Why I Can’t Continue Living in San Francisco

September 16, 2014

I’ve been plotting my escape for months now, almost since I arrived. It’s ironic, really, since I had espoused San Francisco and bigger cities as decent places to get out of debt. Not so much for their expensive options, but for the fact there are cheaper opportunities available, if you’re willing to overlook societal expectations.

For a time in my life, I was willing to do that. I still am, to a certain extent, as I’m not exactly laying down roots and settling into an office chair. And don’t get me wrong: I love this city. Beautiful weather almost every day of the year, craziness going on in the park, amazing sights like the bridges and ocean…

However, there are certain things I believe that make it impossible for me to continue staying in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge by salim

One, I hold this certain ideal – some might call it naïve in this day and age – that if someone is working a full-time job at a decent company, he should be able to afford a place of his own within reasonable commuting distance. Nowhere in the entire Bay Area is this true, with the possible exception of the far East Bay; a working professional earning under $70,000/year would not be able to afford a place of his own in San Francisco, unless he was willing to spend 50% and upwards of his paycheck on rent. To put it mildly, that’s insane. Even in Petaluma, where rent is markedly less than that in the city, the competition is just as fierce, leaving people fewer options, including paying for space they don’t need and paying more for temporary lodging while on the wait list for something cheaper.

And people just put up with it, even those who relocated from different states and know there are better options, some working underemployed so they can stay in the Bay in their houses shared by 4-6 others doing the same grind. To me, having my own place is not a luxury. If you want to live with roommates to be more sociable and enjoy the company, so be it. However, I think and work best when I have a space to call my own at night, from the refrigerator with the food I bought to the bed only I sleep in.

Two, as a corollary to the first, is having to face the type of people who are able to earn a living wage in the city and measure your accomplishments by comparison. Granted, this is a personal problem, one I freely admit I should just get over, but many people surely face the same issue. Tech bros and anyone in a startup are around every corner, smartly dressed and ready to ramble on about Ruby On Rails or whatever the newest programming language may be. And thus, to maintain a social life, you find yourself associating with people who may really not have time to meet but drinks but once a month. Anyone who has his act together is more likely to be overworked in this city.

I just can’t shake the idea that there should be more out of life. That there must be a better way than holding down a job I don’t like simply to be a contributing member of society.

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