Red Hat's virtualization team is based all around the world, in offices but also many remotees. I'm one of them and I like nothing more than sitting in my cottage garden on a sunny day with a laptop and wifi connection. It's a great place to think.
I left for Austin, TX and I truly love it here. I'm running a tech company here, too, and so far we haven't had any problems finding talent--even a Python developer!
I wrote an article about living outside of the Valley, and whether it's worth it for you, here: http://www.erica.biz/2012/austin-vs-silicon-valley/ Nearly 2,000 people have read it, and there is some interesting discussion in the comments.
I tried to be the super flexible tenant recently. I needed to move 200 miles and I found the PERFECT place (http://imgur.com/a/XpksU) so I contacted the letting agency and asked for a viewing, they gave me a date a couple of days later so I booked my train tickets. Day of the viewing I get a call that it's cancelled, that sucks but we can re-arrange, so we re-arrange for a few days later and I swallow the loss on my train tickets (about $150) and order some more (this time paying a premium for refundable tickets) and again they cancel, so I re-arrange (and get a ticket refund, yay!), this time the viewing is for a day later so the tickets I needed were going to be $400 for ordering so late and so I decide whatever I'll go first class; it's only $100 extra and I can work from the train. Next day I go to the station, collect my tickets and board the train: finally I'm going to get to view my new home! My heart was set on the apartment... anyway 10 minutes into the journey I get a call, the viewing is cancelled and the apartment has been withdrawn from the market and unless I'm willing to buy it for $1m I can't live there... so I'm sitting in first class on a train using $500 tickets for no reason. Hurrah!
Anyway moral of the story is renting sucks and moving long distance also sucks, good article, next time I move a long distance I think I'll follow the advice and stay in the new place and look for apartments, much easier than travelling the entire distance frequently just to view.
Nob Hill, etc, has terrible, terrible parking. I have a good friend that lives there that I no longer visit unless it's in the middle of the day on Saturday, because of the terrible parking, you could literally spend 1 hr looking for parking after 6pm. If parking is not an issue (no car or get a scooter), then it's a viable option, but not having a car in the Bay Area ends up being severely limiting.
There are plenty of other cost-effective places on the west side of SF that can go for less than half the price of SOMA. For someone new moving into the area, my advice would be to get a cheap single place in Outer Sunset with hopefully a short-term lease, and then once you meet more people, you can band together with people that you know well and rent a bigger apartment somewhere else in the city. Signing a lease with someone that you don't know has tremendous long-tail risk, so I would take the hit in terms of moving a bit further away when you first move to SF, and do a lot of due diligence and get to know the city and your potential roommates better.
Another viable option is to not live in the city, especially if you don't work in the city. Places along the peninsula are much cheaper, and if you do work in FiDi or SOMA it's probably more cost effective to rent a place outside of SF and Caltrain it in.
My own strategy is:
1) Check Craigslist once an hour, or more depending on how much web surfing I'm doing.
2) If I find a place in an area that I like, I immediately contact them and ask for a showing that day or as soon as possible.
3) I come with all my documentation ready, including my checkbook.
4) If I like the place, I immediately submit an application.
5) Continue looking at other apartments, because they're no guarantee that I will get this one.
Exactly! Look at where Muni and BART end up and then look at places to rent in those locations. West Portal, Glen Park, Noe Valley, etc. There are a lot of cool choices with public transportation if you start looking.
And Noe is even more expensive than the rest, since it's developed its own reputation as a great place to raise kids.
To be certain, nothing in a transit-connected part of SF is "half the price" of SOMA, unless you're doing a dodgy comparison like an uber-luxe condo in the Millenium Tower with a basement studio. Apples to apples, everything in SF is in the same ballpark, with the Sunset and Richmond being only marginally cheaper.
Not to mention it's slow, untimely, and crap.
