Ayrton De Craene
Ayrton De CraeneCode @ Clearbit

I work in tech. Is living in San Francisco worth it?

I'm currently working remotely for a company located in San Francisco. They offer the option to relocate to the city and are willing to offer assistance to do so. What is it like to live in San Francisco?
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@ayrton In several cases (esp junior positions) it might not pay off financially - but the experience is what makes it worth Imo every year here counts for 3 at home. But it's often the teams you work with. Working remote w/ SF teams is often a good alternative (as you know :P) In general i would recommend it everyone working in tech. But don't come here for "living", come here for experience and work. Esp in your early 20s it's something i'd recommend. The experience is most likely career defining. I would not recommend it in your mid-30s. Everyone of your friends at home will get married and you will have to fly back and forth every other month… i am not complaining… but honestly… flying in for Sally? I barely know her… it's a 12h flight… geez. Anyway… overall: yes. Good alternative: Work remote for kick-ass teams.
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@ayrton I haven’t spent enough time in San Francisco, but here are few things I definitely noticed when visiting. 1. Your outlook on San Francisco will depend a lot on where you come from. I am from a very safe and clean city in Europe and seeing all the poverty and crime on the streets of SF was a bit a shock for me at first. After a while I got used it though and it didn’t bother me that much. Unlike other cities, I felt that in SF for example homeless people are just a regular part of a community and they get involved a lot which I think is a very good thing. 2. Everything is very expensive - 2 days ago, I paid $23 for a standard burger with french fries in a normal bistro-type restaurant. Enough said 3. Weather is great - many people will actually tell you the opposite, but when compared to constantly gloomy cities like London etc, SF’s weather is really really good. 4. very walkable - I currently live in San Diego and while I really love the city, the one thing I hate is the need of using a car all the time. In San Francisco, it is totally opposite. The transport system might not be as good as in NYC, London, etc but it is still pretty usable + city is so small you are able to get anywhere by your own. 5. TECH is everywhere - this can be either positive or negative. You go to a coffee store and hear people talking about their new startup ideas, which is amazing and I feel it pushes you forward with your goals. On the other side, you are also living in a tech bubble and I can image it might get very tiring after a while.
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@ayrton I live here in SF, I love it and will not move away. That being said, there are a few pros and cons I haven't seen mentioned yet... PROS: * Networking is a breeze * When/if you become a founder, living here lends credibility and allows you to raise easily, even after moving home * You can charge more on Toptal by being here, instantly. * The pace of change is quicker here, and the community breathes new technologies * Rent is insane, but you can find a good place if you network enough. It's about knowing the system, so be sure to hook up with a local to give you good advice. I for one would be happy to help. I have a tiny place with a private backyard for under $2k in SF. * If you are queer/kinky/poly, there is not a more welcoming place to be CONS: * The volume of homelessness makes you apathetic. I found myself stepping over someone who could have been dead, and the fact that I was too afraid to stop and check rocked me to my core. If you truly care about the homeless, this will break your heart. * It's not so bad for me, because I'm female, but I hear the drinking culture can be brutal if you're in recovery. My advice if you're in recovery is take up yoga. The "My body is a temple" excuse flies a lot better than the "I don't drink" lengthy explanation. Sad, but true. * Being in tech, you are openly resented. If you don't dress like a typical tech bro, you hear the gripes of locals all the time. And to be fair, they do have lots to complain about. The high tech salaries mean that apartment prices have driven them out of their homes. And tech bros act arrogant and unaware of what native San Franciscans have sacrificed for the tech boom. Overall, I believe the pros outweigh the cons. Also, you don't have to stay here forever if you don't like it. Embrace the SF adventure while you have the opportunity! :)
@ayrton @kikischirr this was an excellent and concise explanation of living in SF! Regarding homelessness, are there any good nonprofits to volunteer/donate to?
@ayrton @kevinbryantlou sorry, just saw this reply! My choice has always been the SF/Marin Foodbank, which does great work, and beyond that I would have to do some research. I think someone tweeted some resources the other day, so I'll see if I can dig up that tweet!
@ayrton @kevinbryantlou She suggested SFMarin, Hack the Hood, and Lava Mae, which I hadn't heard of, but sounds awesome!
@ayrton Was totally worth it for me, but that was nearly 20 years ago. The cost to reward ratio had changed a lot. Working remotely for a SF company is great but being in the room, city, bay area is not something that translates well to a virtual experience. Given the immigration policies these days, it is likely to be a short term transfer, as long as you into it with the right expectations, try to get as much out of the situation as you can it should still be a positive thing. The only other thing is mention is that if you do move, don't work too much, there is a lot to see in the USA, easiest to do it while you're here. Even if you decide you don't like SF there are lots of other cities you might like. I now live on the East coast 😁
@ayrton As someone who was working remotely and then moved to SF, much like your situation, I'd give the following insight. It was some of the best years spent in a city + I was in my 20s (also it was much cheaper in 2008). I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking to make connections, find other people with a similar mindset and willingness to put off certain stations in life, if nothing more, to be around other people that have made the same or similar decision. Also, only move there if you have above and beyond the money you need this will help to properly take advantage of SF, there's so much it offers. Trust me, you want to be able to do all of the awesome things that come up while living there. Otherwise, find a nice city nearish and travel up when you can and maybe if there's something cool going in which you'd like to participate.
