Families in California...how do you do it? :)


I live in northern California but I suppose this could apply to the entire State.

As you may well know, the cost of living here is quite prohibitive to large Catholic families. I realize this is an incredibly broad question but…how do you do it? Nothing specific that I’m attempting to glean from all of you, but this is merely a post to share some stories and tips as to how you make things work FINANCIALLY.

This isn’t restricted to CA…any place where the cost of living isn’t conducive to large families is fine :thumbsup:


Living in the the Central Valley would be the best course of action:rolleyes:, sucks, I know, but it has the lowest cost of living in the state:shrug:.

God willing I’ll be moving back to California, to Fresno or surrounding area. I am soooo not looking forward to it after living in Chicago and then a very close suburb:(. I do look forward to being close to my family and friends though. I was looking into the northern California area, maybe a suburb of San Francisco, just to have the same access to everything as I do here. I just don’t even know where to look considering the cost of living:(.

I would love your perspective and opinion since you live in that area, it would help me out greatly in making a decision:thumbsup:.


I knew someone was going to suggest the Central Valley. Truth is, I’m in love with my parish in Santa Clara–the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace. Come visit it one time when you’re in the area:


I’m not sure what advice I can give you. The market is down in terms of housing so…pray pray pray?

What advice could I give you specifically?


I too wonder how Catholic families do it… :confused: It’s hard enough being a married couple trying to pay bills, a house, food, etc… The cost of living in the SF Bay Area is outrageous. I love living here, but it’s way too expensive. I want to cry every time I think I will not be able to be a stay-at-home-mom when we are blessed with babies.

How do people do it?


How do people do it?

I live in northern New Jersey, where $350,000-$400,000 will buy what I consider a modest home. I hear it’s double or triple that in some parts of California. How about moving somewhere cheaper when it’s time to start a family? How about living in an apartment, townhouse, multi-family house to save on housing costs? Nowhere is it written that you have to have a three bedroom, two bathroom single family house with yard in order to bear your first child. We lived in a one-bedroom one-bath basement apartment as newlyweds and parents of one baby/toddler until we conceived our second child and moved to a starter home, four bedroom (nice), but only one bath, no dining room, no garage, no family room, just eat-in kitchen and driveway for off-street parking.

Isn’t it worth moving somewhere else with a lower cost of living in order to be at home with your kids?


First write down your priorities. If a large family and the wife being able to stay at home is up there on the list then you have to look at your husbands income. If it doesnt allow you to live in California, or at least the area you wish to live then say good bye to that dream and move. Its hard to relocate but family is too important. Also get rid of some of those worldly fantasies about big houses and that “keeping up with the jones’” mentality. Most of the time major sacrifices have to be made.

We are “stuck” in a small 3 bedroom 2 bath home in a not so nice neighborhood (safe just not fancy) we moved here when we only had one baby and now we have 4. We make do and enjoy our small mortage. Prices have gone up around us and if we were to sell we couldnt afford to buy anything bigger then what we have. I have prayed a lot about it and recieved a lot of peace about where we are. I have learned to work with what i have. 3 girls share a room in a full over full bunk bed. office is in my bedroom. homeschool supplies in the livingroom. its all worth it to avoid a big mortage!!! I hear it all the time from friends how they cant stay at home though they wish they could, or that they could never live anywhere else but their posh neighborhood…but the truth of the matter is most of the reasons behind that line of thinking are selfish.

We will base our next move on cost of living. We are always searching for a community in the US that has larger homes for less. Once we pick a place we will look and pray for a job in that area. But for now we are happy where we are! We actually live on the border of California and Arizona on the Arizona side. We have been offered many jobs in CA that pay a whole lot more then what we make here, but we will do anything to avoid living in California. But we love to visit and enjoy the weather and everthing it has to offer, we just cant live there.


I am also in San Jose! And it is hard! I think my dh and I are doing well only because we entered into our marrige without debt. The only debt we have accrued since is a small car payment, and a mortgage. Luckily, dh is in a field that pays very well, he is union, and has a lot of opportunities for overtime. I also work full time. The hardest part is being sure that our kids get a lot of quality time with us. We have found a really great girl to watch them for us during the day (she will take more kids on if you need a reference for a sitter) that treats them like her own and loves them to death - and she doesn’t charge an arm and a leg!

Feel free to PM me, neighbor!