My own pro-tip (as a four-year resident) is learning to ride a bike in the city is an outstanding way to improve your accessibility while avoiding the Muni/parking headache. It's much easier in some neighborhoods than others, but in general, almost any part of the city has routes that avoid hills and high-traffic streets, and you may be shocked at how easily you can get to places that used to seem like a major hassle. Personally, it's made SF an easy and enjoyable place to get around, instead of a constant pain.
For anyone considering it, just do it, but follow a few key tips: avoid riding too close to parked cars (dooring risk); wear a helmet always and use lights at night; consult Google Maps bike directions or the official SF Bike map for ideal routes; ride conscientiously and follow the rules of the road, even if you see others breaking them (e.g. stop at lights/stop signs and yield to pedestrians); don't ride too fast, especially through intersections, since being able to stop quickly can save you from almost any collision; do your first ride sometime when there's very little traffic, like early on a weekend morning; get a practical city bike, not a speed-demon road racer. Cycling with a friend who knows what they're doing is also extremely helpful.
Some people have a bias against cyclists because there are plenty of inconsiderate riders, but that shouldn't prevent you from taking advantage of this super useful and generally safe mode (if you ride safely). If you do take it up, please add to the ranks of considerate riders, and enjoy cutting that multiple-transfer-bus-ride or multiple-parking-ticket car commute out of your daily schedule.
Oakland is a big, heterogeneous city, with really nice districts that offer great dining, bars, and the usual city trappings.
I think the key is finding what you like. Some people like urban environments, others the suburbs, while some like the hybrid kind of areas like you find in Western SF.
In my opinion, to have a good work-life balance it's important you live somewhere you like.
There are plenty of relatively safe neighborhoods in Oakland: the Central District (where I live), Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, Claremont/Rockridge, Temescal, Piedmont, etc. East Oakland is where the crime is generally centered. Generally, the closer to the hills or the lake you are, the nicer it is.
Best advice I can give if you have any doubt is to ask a local police officer.
Crime of that sort in Oakland generally involves only those who consider it an "occupational hazard".
It's extremely amusing how much people worry about being killed by thugs in places they've never been, when they're far more likely to be killed by a dumbass texting on 580.
Oakland exists as an industrial hub. Emeryville, on the other hand, exists as a suburb of San Francisco (though I think that with recent business expansion, it's becoming its own city). As far as I know, this is still the case, and more people live and work in Oakland than live in Oakland and commute into SF.
San Francisco 1.40
and a few others FWIW
Mountain View 1.47
Palo Alto 2.54
San Jose 0.88 (qualifying it as largest suburb in the US, IMO)
It's very convenient for work, but it doesn't feel like a neighborhood at all. Everything seems to close around 8pm and most of your friends probably aren't going to be hanging out around there. Yes, there are a handful of cafes around and you can find a few blocks that are busier, but in general it just feels like a generic chunk of tall buildings — I found it pretty gloomy.
Unfortunately you undermined the entire post with your "immigrants" comment. In fact you made yourself look like a huge bigot. That sucks because it was otherwise well written and useful.
It's sad that this is going largely unnoticed by the rest of the comments on this post.
There's lots of poor people and Spanish speaking people in the mission. This is good if you like Taquerias, bad if you dislike grime. If you don't fit in with homeless, hipster, or Latin culture, you will feel like an outsider. Some people may like it, some people may not. But if you don't like it, you are no longer allowed to say so!
I'm guessing that his offense is not embracing Latin culture. It is okay to dislike homeless culture, because
everyone does, or hipster culture, since it is predominantly White. But you aren't allowed to dislike Latin culture, since it is non-European and therefore protected. Interesting.
Also, "homeless" is not a culture.
Author is very obviously complaining about the presence of hipsters, homeless folk... and, well, immigrants, and seems to think that his aversion to such people is shared by many others. Judging by rent prices in the Mission and public opinion, this does not hold any water whatsoever.
Author is entitled to think whatever he damn well wants, but we are also entitled to judge his commentary on their own merits. And please, don't come to this table with 1984-bullshit whenever people are inclined to call a duck a duck. We really ought to make a term for it like we have for Godwin.
Such as the Asian immigrant population.
