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Ask HN: Have you relocated from the Bay Area to another tech hub?
45 points by Apocryphon on Oct 23, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments
To accompany the current discussion about SV's housing frustrations- have you relocated to another city that has a substantial amount of tech jobs?

Preferably stories besides Seattle, Austin, or New York would be interesting- wondering if any Bay Area hackers have actually moved to Raleigh RTP, or any other secondary / tertiary tech hubs that don't get as much coverage.

Relocated from Bay area to NYC 7 years back - Back then, options were limited primarily to the financial sector. Right now, options are getting better , but still much lesser than the bay area

- You can find dev centers for most of the big companies such as Google/FB/Twitter etc. but their sizes and requirements are much lesser than Bay area. They are mostly satellite offices, and operate as such.

- You can find quite a few startups, but again they are not as many as Bay area and not as established as well.

- Of course there is the financial sector, which has lots of jobs - but expect a big culture difference, its highly competitive and cutthroat.

Housing: ========

I am not aware of how expensive Bay area housing is - but you can find pretty good houses an hour from NYC at < 500-600K, which is pretty good. Same is true of rent - If you are willing to commute 45-75 minutes, you can find lots of good affordable options. Public transport is better than Bay area, that makes commute easier.

Last but not the least, NYC has a unique global feel which is unparalleled :)

There's also a burgeoning AI Hub coalescing. Although it has yet to assume critical mass. Facebook FAIR lab, Google Brain, Cornell Tech, NYU Futures Lab, Two Sigma, and hundreds of fintech experiments as well as a deep bench of VC activity. Many of the world's foremost AI researchers enjoy doing a stint here. Marinating in the frenetic, and admittedly neurotic, intellectual cross-pollination only NYC affords ;)

If any are interested there will be an NYAI Meetup tomorrow night, 6pm Tues Oct 24 at Rise in midtown with IBM Watson's Ruchir Puri presenting on "Reinventing Businesses with AI". Who knows? You may even wind up meeting your future YC team mates ;)


> I am not aware of how expensive Bay area housing is - but you can find pretty good houses an hour from NYC at < 500-600K

I'm not trying to get in an argument, but just want to add some perspective. The quality of house varies quite greatly at 500-600K in a 60 minute range of Manhattan. Property taxes in the areas outside NYC are among highest in the nation. This was one of the reasons I left the NYC area recently - we saw so many 600K+ houses that badly needed to be renovated. The property taxes didn't help make the case. Lots of people want to live close to public transportation with a 75 minute or less commute.

I know somebody's going to look on Zillow and say "Look, I just found a 500K house in NJ that's awesome" Unlike some other parts of the country, the quality of area/house varies a lot in the NYC area. I wouldn't recommend deciding any home is awesome unless you've actually seen it in real life!

Yes indeed, quality varies a lot - there are lots of options, need to search around. I believe this will be true of every area in US

Let me reframe.

If you want to leave the Bay Area because of the cost of living, the NYC area may not be the answer. The price of a home ($/sqfoot) may be cheaper in the suburbs of NYC than SF/SV, but property taxes are extremely high (e.g. > 2%) in areas that are commutable (unless you think 2+ hours each way is a good commute) to NYC. You may also end up in a situation where you need a car to commute to the train station, you pay for parking at the train station, and then you have one or more passes (e.g. Subway + Train Pass) to get to your job. So your total monthly living costs may be close to your costs of owning a home in the bay area.

Yes, I relocated to the Ann Arbor area. There is actually a fair amount of tech here both in Ann Arbor, in Detroit, and in Novi and similar surrounding suburbs of Detroit.

I work remote for a SF Bay Area startup though so I haven't explored local employment options too much. There is a big consulting company however the area they cover is large so you could end up on a project that has you doing a 1.5 hour commute (one way) for 6-18 months.

The research triangle area is attractive to me too. I just haven't had the time to make a trip there to get a feel for it. The housing is slightly more affordable than Ann Arbor although it's pretty close (light years better than Bay Area of course).

You should come visit, it's nice! My wife and I frequent Ann Arbor and also like it a lot.

+1 for A2

We should have a meetup

I would 100% be down! I'm new to development but currently work in InfoSec. I'd love to have a meetup!

Currently living in Lansing area.

That sounds great to me too!

Relocated from SOMA to West Seattle ~2 years ago. Went from paying 2300 for an 800sf 1br above a liquor store to 1750 for a 3br house with a 30 minute commute by bus. They have beat cops for transit here, which means they're not rolling mental institutions, and make for a decent commute. It's getting more expensive, what I have now would probably be 2300 in this market, but its' still an enormous quality increase over SF. I took a 10k paycut but it was negated by the friendlier taxes, and raises since mean i'm taking home more per month despite making less gross pay.

