I’ve been avoiding writing this post for weeks now. Not because I didn’t want to share, but because it’s taken me some time to collect my thoughts. Our decision to move happened really quickly and pretty unexpectedly so naturally I’ve needed to sort through a lot of feelings. And to be honest, I think it will be a while till it really hits me that we’ve left the Bay Area. So I’ll do my best to unpack this huge news: that we’ve officially moved to Minneapolis!
If you had told me in 2019 that by the end of 2020 I’d be living in Minneapolis I would have laughed in your face. In fact if you had told me that I’d be leaving the Bay Area entirely there would have been a 100% chance that I wouldn’t have believed you. Then again I don’t think any of us would have predicted what 2020 would bring. It has been a life-changing year – that’s for damn sure!
Late in 2019 C and I started talking about what we wanted our next several years to look like. We felt like 2020 was the year we wanted to expand our family and hoped to take steps to make that transition a little more comfortable. We looked at our 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco (where we both work from home) and knew that we could certainly make it work but it wasn’t necessarily what we wanted. With the exorbitant rental and housing prices we weren’t super confident we’d find something we’d like (or could afford) but we figured we’d look.
Due to a lot of luck, we pretty quickly found a rental house in Marin (a northern suburb of San Francisco) about 40 minutes outside the city. I was nervous about moving so far away from our community but we took the leap anyway. I’m not going to pretend that the transition wasn’t rough. I missed the city everyday and disliked suburb living more than I thought I would. It felt pretty bland and boring and the house itself felt cold and damp (the irony that it would be hot and dry for the rest of the year is not lost on me!).
Then everything shut down.
In hindsight I am very grateful we moved as it gave us more indoor space, an outdoor space for Bodhi and eventually the ability to add a second dog. The community I was missing was also sheltering-in-place so we weren’t seeing anyone anyway. I felt like I might be okay there for a while.
Simultaneously, C and I were trying for a family (which obviously didn’t play out as we anticipated it would) and could imagine at least starting the next phase of life where we were. We also kept our eye on the housing market and a place where we could plant roots.
What we never imagined was that on top of an already inflated market that 2020 would make housing pricing skyrocket in the Bay Area. While we’ve been saving as much as we can to prepare for this huge purchase, we basically got priced out. Now I want to add that we are deeply aware of our privilege and how incredibly fortunate we are. But the Bay Area’s level of wealth is so beyond what most people could imagine that even we fall on the lower end. It became pretty clear that getting a house even remotely within our budget wasn’t going to happen.
But it was okay because we felt like we could stick around in our rental house a little longer and a) see what happened to the market and b) continue to save.
The Rug Got Pulled Out From Under Us…
What I didn’t mention in this post was that in the week from hell we also got a call from our property management saying that the house we were renting sold off-market and that the new owners were planning to move in. That gave us till the end of the year to figure out a new housing situation.
Since we likely weren’t able to afford what we wanted and I wasn’t exactly obsessed with suburb living we found ourselves at a crossroads. It didn’t help that the wildfires were raging and we literally could not leave our home or open a window despite 100 degree heat. Like I said, week from hell!
I started to look around and began wondering why we were trying SO HARD to make this life work. It felt like everything was working against us and we just weren’t up for the challenge. We decided we needed some space away from the Bay to figure out what really mattered to us and what we wanted to do moving forward.
A Trip to Minnesota
“Getting away” in a pandemic isn’t exactly easy. Luckily we love a good road trip so we decided to pack up the dogs and drive to Minnesota. C’s Mom graciously took us in for an indefinite amount of time that ended up being exactly what my soul needed. Sitting in the car for many hours also forced me and C to have challenging conversations that we’d both been avoiding.
We started to reflect on the things we didn’t like about the Bay Area (more on that below) and really came to the conclusion that while the Bay was the right fit for us for a specific phase of life, the next one we’re entering into isn’t a great fit. And as we look back on the 4 cities we’ve lived in over the last decade it’s clear that each one served its purpose for that specific phase but then naturally came to a close. It was time for us to say goodbye to San Francisco and stop trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
When we landed in Minneapolis it felt like the first time I could breathe this year (yes – even in a mask!). Despite not being able to see our friends and family as much as we normally would we could just feel a deep sense of community here. It felt like exactly what we were looking for for this next chapter.
And so we started to look at houses.