Which, last I checked, is experiencing quotas at Ivy League schools because they're getting in at rates much, much higher than any other race, and tend to come from backgrounds of higher education, even if their parents' English is poor.
You're trying to generalize your argument to minimize the appearance of being racist - but your argument doesn't actually generalize beyond the Latino community, which by and large does fit your description. So really, your objection isn't against "people who speak poor English", it's against Latinos.
> " I fully realize I am not allowed to say this in Liberal America because this makes me a DISGUSTING BIGOT"
Nah. From your own self-description I'd characterize you as an ivory-tower elitist (ironically, something conservatives tend to accuse of Liberal America) - you know, inability to find common ground with people with low-SES and low-education and such... Race does seem to play as a factor for you, but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt when you say it does not. But of course, I don't know you in real life, so such judgments are rarely wise.
This argument isn't going anywhere productive, so I'm going to step out of it with this: your exact same rationalizations have been used against Blacks, and smells very close to the same arguments we hear coming out of the "I'm not anti-gay, I'm pro-marriage" camp. If it quacks...
For what it's worth, I wouldn't want to live in Chinatown either. Or any of the White non-English ethnic ghettos that used to exist a few decades ago.
I think calling people "bigot" happens too quickly. We should show some restraint.
> If you don't speak English in America, you tend to be
poor and less educated
Such as the Asian immigrant population.
Let's say I'm a Finnish person, which is true, and I move from Finland to SF.
Upon moving to SF, I'm aware that I'm an immigrant there, just like any others who moved in to the US from another country.
Now, if someone tells me that a specific area is full of "hipsters, homeless and immigrants", this will be my reaction:
"Oh? Apparently a lot of immigrants have ended up in an area with a considerable number of hipsters and homeless people. I guess it's a cheaper area then, but I wonder why the hipsters are comfortable with so many homeless people around."
I have no reason to doubt that's an accurate description of the way things are, and I have no reason to get offended by an accurate description of the way things are. Besides, I am an immigrant, and I know that there's nothing wrong with being one.
This is a bad thing to say because in educated, liberal America racism is the worst possible crime you can commit, and non-English communities tend to be non-White (this was not so true 40 or 50 years ago). So if you voice that you don't want to live in an immigrant neighborhood, you will be accused of being a "disgusting racist bigot".
I think it is perfectly reasonable to dislike living near lots of poor people who speak a different language than you. But I missed a few brainwashing sessions in college. You shouldn't say things like that out loud if you ever visit America.
In Europe, it's strictly forbidden to say anything negative about Africans or Muslims (or a combination thereof). That makes you a disgusting racist.
Our "Latinos" (Spain, Portugal, etc) are not sacrosanct, because they're just Europeans. Not that anyone talks about them anyway.
In our fervor for political correctness, the West seems to have forgotten that an immigrant is just someone who's moved into another country - nothing more, nothing less. In Finland, though, "an immigrant" has become an euphemism for "a Somali". Over there, maybe it's code for "Latino".
I don't think the author of the original post used the word in a negative sense. As I see it, he was just describing an area.
> "There’s also huge differences from neighborhood to neighborhood as you are unlikely to find someone interested in the Mission (hipsters, homeless and immigrants)"
This does seem to be used in a derogatory way, and I did miss it the first time around. I don't think this is an innocent use of "immigrant" at all.
And hell, for a neighborhood that nobody's interested in, the Mission is one of the most expensive of them all. Go figure!
Why is no one taking offense to the "hipsters" or "homeless" parts? Those are also terms that are usually viewed negatively, but there are many people who are looking for exactly that in a neighborhood. Immigrants are a plus for many people too.
Pretty repulsive point of view IMHO.
EDIT: I am a recent immigrant to the United States
I think it's great that techies are discovering this awesome neighborhood (having grown up a techy myself), but given my background, I still can't help feeling a bit mixed about it, especially when I see fellow techies being completely dismissive/oblivious about my culture like the author of this post here...