I guess you guys would die if you knew I moved to the midwest and bought a little 1200 sq ft house for $30,000. My sis closed on her house the same day on the east coast for $350,000. While her house is much nicer and larger… I can’t say her family is… I have 4 she has 2 kids… on the other hand, she has 4 cars to my 2. (and that was before any of her kids could drive). She drives 45+ minutes to work, I drive about 4.5 minutes (if I stop for a drink from the drive through).

Seriously… the midwest is an awesome place to live… great values, nice people, farm fresh food (no, seriously…at least one of your friends will either be a farmer or a hunter or both around here… I don’t buy eggs, I go to my bosses house and get my own)… only downside… pay stinks… which I guess goes with the territory. Just think… you can seriously make it on $25,000 a year as a family of 4!


Even with $1350 of debt a month? And like you said the pay sucks because the cost of living is so much less. And moving is expensive!

We live in PA and the cost of living here is horrible, although if you go to the other end of the state you can get a 3 bedroom Victorian for $60,000 but thats because every one is moving because there are no jobs and there are tons of houses on the market.


Yep, makes me almost want to throw up! :stuck_out_tongue: We just bought a 3 bedroom condo this year for $510,000! :eek: Yes, you read that correctly!

We thought about moving out of the bay area at one point, but dh has sooo much family here. We couldn’t bear the thought of separating the children especially from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.

Also, I have lived in the same neighborhood my entire life practically. I still do. My kids will actually go to the same elementary school I went to. I really don’t like change too much. Dh thinks its funny, but my #1 criteria when we were house hunting was that I didn’t want to move too far away from my grocery store!!!


Ya know… I watch all those home improvement and flip that house shows and it always amazes me that folks would pay upwards of 3-400,000 for a trashed house smaller than my house. I think if you wanted to make it in CA you would have to live with mom and dad, work your tush off and save every penny… then move to the midwest with your nest egg!

I know you want to stay in the same area you grew up in… and I certainly don’t know how it is in CA neighborhoods… but can’t you move a little further out and still be close to family?

Maybe it’s just me, but I always considered 2-4 hours away from mom and dad the ideal because they can’t just “drop” in. I live 15 hours from family and it is a drawback, but I did what was best for the kids (If you knew my mom you would understand). Anyway, how does anyone live in your area? Do you like make $50,000 working at McDonalds? not trying to be rude but it seems like it is a self fulfilling cycle… high prices, high wages, high taxes… it seems nuts to me!


Well, in order for me to stay home with the kids, we are living in a trailer park about 17 miles east of Sacramento. Rent, including garbage, water and gas is $550/ mo. I’m a little embarrassed about the stigma attached to living in a trailer park but it’s a nice one with friendly families and we have a little yard and I get to be home with my baby so that’s what’s important to us.


We are in a similar situation as you: mother in law lives literally 1 (one) mile down the street. Father in law about 5 blocks away, my mom about 7 blocks away. We are really stuck and this is all in an area where a 3 bdr townhouse runs no lower than $500K. We bought our about two years ago and my career is in video games so my choices for jobs are more or less here, the Bay Area (more expensive) or Seattle and maybe a couple other cities.

When we even just mentioned looking somewhere out of town, my mother in law flipped out! Said she would not be able to handle it if we moved. I feel like a prisoner here now.

The fact is that my mother in-law did a “reverse mortgage” on her house (which my wife will inherit as she is only child.) That’s how we did it and now we are her prisoners, kind of. Truth is, we would be in over our heads if we didn’t have her help for the down payment, but now we feel like we owe it to her to stay close so she can enjoy her two grandchildren.

So now we can’t afford to move, basically. The schools here are horrible (L.A. Unified) because they bus in kids that have about a 50% graduation level at the high school, so we will need to pay for private school (at our parish which is nice but a strain on budget.)

We would very likely have another child if we could afford it but since we can’t risk sending them to the poor quality public schools here and cant afford to pay for more kids to go to Catholic school, well, we are pretty much celibate…

It is either that or move to a less safe neighborhood with schools that are just as bad.

I may have to modify my career path. I would love to move to Portland Oregon where my dad lives, but there are no jobs for me there. :frowning:

We live very frugally: almost no going out. Some take out. No fancy clothes or electronics and all that junk people are so caught up in. I don’t mind that at all but it is so tight I get anxious when I think about emergency needs.



Volition is like 15 miles away from me in IL. Also…In Oregon… KnifeEdge Software. I don’t know anyone at Volition but I know the guys at KnifeEdge are some very nice guys… I used to do software support for them though a company in IL.