Austin was also on the list but offered woefully uncompetitive salaries.

I have family in VA and an alma mater in upstate NY, so the research triangle and tertiary hubs like Pittsburgh or Buffalo are always of interest, but the product design market in those cities is extremely anemic relative to the west coast.

can you explain "rolling mental institutions" ? Like crazies using public transportation ?

Not him/her, but certain King County Metro routes are/were known for having buses full of mentally troubled homeless people during certain times. My friends and I made the mistake of using one such route to get back to Bellevue after a night out in Pioneer Square back in 2014. Had a guy obviously whacked out on something try to sell us an obviously stolen watch. Another guy had a shopping cart full of trash on the bus as we crossed the 520 bridge (old bridge).

It's gotten significantly better since Metro stepped up security, though. Those cops are usually pretty chill themselves as well.

The real disturbing thing is that Seattle is probably some of the best transit in the area in terms of coverage (even in the above state of being). Everett, Tacoma, Kitsap, Olympia... None cover as much in-city territory as King County Metro. So when you hear people complain about how Metro sucks, just remember that you would need to walk much further in the other areas around Seattle to cover the last mile.

Went to NYC first, then Chicago.

It's different here, but I feel like I have more personal freedom to experiment and not get totally crushed financially when I fail. My biggest problem with NYC and the Bay Area is that you can't really pull yourself away from a job long enough to figure out whether any of your ideas will work or get any traction because all your money is going to rent. It's as if the system is priced just enough to keep you just barely hanging onto the treadmill.

I spent two terrible years in Mountain View for a work opportunity I couldn't turn down and it was horrible. Our rent went up 20% during that time. It felt completely unsustainable, ecologically and financially to live there.

We moved back to Boston and have been overjoyed with fleeing the peninsula. I'd still love to visit north of San Francisco of south of Monterrey on vacation but they literally couldn't pay me enough to live there.

I moved to NYC from SF one year ago. On housing: I wouldn't say housing in central/downtown Manhattan/good parts of BK is cheaper than SF (probably still more expensive per sq ft), but if you are willing to live with a 30m-1hr commute by Subway (Queens, NJ, Upper Manhattan, less central parts of BK), then it can be decently cheaper than a similar commute into downtown SF. I live in downtown Manhattan, paying slightly more that I did in SF for half of a 2b/2ba that is definitely smaller than what you'd find on the market in SF but more renovated and in a much better location than what I could get for the same price in SF.

Agree that "good" opportunities outside of satellite offices are not as plentiful as Bay Area. If you are interested in "hard" tech (AI, ML, blockchain, self-driving, etc.) I would also say I've see much fewer of those types of opportunities here than on west coast.

A large chunk of our company relocated to Raleigh, NC - so we also moved our HQ here.

They literally did a spreadsheet with different metrics they were looking for (business environment, they knew there were only some weather conditions they'd be willing to go for, looked into schools & safety for their young kids, taxes, house prices etc) graded and analyzed that data (we're an analytics consultancy so if you think about it, it makes sense :) ).

After narrowing down to 2 or 3 locations, they ended up with Raleigh. About 4 (including the first two co-founders) moved here initially, together with their families (wife & 4 kids each). Few months later others joined the team here as well, families included. We still have some collages working from Bay Area and we support them, but most of the team is here now.

What do you think so far? I grew up in Raleigh, NC nearly all my life - but recently moved to SF for work. Constantly debating about moving back and enjoying lower cost of living, but California weather is too good.

I just moved to Portland from the North SF Bay Area. I work as an independent contractor which means in theory I would work anywhere, but my experience has been it's usually in-person networking and locally-based online groups that help me get new contracts. I wanted to move to Portland because the cost of living—while increasing—is less than the Bay Area, yet the amenities and quality of life there is similar. (And in some ways, better!)

I haven't gotten a full sense yet of what the startup scene is like here, but there's a great cowork space downtown (NedSpace) that is pretty active. There's also an online calendar of tech events that seems quite full: http://calagator.org

Anyone else here on HN embraced the cliché and moved from CA to OR?

I too made the transition a little over a year ago and I have no regrets!

If you haven't already found it, check out the local startup Slack channel:


Let me know if you want to grab a cup of coffee sometime.

What about CO? How is the market there now? I used to live there 4 years ago (then moved to the bay area). Curious how it is now.

I like the idea of a place like Portland for affordability/small city/ good public transport, but I also like the idea of sunshine...

Just moved there. Just outside of Denver. Housing in the really good school districts has doubled. Coming from the Bay area it all seems super cheap.

Salaries are almost competitive to the Bay area for some companies if you have a specialty.

So far its the best move my family has made.

