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Working in technology and having fallen into a few profitable industries over the course of my career, I am not too worried about finding another lucrative job in CA... But I've been thinking more and more about not doing that...

I was in engineering, burned out, took a break. Could've gone back after 4 to 6 months, but after a year, then 2, it was really too late. I forgot a lot of what I knew because I wasn't using it every day, and of course I wasn't keeping up with the latest codes and software. Now it's been over 5 years, and "took a break" means "retired." Luckily, financially I could do that and just putter around the house and read library books.

I don’t think a year (or whatever) of unemployment, considering a cross-country move and an aging parent to tend to, would be too much of a black mark on my resume.

I think a year would be too long. If you want to keep open the option of staying in your field, then after 4 months max get something very part-time, at least one day per week, if possible. That would leave you time to work in a nursery or bike shop, while keeping your existing hard-won skills up and providing a better hourly income than what you'd get otherwise.

Congrats on your marriage, and good luck with your move to "the Best Coast" (as my California DD calls it), with property management, and with elder care.
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