Dogpatch was a real possibility for me, but once I checked it out in person, I realized the vibe wasn't what I wanted.

It's close to the BART (the train) which means I can get into the city easier, but the commute to my work in Silicon Valley would be at least an hour on the train. It doesn't seem like much, but there can be delays (the first time we took the Caltrain, our train was 45 minutes late) and I don't want to give up two hours of my life to a commute every day of the work week. 

Plus the bars were nice but everything was very new. I'm more interested in old places and bars where I might get to meet people who aren't from the same socio-economic background as me. I don't know if that's naive (since everyone seems to be working in tech here) but I'm going to try to find places that are a little more eclectic when it comes to demographics. Realistically, I know Redwood City is just as bad, but at least there are older, more established bars with a background. After living in Vancouver for 14 years, I'm over all that's shiny, new and made of glass. I'm looking for something a bit grittier. I thought Dogpatch would have that (and it does in some pockets), but I can see how quickly that character is getting upended by luxury buildings.

End of Part 1. Part 2 coming later this week!

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Kate ReidComment