Marie Bailey and her family moved to Prosper, Texas in 2017, where she is now a realtor helping other Californians make the move to The Lone Star State.
Courtesy of Marie Bailey
Marie Bailey moved from California to Texas with her husband and daughter in 2017.The realtor said she and her family were seeking affordability and a friendlier place for conservatives.Bailey said she loves her new life in Texas and now helps others make the same move.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Marie Bailey, 44, about her experience moving her family from El Segundo, California, to Prosper, Texas, in 2017. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I grew up in Fullerton in Orange County. I lived there from the time I was one until 23. Then I jumped around a little bit to other parts of Orange County.
I met my husband 17 years ago and I moved in with him in Seal Beach, California.
When we went on our first date together, we said: “One day we’re going to leave California.” We knew even on our first date.
We were lucky to be homeowners. My husband owned the house before we got married. Then his job transferred him. So, we rented it out.
We rented in El Segundo so he could commute. It was just very expensive. You had to be working all the time to be able to afford anything.
When we rented in El Segundo, it was $4,500 a month. Our electricity bill was quite high.
We just felt like we were working constantly to afford a life in California. It always felt like I was never going to get ahead.
We didn’t want to pay that rent forever, so we were looking at how much houses cost in El Segundo. For a tiny, tiny fixer-upper at that time, it would have been a million dollars.
So we said this is the time we really need to start thinking about living out of state.
At the exact same time, Trump won the election in 2016. I’m not some crazy Trumper. We voted for him, but we aren’t going to every rally or anything.
But we felt like we had to keep that a secret in Los Angeles. After Trump, it was like we were split as a country. I didn’t like that. It felt like we really were not welcome. So, I think that pushed us over the edge, as well as the expenses.
We took a big scouting trip to Texas in 2017
That’s when we figured out where we wanted to go and exactly how we wanted to do it.
There were other states on the list, like Florida and Arizona. But Texas has a really good travel hub. It’s two-and-a-half hours from any coastal part of the country. Plus there’s a lot of tech jobs here, so my husband needed a place where he could get another job relatively easily if he needed to.
When we first started looking, we were looking at Frisco. We also looked at Rockwall, Fort Worth, Celina. Then we looked at Prosper.
It’s a growing suburb about 45 minutes outside of Dallas. There’s 34,000 people here. [Editor’s note: The 2020 US Census lists Prosper, Texas, as having a population of 30,167 as of April 1, 2020.]
I didn’t know a lot about it, but what really attracted me is they have these communities out here that have a ton of amenities. I really wanted that community lifestyle.
The neighborhood where we live now, Windsong Ranch, has a whole calendar of events. They have two pools, a gym, and a cafe. People are out in their golf carts all the time. I really liked that.
So we chose Prosper.
Everybody was freaking me out back in California saying, “You’re going to come back in a year.” or “I don’t think you’re going to make it out there.” Not about finances, but because we didn’t know anyone.
So I was very specific in choosing a neighborhood where there are lots of social things going on. I don’t want to be isolated. I don’t want to move back because we didn’t have any friends.
It was scary to leave. We had a lot of stuff. Packing it all and getting your whole life together is very stressful.
But when I did it, it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would have been.
We rented first. Then we very quickly ended up choosing to build a brand new house in our neighborhood.
During that time, we had to have tenants in our home in Seal Beach. Then we put that tiny house on the market. It wasn’t on the beach. It wasn’t updated at all. I think it was built in the ’60s. We sold that for about the same price that we closed on our brand-new house here in Texas.
This house is 5,000 square feet, five bedrooms, has a movie room, a game room, two offices. It’s on a quarter-acre lot. I believe we closed at about $850,000.
When you start to build in this community, they let you use the amenities. So we started to meet so many people just like us.
Bailey and her family were able to build their dream home in Texas for about the same price they sold their California house, she said.
Courtesy of Marie Bailey
I decided I was going to be a real estate agent
A few months after we moved here, I got laid off from my job in international education. Immediately I said: “Okay. I’m going to be a real estate agent. I’m going to specialize in Californians moving here.
So, I did. I started working on my license. I decided this is going to be my niche. We lived through the ins and outs of moving here, so we can help people through this process.
There are a ton of people relocating here from New York, Chicago, and California.
I created a Facebook group. People started joining and now it has almost 45,000 members. It’s a very active group. People are asking questions all the time and it’s the same questions we had about Texas.
“Is the weather unbearable?” “Am I going to be miserable? “What about the property taxes?”
Our group is really helpful. It’s not just me. Many have made the move. Many have researched it. Many have decided they don’t want to make the move. So you have everybody’s perspective.
We have hundreds of clients from our Facebook group. I work with many, many people from the Facebook group. We’re very fortunate that people put their trust in us and we help them move.
Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. This is what I help people through.
Bailey drives a pink Tesla that sports a license plate that reads: Move2TX.
Courtesy of Marie Bailey
We love life in Texas
For a while, every month we’d all sit down together, my husband, my daughter, and I, and say: “Are you guys happy here? Does everybody like it?” And every time, everybody said, “yes.”
Our 13-year-old daughter, she’s old enough now where she’s made all of her friends here.
We’ve had a lot of family move here too. My husband’s brother, my husband’s mom, my sister, and then a lot of my mom’s grandkids, my nieces and nephews, are all moving out of California. It’s just unaffordable.
I really like our neighborhood with all the amenities. There’s something going on all the time. They have golf cart parades. We just had a Luau Night. We have a Havana Night. They have bands.
If I’m feeling lonely, I can just walk over to the lagoon. There’s people grilling dinner for their family. I really like that.
Everything here is a little bit more spread out. In California, depending on where you live, things are on top of each other. Here I have more space.
The people here are a bit more conservative, or at least they talk about it more. We belong to a gun club. It’s a nice club that has a shooting range and a restaurant.
It’s more affordable. It feels like you can breathe more because it’s just not so expensive. Prosper has gone up in price, but if you compare it to some of the pricier parts of California, it’s obviously still much cheaper.
We were able to afford just the bare minimum there. Here, we were able to build our dream house and much more comfortably afford it.
Every so often, we’ll do a price comparison. Grocery stores are a little bit less here. Restaurants are a little bit less, and gas is obviously less. The thing that’s more expensive is property taxes.
I just don’t feel the rat race that I constantly felt in Los Angeles. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect. It doesn’t mean there’s not people that struggle. It just is more realistic.
Bailey and her family built their home in Texas close to the neighborhood’s built-in lagoon.
Courtesy of Marie Bailey
The biggest adjustment is the weather
The weather is different. California, obviously, is very beautiful. The weather is amazing.
It’s hot here in the summer. You don’t go on a bike ride outside in the summer. You stay in air-conditioned spaces, or go in the pool.
In the fall and spring, it’s nice. The winters are a little colder where I’m at, so that was different. We were here for the big freeze.
I know this sounds cliche, but I miss Disneyland. I really like Disney. We had passes. We lived relatively nearby.
And we miss our family.
I did get a couple of lotto tickets recently. I was thinking maybe if I won a billion dollars, I’ll get a beautiful beach house in California and go back.
But I see us staying here. We really like it.