Moving to California and Starting a New Job

Big changes are in store for our family. We’re moving from Utah to California, and I’m starting a new job in Redwood City (which is in the San Francisco Bay area) at a company called Badgeville.

Badgeville is one of the leading companies in gamification, which is the practice of incorporating game dynamics and techniques into non-game settings to influence user behavior.

Our New Adventure

I’m really excited about the new adventures and opportunities ahead. Next Friday we’ll be loading up a moving truck and rolling out west towards the Pacific Ocean (crossing through the deserts of Nevada). I’ll be driving a 16-foot moving truck with a car trailer on back through the urban streets of California.

Tip: If you’re looking for moving vans, check out They’re one of the top long distance full-service moving companies.

I had a good experience working for the LDS Church during the past five years. Mainly, I loved the freedom and flexibility to do virtually anything I wanted. That freedom fit well with my innovative, creative mindset. I was able to write and explore topics freely on my blog, and try out new ideas. Badgeville will no doubt invite new challenges and topics to write about, new territory to explore.

I’m also excited to move to the San Francisco Bay area. I’ve been wanting to transition out there for the past two years, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity. The market for technical writers seems pretty strong there. I had a positive reaction at just about every place I interviewed.

I’m planning to move to San Jose and ride the Caltrain north to Redwood City. If you’re a local to the area and have tips you want to share, let me know. Since I have a wife and four young daughters, I’m looking for a family-friendly neighborhood.

While looking for a job, I realized a lot of things, which I’ll no doubt elaborate on in an upcoming post. If there’s one key point, it’s this: your connections are your greatest asset in a job search. But by connections, I don’t mean vague names on Linkedin that you don’t actually know. I mean people you interact with online or in person.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  • Sarah Maddox

    Hallo Tom
    Wow, that’s big news indeed. I’ve visited Badgeville’s website quite a few times, because of my interest in gamification. It looks like a great place to work. Best of luck with the move, and congratulations!
    Cheers, Sarah

  • N. Pomeroy

    Hi, Tom.
    We don’t really know each other, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while and was subscribed to your podcast for a while as well.
    I lived in San Jose and worked in Silicon Valley from 2000-2009 after I moved there from Springville UT. I have some experience with the Valley. Drop me a line if you’d like to chat.
    Believe it or not we’re “2nd” apart on LinkedIn. I’ve sent you a note there too.

  • Vinish Garg

    Congratulations Tom!
    I wish you and family settles down well at new place, and pretty quickly too.

    Your blog posts over last few years had been awesome. I foresee that this new job adds another dimension to your professional self and you continue to share your knowledge and experience with the tech comm community/


  • Bobbi

    So pleased for you Tom! I know it will be a great move for you and your family. Looking forward to hearing all about your jouney!!

  • David Farbey

    Hi Tom,

    I want to wish you and your family all the very best for your big move.


  • Brett Hinton


    Best wishes in the move to California and with the new job.

  • Neal

    Congrats, Tom! It sounds like an exciting move for multiple reasons, and gamification is a really interesting (and growing) field. We’ll have to have lunch sometime.

  • Danielle M. Villegas

    Congrats, Tom! It’s a big step, but it sounds like a fantastic opportunity for you and your family. I slightly envy your ability to be able to get up and go. My son’s autism prevents us from making such a move simply because we are afraid of switching school districts, no matter where he is, unless it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. I have no doubt that you will knock their socks off at Badgeville!

  • Susan

    Good luck on your family’s move to San Jose and starting a new job! If I had known you were looking for a job in the Bay Area, I’d have told you there were several openings for a tech writer at Google in Mountain View!

    My family (I have two daughters) just moved back to the Bay Area after a decade in Shanghai! Bay Area is a very nice place to live. Weather is nice most of the time and there’s plenty of family friendly places and activities. You’ll also find a very diverse and International crowd here. The only not so great thing is the cost of living and real estate but aside from that, it’s a great place!

  • Rachael Sarah Williams

    Congrats, Tom! This is great news. I look forward to updates, both on the everyday living front and on the tech comm front. Hope your move is safe and uneventful. :-)

  • Dave Egyes

    Good luck, Tom, in your new position at Badgeville, and in moving out your family. Best wishes for your continuing success!

  • Becky Siebenthaler

    Tom, I’m very happy for you – I know you and your family will have a great time creating the next segment of your lives. Good luck with that trailer! (Sounds like a treasure trove of ideas for your writing ventures to me.)

  • Laurie Nylund

    I’m happy for you, your new job, and the big move. I’m sorry to hear that you are leaving so soon, because as a resident of Sandy, I was hoping there would be an opportunity to meet you in person one day. I enjoy your blog very much.

    Perhaps you will be back to visit, in which case, let me know and I would be happy to buy you lunch and chat one day at some place you might miss after living in California. Moochies, maybe?

  • Larry Kunz

    Congratulations, Tom! Badgeville is lucky to have you, and you’re moving to a terrific area. I look forward to reading your blog posts as you settle in.

  • Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Congratulations, Tom. What an adventure awaits you and your family. I look forward to hearing what you blog about I’m the coming months.

  • Alistair Christie

    Congratulations Tom. Sounds like a great move. Hope the truck journey goes smoothly.

  • Mark Baker

    Congratulations, Tom.

    The journey you describe as echos of the Grapes of Wrath, though I trust it will end better.

  •!/vinokoor Gil Vinokoor

    Good for you, Tom!

    It takes guts and courage to leave a place where you had a good thing going, not to mention moving to a different city/state with a wife and four girls!

