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June 29, 2022

Window on the World Column | You Are Not a Tree…

I saw this line on social media and I loved it so much. Too many people in the free world complain about where they live, banter on about what they don’t care for in that place — the politics, the weather, the terrain or whatever. How lucky are we that we can complain freely, also move freely to somewhere that might be more to our liking! We, in the United States, can choose which weather, terrain, politics we would prefer to live amongst. We can put our house on the market, find a job somewhere else and move there! You are not a tree; you can move! Never forget that.

As a transplant myself, I’m always rather surprised by the amount of folks who do choose to be a bit like trees and dig their roots deep down into the soils where they were born, grow their families where they were raised. Their curiosity about the world looks to stay fairly safely within the boundaries of their birth State, whether they really like it or not. It’s what they know; so, they stay with that. They want to be close to their families and I get that. Except that was not me.

I loved my family — it wasn’t that. Just, my curiosity about what was outside the safe confines of the small island where I was born grew and grew into a travel lust, and I wasn’t going to be able to be happy settling into the home I knew. The more I saw parts of the world — the more the hunger grew. As a relative youngster, I traveled over much of Europe, actually living for a bit in Florence, Nice and Tubingen (Germany). We had exchange students that stayed with our family and us with them. Our curiosity about the universe was encouraged.

Then, when I got the opportunity to really step outside my boundaries and explore the U.S., I was anxious to visit as many States as possible, all little countries or so I saw them, all so completely different. And time has not changed my mind about that. If you travel to Arkansas, for example, or live in Louisiana for 2.5 years as I did, then you know how the deep south is worlds apart from the West Coast where I live now, both with their separate charms and cultures.

There are still many States I want to visit and explore — also parts of Europe, so I hope to live a long time. I could never be a tree, much as I love them. I adore my home and haven’t moved from there in 21 years, but every month or so I get the itch to go somewhere, experience something new, shake off the old leaves and branches, as it were. And then I’m always happy to return to my comfort zone, my Solace — the actual name of my home. But I don’t ever bash my home — I feel very privileged to live there. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for me. If it weren’t, I would endeavor to find a place that is.

Travel is so easy in this era; there is no excuse to just sit in your house and moan about where you are. California is known as a rather pricey State to live in — true story. There are many reasons for that and, if that doesn’t suit you, then my goodness there are more affordable places to go. I recently visited my friend in Little Rock, Ark., and we walked around her neighborhood, where she noted that one of the very nice, single story, brick homes on 1/2 an acre just sold for $200,000.

Not much more than a closet could you currently buy for that in Cali, and I do find it sad when young people are forced to move away to be able to buy a house. But they are not trees either — they can move away, experience some life away and, possibly even, move back again once they have some money in their pocket.

My daughter talks about moving to Montana and I would welcome that. Not that I wouldn’t miss her, but I do know that the experience would be so good for her. She would grow up and out like a tree, I’m sure, and I would adore going to visit. I remember my parents being perfectly happy that I lived in Cali, because they had a lovely new place to come and explore and so they did. Those were some of their happiest holidays, the many times they visited the area and stayed in Carmel.

Now is a great time to sell a house if you have ever thought about trying something new and moving to a different place. In case you haven’t noticed, the real estate professionals among us, like me, have been hoping and waiting patiently for there to be more homes on the market. During the pandemic, there was very little to sell and very few ways to sell property. Those days are now gone and, if people want to sell, they are absolutely free to do so. In fact, they are very much in the driving seat, to be honest; since the buyer pool way outweighs the seller pool at this current time.

But that is another thing about California real estate: it goes up, it tops out and then it must come down. If you wait another year or so to sell, you will likely look back and say, “Wow, the prices came down quite a bit, didn’t they!” Because, frankly, they needed to come down. We are at the top of the market again, same as we were in 2005-06 and your average buying population can no longer qualify to buy at these prices.

So, it is time. But people don’t like change and there’s always a bit of an ugly period while you transition from a seller to a buyers’ market, where people are jumping up and down and complaining. That is the nature of the beast, we tell ourselves in real estate, and just sharpen our tools for the next market shift.

Look around you and delight at the choices you have in this short life. You are not a tree, marvelous though they are. You are a free member of the free world; and you can move.

Lucy Jensen
Soledad Columnist

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