In my opinion, living anywhere other than the center of your industry is a mistake. A lot of people — those who don’t live in that place — don’t want to hear it. But it’s true. Geographic locality is still — even in the age of the Internet — critically important if you want to maximize your access to the best companies, the best people, and the best opportunities. You can always cite exceptions, but that’s what they are: exceptions.
- Marc Andreessen
Like many people in the technology industry, I have been thinking seriously about moving to the Bay Area. However, before I decide to move, I want to do a lot of information gathering. Some basic pieces of information - employment prospects, cost of living statistics, and weather averages - can be found online. But I feel that one's quality of life is determined by a large number of very subtle factors - things like walkability, public transportation, housing quality/dollar of rent, lifestyle options, and so on. These kinds of things seem to require first-hand, in-person examination. For that reason, I'm planning to visit the Bay Area and do an in-depth exploration next month, August 20th-24th.
My guess is that a significant number of LWers are also thinking about moving to the Bay Area, and so I wanted to invite people to accompany me in this exploration. Here are some activities we might do:
- Travel around using public transportation. Which places are convenient to get from/to, and which places aren't?
- Visit the offices of the major tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and Twitter. Ask some of their employees how they feel about being a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
- Eat at local restaurants - not so much the fancy/expensive ones, but the ones a person might go to for a typical, everyday lunch outing.
- See some of the sights. Again, the emphasis would be on the things that would affect our everyday lifestyle, should be decide to move, not so much on the tourist attractions. For example, the Golden Gate Bridge is an awesome structure, but I doubt it would improve my everyday life very much. In contrast, living near a good running trail would be a big boost to my lifestyle.
- Do some apartment viewing, to get a feel for how much rent a good/medium/student apartment costs in different areas and how good the amenities are.
- Go to some local LW meetups, if there are any scheduled for the time window.
- Visit the Stanford and UC Berkeley campuses and the surrounding areas.
- Interact with locals and ask them about their experience living in the region
- Visit a number of different neighborhoods, to try to get a sense of the pros and cons of each
- Discuss how to apply Bayesian decision theory to the problem of finding the optimal place to live ;)