This is the story of a fifty something year old taking chances and breaking bounderies to find the life he has always wanted and longed for. The Journey started back in 2010 while sitting on a pier on the west coast of Oregon staring out into the beauty of the Pacific shore. As we looked back on what our lives were like living in New Jersey, and looking forward to what they could be like living on the West Coast we began to dream and later began to research. We both loved time spent in the natural world. Hiking, mountain biking and camping were a few of the things we enjoyed best, and Oregon is an adult playground for people like us.
On the other side, I was working in a highly stressful job that was killing me slowly. I contracted type II diabetes and because I was forced to eat prison food each day and did not have regular meal times I could not control my type II diabetes. No, I was not a criminal, I was a Corrections Supervisor. There were countless numbers of officers I worked with throughout the years going through the same thing I was going through. Sadly for them they couldn’t find a way out and ended up with all of the advanced complications of diabetes including heart attacks and amputations.
We lived in a State that has the highest property taxes, the highest auto insurance rates and the highest housing rental rates. We had a 8.9 percent state tax and a 7 percent sales tax. Mass transportation is pretty much non-existant and to get anywhere you have to drive on overcrouded roads with angry and aggressive drivers.
I worked in Law Enforcement for over 20 years and can retire anytime I wanted. My wife works in Health Care and battled with company takeovers and changing contracts. Each time companies made changes, she had to deal with re-applying for the same job and new benefit programs. It was insane.
So we made the decision to move to Oregon. It was difficult and required great planning. I had to straighten out some legal issues with an ex spouse and alimony, the house had to be sold and I had to retire. These three things alone took us two whole years to accomplish.
Preparing and selling the house was probably the most difficult task, as we had to make repairs and upgrades to make a quick sale in a down market. I replaced doors, all of the carpets painted every room in the house in neutral colors, upgraded all of the kitchen major appliances and cleaned every thing from top to bottom. We went through every item in the house and decided which items we really wanted to move to the West Coast. This task alone reduced our, “Stuff” by probably half. We had a huge yard sale, donated items, gave things away to family members and made many trips to the dump. It’s funny how much stuff you can accumulate throughout the years. Anyway, we found a good realtor, found a buyer and got it sold. I ended up retiring 3 months before the house was sold and this really helped as I had all day to dedicate to the tasks at hand.
Then we had to find a moving company for our furniture and a moving company for one of our cars. This was frustrating, aggrevating and took alot of patience to get done. We learned to pack everything we were moving into boxes. Any loose items the moving company would box up at a whopping price. The estimate we got and the actual price from the sub-contractor packing up his truck was off by over $2000.00. The vehicle moving company never showed up and we had to leave the car with a family member until they could pick it up. All in all it cost just over $7000.00 to move it all and took about two weeks to arrive after we arrived in Oregon.
Another preparation was finding a place to live in Oregon and making all arrangements from New Jersey. Thank God for the World Wide Web. We found a property management company in one of the rental brochures that we picked up while in Bend, Oregon the year prior. We were able to do all financial transactions online and over the phone. We were now set.
We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see America by driving across the country. This was exciting, yet grueling at the same time. I averaged about 10 hours per day driving. We had the car loaded up with stuff we knew we would need while wating for our home contents to get there. A folding table and two chairs, pots and pans, a flat screen TV, a blow up matress with sheets and blankets and two cat carriers with a cat in each one. We had to stop and stay somewhere each night to give the cat’s a chance to get out and eat and use the kitty litter box we also loaded up in the car. Now driving across the country with animals was a bit pricy also. We had to get all of the shots that all of the states that we drove through required to a tune of about 350.00. Everytime we stayed somewhere we paid about 25.00 extra for the animals.
After driving for five days we arrived in Bend, Oregon and settled in to our new apartment. It was a duplex. We roughed it out for a little over two weeks before our stuff arrived. It was nice seeing all of our furniture again. A few days later the car arrived. We did it. We made this incredible move. Now it was time to find a job. We were so confident in our skills and abilities that we never thought twice about finding employment. But it turned out to be a major problem. The world had changed since we both had to actually had to try to find a job. I used to open up the newspaper, go to the classifieds, circle several jobs that I may be interested in and make phone calls to set up interviews. Now, everything is done online and the application process can take hours and sometimes days to complete. After sending out the application you never hear back from the employer. We were getting scared. Did we make a mistake? So after almost 2 months in Bend, Oregon we decided to high tail it to Portland. The big city where there was a greater opportunity to find employment. Oregon has a law that allows you to break a rental contract providing that you pay 1.5 months rent at the time you break the lease. Another expense we did not expect, yet at least it didn’t leave us in Bend for a whole year without jobs. So once again we loaded up a truck with all of our belongings, trailered the one car to the back and off we went over the rivers, through the woods and way up and over the mighty mountain ranges of Oregon. It wasn’t too long after settling in Portland that we both found jobs, me in security and Sharon at a private doctor’s office.
After about 9 months of living in Portland we decided that we needed a place we could call home. We found a house under construction at a great price in Oregon City, and here we are. The house is beautiful and perfect for us. We hike on the weekends and plan on buying a light weight camper soon. We really did make our dreams come true. It wasn’t easy, in fact I can say now that it was very difficult, but we did it.