I suppose it depends on your definition of "suburban". Each one of those cities has a bona-fide city center and nearby residential development dense enough to allow a very walkable environment. It's a lot worse in many places back east including my area.
Although I am sympathetic what you're saying ... but we are on HN ... Hackers and Painters and all.
If you're looking for a gym, do yourself a favor and don't just sign up for a 24-hour fitness membership without looking around. You can do a lot better for not much more money. About the only thing you can say in favor of 24h is that they're cheap and open late.
If you can afford ~$60 a month, you have a lot of options, particularly if you negotiate. The YMCA is a good option in this range, and they don't jerk you around with contracts and high-pressure sales.
But then...I have yet to go to a gym in San Francisco that didn't have at least one squat rack and space for deadlifts. I don't know where you were going that wasn't properly equipped for strength training.
Some dude who has a high chance of getting himself hurt and who might bust your floors is probably not even worth considering for membership in the big scheme of things. Too much of a hassle.
If you're looking for a gym to just lift heavy shit, this is the place. Yeah, there are some typical gym bros here, but I've never had an problems and everyone is pretty good at following proper gym etiquette.
In addition to all the options mentioned above, check out the city pools. The lap swims are $5 a go, with no contract at all. You just show up, slip Mr. Lincoln under the glass, and go do your thing.
That's the business model for (almost?) all gyms. Don't make a decision based on this; decide based on if the gym offers the equipment/availability/classes/etc. you need, feels like a place you'd like to go to, is in a convenient location, etc.
The dominant companies are AT&T and Comcast. I hate them both, but I hate AT&T more, because of their poor customer service and slow speeds and high prices and defective software. In much of Europe, 6Mbps is not considered broadband. In the San Francisco Bay Area, 6Mbps is the standard.
If you're stuck in an area with AT&T, and you're unable or unwilling to deal with Comcast, then you should use Sonic.net. They use AT&T phone lines, but their business model is based on Free.fr. I'm hoping that the more customers they get, the quicker they can get around to installing fiber in my neighborhood, like they said they would 2 years ago.
And then there are various other, small Internet providers. In select neighborhoods of San Francisco, you can get Monkeybrains fixed wireless. In select apartment buildings, you can get Webpass fiber to the premises. If you want cable without Comcast for some reason, there's Astound.
That's about it for San Francisco, unless you're a business spending loads of money. Also, one neighborhood each of Palo Alto and Sebastopol have test runs of fiber from Google and Sonic.net, respectively. I don't know what else is available in the rest of the bay area.
Getting 16 down 1 up for $40/month, great customer service (always with a human being) and no long fixed-term contracts (you can cancel at any time at no extra cost).
Whether it's Sonic.net or Moneybrain or Webpass, I'm just glad there's a lot of great alternatives to the big (evil) players.
"This guide is targeted to “hackers” who wish to move to the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically San Francisco or Silicon Valley. This guide reflects my lifestyle - male, single, focused on work (in tech) and saving money, but keeping an eye on my health."
Which was named after St. Francis in 1769. Later, there was the Mission, San Francisco, in 1776; later still, the village of Yerba Buena took on the name San Francisco.
I've always thought it was interesting how physical barriers like water, hills, bridges and trains play such a big role in separating different types of people in the bay area.
Construction is currently happening to bring BART from East Bay to outer San Jose (Berryessa, scheduled for around 2016). There are unfunded plans/hopes for an extension of that through central San Jose and Santa Clara.
In the long term there would definitely be utility for round-the-bay BART service, but right now Caltrain provides way better nortbound service than San Jose-East Bay connections, so that extension does make more sense for having more priority. With any luck, Caltrain electrification driven by the HSR project might happen before Santa Clara gets around to funding BART to Mountain View, further reducing the need.
The other issues with Caltrain that I have include: The last Northbound train on Sundays being at 9pm and the last Northbound train on other days being around 11pm. Also, the fact that there are regions of time when they go every hour. Unfortunately, I doubt electrifying the train will really affect either of those.
The other issues you mention have little to do with diesel/electric Caltrain/BART differences. Caltrain could easily run late trains if its funding allowed, and in fact might be able to run later than BART, which begins shutting down at midnight to do maintenance on its raised and tunnelled track. Mid-day and weekend frequency is again a function of funding/chosen service level - more is clearly possible since there's 5 trains an hour during weekday rush hours.
One difference that might arise from electrification is support for electric multiple unit rolling stock. This is a setup where rather than being pulled/pushed by one big locomotive, each passenger car has smaller motors and propels itself. (BART cars are like this, but this can also be done with more commuter-level service.) This way the costs for three shorter trains an hour vs one long train an hour are closer than in diesel, which has the big fixed cost of the heavy locomotive, and it becomes more feasible to operate same capacity but more frequent service during times of less demand.
But again, this is also possible with diesel (diesel multiple unit) and has more to do with type of service Caltrain chooses/is asked to operate rather than electrification or dedicated right of way.
The real difference stems from funding models and goals of the service. BART is treated as near-metro (and in the central parts, is a metro) where moving people fast and conveniently is a goal. Minimum service is kept at 20 minutes even in outlying areas at 11 pm on a Sunday, not because there's many people taking it, but because that's the standard. Caltrain is primarily a commuter service through wealthy areas to make fairly rich people's commutes a little easier. People taking trains at 9 pm are not a particular priority.
