A Couple Decided to Swap Their Family Home in Pennsylvania for a California Rental. Which One Did They Choose?

Jennifer and Scott Adams fell in love with California in 2015, when their daughter began attending Pepperdine University in Malibu. The couple, who lived in West Chester, Pa., loved it so much that they floated the idea of following her there.

But their two younger children were still in school in Pennsylvania. And Mr. Adams, an executive director in cybersecurity for Comcast, was tied down by his job.

Then, in 2017, their middle son also left for Pepperdine. By 2021, their third child, a high school senior, was hoping to do the same.

The pandemic, too, had changed the landscape: Mr. Adams was largely working remotely and was free to move. What had once seemed a pipe dream — the sun and the proximity to the beach and, of course, to their children — began to feel as if it might be possible.

“There was nothing really keeping us in West Chester,” Ms. Adams said. “I was super excited to just do something new.”

They knew they wanted to live near Pepperdine, a college known for its picturesque spot on the Pacific Coast Highway. But they realized they would have to settle for a smaller space, at a higher price.

In Pennsylvania, the couple had a 2,400-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home with a two-car garage and a sizable yard that their dog loved to roam. Their mortgage payment was $2,600 a month. “We thought, are we going to be able to swing it?” Ms. Adams said. “That’s why we initially thought we would rent, and not buy.”

Renting was also appealing because it would give the family more time to explore neighborhoods in Southern California, they said, and they didn’t want to rush into buying a home.

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In April 2022, after more than two decades as homeowners, the couple put their house on the market. It sold for $742,500 — more than $100,000 above asking price — after drawing 15 offers. They began their search for a rental that same month, focusing on areas north of the university, including Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Oak Park and Thousand Oaks. Their middle son, Matthew, 23, was at law school, and planned to move in with them. Their youngest, Henry, 19, would be starting at Pepperdine, living on campus, that fall.

“We needed to be near Pepperdine,” Ms. Adams said, adding that other requirements included ample parking (the family has several cars), storage space and a yard. But they were open to apartments near a park where they could walk their dog. They also wanted at least three bedrooms, two bathrooms and enough space for Mr. Adams to work from home.

Among their options:

Find out what happened next by answering these two questions:

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