This summer, Cole Anderson, 18, and his 17-year-old sister, Grace, will be leaving the place where they were born and joining their parents and younger siblings in Keller, Texas. The family has been living apart since being evicted from their Coastside home in March.
Catherine and Scott Anderson moved into the 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath duplex in Miramar when they got married in 1999. They lived there for the last 20 years. They started out paying $1,750 a month in rent, and their landlord had only raised their rent once, a year ago, to $1,950.
Scott worked at Crystal Dynamics, in the video game industry, until being laid off. He has since become a professional landscape oil painter. Catherine owned Studio 4 Pilates on the Coast since 2007 and was happily working there full time.
The couple had four children, two at El Granada Elementary and two at Half Moon Bay High School, and were actively involved in their community and children’s activities.
Then, in late January, they received a notice from their landlord giving them 60 days to move out.
“Sixty days is not a long time to move out of a home you’ve lived in for 20 years,” said Catherine Anderson. “We asked if they would take more rent? Would they wait until the end of the school year? Did they have a buyer we lease back from? We looked for any possible way we could at least stay for the school year.”
The landlord wanted to sell the house as quickly as possible and wouldn’t budge, so the Andersons started looking for another rental on the coast.
The prospects were grim.
“When we were looking, there were only five homes available for rent from Montara to San Gregorio with between two and four bedrooms,” said Anderson.
What little they could find was between $4,500 and $5,000 a month, way out of their price range.
“We just couldn’t in good conscious make that leap to $4,500 in rent, not to mention first month, last month and security deposit,” said Anderson. “That is 15 grand you’ve got to come up with to rent a home.”
By the end of February, it became clear that the family would have to move out of the area. Fortunately, Scott’s work as a fine artist was relatively portable. Catherine started looking for places where she already had connections in the community and could teach Pilates.
She had gone to high school in Texas and had a good friend who lived in a nearby community called Keller. They were able to find a 3,040-square-foot house with five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, for $2,400 a month. The schools were great; the community, safe. And there was a Pilates studio nearby desperate for more teachers.
The Andersons decided to make the move. Catherine was able to find someone local to buy her Pilates business, and they enrolled their younger children in the new elementary school.
But uprooting their two teenagers was more difficult. Cole was just months away from graduating with the class he’d been with since kindergarten. Grace was a competitive swimmer in the midst of swim season.
Fortunately, the Coastside community came through.
“We had friends approach us,” said Anderson. “They said they would be willing to keep our kids for as long as they wanted to stay. That speaks to the strength of this community. There are people willing to help.”
The Andersons decided to let their teens make the decision, and both opted to stay in Half Moon Bay. Cole lived with Rick and Jeanne Campbell, and Grace with Karen Ablard and Paul Rhodes, parents of her swim teammate Riley Rhodes.
At the time, it didn’t seem like a huge deal. The teens were busy and independent, very connected with their school and social lives outside the home. They were almost ready to fledge the nest. This was just a little earlier than planned.
“I didn’t really think it would be as hard as it’s been,” said Anderson. “They came out for spring break, and at that point we realized how much we missed living life together. I think it surprised our teenagers as much as us.”
After graduation, Cole will be moving to Keller to live at home and go to community college while he establishes residency to qualify for in-state college tuition.
Grace has one more year of high school and was on the fence for months, grappling with the decision to stay or go.
“Initially it seemed like an impossible idea to move my senior year,” she said. “But I realized over time that that’s what’s going to happen. Moving to Texas isn’t going to be easy, but being with my family is important.”
Grace is also looking forward to the much shorter commute to her new swim club, which is only about 15 minutes away. She has often spent 15 hours or more a week commuting to her club in Palo Alto.
“That is a lot of time in the car,” she said. “I’m sad to be leaving my team, but it will be cool to have a change and meet new people.”
The family is still adjusting to life in Texas. It is hot. The landscaping is neat and pretty, but carefully planned. There is no wild ocean or fog-shrouded mountain nearby.
There are lots of big-box stores and fast-food restaurants. Anderson has to satisfy her Pete’s Coffee fix by mail.
But life is also easier in their new home.
Things are cheaper (gas is $2.45 a gallon) and most things are only a 10- to 15-minute drive away. People are friendly, the schools are good, and the younger children are starting to settle in and make some friends.
“We are living life and doing OK, but I don’t feel like we’ve turned the corner and feel like this is home,” said Catherine Anderson. “It has been a good change based on what we were struggling with in Half Moon Bay. But as much as it was the right decision for us, it made me really sad to be part of the fabric of the community and have to choose to move away from that.”