I mentioned in my blogs intro that the last 10 months for my little family have been really eye opening. Relocating and re-settling from one country to another is a BIG DEAL, especially with a young family. It’s also certainly different to my husband Christian and my previous holidays to the USA. I guess when you are on holiday, you’re not working, you don’t have to worry about the more “adult” things…like setting up bank accounts, finding a place to call home, setting up utilities, finding your way around, health care, food shopping and comparing brands you loved to new brands you have to trial. I did touch briefly on my vintage blog about the move to San Jose /Silicon Valley but I feel now i have this blog, it’s a better forum to go into more detail on my own personal thoughts over the last 10 months.
For the first part of us living here, we had accommodation in Mountain View in a temp little apartment which was really close to the main strip and not too far for Christian to get to work. Stella and me really discovered ALL of mountain view in that one month we were there while dad was working. We scoped out all the playgrounds and it was around the time where Stella wanted to get more active and be at playgrounds and exploring so for me, I had my heart in my mouth a little bit because as parents know, kids especially young toddlers are so accident prone so I guess it was up to me to keep her safe and also teach her things like walking up and down stairs and foot path/road safety. We were really blessed to find our now home rental in San Jose fairly quickly. I feel like the agent liked the fact that a family wanted to move into this house and not just young people sharing rooms.
I really loved our house the first time we came here to check it out. It has one old bathroom, still vintage styled with subway yellow tiles and cute 1950’s vanity but pretty much everything else in here is new. New flooring (wood and vinyl), paint, with things like door handles and light fixtures still have a vintage feel about them. Big bedrooms and a cute guest bedroom with 1/2 a bath out back. This had come in handy for family who have come to stay with us. Usually in Australia, if renting, you aren’t even allowed to put any picture hooks on walls but here, apparently you are allowed to put as many as you like. So I’ve spent a bit of time decorating and making the house homely. We even have a gardener! Not that they do much but blow bits of wood chips around and cut the grass with a whipper snipper but I guess its better than nothing. It was really awesome once all our furniture arrived, amazing how when you’re missing home, those things that you know so well help make you feel a little at ease.
So comparisons to back home? Well the area we live in, to buy you are looking at 1 million dollar houses. And the houses really aren’t all that special compared to our brick and tile homes back in Australia. But the houses on our street here all have that federation / vintage feel to them. Big stoops / front balconies, medium sized backyards. Our lovely home back in Aus which we are renting I believe is most likely the same size block here and the house bigger. We have a fairly open plan here (no hallways) so sound does carry through, making naptime initially a difficult affair but now Stella is used to the noise. The area is safe and nice and really central to everything we need. Much like back home. Close to family and shops / amenities. The neighbours are super friendly and we know a few of them quite well, always stop to talk and find out how we are doing. They enjoy the fact we are Australian, as many American’s know how far it is to come here, so many don’t come across Aussies every day!
Stella and I joined a playgroup and we’ve made a nice little group of friends who we do see every week or second week. The mums and kids also live nearby so it’s easy to get to playgrounds and visit each others houses. The one thing I do love about our San Jose house is our central heating. It’s come in so handy as this winter has been the coldest I’ve endured ever! Back in Aus, we only had the one gas heather and a couple of bar heaters so our house was a bit cold but I guess being brick, retained the heat quite well.
I’ve recently had to do some comparative food shopping to try and save some dollars. Christian has a budget tracking app and it seems that our second biggest cost besides rent is food! Back in Aus, we had Woolworths, Coles and maybe IGA, oh and a few fresh markets if you could be bothered getting to them during the week, but a food shop to feed us back home for a week usually cost us between $150 -$180. Here, Safeway was initially our saviour. Good meats and mostly brands that we could identify with but I’ve recently learnt that it is also REALLY expensive there too. I did a small food shop of usual grocery items from Trader Joes and was pleasantly surprised to save around $30 for Trader Joe branded foods but friends of ours here said to avoid their meats as they weren’t so great. Another thing is they don’t have “butchers” here (as independent meat butchers). Whole-foods and a little Italian market down the road from us have in house butchers but they are VERY expensive. Safeway has an OK meat selection so we usually buy our meat from there. Target here also has food but I am yet to do a larger food shop but they do feel like they would be cheaper. Ahhhh the things you worry about when feeding the family.
Clothes, shoes and make-up shopping is really awesome here. Variety of everything and its very much a consumer society. Because I am yet to find work, I have held off going silly with shopping. But I have acquired some pretty cool stuff here already. The sneaker/kicks section is slowly growing! 😉
Drivers here are pretty full on. Some have told me it’s a Californian thing and that drivers elsewhere in the country aren’t as bad. No one likes to use their indicators so sometimes it’s a guessing game. The police aren’t allowed to install speed camera’s (due to privacy laws) so I do find there are many a speedy Gonzales on the road, which scared me when I initially started driving as I was driving like an old woman lol.
So…would I pick USA over Australia? I honestly don’t know! We’re doing ok here and enjoying our time and making new friends. Stella is really happy but we also really miss our families and friends back home. I’m grateful we have been given this opportunity, especially Christian as he is learning so much from working with a global IT company. We’ll see what the future holds but beyond our 2 year visa, I am unsure whether we will call the USA home or consider moving back to old Perth town. If we do, we will be looking at our lives in a whole new light.