- I lived there for nine years. My average tenure was 18 months for each employer: Laid-off, right-sized, down-sized. Finding a new house for each new employer would have been costly.
- One employer was way the heck out by the airport. There were no houses within biking distance. Or not ones I could afford.
- Another employer had me relocate to a new client every few months. I saw a fair bit of the metro-mess that way.
- The last employer turned out to be the best: closed the office in Texas and relocated me to Wisconsin. My house is two miles away from the office. I still need a car: biking to work in the winter is just crazy.
'The plural of data is not anecdote' but .. sometimes you gotta just get a place to live and live with a commute that you know is going to change no matter what.
We have compromised by living in the middle, but we both need to commute for about 30-40 minutes to our respective work places. I view this as an investment in our future. Right now we are both building careers which will make us much more money in the long run than the cost of commuting.
Coverage is also really poor, especially in the southern areas (Cupertino, Campbell, etc.)
(Just to clarify: Biking in the Bay Area is really good. Public transit, at least in the South Bay, not so much.)
I grew up in Minneapolis, you should check out the bicycle commuting scene where you live. It varies by location, but in Minneapolis I was able to bicycle commute at least 4 days a week all winter long thanks to good plowing of bike paths, studded tires (only occasionally) and substituting a bus ride in right after significant snowfalls.
Winter bike commuting is not for everyone, but with the proper gear it's not as bad as it looks (less uncomfortable than getting in a cold car and waiting for it to warm up IMHO).
I think you also have to factor in safety. You will inevitably take chances over time and one of those chances could lead to an injury that keeps you from working or gives you lifelong pain. Either from a mistake you make or from someone in a car or bus. (Of course this can happen in dry weather as well...)
Statistically you can also use the historical weather info on http://www.wunderground.com to look over several years data for the winter.
In any case though, beyond reasonable precautions such as helmets and defensive riding, I'm not going to run statistics to figure out the safest way to live my life. Bicycle commuting in general isn't something I consider an extreme risk. I'd certainly rather take my chances at injury doing a real activity than become an invalid at age 60 because I never got any exercise—because if I have to go to a gym to get exercise "safely" it ain't gonna happen.
In a car one has restraints, a lot of armor to absorb impact, airbags. On a bike you've got ... a helmet.
Now, I don't have that luxury. I don't have a good place to store things, I don't have a good changing/cleaning area. I'm dreading the rain.
I just plan for the bike to be ruined and ride a crappy bike that I replace every so often.
The scrappy-looking dependable workhorse also has a side benefit of you not having to worry as much about it being stolen vs. something that still shines.
In my case it's not always practical - I like to come home for lunch, see the kids, have lunch with my wife.
There are plenty of tech companies here within walking distance, lots of job options and an OK startup scene.
Also, don't have a car. I use Zipcar or taxis when necessary (maybe 10 times a year). Not having to pay for a car, insurance and parking saves a lot of money. That savings makes living in more expensive city apartments more easy to afford.
Not having to drive to work is my number one job perk, and living in a city is much more enjoyable (to me at least) than not.
Further, government subsidization of sprawl and predatory suburban towns tend to push buyers towards new construction in exurban areas along interstates. Employers that do attempt to locate close to employees end up chasing the single-family households out to the outskirts, right into a dead end where then everyone must drive. Employers should locate in sustainable, dense, transit-friendly neighborhoods, ultimately giving their employees a choice.
They should, I guess.
* Rent is going to be steep in a place like that. I worked for a concern that took space in a very nice office building. Wood paneling! We had a walled lawn with trees outside. Offices, not cubes. Rent was far more than the generic building across the street.
It was great until we had to cut costs when the economy tanked. I prefer the cheap space, beige cubes and a job as opposed to laying folks off.
* Not all employers can do that. Your average dense transit-friendly neighborhood is not going to take kindly to an electronics concern opening up 100,000 sq/ft of manufacturing space, for example.
Industry took place at the center of the city alongside professional jobs. It's only relatively recently that it's been economical to locate distribution & light industrial jobs in dedicated, industrial zoned areas, now that workers have been conditioned to agree to subsidize the costs of cheap land. Further, local governments agree to extend infrastructure to these places almost exclusively for the benefit of these corporations.
We put industry in dedicated areas because living next to a factory that runs 24/7 is unpleasant.