We recognize how incredibly fortunate we are for this to even be an option. Having been on the housing train and seen many friends struggle on this same train I know how challenging it can be. This country has a major housing crisis – not to mention a socioeconomic, racial and political crisis so flaunting a new house feels like a real punch to the gut. But at 31 we knew we weren’t up for another rental (which comes with its own challenges) and the possibility of having to move AGAIN in a year.
Anyone who has wanted to buy a house knows that once you start looking it’s hard to stop. We basically spent our days on Redfin favoriting homes and getting a sense of the market here. C’s high school friend is a realtor here and she was wonderful in helping us navigate this process. We also got incredibly lucky (in a year full of pretty crappy luck!) and the second house we toured we just knew was our home.
I basically walked around the house going “fuck fuck fuck” and “oh god oh god oh god” because I just knew. Getting the house wasn’t nearly as easy. A bidding war ensued but in the end we got it and I feel SO GRATEFUL that this was even a possibility. Truly, this is not lost on me.
Goodbye to San Francisco
But we still had a life and a house to empty back in the Bay so after our offer was accepted and the ball was rolling with closing we turned our car around and drove back to San Francisco. Note: if you guys want tips on road tripping safely in a pandemic and/or moving in a pandemic let me know!
We had a month to sell things, hire movers, pack and say goodbye to our friends and family. It was hard, but in a year where it’s felt like we’ve been at a standstill it was nice to feel like we were moving forward.
Which brings me to what were the deciding factors in leaving the Bay. My feelings on this are complicated. I LOVE San Francisco. Truly, no place has brought me so much inspiration. My heart swells when I think about the bridge, the bay, the fog and just the overall beauty. But just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it’s built on a sturdy foundation.
For one, it became abundantly clear to me that if I wanted to live in the Bay Area I wanted it to be in San Francisco. While I respect that it’s right for some people, Bay Area suburb living is not my thing. It lacks color (literally) and culture and you know, your house could burn down at any moment. What fun!
But C and I also want a family and the city simply doesn’t make family living easy…unless you have a lot of money.
And that’s the other piece. While we could certainly make our life work there, we don’t necessarily want to raise a family in a place with such income disparity. The middle class has all but disappeared and quite honestly, that’s not the example I want to set for my future children (should we be so lucky). It’s one thing to be DINKS (dual-income no kids) and live in San Francisco. It’s another when you bring kids into the picture.
I know how this reads and I’m sorry if this sounds like a long list of complaints from a privileged, white girl who clearly has more than enough! But here’s the thing: I want to live in a place that values community over everything. That shows up when you need them (and vice versa) and cares about things other than money, if your company IPO’ed and what Tahoe vacation rental you got. I feel fortunate that our personal community in San Francisco isn’t like this but the overall vibe is there and it’s not what we want in our greater community.
There is no denying that San Francisco has changed me for the better. I’ve stretched and grown in ways I never expected to and I will never regret the years we’ve spent here.
I will miss our friends and family. I’ll miss beautiful weather in March and October. I’ll miss 65 degrees for most of the year. I’ll miss the butterflies I feel when driving over the Golden Gate into the city. I’ll miss the ocean. But that’s about it.
I won’t miss the cost of living. I won’t miss rainy winters and dry, hot summers without A/C (especially in the suburbs!). I won’t miss the flakiness. I won’t miss fire season.
And I’m sure there’s so much more I will and won’t miss as the days, weeks and months pass.
Why Not Somewhere Else?
When I shared on Instagram that we were moving I got a lot of questions about why we picked Minneapolis. The answer is quite simple (unlike the rest of this post!): We want to live around our family and community. My immediate family all lives in Toronto. C’s is split between Minneapolis and San Francisco. When San Francisco was no longer the right fit we evaluated where else we’d really feel comfortable moving to and the only two places that fit the bill were Toronto and Minneapolis.
Now I know what you’re thinking: why would we not pick Toronto in the current US political climate and I don’t have a clear answer for you. Toronto just isn’t our forever place. We value outdoor activities which Minneapolis offers in abundance, even in the winter. As much as I love Toronto and especially our people there, it just isn’t conducive to our lifestyle. The lakes and how much people embrace them here sealed the deal for us.
Welcome to Minnesota
Now here we are, about 2 months into this long saga that’s finally moving in a positive direction. We officially landed here 10 days ago and closed on the house. It is certainly an interesting time to be moving given the spike in cases and the impending doom of winter. But honestly, this year has given me so much perspective on what matters.
