We Left California for Utah but Now We're Moving Back to the Bay Area


Category:  Other

Via:  cb  •  last year  •  15 comments

By:   Erin Snodgrass (Insider)

We Left California for Utah but Now We're Moving Back to the Bay Area
there's so much domestic migration, it's definitely affecting Salt Lake City's density and the housing prices. So, the past three years that we've been here, the pricing we're seeing is relatively similar to what it was like in Santa Rosa.

This is interesting. . . .

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Ian Hughes and Jai-Yu Fu moved from Santa Rosa, California to Salt Lake City, Utah, in July 2020. Courtesy of Jai-yu Fu 

  • Ian Hughes and Jai-Yu Fu moved from California to Utah in 2020 seeking new experiences and affordability.
  • They settled in Salt Lake City because of Hughes' job and have since started their own business.
  • The city isn't as affordable as they thought and the couple is moving back to California next month.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with couple Ian Hughes, 32, and Jai-yu Fu, 30, about their experiences moving from Santa Rosa, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2020. The couple is preparing to move back to the West Coast next month. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

Ian: I'm born and raised in California and we met going to design school in San Francisco over 10 years ago. We just had our six-year wedding anniversary.

Jai-Yu: I was born and raised in Taipei City in Taiwan. I pretty much spent half my lifetime in Taiwan and then here in the States. So, I have this sort of expat narrative.

Before we moved to Utah, we were living in Santa Rosa, California. The rent at that time —

Ian: It was $2,300 plus utilities.

My background is in the outdoor industry; Jai-Yu's background is in architectural design. When I was right out of school, there were a lot more outdoor companies in the Bay Area, but they all started leaving to go to Denver or Salt Lake City. There's more of an outdoor vibe there, I guess. So I knew that was going on and anticipated wanting to leave to stay with that crowd.

Jai-Yu : We were just at the point in our life where we didn't feel like being tied down.

Ian: We were ready to try something new, too.

I got an offer with this job in Salt Lake City in March or April of 2020. We were excited.

Jai-Yu: At the same time, we had this dream that we really wanted to start our own business.

We were thinking: Can we go chase this dream? To chase that dream, it involves our own investments. We had to spend our own money to start our own company.

Ian: Part of the reason I wanted to work with this startup is I thought I could learn a lot and then apply it to our own business later on.

We also knew that it was a little less expensive to live in Salt Lake City,

so we were kind of excited to be in a position to save a little more.

Jai-Yu:  Well, that's what we thought.

Part of the reason we left Santa Rosa was because we got the impression that Salt Lake City was supposed to be more affordable.

But because there's so much domestic migration, it's definitely affecting Salt Lake City's density and the housing prices. So, the past three years that we've been here, the pricing we're seeing is relatively similar to what it was like in Santa Rosa.


Hughes and Fu said they'll miss Utah's majestic mountains and the hiking accessibility offered in the state once they move back to California. Courtesy of Jai-Yu Fu

The couple made the move in July 2020 right in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic

Ian: It was definitely a strange time to move.

Jai-Yu: I didn't really like it because when we first arrived it was a ghost town. COVID was still going on and we couldn't really explore as much as we wished to, or meet people. There wasn't much social life. We were basically just working all the time.

Ian: Most of the people we've met have been through our jobs here. And for the most part, everybody's been really nice and friendly. We're not that great at making friends outside of work, but whenever we've interacted with strangers, everyone's usually pretty nice and respectful.

I think people here definitely assume that because we're from California, we're automatically more well-off.

But we've rented the whole time. When we got here, we lived in a small one-bedroom. Then in the past two years, we've been in a bigger space, a one-plus bedroom.

Both were around $1,600. It's been a little bit more affordable, I guess.

Jai-Yu: Not all the options in Salt Lake City are cheaper, it's just that they do have a wider variety of rental prices, compared to the Bay Area.

It depends on where you want to live. The neighborhood we're living in is less dense, just because that's where we found the most affordable place. The neighborhood we probably wanted to live in is close to downtown and close to the walkable neighborhoods, instead of the more suburban area we're currently in.

I personally prefer a walkable, urban neighborhood, just because I grew up in Taipei City, which has a 2.6 million population. And Salt Lake City is 200,000.

One of the first impressions I had is that the stores here are very spread out. If I want to go visit a boutique, I have to drive 20 minutes and then hop around different parts of town.

But something I really like about Salt Lake City is there are less cars on the road and less angry, crazy drivers than in the Bay Area. Even though I have to drive 20 minutes to go to the Chinatown store, because I need my Asian groceries.

Ian: There's definitely diversity, but it's more diluted or constrained to the downtown Salt Lake City area, I would say.

Jai-Yu:  I rarely see people other than Caucasians walking around. I do get frustrated just because when you have less diversity, that means there's less diversity in restaurant choices and in grocery choices.

Going out to eat at a restaurant, it's pretty much the same as when we were living in Santa Rosa. You can go out and easily spend $60 on a meal. So we try to cook from home.