    It’ll be interesting to see how your work in THE high-tech center of the world, at a Web 2.0 company, will affect what you write and muse about. :)

    Good luck and godspeed!

  • Gary Carson

    Awesome news, Tom. Glad things worked out! Hope the family are happy with the move as well. :)

  • Jeff Coatsworth

    Congrats Tom! I remember reading a bit about gamification on another tech comm blog I follow – I Came, I Saw, I Learned – ( and (

    Looks like a very interesting area & a bit of a change from writing about church software to something that has application to the e-learning and tech comm worlds.

  • Oded

    Congratulations Tom, and good luck with your journey!

    I must admit that the American scale never ceases to amaze me. We had recently had to move following my wife’s new job. We left Jerusalem for a city nearer to Tel-Aviv. It felt like a big move for us, both practically speaking and culturally. Yet it was merely an hour’s drive.

  • Eileen Bator

    Congratulations on the new job! Sounds like the job hunting was relatively easy – lots of interviews, and fast turnaround. Glad it wasn’t too painful for you.

    I look forward to reading your blog entries from CA. You’ll be moving us all into a new realm of possibilities.

  • Ann Adams

    Congratulations on the new job and welcome to the Bay Area.

  • Lopa

    Congratulations, Tom! Great news!

  • Eileen Potter

    Fabulous news Tom!
    I’m sure Badgeville will be surprised by the bump in their web stats. (Had to check out the company – looks like a great opportunity for you!)

    May your move go smoothly (or at least, minimal bumps) and thanks for the great posts over the years.


  • Leigh White

    Hi Tom,
    As a long-time follower of IRBW, I wish you the very best of luck and am eager to see what new topics you find to share with us!

  • Karen

    Congratulations, Tom! Sounds a great opportunity and a fun job.

    I’m a California girl myself (born and raised in San Diego). My husband and I moved to Arizona four years ago and we love it. I don’t know your background, but if you and your wife are Utah born and raised, you’ll no doubt experience a LOT of culture shock. I’m sure you’ll handle that, should you encounter it, with aplomb however.

    When you get settled, please keep posting, and let us know how your overall adjustment is going. Best wishes,

  • Peggy Harvey

    Congratulations, Tom! Glad you found a new place that will suit you and you’re taking the opportunity to voluntarily relocate where you want to go. As a native (southern) Californian I hope you and your family enjoy all that California has to offer.

    Good luck with the drive, though Utah to California shouldn’t be too bad. When we moved from CA to NC my husband drove a 26-ft. truck with a car trailer so I can relate to that. It was a 5.5-day “adventure” for us; hopefully yours will be much shorter. We didn’t have kids at the time but I had our dog and cat in the car with me, that was an adventure in itself!

  • Rich Haddock

    Congrats on the new position, we’ll miss you on Mondays and Thursdays.

  • Connie Giordano

    Great news for you and your family. I knew you’d land on your feet, and look forward to hearing more about gamification. Congrats

  • Scott


    Congratulations on the new job and on the move. Hope the move itself went well. I can’t imagine driving a 16-foot moving truck, let alone through city streets!

    I know you’ll keep the world updated about how the jobs is going through this blog. Looking forward to reading about your adventures in California!

  • Glenn

    Hi Tom, you will have to change the name of your blog – to idratherbewritingbythebeach! Lovely place, the SF area. Good place to be TWing. Hadn’t realized Utah and Northern Cal were on the same latitude. Hope you can keep up your excellent blog in your new town. I know some good folks up in Redwood City who might give you some good tips for living in family friendly neighbourhoods. – All the best. Glenn

  • Richard Rabil, Jr.

    That’s great news. Congrats! Badgeville sounds pretty awesome. Opower, the company I work for, uses them for its Social product (

    p.s. I hope to meet you at the upcoming MadWorld conference.

  • Swapnil Ogale

    Hi Tom,

    I’ve followed your TW journey through your blog for a larger part of the last 7 years (since I started working as a TW myself).

    Congratulations on your new role and all the best with the move.

    No doubt, we’d all love to keep reading on your experiences with the new company and Tech Writing.


  • Krista

    Welcome to the south bay! I was born and raised here and can’t imagine existing anywhere else. I’ve really dug working as a manufacturing tech writer here, as it seems there’s a lot of work to be done for high tech stuff that can’t be built overseas.

    Things are pricey here, but to me at least, it’s worth it for what you have access to. Pretty much anywhere in the south and west bay areas are good for raising a family. Downtown, north, and east are on the sketchy side.

    For fun, The Tech in downtown is great for kids, and try to find your way to at least one Sharks game. If you’re outdoorsy, pick a mountain and you’ll find plenty of parks and trails. For noms, let Yelp be your guide. We are awash in great food, and our cultural makeup means we have whatever you’re looking for.

  • Tom Johnson

    I wanted to thank everyone who commented on this post and expressed congratulations and other advice. Through this post, I corresponded with a handful of people via email who gave me great tips and advice on the best family-friendly neighborhoods to live in the San Jose area. This advice was particularly helpful, since the area is so large with many different cities and neighborhoods.

    We made the move without any incidents, and managed to find a home in Santa Clara (which is right next to San Jose on the peninsula). As many people noted, housing is quite expensive here, but it’s also competitive, especially when you have four kids (since people are wary of renting to such a large family). But the house we found is perfect, with a backyard and proximity to the Caltrain.

    Again, thanks for adding your comments on this article. It’s great to have so much support.

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  • Denver moving

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  • Arnold Burian

    Congrats on the new gig, Tom!

    • Tom Johnson

      Thanks Arnold. I hope things are going well in Chicago.