@ayrton Like mostly anything else, living in SF is what you make of it. I moved to SF in 2014 to join a series A startup as the director of marketing and stayed until early 2016. I don't know what your personal situation is, but it's worth factoring into your decision. I'm married, so we had two incomes to combine which makes it easier than what I'd imagine it'd be for a single person with a more junior role and salary. That said, SF was a career-defining step for me. It opened a lot of doors and enabled me to launch my marketing studio that caters specifically to startups. But ultimately, SF wasn't what I'd hoped it would be in terms of day-to-day life so we left after two years. The city is really exciting if you love tech and startups like I do but it can also be exhausting and expensive. Michal is right in that it's 24/7 startups and even if you're passionate about it, it can start to get old after awhile. He is also right about the homelessness. I'll add to that... on three separate occasions, I had a homeless person get really aggressive with me when I was minding my own business. I feel for their situation but when you don't feel safe walking by yourself or taking a bus, and you're tired of train stations that are way fouler than in most other cities... it can wear you down day after day. It did for me. Many of the people I know from my time there have since moved away to cheaper pastures. And we're talking only a few years ago. Life in a 7x7 city where everything costs an arm and a leg wears on you. The lowest price to buy a condo in my neighborhood was $1.7m. So, I don't think it's unusual to go for a few years and move on to a new chapter. I think whether it's worth moving to SF really depends on what you're looking for from your lifestyle and what you want that move to do for your career. There are many more awesome remote jobs today than there were even a few years ago that can enable you to get killer experience on your resume without the stress of SF cost of living. But there is something to be said for the life experience of going there and being at the center of it all, if you can make the numbers work. You'll learn a lot. Maybe you will love it, maybe you won't and you'll leave after a few years.
@ayrton Do it... moving home is always easier and you can come up with your own answer to this question. I moved out 6 years ago, learned a lot, met a lot of people and just moved back to Cle. I believe if you are in tech, and have the opportunity to live in SF, do it and if it is not for you, you can always move back.
@ayrton After 10 years [2007-2017], I'm looking to move to Europe... SF is interesting, great city, close to the water and mountains, plenty to do [even though that's definitely on the decrease over the last 10 yrs], losing a lot of it's creativity [especially in the arts/music/etc department due to the very high cost of living], a bit too full of itself in the tech arena - yes I know Silicon Valley is here but it could learn from its mistakes and the negative that it is creating which it seems to want to sweep under the rug more than admit to/learn from. It's something worth doing if you are paid well which means by yourself - anywhere north of 80k [unless you have no ability to be frugal] you will be fine and can put money aside most months for sure. Best of luck either way you decide to go...
@ayrton check out the availability and rents first. If you can buy, again check on the prices. Don't think you can commute from nearby cities. The rents and prices for any suburb all the way south past San Jose/Fremont/Milpitas, West past Pleasanton, North over the GG Bridge and past San Rafael are out of control and so are house/condo prices. If you can afford the nosebleed pricing its a great city for younger people. Everybody wants to live there. If you can share an apartment then the options are a bit more but then roommates...Oh, I forgot the less than satisfactory public transport and the freeways :). expect parking lots.
@ayrton Go for it. The only one who can limit what you will experience is you. With no disrespect, whatever I did in the bay area gave 4x to 10x what I did in Sweden. Execution is faster, people who matter are around the corner and accessible, a lot of events and activities about everything, networking is easy and fairly full of mutual respect, and there are a lot of nice food places too. You have 2 options and both are equally good. Moving over full time or continuing working remotely but visiting several times per year (a month stay / visit). Just be social and grap all opportunities to meet new people and attend event. Good luck!
@ayrton I never felt unsafe while exploring San Francisco during the summer, and the few times the MUNI broke down and I had to deal with the consequent chaos and confusion, I felt generally safe even late at night as long as I stuck with the commuter crowd.
@ayrton Working remotely for an SF company is the dream most of us strive for! Don't move to SF unless you're young and willing to live the life style of a college student forever. Sure, SF has lots of Clubs, sites to see, great restaurants, hackathons, decent cafes and lots of social events, great conferences and you'll be at the center of alot of exciting tech events. But, if you ever, ever, ever decide to have a family, you're going to deeply regret moving to SF. It's impossible to buy a house and rent is insane. You'll pay 5 times more property taxes than your neighbor. Your salary will be cut nearly in half by taxes (currently 30-40%) for a senior software engineer. A tiny 1 bedroom (600 sq feet) in SOMA costs 3600$ a month to rent and about 700K to buy. Sure, you can find some cheaper stuff in the ghetto, if you don't mind being surrounded by crime and homelessness, and drugs.
@ayrton if you want to move up the ladder and feel you can move up the ladder, then yes. Or if you are a strartup founder and have a good chance to get funded. Otherwise, even the most generous dev salary doesn't cover the differences
@ayrton This town is awesome. I've had a blast meeting new friends and wasting my hard earned tech money on $15 cocktails. I'm being completely serious when I say this town is fantastic.
@ayrton Raised in the Bay, lived all over and now back in downtown SF. There are huge problems as others have mentioned so if you're here to help solve those so SF can be a blueprint, it's the place to be. If you're just out to make $, go somewhere else as it's expensive here and we have enough of that here.
@ayrton It would depend on your financial situation, the potential to grow that financial position, and where you fit along the political/cultural spectrum. You need non-mainstream tolerance levels monetarily and culturally to enjoy it full-time. It's a beautiful place, no doubt. And not to worry about earthquakes constantly.
@ayrton One guy move from SF to Kiev, Ukraine where he bootstraps new startup. if you want, I can find more information. Why(from his words): _ cheap _ cool city _ big pool of young talents _ big pool of senior engineers too maybe it's not about your question
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