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.

Why would you want to move here?

My work is hiring and I got selected to be on the search committee, therefore I get the pleasure of sorting through all the incoming resumes. It’s always surprising when I get an applicant that isn’t from the Bay Area, because the immediate question becomes:

Why do you want to move here?

Here, to San Francisco, which by many measures is the richest city in the world and has the most expensive housing cost in these United States. A metropolitan area where countless hours of productivity gets utterly forsaken due to endless traffic. The minimum wage just went up in July to $15 so that gourmet non-GMO grass-fed burger is going to cost a pretty penny. 

And you want to move here

I hope these applicants have read the job description thoroughly and understands that as an employee of the State of California you are not going to be paid anywhere near sufficient to live in San Francisco. I most certainly don’t. I am however native to the area so that allows me to offset the absurd rental prices by not paying them at all and instead live with my parents.

Needless to say I am fortunate to be of a culture that don’t tend to kick offsprings out of the house once they’ve matured into adulthood. 

Because housing cost is the crux of the affordability issue. If rents were at sane levels I would’ve move out long ago, and I wouldn’t be questioning why someone would want to move here whose job prospect isn’t with a tech company with salary deep into six figures. 

If I didn’t live here already and were choosing a city to move to, San Francisco Bay Area wouldn’t even be on the list. 

Two methods of emergency escape. 

Two methods of emergency escape.