I’m grateful for C and the pups and my mother-in-law who provide the best company and navigators through the crazy ride that is home ownership. I’m grateful to our friends here who have welcomed us with open arms (and 6 feet of distance!) and make this place feel like home. If this year has taught me anything it’s that we have no control of our futures, simply gut instinct and the courage to follow it.
I’m excited to see what Minneapolis and this next phase of life has to offer. I’m ready for hot dishes and the inevitable Minnesota accent I will develop. I can’t wait till I get to experience my first Minnesota state fair and eventually develop a strong dislike for the Packers (this one seems unlikely given how little I care about football). I’ve dusted off the old parka and snow boots and this Canadian is getting ready for her return to winter.
I feel ready for whatever happens and happy to be along for the ride. Bring it on!
On that note – would love all of your Minneapolis recommendations! Restaurants (for takeout right now), shops, dog walks, skincare, hair and must-have items to survive winter!
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LoMarch 28, 2021 at 9:25 pm
My husband and I and our 2 young kids moved from CA to MN in 2018. Our kids were born in Greenbrae at Marin General Hospital, and we lived and worked throughout the Bay Area throughout the 17 years we lived there (plus a year in the LA area). I and my husband both worked throughout the Bay Area during the time we lived there, including in Mill Valley, San Rafael, and in DT San Francisco/Financial District. We got super lucky and were able to buy a house in 2009 when the housing market tanked, otherwise we never could have afforded it. Where we lived we were on the edge ofthe Atlas Fire area from a few years ago, which was so scary. We also experienced multiple earthquakes with the biggest being the one with the epicenter in Napa a few years back. We loved so much about CA, but with kids and the school system, and the same factors you mention, we decided it was time to move for the kids’ sake.
I’m originally from Minnesota and I met my husband when I was living in Minneapolis proper. While I love CA, Minneapolis is truly one of my favorites cities in the US, hands down. At the time we met, I was living near Lake of the Isles, and had lived in Uptown and in Bryn Mawr, as well. I absolutely love the city. The housing in Minnesota is actually reasonably accessible for middle income earners vs in CA where you can hardly get anything for less than $500k. The housing market was what was so shocking to us when we moved to CA. Moving back to MN was absolutely the right decision for us. And our kids are getting used to having 4 seasons and are acclimating well to cold, snowy winters.
Congrats on your move. You made a great choice. Minnesota has so much to offer.
AllisonFebruary 22, 2021 at 5:16 pm
I’m curious to learn more about the Twin Cities area. We are former San Franciscans who moved to a small east coast city and we miss bigger city life but like our current affordability. Minneapolis/St Paul keep coming up and even though we don’t have any connections there it is intriguing.
BradleyFebruary 15, 2021 at 8:21 am
The cooperative in Stillwater is called the River Market. With two beautiful bridges, the water and the hills, Stillwater is a microcosm of San Francisco. Don’t wait for summer, there are a lot of things to see in the winter too.
Davida LederleFebruary 17, 2021 at 10:31 am
Amazing – thank you!
BradleyFebruary 14, 2021 at 11:21 pm
Welcome to Minnesota….I totally loved you story.
I use to live in “The City” too. As a biker I was in heaven, Marin County, Presidio, Angel Island, just a few of my favorite places. I now live in Stillwater. Do explore Stillwater sometime. The Gateway Trail is a great way to come visit if your bikers.
ParkerFebruary 14, 2021 at 10:50 am
Just moved to Edina (one of the suburbs) and I love the city, my biggest tip is that if you can do stuff outside of the central city I would do so, you can get really frustrated trying to figure out parking or pay a small fortune in parking, there is plenty of great things to do around the area though and don’t forget that chili’s in Minnesota does 2 for 1 on most beers and well cocktails meaning you can get 2 well tequila sunrises for $5.25
JoyFebruary 14, 2021 at 7:52 am
Welcome. Most people I know who live here in Minnesota are from here unlike California. Most people I know in California were born elsewhere. Why does that make a difference you might ask? You may at times feel that MN is a bit cliquie. Not sure if our diverse cultures intermingle that much. You will find your niche here. Give it time. Again, welcome.
PatrickFebruary 13, 2021 at 8:31 am
I too randomly found your blog. I am from MN and currently have a place both in Marin and S.F. but am still considering a possible relocation to MN, not for financial reasons or not that I have any complaints or unhappiness with either S.F. or Mill Valley – both are amazing, but for the community and the people of Minnesota. I’m not sure why the sensitivity from your readers around the comments around accent and hot dishes? It’s funny and not untrue, lighten up people,. My partner who is from Monterey never had a chicken hot dish before he met me, gets an absolute kick out of hearing the accents when we visit and he loves MN now too. I’m not sure that we’ll actually pull up our roots and leave the Bay Area, but I can certainly understand wanting to do so. I hope that you and C have an amazing adventure in this next chapter of your life. I’m sure that you will love Minneapolis.
