People love San Francisco. There’s the great food, the proximity to wine country, and a general lack of snow. San Francisco has a rich heritage of counter culture, dreamers, homosexual poets, hippies, hipsters, and yuppies. Yes, I said it: yuppies. Not that yuppies are inherently bad. Okay, yuppies are inherently bad, but having a few bad apples around helps remind you how good the good apples really are. Having a lot of bad apples, though, means that you just have a lot of bad apples.
I’ve lived in the Bay Area for almost 30 years, San Francisco for six, and never before have I seen things get so bad and desperate. In a time when most regional US economies are not producing enough jobs, the Bay Area seems to have done the opposite. We have overproduced jobs to the point where there is no more housing for all the people who are coming here to fill those jobs. It has gotten so bad that I have begun looking for jobs elsewhere, in places where it might snow even, because I cannot afford to live here anymore. But I can’t find jobs in tech, outside of the few core hubs, that pay a competitive salary or match my level of skills and seniority. What I do find on sites like Craigslist are companies posting in other regions ads that beg developers to COME TO SAN FRANCISCO.
Well, here’s a news flash for all those employers. About fifteen years ago broadband Internet became a thing for middle class consumers. You do not need to bring any more warm bodies into your offices to create synergy. Those warm coding bodies would be happy to take 80% of what you’re offering an on-site employee and quietly code at home in Denver or Minneapolis or damn near anywhere else you can think of. And they will be more efficient, because the last thing you ever want your software engineer doing when they’re hacking on your core product offering is worrying about the increasingly realistic possibility that they may be homeless while earning a low six-figure salary, because a low six figure salary will not pay for a modest apartment in San Francisco these days.
And if you’re a programmer on the outside of Babylon looking in, dreaming of taco trucks, cheap cabernet, and enlightened free spiritedness, think twice. The people who are making what elsewhere would be very generous salaries by moving here are subsidizing their lifestyles. They’re going into debt, living off of trust funds, or growing weed in their closet. No one here has a retirement fund.
Maybe this is where the VCs are. Maybe this is where the intellectual ferment of the digital age starts, but it doesn’t have to end at the edges of the Bay, or even at the city limits of (gasp) Oakland. You can take it home. You can tell that VC that you’re going to start your company in your home town and save tons of their capital in the process. You can create jobs in your community. And if all you want is a job, you can tell Robollox or whomever is poaching for talent in your community that you would love to join their development team and you’d be happy to fly in once a month for the requisite face time, but you would rather rot in Hades than to give all of what should be your discretionary income to a scum sucking absentee landlord in the most screwed up housing market in these United States of America. Please, take those companies jobs and money, but also, please don’t come here. There is nowhere to live here. There are people renting tents in their back yards for $1,000 a month. There are people renting those tents. You will pretend to have fun for a while even though you will have no time or money to enjoy this once fabulous city. Then you will get sick of all of it and leave. The actually fun people can’t afford to live here anymore. The ones left, the odd indigenous San Franciscan excepted, are the die hard core of uptight yuppie scum who enjoy the smell of their own farts and will pay infinite amounts of rent for the status of having the correct zip code.
Move here at your own peril. I recommend an all out boycott. San Francisco has ceased to be livable and no one can afford flowers to wear in their hair.