Name, job, part of the San Francisco Bay Area you live in
Craig Ward, Sales Manager, Petaluma, North Bay
When did you first come to the Bay and what’s the backstory there?
First came to the US (via the UK) in 1991 following a girl. We travelled back and forth between San Rafael and Brisbane and eventually got married in the USA in 1993. We decided the best way to get ahead was to head back to Australia which we did and moved back to Brisbane. We lived there for 15 years where our 4 children were born and decided in 2008 to move back here where my wife could be near her family for a while as well as let our kids experience their mother’s country for a while. Fast forward 10 years and we are still here. However, at this stage we now have two children who have graduated college, 2 Tae Kwon Do black belts, one of which is now an instructor, and the other who has just graduated high school and not sure what direction he wants to go.
Hardest thing about moving here?
Leaving family and friends. Not being around for family milestones (ie birthdays and anniversaries of immediate family). Plus having my kids grow up here and not have their grandparents as a close part of their life. Yes, they Facetime and text but it’s not the same. More recently having my eldest son move back to Australia with a view of joining the Queensland Police Service and knowing I will potentially be missing out on some of his milestones.
Favorite Bay Area memory to date?
Too many to name. Living in Petaluma and being so close to the wine country and the microbrewery explosion is always a good time. And driving over the hill from Mill Valley and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and the City never grows old. Renewing our vows for our 20th anniversary at the same place we were married and my wife wearing her original wedding dress was a very special moment and we shared it with a lot of people who were at our wedding.
What impact has being Australian had on your life here? In dating? In work?
Being in sales it breaks down a lot of barriers in the work field as people just love hearing you talk and I think it gives you a level of trust that people accept. Dating never came into it as I’m still married to the girl I followed here over 25 years ago.
Most American thing you’ve experienced in your time here?
My wife has worked for a couple of companies in Petaluma who participate in the local parades and helping out in those (Butter and Eggs Day parade and Veterans Day) is always special. But I think the most American experience would have been becoming a citizen back in February. Over 1100 people received citizenship and it was a very emotional experience.
Best advice for anyone who is thinking of coming over?
Do it. For all the negative and bad press you hear it is a unique experience. Yes, the traffic bites and you might not be able to find a good meat pie but the things to do in California and especially the Bay Area are sensational. Nothing like going to a Baseball or Football game and taking in the hype and hoopla like in the US. Go to the Redwoods and wine country in the North Bay or head further north in the winter and go skiing in Tahoe. Take the scenic drive down Highway 1 and the spectacular scenery along the coast. Of course, there are all the attractions in LA and then San Diego is a short stop away. Or check out some of the best National Parks in the world, Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Alcatraz just to name a few. But most of all the people. The people are awesome. Don’t judge them all as loudmouth yanks but take the time and find out about them and their history whether they be from Finnish, Panamanian, English, Mexican or Australian backgrounds they are all here living their dream.