I love the Mission. When I lived in SF at least half of my friends lived there. With the diverse culture, all the taquerias, the beautiful houses, Dolores Park, the nightlife, and the BART right there, it is very, very easy to find lots of people interested in living in the Mission.
For instance, I can't get a reference from a past landlord or a list of past landlords - I'm just graduating college and have lived in on-campus housing my whole time.
I'm hoping having a very good credit score and a very good offer letter in hand will solve this issue, but I'm not sure.
Additionally, I can't move out mid-month and look for an apartment starting at the beginning of the next - my job starts mid-month and I've moving out at the beginning.
Any advice for how to deal with these situations? Thanks!
- Rent a less desirable place. Desirable places in SF will have easily 20 people lined up out front, with the landlord taking his/her pick of the crowd based on income, credit, and references - and as a recent grad you will lose on all 3 counts.
- Seek roommate situations. Houses are more flexible about all of the above criteria and care more about personality, this is where you might have an edge (I don't know, I don't know you at all).
- Live outside the city. This is going to be a real bummer sometimes - your friends will want to hang out in the Mission till the crack of dawn, but you'd have to hop the BART or Caltrain before midnight to get home. But places outside SF proper experience far, far, far less competition.
And here's the one that works, but really stinks:
- Offer to pay more than face value of apartment. This is just insult upon injury - but it does work. Odds are, if you have a Unreasonably Wealthy Startup Guy(tm) viewing the apartment with you, he/she will bid the apartment up. It's become more and more common, and that's incredibly depressing.
Your key will be the offer letter. If you're making significantly more than the monthly rent amount, that will alleviate a lot of their concerns about you making rent (which is what most of those materials are really all about proving).
If you can't move in at the beginning of the month, it's not the end of the world. Tons of people in SF move out of their apartments mid-month, and you'll rarely see a shortage of housing inventory for mid-month move-ins. The key is moving in on them quickly and being willing to sign an application or lease on the spot. If all else fails, you can always do a short term sublet or Airbnb from the 15th through the 30th and use that time to find a lease that begins on the 1st.
I got here at about the beginning of the month, stayed 3 days in a hostel, 4 more days at a friend's place in Oakland and then signed a lease for a place in the heart of Chinatown. It's a fairly small room and the kitchen and showers are shared, but at $500/month all my acquaintances are saying I got a fairly good deal.
My trick was I got the landlord's number from a friend in Beijing the week before I left. Having friends in Oakland was just total luck. I'd met them years ago in Taiwan! All in all, Chinatown is pretty nice. It's safe, there's a ton of fresh produce to buy all over the place and things are cheap.
The two things which would be downsides for some are the hilliness and the Cantonese speaking community. I hated the hills when I was carrying my stuff across town, but now I generally appreciate the exercise while walking and the fun while on wheels. I do have a huge advantage being literate in Chinese characters, and Mandarin is more useful than English in a lot of areas, which mitigates some of the issues being surrounded by Cantonese.
I'm not working yet, but I've been going to a lot of Ruby and JS meet-ups, and it's generally a sub half-hour walk to any of their offices. All in all, I like it. I just have to avoid the Tenderloin when coming back from the Adobe/Zynga area.
So far the only difficulties I've had have been general country adjustment things (having spent nearly my whole adult life abroad), not SF things. To be honest, I'm amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone is!
My advice would be to wait and find a place you'll like and just realize once you get a full lease (ie- 1 year or more) you'll be there a while because in a year, rent will definitely be way higher.
Totally right. The goal with the way I talked about the Tenderloin was more to forewarn people. If you know what you're getting yourself into and follow the street-wise tips you provide, it can be a great place to work and an easy walk to the Financial district or SoMA where many work.
First, the bart shutting down at midnight doesn't mean there is no public transit. You can almost always take the bus.
Second: You can move near SF state, either in the city or in Daly City, and have an ok roommate/rent situation with managable transit options. Especially if you are willing to bike a bit.
But honestly if you're an engineer taking a job at a bay area tech company, you will be getting a relo package. If you move here on your own dime you're doing it wrong.
