Blog

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

The RV life of San Francisco

In the surrounding area near the university where I work are a few long boulevards where usually students park their cars. In recent years, a tiny armada of RVs have popped up, establishing semi-permanent residence on those same streets, only moving during days of street cleaning on a particular side. Personally I take the bus to work so I’m not antagonistic towards these RVs folks taking up precious parking space with their overly lengthy vehicles; though I’m slightly curious what students have to say about these people setting up de-facto homes on the side of the road.

That said, I’m definitely not amongst the camp of people wishing these RV campers to go away and find home in appropriate trailer lots, rather than squatting on public streets. I’m innately familiar with how batshit insane housing costs are in the San Francisco Bay Area; if I didn’t live at home with my parents (thank god for being Asian so this isn’t frowned upon culturally), there’d be no freaking possibility I can reasonably afford to rent a quaint place, much less buying a house here. The people in the RVs face the same difficulties, and these essentially mobile homes costing magnitudes less are their only option to continue on living and working in the city.

The present housing situation is such that either you have to already own a home for years ago, or make enough (read: a lot) money to comfortable rent or buy. The rest of us have to get by some way somehow.

Honestly, as long as these people in the RVs are not disturbing the public or making a mess (and I haven’t noticed or read anything that they were), I don’t see any issues with them setting up shop on these long boulevards. These behemoths can’t fit in a typical residential street parking space anyways, so the RVs are relatively separated and contained. It is all a bit unsightly? Yes, but the situation in San Francisco is that desperate. Sadly, the city is clamping down on these so called vagrants: most long streets with ample length already have signage forbidding large vehicle parking from midnight to 6 AM. I’m afraid the two near our university will see the same fate sooner or later.

And it would indeed be a tragedy; this entire housing situation is. San Francisco is turning into Monte Carlo, a place for the rich and already have. Starting a family here with a middle-class income is at the moment not a reality. I remain positive for the future, though that’s likely just stubbornness in holding on to the slim hope that I will be able to remain living in the city I grew up in for decades to come.

Sunset glow.

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.