Wow. Thanks for the quick leads. I looked up KnifeEdge Software – looks like they are a bit closer to Portland than Buzz Monkey (the only other Oregonian video game developer I know of-- they are in Eugene.) They look pretty small and I am not sure my experience would fit there (I am on the publishing side of the biz) but may be worth looking into – thanks! :smiley:


DH and I are down in San Diego. We’re renting right a small one bedroom right now for $1200 a month. It’s a fine starter place for us, but I don’t know how we’ll manage once our family starts growing. Even if we could afford to buy a home here, I don’t know if we’d want to. Even with the dropping house prices, it’s still soooo high! The only thing keeping us here now is Hubby’s school, although I’d certainly miss our great friends and parish as well if we ended up moving. San Diego can be a great place to live, but with terrible traffic, high cost of living, and weather that gets to be pretty boring, I sometimes have to remind myself that some people would love to live here. Anybody in the Midwest wanna switch!?


My husband and I talk about moving all the time, but with me in school right now, and the kids being so stable, my mom only 10 minutes away, and my husband re-establishing himself as a chef in California, it’s hard to think about moving away, especially after having spent most of my life here. Maybe someday in the future.

We lucked out in finding a nice 3-bedroom 2-bath small home in the southern part of San Diego county that we rent for $1200. We’re thinking about putting a bid in at the end of the year to our landlady (she thought about selling the home at one point) - with any luck, we can try and get it for under $400,000. It would depend on what she would want to do.

I would love to be a stay-at-home mom here, but of course I have to work to make ends meet. So we’re frugal - tonight’s dinner consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. We also spend time just going out and enjoying San Diego - lots of parks and beaches that we can go to without spending a lot of money, or by taking our own snacks and drinks. On top of it, our parish is great, and there are other parishes around town I enjoy going to also.

I guess familiarity breeds stability in my case!


If you want to see what knifeedge does look up realflight.com Alot of what separates them from their competition is their physics is very real in the program. I think they have an exclusive contract with Hobbico.


I moved thanks to the U.S. Army. We were out there, in the desert of SoCal for two years. I was in utter SHOCK when I saw a house, built in 1986, only 1200 sqft, NO yard (all dirt), just really cruddy looking, selling for $450,000.

I thought I’d save money on our food budget when my DH deployed for a year seeing how he can eat nearly as much as the kids and I combined. Nope… never saw the food bill go down because the prices were just outrageous.

My only suggestion is to check out some other sites that offer ways to live frugally. I love Hillbilly Housewife because there are many areas of that site that can make living more frugally possible.

Good luck! :thumbsup:


First write down your priorities. If a large family and the wife being able to stay at home is up there on the list then you have to look at your husbands income. If it doesnt allow you to live in California, or at least the area you wish to live then say good bye to that dream and move. Its hard to relocate but family is too important. Also get rid of some of those worldly fantasies about big houses and that “keeping up with the jones’” mentality. Most of the time major sacrifices have to be made.

A large family and the ability to homeschool our kids is definitely a priority. There are a few things that keep us from moving:

  1. We have such a great parish. 24-hour Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Orthodox priests. Budding vocations (which we pray that our kids would be part of one day). A very rich traditional liturgical life–who else does Fatima pilgrimages every 13th of the month between May and October?

Our fear is moving to a new location with a lackluster parish where the priests are pumping people full of dissent.

  1. I have a brother who has cerebral palsy and needs a caretaker i.e. me. I have a mother who is chronically ill and needs a caretaker i.e. me. Please pray for this situation…my brother I believe, is a living saint (you should see his collection of John Paul II images) but he also has very human needs

  2. My (future) wife is very close to her family and couldn’t bear to be too far from them…over 1 1/2 is too far


One thing we have going for us is that she’s set to inherit her childhood home. Two-story, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, garage, kitchen. It’s the other costs we’re worried about–homeschooling supplies, utilities, possible car repairs, activities for kids, etc.

She and I are all for simple living, so the concern isn’t whether we’ll be able to afford that Mauii vacation next year. We’re board game fanatics–Risk, Life, obscure German board games, etc.–so we’re very creative as to how we relax (a virtue we hope to pass on to our kids).

Stupid question: If ya’ll didn’t have to pay the god-forsaken amount you do for rent, would your salaries cover your basic needs and a small amount of recreation spending?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.