Monday, March 24, 2014

Seven Reasons Why Living in Orange County is Not Worth It:

When Nick and I first ventured to the Midwest so that he could go back to school, we always assumed we would make our way back to Orange County, CA or at least to the West Coast once he was done. Gradually over the past two years, we have come to realize that there is so much that the Unites States has to offer compared to California and the West Coast. Although we are both happy with being raised in Southern California and getting our diverse upbringings there, we have come up with 7 reasons why California is no longer for us. We came up with this list after being asked repeatedly why we choose not to return to California. Keep in mind this is just my opinion, I am not backed by data, but just by mere personal experience. Not only that, but my experience has been in Southern California not Northern (they are different no matter what people say).

7 Reasons Why Orange County Is Not Worth It:

  • First and foremost, it is too pricey. The average Southern Californian spends a much larger percentage of their combined income on their mortgage and/or rent than any other location I have heard of (excluding big cities like NYC and Chicago, etc.). On top of that, gas prices are out of this world. Overall, housing prices are extremely high, which makes it difficult for new families to afford the cost of living easily. Plus, the homes in Orange County barely come with back yards.  They are built basically on top of their neighbors and therefore there is no privacy at all. Most of our young friends who are attempting to make it work in Orange County have both spouses working to afford the cost of living in California, something we do not desire for our family.
  • Southern California comes off much too superficial.  Although most people we know in Orange County are not superficial, there is a lot of superficiality that goes on. I went to a high school where many of my fellow classmate had a BMW or a Range Rover as their first car. We were lucky to be raised by non-superficial families which helped ground us, but living in Orange County where you are surrounded  by wealthy people, it becomes easier to get sucked into the hype of wanting or needing to look perfect and having ritzy things.
  • There is a large divide between the rich and the poor. It seems like the rich just continue to get richer and spend money on million dollar homes and name brand things while the poor struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis because they are taken advantage of. I feel that it is harder for one to really break free of the lower class to enter the middle class in Orange County because living in Orange County is so extravagant. It is much easier to just leave California and quickly become middle class just by moving to someplace else.   
  • Over crowded. There is always car traffic, including weekends, mid-afternoon, just all the time. There are just too many people in such a tight space. The last city we lived in, Irvine, has a population of 230,000 people while all of Orange County is composed of 3.09 million people. Our current place of residence of Tippecanoe county has a total of 177,513 (which is a little too small for us). Our possible future residence in Wayne county is 1.79 million (so at least half the size of where we were raised). Overall, we do not enjoy the over crowded feeling of living in Southern California, just too tight and compact.
  • Having no winter is boring. Personally, I love the weather outside of Orange County. Not only do we get four seasons but we get snow. I know most people think I am crazy, but it is so nice to have a reason to wear scarves rather than just as a fashion statement. I love experiencing all the seasons Mother Nature has to offer. Every time the seasons change, I am reminded of this beautiful world that God created. Plus, the worst thing growing up in California was having Christmas Day be over 80 degrees F every year, such a huge disappointment.  
  • California doesn't really have it all or pay the most. Although most people, including myself for awhile, believed that California has every career imaginable, it doesn't. Many of my friends have left California because they were unable to find the right job for them or a high enough salary to make it work. Perhaps that is because there is more competition for jobs in California, but it really just does not offer it all. Similarly, most people think that the salaries in California are more than elsewhere because of the cost of living, but the truth is that they are not that different. This is because the competition for jobs in California is so much higher and so businesses get away with paying people less because people want to live and work in California, it’s all about supply and demand.
  • High taxes are the worst. California has some of the highest taxes in the country.

Now don’t get me wrong, Nick has applied to jobs all over the country and we are trusting in God to lead us where He wants us, no matter where it may be (even if it meant back to California). But, since we are 99% positive that it will be outside of California, here are the things we will miss the most about California:

  • Family and friends. The biggest thing we will miss in California are our family and friends. Although most of our friends have left Southern California for the reasons I've listed above, our families have figured out a way to make it work in California and still remain there. It is difficult to leave them behind but we know that moving someplace where we can live comfortably will give us the funds we need to purchase a home where we have space for guests to come visit us and/or the funds we need to make frequent visits back to California to see family. Additionally, we will have enough funds to concentrate on our future family rather than struggling to make it work in Southern California.
  • Melting pot. I will miss the diversity of people and the diversity of food that Southern California has to offer. Seriously living in California has really blinded me to how not diverse other places are. I grew up in a white household but I was in an immersive Spanish language program for all of my education, which really helped me grow and learn all that every culture has to offer. I hope that wherever we end up that there will be a similar opportunity made available for our children.
  • Disneyland. I will always have a place in my heart for all things Disney and so it hurts that we won't be near Disneyland anymore, but I have come to terms with that loss. Mainly because the prices for going to Disneyland have increased exponentially. I remember when my mother got us all year passes for $99 each, nowadays it costs the same for just a one day pass. So ridiculous, but I still love Disney and I will make sure to take our future kids when the time is right.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Japanese Pork Tonkatsu

When Nick and I lived in Japan last summer one of our most favorite meals was pork katsu with tonkatsu sauce. Recently I was thinking back about this meal and decided to look up a recipe online and quickly realized it was quite simple to recreate. I'm so glad I decided to make this because it was very delicious and a great reminder of Japan.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mexican Cornbread Casserole

This is a quick and easy recipe for what some call a "tamale pie," I refuse to associate this recipe with a tamale because the flavors are nothing alike; but that doesn't mean it isn't delicious. In fact this was very easy to make, so easy, Nick handled it all on his own. I definitely recommend this recipe, it was delicious and hearty.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brownie Chocolate Chip Cookies

 When it comes to baked goods, our two most favorite items are chocolate chip cookies and then brownies; so how great is it that this recipe combines the two. These really are the perfect combo of brownies and chocolate chip cookies, very tasty and perfect with a big glass of milk.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Homemade "Crunch Wrap"

Crunch Wrap
 So Taco Bell is a fast food joint that has made up this genius way of serving a hard and soft, cheesy, beefy, mess-less taco. The Crunch Wrap is one of Nick's most favorite inventions and so since we don't really eat much fast food anymore, I decided to give it a try at home. Oh my! These are great and yet oh so filling. You do not need more than one to fill you up.