Last December, my husband and I moved to Beckley from Hermosa Beach, Calif. When I explain to those in the community our situation, the first question they always ask is, “Why would you want to move here?”

Well, I thought I would take a minute and explain why Beckley is so awesome. (Sorry. I’m an ’80s child.)

First, the clean air. The morning I was supposed to move from California, a friend and I were supposed to go walking on the beach, but the air pollution from both smog and the wildfires made breathing very difficult (and not healthy). It is refreshing to step outside my door every morning and breathe the clean, crisp, fresh air.

Second, traffic – or no traffic. One time when going to a Dodger game (only 28 miles), we sat in traffic for 4.5 hours. When I tell folks about that around here, they tell me you could be in Washington D.C., in that amount of time. Traffic in LA was terrible. We called it the 405 due to the fact it might take you “4 or 5 hours” to get to your destination.

Third, the people. Overwhelmingly, everyone we have met here has been warm, friendly and welcoming, and while there are wonderful people in California, too, West Virginians are beyond amiable and hospitable. That fact, coupled with the deep generational roots in the community, make it a great place to live.

Fourth, the topography. Wow! After driving cross country, the natural beauty of West Virginia was hard to deny compared with the other states. It truly lives up to its nickname of “Wild and Wonderful.”

Fifth, the cost of living. Homes that would start at 600K-800K in California are available here for 75K-80K, and $35-$40 meals in California easily run $10-$15 here.

I know we have only been here two to three months, but as an outsider coming in with fresh eyes, Beckley and its surrounding communities are incredible places to live.

Thank you for being so welcoming to a bunch of former SoCal residents!

Michelle Browne

Mount Hope

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