I'll add to that post that CA is probably no more "crazy" expensive than places near Boston or NYC.
There are really NICE places to live near San Francisco which are not awfully expensive, and San Francisco is a delightful place in every possible respect, IMO (weather is mild all year long, city has major league sports, world class arts organizations, museums, and fabulous youth opportunities abound in the area).
Further north, Portland is also
a very nice place to live. It lacks just one thing that most similarly-sized cities have, however-- major league sports. (Well, it does have basketball.) The arts opportunities there are somewhat reduced relative to some places, as well. But the quality of life there is excellent. Outdoor activities (beach, forest, mountain, river, etc) are amazingly affordable and accessible considering that Portland is a major metro area. There are four distinct seasons, winters are mild, summers are equally mild, and there is NO ragweed. None. But you do have to enjoy molds, and grass/tree pollen... and what they say about the rain? All true, I fear.
Anywhere on the west coast is going to feel shockingly
liberal (to the point of leftist, probably) in the cities, and astonishingly conservative (okay, pretty much "red-neck") in the less populous areas.
From a food allergy standpoint, we have Guittard chocolates going for us, but little else, I have to confess. WA state has some good school guidelines, but OR and CA both lag significantly, and both states have budget woes that mean that outside of a few bright spots, K-12 education is NOT very good here anymore. If I were choosing a spot on the west coast, I'd probably pick Vancouver, WA. It's just over the river from Portland, and is more affordable (and has those better WA regulations) and
access to all that Portland offers.