We lived in Manhasset, NY (on Long Island) for four years before we moved to Novato, Marin County, CA; and we have been very happy with our move since.
We have nice public schools, great weather (No digging out of the snow and mostly sunny days other than a couple winter months where there is rain), nice, safe, small town feeling, clean air, wonderful environment for the kids, tons of open space for hiking, biking, horseback riding, close to beach, national seashore, national parks, national forest and don't forget, 30 minutes ride to San Francisco... the list goes on and on.
Yes, people thought I was crazy - the earthquake - but you get northeaster, hurricanes, tornado, flooding and even earthquake at other parts of the country; so one place is not necessary less safe than other places. And yes, you can earthquake proof your house and buy earth quake insurance, just in case.
I just made a slide show about Mt. Burcell, Novato on YouTube (see link below). Check out one of our open space.
Marin, Sonoma County
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
I live in Brentwood and born in raise in the SF Bay Area. Don't sweat the earthquakes (bark is worse than the bite). People in Caly feel the same way about tornadoes and such - it's just a fear of the unknown.
As far as work, it depends on what it is you do. What is it that you do? Perhaps find a job first, than move unless you can do it the other way around.
Feel free to email me any questions.