The couple quit their jobs last summer to focus full-time on starting their own business

Jai-Yu: We weren't going to stay in Salt Lake City. It was temporary.

Ian: We wanted to get some of the industry experience and then figure out a way to apply it to the business we wanted to start.

Jai-yu: Last year we were starting to think about moving back. So that's when we took a turn and quit our jobs. We started working full-time on Parapack.

Ian: We are currently making lightweight headwear. We have one product basically out, but we have others planned.

We've definitely learned a lot, which is what we wanted to dive into when we started.

We had to come here to be able to afford to start our own business. I don't think we could have made it this far this quickly in California.

Jai-Yu: It was a great opportunity to push ourselves out of our familiar bubble. Coming out here on our own was a good learning lesson of just chasing our dream and looking at our surroundings from a different perspective.

We will be moving back to Pacifica, California in about a month or so.

Ian: We ended up getting in touch with family and we're going to rent a temporary in-law unit from them.

Jai-Yu: They're giving us a very good deal, and we both will likely get part-time jobs. The combination of this is what's going to help us make it — to move back and have a life and have this dream of creating our own company.

Ian: We're excited to go back and be closer to family. We'll definitely miss the hiking and the outdoorsy types of things you can do here so easily.

Jai-Yu: One of the coolest things about Salt Lake City is its majestic Wasatch mountain range. It just makes you speechless. That's something San Francisco can't beat.


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Principal
1  seeder  CB    last year
 Jai-Yu: It was a great opportunity to push ourselves out of our familiar bubble. Coming out here on our own was a good learning lesson of just chasing our dream and looking at our surroundings from a different perspective.
We will be moving back to Pacifica, California in about a month or so. 

People move around. Back and forth. Up and down. Welcome back, "family" we missed ya!

Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  CB @1    last year

Exactly, CA  led the nation in departures between July 2021 and July 2022, per  US  Census Bureau. 343,000 more people left California than moved there during that time period.

pat wilson
Professor Participates
1.1.1  pat wilson  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1    last year

That's less than 1% of the population of California, not a big deal one way or another.

Professor Quiet
1.1.2  Ronin2  replied to  pat wilson @1.1.1    last year

If all of the illegal immigrants leave; that will be a real issue.

Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.3  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  pat wilson @1.1.1    last year

Exactly, not a big deal too me.

Professor Principal
1.1.4  seeder  CB  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.3    last year

Some of them leaving. . . need to go. . . home and help correct some of the issues/problems around this country! That being said, it is nice when "one or two" of them return to the golden state!

Professor Principal
1.1.5  seeder  CB  replied to  Ronin2 @1.1.2    last year

Wow. Why are going there? Any illegals here are not counted in the official population. Not sure what is going into your use of the word, "all."  Got a ballpark figure or are you imagining 'wildly.'

Professor Principal
1.1.6  Texan1211  replied to  CB @1.1.5    last year

The US Census disagrees with you. It says on their site that all residents are counted.

Greg Jones
Professor Participates
2  Greg Jones    last year

I used to live and San Mateo and loved the whole area...but that was many years ago. Would never think of even visiting SFO now, let alone living in that area again.

 Salt Lake City is very nice and wouldn't mind living there if I wasn't already established here in Denver...which by the election results in starting to make a slow but steady transition back to the right.

I think this young couple will get fed up again after a few years and leave California for good.

Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  CB  replied to  Greg Jones @2    last year

You can't speak to what this young couple will do in the future anymore than I could have foretold this couple moving back. After all, I would think, and its only a thought, that it is higher to run a business in California than in Utah based on the political wherewithal. But, as we read above, they are bringing their business back with them to California from which they departed.

What is clear is metaphorically-speaking people move around, up and down, back and forth across this country, and they do this because their feet are not nailed to the ground in any one location.

That is the point of the article.

Sometimes we have people come on social media and mock blue/red states for 'departures' - well, it's a nothing-burger type discussion. People move around this country in search of something, one thing or another, or simply peace and quiet. Part of me believes that was the point of becoming a fifty state union in the first place. This being the case, before all the mocking and rancor between certain types of states erupted.

Fact is, not everybody needs or is in search of a "sleepy little hallow" or "big-city living" and its great to be free to love wherever one decides to land temporarily or permanently settle.

Professor Principal
3  Texan1211    last year

California is a great place if you are rich.

Professor Principal
4  Gsquared    last year

Native Californian.  Why would I want to live anywhere else? 

I've traveled all around the world.

Part of the view from my backyard, looking toward the southwest --


Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  CB  replied to  Gsquared @4    last year

Breathtaking. And no ocean in sight.  If you drink Tennessee Whiskey in a place like this it's smooth.  One question is this the beauty before or after our delicious rains?

Professor Principal
4.1.1  Gsquared  replied to  CB @4.1    last year

The ocean is straight ahead about 7 miles away in that view.  It's mostly wilderness area before reaching the ocean.  The photo was taken before this season's wonderful rains.

Professor Principal
4.1.2  seeder  CB  replied to  Gsquared @4.1.1    last year

Wow. Days in paradise, it is!


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