Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Driving in Northern California

Well Ive been here for about 6 months now and Im going to talk about drivers out here.

While living in New York every time we encountered a horrible driver we would say 'They must be from Jersey' lol - No offense but thats just what everyone would say.  Like  when we were bowling if you hit the pins on the opposite side we would call it 'Jersey'. Any who, I learned how to drive at a driving school some 20 years ago in New York City, or the Chelsea area of Manhattan. If you have ever driven in NYC you know what I have been through learning how to drive around taxi cabs and all.  Im starting to wonder if drivers here are from Jersey.

Driving around here in Northern California Ive seen so many things that would warrant a HUGE ticket if they did that in NYC. Maybe they are just not getting caught but I cant believe the rules are any different - aren't those things universal?

1. No one signals! You know that little clicky think on the left side of the steering wheel you push up or down to let others know what your doing!  No one uses it around here and it makes me nuts! OK I know if can happen in NY too but its outrageous here.  And sitting in the turning lane doesn't exempt one from using one.  Use the freaking signal!

2. Wrong Lane! People turn into the wrong lane! What do I mean?  Your sitting in the right lane waiting to make, well a right turn, what lane do you go into when you actually complete the turn?  The right lane right?  No, people out here will make a turn into any lane they want and thats dangerous.  Especially since right turns are allowed on red lights, with so many turning lanes and the ability to make U-turns at many intersections it leaves to many chances of causing an accident.  Ever been at an intersection with two turning lanes?  Yes many drivers will cross over into the other lanes while traffic is moving during the turn! Talk about scary and dangerous, stay in your lane people! It makes me bonkers, they must hate me when I make the turn into the correct lane and then switch into the other lane like your supposed to. Thing is if I dont move fast enough other drivers will go into the lane to be sure to pass me by!  The DH just had this happen today!  Two lanes making a left and the person along side him decides to merge into his lane!

3. Tailgating! OMG its all over the place I swear they are in my trunk when I look in the mirror.  Someone is bound to rear end another!

4. People with trucks (F150, Tundra, etc.) are very aggressive, especially towards Prius drivers!  If you haven't figured it out I drive a Prius and every time there is a truck near by they rev the engine and do what they can to get in front of me.  Im not a slow driver but I follow the rules and obey speed limit laws.

5. Yellow is basically the signal to speed up and get thru the intersection as fast as possible.

6. Red lights! OMG - I have never in my life seen so many people going thru red lights! There are postings at various intersections that say minimum red light ticket is $400! I wouldn't even chance it as many locations take pictures of violators.

7. Speed Demons - Get on the highway and there speed demons everywhere! Just a few days ago I was driving on I80 heading to San Francisco. This Corvette flew by me like I was standing still. Of course I said 'jerk, I hope you get pulled over.' About 7 minutes later I saw that same car pulled over by 2 CHP! Justice finally....

I recently took a job which involved driving and so I had to take a driving class and go thru driving training, most of these things I have spoken of are against the law.  If I didn't drive that vehicle correctly I wouldn't get the job. The one thing they actually told me was if they light turned yellow just go thru it as everyone in California does it and it wouldn't count against me. Furthermore you don't want someone to rear end you.

Living in a new place can cause you to change your ways and pick up bad habits, keep yourself sane and safe by not doing that.

Drive Safe people.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Finding a place to live in California

Since we dont know anyone we had no idea where to start with anything. We knew what general area we were going to live in but without any knowledge we had to guess. We were sure we didnt want to buy a house, we were going to rent to start off and figure out what area we really want to live in.

The area we are in is called Northern California and I have also heard the East Bay area. We are between Sacramento, Napa and San Francisco. There are tons of towns in the area.  We knew where the job was going to be so it was a matter of finding a place not to far away. Friends from work gave suggestions of course but we ended up staying in the Vacaville area. It reminds me of a mixture of 'city' and 'rural' area.  Sort of in between the two.

Now in New York we grew up in the city so there were dozens of buildings were hundreds of people lived, corner bodegas, pizzerias, chinese places galore. Public transportation was a skip away! Many places were open 24 hours, you know NYC.  Well most recently we lived about an hour and a half north west of the city.  A tiny town called Florida, New York.  What I mean by tiny was that there are two traffic lights and side walks were only found just a bit past the traffic lights.  We lived just outside the village and there were no sidewalks, no public transportation, no corner bodegas and everything basically closed by 9pm, even the gas station was closed by 10pm.  We had to drive 7 miles to the nearest supermarket, or well over 12 miles to get to major stores.

