Well, it might be good to start with the reasons I left in the first place. It was getting harder and harder to enjoy the SF Bay Area, where I grew up. The orchards I rode horses in as a girl are all (all!) gone. Traffic makes it difficult to go anywhere. Anywhere! The attitude in Silicon Valley, where I worked, was changing (more competitive, less of a family feel) and I was getting older. Youth rules in Silicon Valley - rightly so, when working all night is not uncommon. Expensive cars, clothes, houses, etc., are common. My biggest chunk of savings was in my house. I decided to retire and find a nice place I could afford, even if I had to leave the ocean.
We looked long and hard for a place in which to build a life. We were picky, but not too. It had to be very affordable, uncrowded, have some charm, have some culture, have a lot of natural beauty, and be within a day's drive of the ocean. We looked at several towns in Oregon, chiefly Eugene. We looked at Arizona's Tucson. Both towns met many of our requirements except they had already begun to grow and become expensive, and Tucson was too far from the ocean. We decided to stay in California, our home.
A cousin of mine and a nephew of J's live here in Chico. There are no children in the picture, so being near children and grandchildren wasn't important. All the things I said I liked yesterday are true about Chico and Northern California.
Today we went for a drive and were struck by how beautiful it is here in Butte County. I thought about Barbara's question while we drove. It's called Butte County because there are many buttes here, and they are beautiful in their own, rocky way. It was a beautiful day. After yesterday's rain the air is clear. The grasses are turning green. There were big, wonderful clouds putting on a show in the blue sky. The orchards are starting to bloom.
Sometimes I miss where I grew up and whine about it, but where I grew up is gone, replaced by something different and not as nice. ... and I can always visit the ocean :-)