Lived in MN, MT, NorCal, Australia. Live in Socal.
Love this discussion.
Writing this from Minnesota while visiting family for the first time in years. Lived in California since the late '90's, Socal since early 2000's.
Minnesota is super cheap. People are nice. No traffic. Easy to buy a house here and have space and a garage. Weather is wretched. I went to Duluth to visit the Aerostich store a few days ago. It was in the low forties, and blowing rain. Sideways. Makes sense they manufacture suits you wear over your normal clothes. Plus deer jump at you randomly in MN.
Talked to a small motorcycle shop owner in Mankato where I'm from. Asked him about the riding here, thinking it would be awesome. There's not 40 million people here like CA right? Do whatever you want.
His two main points were that the winter is horrible, unrideable, and you can't really ride dirt in the country anymore. No matter where you go, there are houses. All private land. You have to pay to play here. All the land is usable, so people have built on it already.
Thing about where I live in San Diego, it's within a 12 degree average range of 70 degrees all year round. T shirt during the day, light sweater at night. No bugs. Plus you can surf and go to the beach. Ride all year round.
Twisty canyons. Hundreds of thousands of BLM land acreage of unusable land (to build a house in) to the east. I ride in the desert and/or mountains semi frequently. That's about an hour from where I live at the coast-at most. Totally empty of people. Lot of motorcycle industry out here. It's not a mistake. Mex next door.
Yes, it's expensive. Trust me, I know. Houses where I'm from are $80,000-$200,000. Super cheap. In SD, it's double or triple that. That is because there are a lot of people out in CA.
The flip side is that a lot of people = a lot of opportunity. You can do well here, just plan on owning a business or already being well established in whatever it is you do. There are more people here that can do business with you and hand you more money than in less populated states, provided you give them enough value in whatever it is you do.
ALSO. Lane splitting. Yep, it makes a difference. I don't care what you guys say. Saves me many hours per week on my commute. I see guys sweltering in the heat in other states, stuck in traffic just sitting, and it doesn't make sense to me. Motorcycles are skinny. They fit between cars. Why wouldn't you go in between? Saves time, gas, and makes traffic flow better. No reason not to.
I love riding year round, and riding cost/mountains/desert/urban city all in the same day.
Socal is where it's at.