When I came out to visit we drove around to the little towns around and we liked Vacaville the best.  There are sidewalks, there is public transportation, and a ton of shops.  Walking around was a plus.

We weighed in on renting a house or renting in an apartment complex. Here is my list of pros and cons for both:

Renting a house meant:  You get a house to live in, no one living under you or above you, majority of the houses out here have fenced in yards, somewhat private, rural, maybe safer. However dealing with a home owner may not be the best, many of them list with a real estate company which mean additional fees, they require a deposit equal to the rent, they ask for an additional deposit if you have pets, some of them want two months deposit, the houses are what we like to call on top of each other, there is very little property between the homes, renting a house means the renter is responsible for mowing the lawn, watering the lawn, basically maintaining the home your renting.  Homeowner can sell the house at anytime leaving you potentially homeless.

Renting an apartment:  Your in a community, almost all the complexes we viewed had a pool, gym, play area, community room, none of the complexes are higher then 3 stories, then again none of them had elevators either, many are more centralized and therefore closer to shops and more, the deposits are a lot less, they do ask for an additional deposit for pets. The issues: You have people either on top of you, beneath you or both, if your on the first floor you will have more people 'looking in' so a lot less privacy - some people put up these bamboo looking fence, if your building allows smoking and your neighbor under you choose to smoke especially on the balcony the smoke will travel up, if you have pets they all have some type of pet restrictions - on weight, the quantity, the breed, and more. They also all ask for PET RENT! This is extra money you have to pay a month in addition to your rent! Some of them charge it per pet!  If you want a designated parking spot you have to pay more for a carport spot or garage space. The lease was close to 40 pages long, READ IT! They have rules on satellite TV and some ask for an additional deposit for that. The 'rules' are just crazy - the lease says you cant use those sticky hook things that dont make holes on the walls, they have a specific way you are allowed to hang something in the walls and more. We have nothing on the walls they are bare but we have passed others with things in their walls, guess they dont care lol.  This complex had individual water meters per apartment, many of them are grouped by building and then averaged out. So if your in a building with people that dont care about water you could end of paying a lot more then your actually using which I thought sucked.

When we finally found a place that we thought was a good fit we applied. Now we had to pay $40 per person apply, if our kids were over 18 we would have to pay for them too!  We then went out to the movies while our papers were being processed. Imagine our horror when we got a call telling us we were denied. Shocked we had to investigate and since it was the weekend we couldnt do anything about it till Monday. We were so pissed. This company called On-site does the processing, apparently its popular on the west coast to use this company. We finally found out why we were denied. They informed us that this company that did a check on us says we have a judgement for non payment of rent in 2006. Actually I had it under my name!  We said its impossible since we have owned a home since 2002 and recently had our credit reports printed because of some other things we knew there was nothing there.  I finally was able to get the actual report and it showed two peoples name that was not mine nor my husbands name. The strange thing was one of the persons names for the judgement had my middle name as a first name and my maiden name as a last name. So again even more pissed I finally called the company Monday morning to complain, the person I spoke too actually laughed and said yes I can see this person is not you and was going to delete it and resubmit it.  We were waiting again another day before they gave us to go ahead.

Applying to another place would have given us the same issue as they ALL use the same company.  We would have lost another $80 applying again.  The other thing we didnt like was how the other complexes were operating.

When we asked about the rent we were told they run on supply and demand.  Confused we asked what they were talking about. Turns out during the summer is peak mainly because of school zones (people moving to get their kids into a certain school - being zoned is better apparently - more on school later) , they have a lot of demand and low supply which meant the prices of the rent will rise. From the first day the DH looked at the apartment and a few days later when we went together about renting the price went up by almost $100.  This is apparently normal.  If its winter there may be more apartments and not enough demand so rent will be lower. It just didnt make sense to me and I thought that was horrible. The apartment complex we ended up with had a flat rate for the apartments and that was it, I liked that!

We've lived in this place for about 6 months and we like it so far. The office is great with collecting packages if your not home, the maintenance guys arrive pretty quickly, its fairly quiet, we can walk to restaurants, shops and more, theres a pool and BBQ area! What I dont like is people do not pick up after their pets and we have stepped in poop a few times, when it rains the dirt smells! Now it only rained once but it was horrible smelling.  There are stray cats everywhere! People seem to move in and out A LOT. Now there are military families in the area so that could be the reason. No one seems to chat with anyone else, it is kind of discouraging.

Since moving out here we have found out so many things I have decided that Im going to blog about it.  It sucks to have to find things out when its too late or because you had no idea!