Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

San Francisco is kicking me out

There’s been a lot of chatter lately about how San Francisco is a hell-scape for the poor and middle class, and that thanks to the tech boom and concurrent chronic lack of housing, the city have turned into a province for the rich only, in a Monte Carlo sort of way. While it can’t rival the tax-friendliness of the Principality - in fact it’s the precise exact opposite - I’ve been viewing my hometown as a facsimile of Monaco for a quite bit now, and it’s low-key weighing on me these days.

Indeed you need at least a six-figure salary to even entertain the notion of building a life in San Francisco. On my daily commute I’m reminded of this when I see adverts for newly online condos, with the basest of units costs more per month than my entire take-home pay. On a macro level I am making slightly more than the median U.S. household income (and I consider myself lucky to be in a position to do so), but put that in perspective of the insane SF housing market, I’m downright in relative poverty.

As I transition into my thirties and having thoughts of marriage and family starting, I am coming hard to face with the reality that I cannot do those things in the city I grew up in - and love. Unless I marry someone who earns well into the six-figures, even with dual income it’d be supremely difficult to rent an appropriate amount of rooms to raise a family, much less outright purchasing a house. Even if somehow I manage to scrounge up large enough of a down-payment to mitigate somewhat the monthly outlay, the hefty California property tax alone renders it prohibitive.

Of course, there’s legions of people in a similar position who instead bought property way out in the inland suburbs, and every day they have to endure a two-hour commute slog just to get back into San Francisco proper for work. That’s not an option for me because I believe the stress and anguish that comes from a long commute is not conducive to good health, and no house is worth the tradeoff for that. If I were to move out of the city, I’d rather take the full plunge and skip out of California entirely.

A friend of mine shared an article that listed what $200,000 worth of home looks like in each of the 50 States, and no surprise the worst of them all in terms of amount of space for the money is California. On the other end of the spectrum, in States such as Montana and the Dakotas, 200 grand can buy you multiple rooms and multiple baths in a house with sizable yards front and back. We joked that San Francisco natives like us who aren’t fortunate enough to collect on the tech prosperity should look to move to those places. We wouldn’t even need to earn as much money as we do now because the cost of living is drastically cheaper.

Besides, I am confident that as long as I have an Internet connection, I can generate income however which way.

So that is something to seriously think about in the next few years; if San Francisco maintains its current trajectory, it just may force my hand. I still have hope it wouldn’t, but recently it’s been tough to find the optimism.

For excellent Texas-style BBQ in Dallas, go to Pecan Lodge.

A man and his castle

When I was in my twenties, I was completely into the urban city life. Having grown up in one, I love the density, the hustle and bustle, and how accessible everything is. Living in secluded suburbia was just about the dullest thing imaginable; there would only be the house, and nothing else. Give me the city, and the all of the lights.

Presently in my thirties, and properly “adulting”, my perspective on that has been changing. These days, peace and quiet is what I’m after, and ultimately a castle to call my own. I don’t want to hear the busy sidewalks and too many cars driving by; I don’t want to fight with the crowds and wade the troubles parking; I don’t want to pay the high tax for living in one of the most expensive cities on the planet.

I want open spaces, and dead silence.

I want the proverbial cottage at the countryside.

Too crazy of a dream? Perhaps. The immediate and biggest concern is what the heck am I to do for money. I refuse to be amongst the masses who live far away from the urban core, yet still commute for hours every day back into the city for work. That’s a significant amount of precious time to be squandered on the road, even in these modern times of endless podcasts and super intelligent cruise-control.

But those people do the commute slog for a reason: the city has almost all the jobs. It wouldn’t be so prosperous and constantly full of new developments otherwise. No doubt they’d all rather work much closer to home, but deep in the heart of suburbia or rural counties, there are no high paying jobs.

For me, the solution to that problem is the Internet, in the way of digital freelancing, or join a company that will allow work from home. With the cost of living ‘out in the sticks’ immensely less than metropolises, I wouldn’t even need to be earning as much as I do now for it to be sustainable. Besides, aside from cars (admittedly a big one), I’m not in the least materialistic about anything; I don’t need a huge salary to be absolutely content.

It’s definitely something to ponder about. I certainly cannot afford a house in or anywhere near San Francisco, so if I really want a place for myself – can’t live with the parents forever, no matter how Asian I am – I think I’ll have to get out from this city.

Exit stage center.