As we embark on a new year, my husband, Todd, and I are looking back on our adventure of moving to Temecula early last year. Why did we move to Temecula and how do we feel about this move as an “upper middle-aged” couple? Now seems like a good time to assess this transition.
We had spent most of our lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We loved Wisconsin, but we both had the strong urge to start a new chapter in our lives somewhere else. Our children and siblings were all established elsewhere; sadly, our parents were gone, although three of them had lived into their 90s, and many of our friends were moving out of town to be closer to children or to find better weather. (The two main reasons most people our age move.)
But where would we go? Being close to our children was a major goal but an unachievable one since they lived in widely dispersed places—namely Hong Kong; Columbia, South Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and, most recently, San Diego. If we wanted to be close to at least one of our kids, we needed to move near one of these locations. It wasn’t a hard choice since we had always loved southern California. So, our new motto as the year 2010 ended was: California, here we come!
In the fall of 2010, we visited the San Diego area and started trying to narrow down a specific location for our move. We looked up and down the coast and then decided to revisit an area we had always enjoyed—you guessed it—Temecula. After our visit, we decided that’s it—that’s where we’re moving. There were several reasons:
• We loved the picturesque location with its rolling hills and panoramic vistas, along with green valleys and nearby high deserts. We appreciated the clear, fresh air and luscious green landscaping in the city areas.
• Since we both enjoy good wine, we were entranced with the idea of being in the beautiful and rapidly developing wine country. The wines and terrain reminded us of Italy, France and Spanish wine areas.
• In Temecula, we would be close to so many amazing areas to visit and less than an hour from San Diego. In 45 minutes we could be at the beach. And if we missed the Wisconsin winters, in an hour we could be up in snowy Idyllwild with its forests of evergreens, so reminiscent of the upper Midwest.
• We liked the idea of changing seasons that didn’t change too drastically.
• A bit of investigation revealed that the Temecula area was a safe and vibrant community with many opportunities for us to be involved and contribute, which was a priority for us.
• And, oh yes, the price of housing was much lower than on the coast and we felt we could get great real estate value for a reasonable price.
So we did it. At the ages of 60 something, we left it all behind and moved to California! We found a good real estate agent (at a winery of course) and he showed us all around. We found some houses we really liked, but we had not decided on anything for sure by the time we flew back to Milwaukee to start packing up.
Our daughter actually found our house, which was purchased, sight unseen, except for photos she sent to us. Our friends are always surprised that we would buy a house without seeing it in person, but we trusted our daughter’s judgment and looked at this step as part of our adventure.
So we said goodbye and left in early February with our little cocker spaniel for our 3000-mile drive across the country—not the best time of year to be driving even though we took the southern route. We finally started to see the snow melt and the sun come out by the time we reached Albuquerque. After a brief but momentous stop at the Grand Canyon, we reached Temecula and our house late on a Sunday afternoon, right before the moving truck would be arriving on Monday morning.
We hopped out of our car and saw our new home—the home we had never seen before. Before we could even take a deep breath, our neighbor from across the street, Bernie, ran over to welcome us. Right then we knew we would be OK. Todd and Bernie have so much in common, both being former military guys, dedicated Rotary members, and avid networkers. They also both believe in giving back to their communities. Bernie and his wife, Linda, have introduced us to so many great people and organizations.
So now we have been in Temecula almost a year and we love it. We definitely miss our friends in Milwaukee, but several of them have come to see us (since we live in a fabulous tourist destination) and we expect many more visitors this year.
Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves as a reminder that we really live in this special place—especially when the early evening skies are streaked in pink and orange over the mountains. We are surrounded by such beauty, with balloons over the vineyards every morning, and sunrises and sunsets that look like they must have been touched up since they are so strikingly dramatic. We have gone through the changing vines from their stark winter beauty to their lush late summer bounty. We have watched the hills around us change from deep winter green to parched summer brown and back to lush green again.
We have also savored the abundance of delicious fresh locally grown produce that is so readily available, particularly at the area’s farmers’ markets and vegetable stands. And on New Year’s Day, we found ourselves only 45 minutes away at the beach having lunch with our daughter looking over the Pacific with the kayaks and seals frolicking below us. Life could definitely be worse.
But the most important part of making our move so successful is that we have met such welcoming people in both Temecula and Murrieta. Would people in other parts of California have been so friendly? I’m not sure, but here in the Temecula area everyone seems open to making new friends—perhaps because so many are transplants from other places and they remember what’s it’s like to be the new guys on the block.
Where have we met our new friends? Our friendly dog has helped since she wags her cute little tail wherever she goes, particularly at the wineries and the dog park. Other dog lovers gravitate toward us—and we toward them. The wineries have been a great place to meet people, particularly during the week when the locals hang out. We have also both joined some community boards and organizations that have been great venues for meeting people with similar interests and goals.
We have found the area to be very compassionate about helping others. We have never run into so many fundraisers—and all for worthy causes. People here are open and caring and dedicated to a myriad of very deserving projects. This has impressed us.
And so almost a year into our adventure, we are very happy to be in Temecula. When we first moved here, people would ask where we were from and we would say, “Wisconsin.” However, lately I’ve noticed that we say, “We live here.” And the people we meet from San Diego and Orange County invariably tell us how lucky we are. Yes, we feel very lucky that we ended up here. Thank you, Temecula, for welcoming us with such open arms!
Photos by Todd Montgomery