It seems nothing quite humbles like an honest look at expenditures. I ran a report in Quicken of our expenses over the last 12 months, to make a reasonable budget looking forward. Some expenses are certainly higher here in Southern California than they'll be where we're moving. (I must confess I was shocked to get an auto insurance quote that says our premiums will likely go UP by as much as 80%!). Overall, our expenses (the ones I couldn't pare down, or really can't assess until we arrive in our new place) are still perhaps 40% higher than I had been thinking.
Housing is the biggest factor. Our costs here are insane. We have been hoping we'll be able to find something affordable. If we're lucky a bank will overlook the fact that we will have no income soon (or, since Rocket is officially on leave, and thus still employed, maybe they'll consider her erstwhile income). In any case, looking over our budget, rather than having 2-3 years where we were hoping, it may be 18 months-2 years, and possibly looking someplace even cheaper. It's amazing to me how much housing costs vary from one place to another.
The relatively modest house we rent here would go for at least $500k, possibly $600k (even in today's depressed market). We had been thinking to move where $150k would buy us a nice place. Current considerations may push us down to the $100k range. I wish there were some alternative. I wish society weren't arranged to push many PhDs into poverty (lucky if they have a spouse who can earn a supportive income). I'm still bitter and disgusted by that. But I've made a choice to leave that path. Rocket has made a choice to take time off from her career (perhaps indefinitely).
That leaves us savings, and luck, and hope. I've got work to do. If I can maneuver these hurdles in short time and come up with rock-solid proofs-of-concept, perhaps I can push ahead with finding investors (and thus able to pay myself a salary). Understandably, I've been a bit distracted these past few weeks. And we've got a lot of logistics to deal with, assuming we're going to move this Spring or Summer.
We're still lucky. I know that. But knowing that doesn't solve the logistics, or make our choices any easier.