I was born in Mountain View - my dad was an engineer in the semiconductor biz starting in the late 60s. I've been coding since 5th grade, and after bailing out on college I worked at a couple of valley startups in the mid to late 90s (one of which changed the world) and then I jumped to Denver, CO.

Back then, Denver was just around 400K people and had a very laid back vibe. Its downtown was underwhelming, mostly parking lots and old skyscrapers - the Rockies park and the Pepsi Center were new with some sports bars around them. The food scene was a minefield - you really had to seek out decent places. Some of my worst meals were at places in Denver back then (the Mexican food was a huge letdown compared to CA). The Denver software scene was a lot of corporate IT work, DoD stuff to do south (multiple military/defense sites and there are huge downlinks in the area), and a tiny dose of startups. Housing was relatively cheap in the city center neighborhoods, which Californians were swooping in and buying much to the surprise of the natives ("Really? That area used to be full of drug dealers and rotting old houses!"). There was a ton of new housing being built out on the prairie. Now Denver feels pretty different - faster paced, a lot more people around, and awareness of things outside Colorado. To me, Denver's downtown and city center neighborhoods are shockingly different. The city developed a huge area behind its downtown train depot into a brand new neighborhood with tall buildings. And I think they've tying that into the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods pretty well. Close in neighborhoods like Highlands, Baker, Five Points, Ballpark, River North, etc. are all very hip and relatively expensive. The food, music, and art scene has gotten way better. A buddy of mine in the new home construction biz says most of the housing demand is in the closer in developed areas, that brand new housing developments way out on the metro area limits has ok demand but not crushing. Homes in my neighborhood sell before hitting the MLS with multiple offers that usually go over asking...

My first Denver gig was a valley backed startup with the eng group in Denver and the marketing/biz dev/sales in Mountain View. It was an amazing team and we grew to a decent valuation, but didn't exit in time for the dot com crash. After the dot com crash, the tech scene in Denver was bleak. A lot of folks left town, left software, or jumped onto DoD stuff. There just wasn't much VC money or many established local software companies. I bounced around at a few places that kept going under and managed to hook on to a small software company in downtown. By 2005-ish things had picked up in the Denver tech scene - money was coming in, startups were growing and exiting pretty well. At one point I was at a startup that was just about to go public, S-1 filed and did the roadshow, but Lehman Brothers bit the big one and the US economy tanked. However, by that point, the Denver tech scene was strong enough that even with the economy in the toilet, finding good/fun/well paying software jobs was easy. And finding, much less hiring, good engineers was pretty tough.

Then Colorado made weed legal and holy shit did this place blow up. The number of people moving here is crazy. The amount of construction in the downtown area is nuts - cranes all over the place. Since I've been here, the Denver area has always been one of the fastest growing in the country and with lots of people moving in, so lots of things change quickly.

The current Denver tech scene seems pretty strong to me. There are a ton of fun/cool startups all over the place. The city has bet big on software - encouraging tech with partnerships, working to provide workspaces/housing, parks, public transportation, etc. There are lots of meet ups and I think a strong sense of a Denver tech community . Denver definitely has a competitive thing going on with Boulder (about 45 minutes from Denver) - Boulder has the marquee university and highly visible R&D centers for big names like Google, Twitter, etc. Denver is desperate for a big name like that and every once in a while a rumor flies around that a big name is going to start an eng facility in Denver. Last year it was Facebook looking at property in RiNo, now it's Apple looking along the 16th Street Mall. Boulder picked up a big name for itself in the startup world because of Tech Stars and Brad Feld, which Denver doesn't seem to have just yet. Personally, I prefer Denver over Boulder because Denver is a big old messy, ugly city with lots of crazy stuff that's good and bad, along with scars from its boom and bust history (some of the architecture and city planning from the 'bust' periods are painful) - but it has all that and is trying to work it to make things better. Boulder is stunningly beautiful and has quick access to unreal outdoor space, but to me feels too uniform of thought - too small and claustrophobic (I lived in Santa Cruz for a bit and hated it - pretty, but everyone's the same).

So, Denver's tech scene is great but it's nothing compared to the SF Bay Area. Folks don't move here to change the world or make millions - people are generally here to put in the time at their job and enjoy life. I had a buddy who pitched a16z, who laughed him out of the room because "they wouldn't fund those lazy ski bums in Denver - move to Palo Alto and we'll talk." It's kind of a true stereotype - I interviewed at a small Denver software company a few years ago whose CEO told me "Priorities here are: health, family, and then the job." It's generally very family friendly, employers are cool about schedule changes for kids stuff or taking care of sick kids, etc. Wintertime has a lot last minute "Ski Day" emails come in. But after growing up in the SF Bay Area, I didn't want to raise kids there (where $ wins over family), so we moved to Denver to start a family and it's been awesome - I wouldn't change a thing.

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