"And I'm telling you....I'm not going.
This is the best state I've ever known,
There's no way I would ever go
No, no, no, no, no way
No way I'm leaving ..."
When there is an earthquake, and it wipes out LA or SF, "don't worry be happy" might not cut it.
Anyway, I live in SF for the last 7 years, and it's pretty good, although once you live there for awhile it's just like anywhere else really... but I plan to move to Chicago when I buy next year, which is also pretty good, and with the $12-14 k in state income tax I will save per year, I can pay for some pretty nice vacations.
But the reason you got all these type of non answers, is because these are the answers you generally get from people who generally think CA is the greatest. But yes the weather is nice.
If an earthquake were to completely level the improvements (ie the building) on your property, then you could always clean up the rubble, rezone your property, and resale your property to a developer--perhaps for a profit.
You can pick your poison with most of the attractive places to live in the country and world.
And the list goes on and on.........
I often wonder, what is the safest location?
If you were my client I could attempt to quantify your question and reduce it to a risk algorithm, but at the end of the analysis it's an emotional decision for you. "Can I sleep at night as a result of this decision?," is how a very successful real estate investor described his final gut check to me.
CUT TO THE CHASE:
In all candor, I suggest that your most logical answer is to keep renting locally and make an investment elsewhere. Then you are avoiding the uncertainty of a local purchase.
However, you may be shifting the uncertainty to a different investment of different location with a different set of uncertainties. It's why securities investors diversify their investments, why venture capitalists put 10-20 start ups into a portfolio, why we were told as children not to put all our eggs into one basket.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I make most of my living on the commissions from buying an selling properties, and some of my income on development, so what I just suggested doesn't make me a penny, but if you were my client I would have a fiduciary responsibility to help you understand and evaluate your choices. At the end of the day, you have to make your own decision, but at least you can sleep with it.
I'd appreciate the opportunity to help you reach that decision
I have lived in Alameda all my life. I am over 50. In my lifetime the 1989 earthquake was the worst and scared me a little bit. I have to say that we had very minimal damage in Alameda. Some Chimneys cracked, some buckling of sidewalks behind the tube and some on the Nava Air Station. Some pools in condo complexes had cracks and elevators had some problems. We led a fairly normal life compared to the other surrounding cities. All utilities remained working. When I went to the dentist is Oakland a few months later, I took the stairs and there were very large cracks in the walls. Yes the Bay Bridge and freeway collapsed which was a tragedy. If one listens to the news, many states throughout the US were in the state of emergency status because of floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. More than once in a year these states had to rebuild. I will take my chances here in Alameda anytime. Most do not have earthquake insurance because it is too costly and the deductible is so high that each homeowner will probably not get enough money to replace their home anyway.
Perhaps this is way late in answering your question regarding the Earthquakes issue and buying in California, however late, here are my thoughts,.
Earthquake, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, twisters, avalanches, landslides, floods, too many natural disasters to name.
How about urban problems, murders, rapes, robberies, etc, etc. Shall we go on?
Bad stuff happens. Where is one to live?
Yes, we may have earthquakes in California. But, California, is not the only place that natural disasters can occur.
You have too many fears. Get over them. Live life because it's fun, not because you need insurance against what could 'possibly' happen.
If you want to live in California, do it. We may not have an earthquate for another 150 years, ha, ha, hahaha!
There are so many of us that enjoy the sheer pleasure of this great state. I've lived in the Bay Area (yes, on the San Andreas fault) since 1947. OMG, that sounds so frigging long! I assure you that I do not live in fear.
Be brave. Come and join us. Sometimes the quality of life is more important than a good investment.
OBTW: Bureaucrats do not dictate natural disasters.
Firstly, I am a full time Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Cupertino.
But, I am also a Public Safety Commissioner with the City of Cupertino. I teach Earthquake Preparedness as a volunteer with the Office of Emergency Services- City of Cupertino. YES, i understand where you are coming from. I came to CA from Sydney, Australia.When I arrived here, i heard all about the constant earthquakes CA experiences, and that its only time before we will experience a "big one!". We came here with the job, and planned to settle here with our kids. So,practically for me, since I wasnt going to be able to control an earthquake, the next best thing was to be fully, as best as possible, be prepared to go thru the "big one!" So thats what i did...........contacted the OES in Cupertino, to renew my First Aid and CPR certificates, learnt all about other trainig, prep for earthquakes i could take....and one thing led to another......and now I teach in classes and in neighborhoods as a volunteer.
It makes sense buying, as for me, personally, Renting is "dead money" . I bought in 2 months of landing here as i wasnt going to rent and pay someone elses mortgage for them! Just a choice you make in the area you live and work in, practical, as you have to "live your life" without being scared. Yes it could be an earthquake that flattens my home, or then a freak accident like when that plane landed on a home just a week ago!
If nature wants to throw you a challenge, lets deal with it when it comes. Meanwhile, dont worry, be happy :O)
Most homes in CA are retrofitted for earthquakes, they can shift/sway and settle back in, you will be fine!
You can always get a property that is 1/4 mile away fro a fault line!
If you need to talk things through, give me a call, lets catch a coffee and lets talk earthquakes and Real Estate. Meanwhile, be well and safe,
If you don't mind, l have a question I'd like to ask you on your Blog.
I wish you well...
"I'm just wondering if there's a rational, non-emotional analysis where [buying in earthquake country] makes sense."
Here is what I mean by "rational analysis"...
"Yes there's a risk, but it can be measured [insert statistics and sources]. Compared to other investment options that's not so bad."
"Yes there's a risk, but you can mitigate it by doing XXX and YYY."
"There's a risk, it's unmeasurable, and realistically there's no way to mitigate it. If you buy in CA you take your chances."
To me this is a purely economic decision which I'd like to make as rationally and logically as possible. Imagine that Mr Spock were asking the question. As first officer on a Starship he makes about $80,000 a year. He has about $90,000 in savings.
He's looking to buy his first house and is considering California's Bay Area because Starfleet Command is headquartered in San Francisco. But on the other hand, he's not a big risk taker. And doesn't mind renting or buying outside the Bay Area if that makes more sense logically.
Don't bother accusing Spock of being "scared" or "judgemental" or anything else because he's Mr Spock! He simply doesn't care.
I believe you are correct,. the people who are judgmental on purchasing a home is because of fear. They usually do not have the money or credit to purchase and would rather judge. If the public wants to continue renting instead of purchasing (and this is tihe time to buy) then let them. They are losing out on great opportunities right now and the landlords are coming out ahead by letting them pay for their mortgages.