Tony LoydFebruary 13, 2021 at 7:31 am
Welcome to MSP. I hope you are enjoying your transition to Minnesota life. You might check out Twin Cities Collective for the blogging community. https://www.twincitiescollective.com/
If you’re into podcasting, check out Women in Podcasting and Twila Dang. https://www.matriarchdm.com/women-in-podcasting
If you want to get involved in an interesting project, check out Heatherlee Nguyen’s project, Black Ignite, https://blackignite.com/
I am connected to the local Social Enterprise and podcasting community. Please let me know if I can help.
MFebruary 12, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Ya, I agree with your assumptions of how you sound. Sounds like your attempting to justify to yourself and others why you moved. Mpls is an amazing place. But…as you said your privilege and complaints about the reasons you moved, and picture posted lead me to believe you moved somewhere around the lakes area, where it’s very hard for many to afford. I currently live in the east bay (suburb according to your article if anything is not SF proper). I don’t need a/c, and my neighbors are not droll suburban people. Whatever you meant by that. Enjoy the -23 degrees today in mpls? My family is still in Minnesota and they are great people.But theyre also those hot dish eating, accent talking people living in minnesota in a suburb of mpls you probably don’t like. Just FYI, I’m hawaiian, filipino and swedish. The culture in mpls is amazing. The Hmong, Somali, vietnamese, native american cultures for example are quite vibrant there. They may have embraced hotdish, and maybe not. I suggest next time pause a bit longer prior to writing ALL your thoughts. You’ve managed to insult people in the bay area and your attempted nod to mpls referencing the accent and hotdish is equally insulting and short sided.
LeanndraFebruary 12, 2021 at 8:21 pm
Do you literally have nothing better to do than shame someone for uprooting their life and moving during a pandemic? You clearly don’t know the whole story because it’s not all written in this post. Get a life.
CTFebruary 12, 2021 at 3:59 pm
We made the move from SF to Minneapolis 6 years ago. I was a life long Californian, and I still miss many things about it, but MN is such a great place to call home. The restaurants, breweries, and incredible natural beauty (and recreation) are really top notch. I’ve come to enjoy having seasons, even cold ones. Enjoy the journey!
CarolineFebruary 12, 2021 at 7:38 am
I am so saddened that you mention hotdishes and developing a Minnesota accent as that view pigeonholed us as only of Scandinavian descent. The diversity here goes well beyond hotdishes and a MN accent. We have the most beautiful people from all over the world! Our Somali community is second to none and they are adored here! Our Hmong culture is strong and loved. Our indigenous culture is amazing!! Even our Lieutenant
Governor, Peggy Flanagan, is Native American! Explore MN from the aspect of the beautiful mix of cultures. You will not be disappointed to raise your children among all these revered cultures. And don’t worry about being white. We are finally taking a backseat to let these other cultures shine! It is long since overdue that white privilege is checked at the door.
JonFebruary 11, 2021 at 5:14 pm
I just stumbled on this, hope you are setting in well. So my suggestion is for your doggies. Check out the Elm Creek Dog park (When it gets warmer). It’s 30 acres of dog paradise.
LouiseFebruary 12, 2021 at 3:35 am
Wok in the Park is one of my favorite restaurants! Definitely wear sunscreen because it gets very bright out due to the snow. And check out the suburbs, they have a lot of cool things. There are also a ton of nature centers, which are pretty for walking.
JessicaFebruary 12, 2021 at 10:24 am
Randomly found your blog, it’s like the internet knows my partner and I’s story is similar! I’ve moved 7 times this year (jumping from parents and friends and finally to B :)). Within a week of landing in the place we are now (not to mention this being the first time we’ve live together in our 6 year relationship) B was offered a job in Minnesota he just couldn’t turn down (he just graduated chiropractic school). We had planned to take our next steps together so I started our search for apartments in MN! We’re moving there in a little less than a month from Washington. Hope you and C are enjoying your new place and staying warm!
From what I have researched it looks like there are a ton of farmers markets around Minneapolis, my suggestion is to check them all out and get to know the local ag scene. Also, there is a garden-to-table restaurant in St. Paul (the name of which I just can’t remember 🤦) which has amazing food and wine.