If you move your old worn out stuff you're doing it wrong. :)
When you're young, though, especially right out of school, you're entirely correct.
I would have guessed all the really good apartments would be spoken for by March 5th. Odd.
If you're looking for a complete credit report, there is no reason to not use https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. It is the official site set up by the three reporting agencies, as mandated by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.
There is an entire world of commuter residences all around San Francisco, and people figured out how to commute to San Francisco long before the tech boom (and most people wanting to live in the city) existed. Dublin/Pleasanton is the extreme, but there's also Castro Valley on my same line, a whole shitload of Oakland like Lake Merritt, and if you take the Pittsburg/Bay Point a whole bunch up there, too. Take off the San Francisco blinders and take advantage of the commute options that were built long before this industry.
It feels like people moving to San Francisco now treat it like New York City, where living in New Jersey and commuting in tends to suck. So most people focus on the boroughs, and landlords take advantage of them. San Francisco's out-of-town situation is far better, and I don't regret choosing a place an hour out of town at all.
Except BART stinks. The frequency is low. There are regular break downs.
Cars are too crowded in rush hour, so you have to leave early/late to grab a seat, especially while leaving the city. Otherwise consider the hour wasted.
Above all, the seats are always filthy, and more filthy if it has been raining. (They have just started putting vinyl seats)
If anyone is imagining that they would always get a pleasant train ride, where they browse/code/read for the 45min it takes to reach the city, think twice. If Bart improves, even the furthest stations like Dublin would be awesome.
Btw 2k for three beds is a great price.. where exactly in Dublin, if I may ask?
Could you elaborate on that? I'm very new to the Bay Area, still absorbing it all.
SF still has a lot to offer, but it just feels very fake and flooded with money to me. When everyone in the room is making six figures, it's hard to take the person in the thrift-shop shirt and tattoos seriously.
SF is a particularly bad case, but as far as I can tell, Seattle has plenty of this too.
2) Get a secured credit card so you at least have a file when they run your credit check. I'm sure you can find guides on how best to do this as a foreign citizen. If you don't have family or close friends here you could be out of luck. But if you do, you could easily have the card shipped to them and allow them to use it for things occasionally to help you get a credit rating.
US Credit ratings (FICO scores) are heavily weighted on revolving (credit card) accounts, not so much installment accounts, so don't worry about those.
Doing these things will help you immeasurably. Pulling credit is as much about identity verification as it is credit risk.
If you can't, remember: There are a TON of people with bad credit everywhere. They're not homeless. You will just have to be tenacious about it.
When you are trying to rent an apartment, yes. If you are trying to buy a cell phone or get a Mastercard or buy a car or a house, it's just the opposite: there's nothing worse than no credit.
If you have no credit, you can get a secured credit card and have a 650-700 fico in a few months. You'll have a thin file so don't expect a mortgage or anything, but in a year or two even that will be no problem.
Bad credit? You can do a lot to clean it up before the 7 years are up, but ive seen this in my own family and it's really a waiting game for bad entries to age off your report.
And anecdotally, which would you prefer to lend to: somebody with no track record, knowing the average American has a 650+ credit score, or somebody who has bad credit and a proven history of not repaying obligations.
It is subjective though, and ymmv.
So there's your answer: you'd rather lend money to the known deadbeat than someone with no credit history.
You can fix that very easily. You don't have to have a line of credit to get into their database. All you have to do is apply for one. That inquiry will be reported, you will have a credit file, and from then-on to whomever is pulling your credit it won't look as though you just made-up a 9 digit number in place of a real social security number.
The best way to do this will be to apply for credit some place in-person, like a bank.
So I'll reiterate: Having no credit is a much better position than having bad credit.
Having no identity? That is a problem I'm sure.
If you have a hard time getting a place, you should also strongly consider places outside of SF.
-Capital One has a 'newcommer' card that gives a $500 limit with any near blank new SSN online, instantly.
-Bank of america has one for canadians, most retail bankers don't know about it. The one by stanford mall did.