I moved from California to Texas and had to take a train to visit for the first time because I couldn’t afford a flight. Now I own a home.

I moved from California to Texas and had to take a train to visit for the first time because I...

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Side by side photos of Janelle Crossan in front of her Texas home and her son posing in front of a map.
Janelle Crossan and her son moved from Costa Mesa, California to New Braunfels, Texas in November 2020.

  • Single mom Janelle Crossan moved from California to Texas in November 2020.
  • Crossan said she was struggling financially and tired of California’s crime and COVID shut downs.
  • In Texas, Crossan can afford to own a home — something she said she never dreamed of in California.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Janelle Crossan, a 44-year-old customer service specialist who moved from Costa Mesa, California to New Braunfels, Texas in November 2020 with her now-8-year-old son.

My ex-husband left the marriage right before Covid started. I was in a bad spot. I had a toddler. I wasn’t working at the time.

Southern California is a really bad place to be when you’re unemployed and suddenly divorced because you need a lot of money to survive there. And money was something I did not have.

I was really depressed. Jobs were shutting down in Southern California at that time. Everything was closed. My son’s pre-school and his daycare shut down.

I had no job and I couldn’t get a job because of the lack of daycare.

The homeless situation in Costa Mesa became a much bigger issue too. I had people defecating on my lawn. One time someone dumped a whole bunch of food on my son’s head when we were walking by.

I never felt safe in my area. I felt like a prisoner in my apartment. I remember telling my dad, I’m just done. I want to fast-forward to the end of my life. I can’t live like this anymore. I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not here. There has to be another place.

One day I saw this video of Texas. It was drone footage of a beautiful area in the Hill Country. It looked so peaceful and green in this quaint little town. I said, that’s where I want to go.

On a whim, I did it. I didn’t have money for a flight so I went on a train with my son. It took 24 hours to get to San Antonio.

I felt like I stepped onto another planet. I was at the Riverwalk and there were people around. They weren’t stuck in their houses. They were going to restaurants — in masks — but they were living their lives.

I came back from my trip and said to my ex-husband, I know this might sound crazy, but we have split custody and I want to move to Texas. You have to come too because I’m not going to take your son away.

I was thinking he would say no. But he said he hated California too.

The rest was history.

Side by side photos of Janelle Crossan and her son.
Janelle Crossan told Insider that she’s fallen in love with Texas and would never move back to California.

We moved to New Braunfels in November 2020.

New Braunfels is one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the US. It’s almost 100,000 people now. But it’s still set up like an adorable small town.

It looks like a Hallmark movie. It’s a cute little town with parades and festivals. We have a beautiful river that people come to to go tubing.

When I came here at first, I was thinking I might live in San Antonio. I thought maybe I’m more of a city person. But I just fell in love with the small-town thing.

It’s a lot easier to get a job here. Once I had a job in Texas, I got a cheap little apartment with my son. In the last three years, I’ve moved up to a much higher-paying job. I don’t make that much money, but I was thinking of moving out of my apartment into a nicer one.

People started asking me, why don’t you just buy a house? I would never have dreamed I could buy a house. That’s for rich people.

But people started telling me about all these programs, like the Texas first-time homebuyer, that you can qualify for. I started doing some research. I set up an appointment with a builder. They put me in contact with a loan mortgage officer who helped me qualify for a program.

My mortgage officer helped me over the course of a couple of months consolidate my debt and pay off my debt, making sure I had a good debt-to-income ratio so I would be approved. To make a long story short, I got a home with no down payment. I just pay the mortgage every month.

It has changed my life. I remember thinking in California that that was the end. I’ve already been married. It didn’t work out. I’m never going to have a stable job. I’m never going to have enough money to support myself and my son.

I paid $1,750 for rent in a crappy little apartment in California. Now, three years later, my whole payment, including mortgage and property taxes is $1,800 a month for my three-bedroom house.

This house changed everything. It’s not just a home. This is my future. This is what I’m going to give my son when he’s old and I pass away.

Janelle Crossan was able to purchase a home in Texas after living in an apartment in California.
Janelle Crossan was able to purchase a home in Texas after living in an apartment in California.

My son turned into an immediate Texan.

My son loves it in Texas. We moved here right when he turned five so most of his memories are now here. He loves being outdoors and going on camping trips and tubing in the river. He’s taking archery. The school system here is much better too.

I love the South and its hospitality. The people are very friendly. You can talk to anyone on the street and probably trust them. I still find it a bit difficult to make friends. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe I really just am from another culture.

Politically, I’m a strong libertarian. That wasn’t something that was accepted in California. I felt like I couldn’t be true to myself in California because I wasn’t accepted for who I was and what I believed.

In Texas, a big part of the culture is independence and freedom and being responsible for yourself while still having empathy for others. I can share my opinions here. That’s freedom to me.

Janelle Crossan's son stands in front of a river.
New Braunfels, Texas, is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

But there are also some bad things.

I’m not a huge fan of the gun culture here. I like that guns are more rare in California. But it’s something I’ve had to accept.

When I first moved here, the big ice storm hit. That was scary. It definitely made me realize that the infrastructure here is not as good. There’s not as much of a reliance on the city or the state to help you as there is in California. That was something I wasn’t ready for.

I saw that Texans are used to that though. When the ice storm hit and we had no electricity and our water was contaminated everyone said, no problem, come to my house, I have water. We worked together. But nobody had any concept of wondering why the state wasn’t helping.

I just have had to accept that things are wilder here.

But with regards to crime, it’s night and day. Crime is not dealt with in California. They just kind of look the other way.

That’s absolutely not true in Texas. And that’s a big deal to me. I’m by myself with my son and I don’t want to live in a place where I don’t feel safe. I never felt safe in southern California.

side by side photos of janelle crossan holding keys to her new house and her son playing in the snow
Janelle Crossan said she feels like she can be her authentic self in Texas.

I miss the weather in California.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there. I lived right by the beach. Here we have all kinds of crazy storms. You never know what the weather is going to do. It’s something you have to battle against.

I also miss the food in Los Angeles. It’s like no other. You just can’t compare.

Most of all I miss my friends and my family. Nothing can replace that here.

But moving here changed my life so dramatically. Something as simple as moving across the country has made my life go in such a different direction.

I would never leave here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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