I'm feeling a little nervous about the trip to San Francisco. @gb and I have been talking a lot about it, trying to plan, being kind of unable to, thinking 'maybe this is a bad idea' and then returning to 'we have to do it anyway'. And then return to figuring out what goes in our 1.5 bags each.
The first time I moved to Oakland was May 2010. I'd made around $5,000 selling ebooks on the Internet, and my gf Alix quit her job and we moved to Oakland. We stayed in West Oakland for a few days before landing a place in Temescal on the corner of Telegraph and Alcatraz until September. Alix and I were both kind of miserable together by this time, and I kept running off to San Francisco for full days at a time. First we got it into our heads to move to a loft off of the Fruitvale bart, then we broke up. I moved into the loft, because I was making enough to afford an expensive loft -- she moved to Lake Merritt. This is the loft I lived in that was featured on CBS news.
In fall of 2010 I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training at Yoga to the People in San Francisco, so I gave notice at the loft. (All of these places were month-to-month) and moved to Bryant off of 24th Street in The Mission. This was a great little tiny room that was a quick walk to YTTP and local coffee shops. I pretty much ran around San Francisco all fall/winter. This is the point when I met @gb in Yerba Buena park. I ended up wrapping up my apt in the Mission by March 2011, and moved to Boulder to hang out with g. Then we left Boulder and moved to Seattle and finally Mexico.
We moved back to San Francisco in February 2012. What I remember about this trip was how expensive everything had gotten. We rented one apartment for only a month in the Tenderloin, and it ended up being $3,000. Everyone was Airbnbing everything, so it was impossible to get a classic rental. I was pretty frustrated, and this was the first time we were slipping into 'not having enough cash' territory. But I do have a few found memories of going to Suppenkuche and eating warm german mac and cheese. We also stayed in a few places in Bernal Heights, which is one of my favorite places in SF.
In July 2013 @gb and I moved into the programmery house in Fruitvale that @johnny @substack and @max were running. Luk (RIP) and xhonk (not on ssb) were also there. Max moved out right away. We subleased johnny's room. We had some great times, and some frustrating times in Fruitvale that summer. Awesome burritos at Los Arcos. We got to meet @dominic when he came through. But the house had a constant flea problem that we finally got under the control. But then @johnny came back midway into the sublease and we decided it was time to move along. I spotted cheap tickets to Mexico City and we took off in that direction.
For the past 4 years it's been all Mexico City and Fayetteville for @gb and I. I wonder to myself how SF and the bay have changed. How is it worse? How is it better?
I'm looking at housing costs, and that's scaring the shit out of me. I wonder if it's easier to join johnny's traveling roadshow than to try and get a roof over our heads. Or I wonder if everything will 'just work' once we land at SFO.
Who's in SF Bay? How is your experience right now?
I forgot one of my trips. In September 2011, I took an Amtrak train from Seattle to Oakland. This was after I'd packed up the apartment in Seattle @gb and I had lived in (above Allen Stone). gb had just gone straight from Colorado to Vallarta. I stayed for around 11 days in a hostel in Tenderloin. Back then it was only $11 a night for a shared room, it's kind of crazy that I'm checking now and it's anywhere from $39 to $97 to share a room with people snoring only six years later.
That trip I bought a bag at Mission Workshop that I still have today, and I packed all of my stuff down to just that one bag. gb was sending me all of these hot pics from the beach, so after 11 days I booked a flight to Mexico and didn't return until February 2012.
It's a lot more expensive in Oakland now. Like the prices that you're quoting for SF. If you don't have a job or place lined up I'd be a little hesitant. Homelessness is rampant here these days, every single overpass has a homeless encampment. Your prospects for jobs will be much better, but you really need to want one as everyone is going through bootcamps trying to get in on the action.
@nanomonkey Thanks for weighing in. Yah, that's kind of what I'm afraid of. All of the homelessness, and the 'jobs'. I spent most of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 playing 'try to get a valley job' game, and all of that came to nothing. So I gave up, I continue give up.
@gb and I were just talking a Tijuana, and she chilled right out. So worse case, we'll wander down that way and get a little hut with bars on the windows until the economy corrects.
I'd also love to learn to sail somewhere. Anyone have a boat?
The bay area is a wonderful place to learn to sail, and one can always pick up a boat for next to nothing. Finding a slip is another problem, but I'm sure it can be worked out. I know a few people that frequent Sudoroom that would be willing to teach you guys the basics. I'm not sure if there are free places to moor a boat in the delta or bay.
Finding a software job is a mental problem. You have to embody the persona that they are looking for. Most of the jobs I've landed were almost comically easy, and they were on the days when I was super enthusiastic about the company. The places that I haven't been interested in were terrible experiences. For me the problem is always finding a company that is doing something that I care about.
I've heard freelancing can be easier, you just have to find those initial clients. I have been talking with quite a few people at Sudoroom about building up tech coop to do just that. None of us want to work for a startup anymore, all of us have skills that should be in demand. Coordinating the group, making sure everyone's needs are met (security of finances, etc.), finding jobs and building up a positive reputation are all problems that need to be worked out.
On the plus side, there is sooo much free food here that you'll never go hungry. Also Oakland has a ton of new restaurants, so if you're willing to wait tables you shouldn't have much trouble doing that for a bit.
That's really exciting @ev. I have been enjoying living in west oakland for about a month now. If you can find an affordable place it's pretty great — close proximity to sudo room and other hacking spaces, close to industrial labs, etc. It's an odd feeling, with everything that is going on at once — the sort of wild west of crime, rampant homelessness, new apartment buildings going up everywhere for the wealthy, and the creativity and industry, all within a few mile radius.
Also @nanomonkey I think I might have seen you at sudo room once. Nice to meet you online too.
The finding a job thing is weird. People seem to have a myth built around it, and in the myth there are abundant jobs that pay extremely well for anyone who can write a little code. In my experience it is very difficult to get your foot in the door, like most other industries. But it shouldn't be too hard with your experience and if you're willing to do contract work, work with a recruiting place (I know) etc.
Yes, I agree. Oakland has become a great deal more expensive.
It's kind of a one-way curse. The hardest part is moving in and getting stable. Lots of folks do one, but not the other. All the numbers are scaled up from Standard America, and that makes a tall hurdle, a bit of a Las Vegas bet. But moving out from a stable base can mean a substantial "upgrade", at least in material terms, if you have the discipline to save at Bay Area clip, and "scale down" to saner surrounds. There's a quality of life here like nowhere else, but not everyone values that particular quality so high, as high as the cost.
The same pattern holds for the Bay Area generally. Many of my SF-local friends move from SF to Oakland, or from Oakland to El Cerrito etc., to move from apartment to house, or lease to mortgage. Some are waiting for the market to turn around, biding time in East Bay until they can afford to buy, back where they grew up. Waiting for the earth to shake and scare away newcomers, or at least cash buyers.
Some things don't change, even as the rest does. The big Bay cities are still hubs. Air travel to and from is easy near the airports and transit lines. Events are still dense in all the usual places, and BART access is worth a lot, day to day. Structural advantages.
But the jagged, ragged edge of Oakland is starting to roll over. The "art walks" happen nearer the buyers than the sellers these days. Sure, Oakland still has grit, danger, and chaos. It's dysfunctional, as opposed to SF-smug. That's true as ever in relative terms, looking west to SF, but less so in absolute terms.
In the end, you have to make the best, no matter where you are. But the Bay Area is relatively high risk for establishing that base level of stable, from which you can build. Moving in is taking a seat at a gambling table. Moving out is more like cashing in.