On October 10th, I will have lived in San Francisco, California for 2 years exactly. I would say that it has taken me a year and 7 months to slowly start to dislike SF. I know, I know. It is a beautiful city and I agree. It really is! Its just… where to begin.
If you live here, have thought about living here, are apart of, or follow the effects of the tech boom here in SF, you have probably read multiple articles about the gentrification of San Francisco and the changing culture. In June of 2012, an article about the tech boom and its possible political effects as well as its effects on the culture of the city was published in wake of Twitter’s headquarters opening its doors in the city limits instead of choosing Silicon Valley like its other huge tech counterparts like Google and Apple.
When my friend first sent me the second article, I read through it and while I could sort of see where it was coming from and that these may be viable concerns, I wasn’t completely sold on the idea that San Francisco was changing. After all, I had only been here for less than a year at that time and I knew all manner of artists. In my mind, it was still the place to go for people who want to work for non-profits while being actively involved in the fine and performing arts. Where people could meet like minded individuals and share an experience. Not talk about what they do, how much they make, and what new tech company they were working for.My rent was relatively cheap at $600 a month. I shared a 3 bedroom apartment with 3 others. We had a huge kitchen, everything was clean and tidy, and we had the most amazing view of the Pacific Ocean.
A year later, its a different story and this transformation of the city is what is giving me a bad taste in my mouth and when it comes down to it, I’m out.
I miss living in Berkeley, but alas, I think that even moving across the bay yet again won’t change the fact that I am over this area. I’m over California. I’ve been working in the service industry for almost a year in this city and in that year, and I can see that everything has changed. People have changed. The clientele has changed. The vibe has changed. Not just in my bar, but everywhere. The people I want to be around are feeling to Oakland. I should flee back to Oakland.
I never used to feel totally agitated when going out in public – especially down town. Now? I hate it. These feelings of dislike toward the techies may have a little to do with the guy that called me fat and other things that he said to me and his mannerisms, but I’m seeing that everywhere.
But when it all come down to it, I really just can’t afford it anymore. No one in the service industry or arts or non-profits can. All of my friends in those industries are packing up and heading out to places like Daly City and the Oakland Hills. Rent is cheaper. Commute time? Way longer. And we don’t have those shuttles taking us to our jobs like those at Google and Facebook do. We get to cram together on BART and Muni with the tweakers and guys who take a dump on transit. I kid you not, that happens regularly.
And then we get to go to our jobs and get treated like we’re less than anyone else because we’re serving them drinks and food, and not programming the next app that will allow your farts to download straight to your nose (that right there is a South Park reference). I know I sound a bit bitter here, but today I had a tech guy come in, order $50 worth of food, and he tipped me a penny. Thanks, dude. Oh, and right after that I had a whole group from some tech start up come in, all order food and at least one beer, and 3 of them left me a hefty $1 tip. She asked if they could reserve a group of tables once a month. I said maybe. I don’t need to go out of my way for you if you’re not tipping me.
Tip your servers. Even if you’re ordering at a register.
Anyway, I need to go.
This place isn’t for me anymore. I’m not feeling the love. I’m feeling the cold embraces of Java (the code kind, not the delicious beverage kind) and python (the code kind, not the snake kind) … if Java and Python could could hug. I’m sure someone could program a digital hug. If they did, I’m guessing it would be cold.
I’m sure there are others out there that feel like I’m just bitching because I can’t cut it out here in this tech industry laden city. You might be right. I have been struggling for work for the last two years, but I’ll have you know I know how to code and I have a degree in engineering. I just chose not to follow that path and to go a different way with my life. It has been a struggle, but it has made me who I am today. I’m ambitious, but not for the car or the fancy apartment, but to find a position at a place that I want to wake up and go into almost every day. Maybe think about the fact that I don’t want to. I’ve had interviews at start-ups. I’ve visited one of them and was ultimately turned down, but the more I think about the people I would be working with, the less excited I was to work there.
They are my peers now. They are who live in this beautiful city. It’s not artists. It’s not musicians. It’s not bartenders crafting delicious concoctions at off the grid bars. We just can’t afford it. Rent in most places is double or tripling. Landlords are slowly booting people with rent control so that they can live in these locations for 6 months, and then rent them out for even greater sums.
If you think I’m crazy, check out this amazing infographic on how many minimum wage jobs you need to live in each part of the city.
I’ll tell you that I have a full time job and two part time jobs, and its not going to be enough to pay all of my bills AND save. I have not one, not two, but 5 roommates.
I have no interest in living here any longer. I’ve been here for almost 2 years. I have a 6 month gig starting next week. In 6 months? I’m gone. In a way, it is a bit unfortunate as one of my best friends just moved here from Boulder (She opted for Oakland). But I need a change. I need to get the bad taste of the City by the Bay.
My next stop? I’m thinking Seattle. There is a 6 month to a year long paid internship I have my eye on. I’ve been told by everyone that knows me and understands me and that has been to Seattle that I would love it there and thrive there. I think that city loves me more, too. I’ve tweeted about Seattle twice. TWICE. I have 4 influential followers from Seattle now. I don’t think I have that many from SF and I’ve tweeted about it many many times.
Here I come, Seattle… in 6 months.
*Update: Here is an article from June this year which describes perfectly my feelings toward the changes in SF’s culture. Read it.