However, "the city" and "the bay" are perfectly acceptable.
1) In addition to Craigslist, Livelovely.com seems to be a great amalgamator site for finding houses.
2) Be careful when about booking a place without seeing it (we booked a 1 month Airbnb while we searched for places) There are lots of INSANE hills that are totally impossible with a stroller. Even driving up and down them was daunting.
3) Credit score seems to be important for everything. We had to put an additional $400 down on each phone because we didn't have credit.
4) Saying that - so far every landlord who we've spoken to has been open to some other kind of deal - normally an extra months rent as a deposit, or paying a month or 2 in advance.
- re:exercize, I highly recommend climbing. It's easy to pick up, you can do it alone (bouldering) or with a partner (great thing to do with a date/SO :-), and the equipment cost is minimal, it uses all the muscles in your body and is oddly technical. The Touchstone network is great; it includes Mission Cliffs (SF, Mission); Great Western Power Company (Oakland). In the valley, Planet Granite is good. Swimming is also similarly great but harder to find nice clean pools in the city.
- re East Bay: I highly recommend living there if you work in downtown SF. Your commute will be slightly more expensive than if you lived in SF, but it could end up being shorter (I live near 12th St Oakland and get off at Montgomery- 25 minutes total commute).
- re:rent - the situation in SF sucks and will keep sucking for a while. It's a constant competition, you have to kiss the landlord's ass and fight with 20 other people at open houses, etc. Once again, the East Bay is highly recommended (Oakland for a city feel, Berkeley if you like to have a yard and be surrounded by trees- but the commute will be longer). In the valley, roommatehood is recommended. I lived with Stanford med students for a while, which was amazing because a) they were poor so they encouraged me to live frugally, b) they were delightful people and it's always nice to hang out with non techies, c) they were mature and focused on their studies so there was zero drama and zero messiness in the house.
- re:food - learn a dozen or so basic recipes, and cook yourself. You will save money, and what you eat will be way healthier. Also as a European I find US portions huge and feel bad about throwing out food everytime I eat out.
- re:meetups: it can be hard to make friends outside of work when you're out of college- meetups are amazing for that. For romantic aspirations, I would also recommed online dating. OKCupid is heavily used by young people in SF, and also allows you to meet people from outside the tech circle.
- re:meetups^2: at first, it can be tempting to go to meetups 2-3 times a week or more. I've found it to be pretty draining after a while - not all meetups are created equal, sadly. These days, I tend to do more 1-2 meetups a month tops, but of very high quality (to me- naturally, high quality for me is not necessarily high quality for you, and vice versa). Of course, finding high quality (in terms of interests, but also in terms of the kind of people you get along with best) meetups can only be done through experience - so if you've just moved here, go insane and explore!
- The valley is minuscule and after being there for a bit it feels like everyone is within 2 degrees of separation. Be professional, friendly and respectful of everyone, and don't burn any bridges. Keep in touch with people you like - a coffee/meal once a month or so is a great way to do so. If you can, find mentors (ideally not at your workplace- your boss is rarely the best person to go to for career advice) whom you can look up to.
- re: Hacker Spaces - I really love noisebridge and its mission, but it can be a little grungy (mostly because of SF's socio-economic shape at the moment). Especially in the recent months, there has been a lot of drama due to some people not playing by the rules there. Sadly, it can hurt the atmosphere a bit. I would recommend checking it out, but be aware of that. Hacker Dojo is way more PC and family friendly. I've heard great things about Sudo Room in Oakland.
- side/open source projects are important for your mental and intellectual sanity, for your "personal brand", and because they can lead to positively unexpected situations. However, some employers frown upon them (some will subtly discourage you from partaking in them or submitting a talk proposal to that conference, while others will outright forbid them ⁂cough cough Apple cough⁂). In those cases, I like to apply the "forgiveness rather than permission" and "what they don't know can't hurt them" heuristics :-).
- on a similar note, Silicon Valley has a very friendly atmosphere, and as it was put- there are no other places in the world where you can work in sandals while eating M&Ms. However, don't forget that at the end of the day, your employer is your employer - not your wife, or your girlfriend, or your parents, or your kids. It's a two way street - you should be getting as much out of the job as the job gets out of you - and jobs in Silicon Valley are very demanding and tend to take a lot from you. Don't feel bad about quitting a job that does not jive with you just because your boss is a cool guy who will play beer pong with you on Friday nights. Be thankful for what you have, but remember that engineers are in high demand. "Company loyalty" and "company culture" are words that employers know how to use to their ends. In what I've seen of Silicon Valley Companies who claim loudly that they have "work/life balance" and actually do encourage it are a minority (that can't mean that it's impossible to achieve- just that you may have to work a bit for it to get it).
Finally, a tip for fresh grads: it can be pretty mindblowing for people right out of college to have a 5 figure (or in some cases, 6 figure) salary after living on ramen for years. Some people spend it by getting a really nice place, buying a fancy car, and going to Tahoe every other weekend. I would recommend trying to put aside 50% or so of your take home paycheck every month - it's easily doable without compromising too much, and if you want to treat yourself down the road (take 3 months to travel the world, or dive into your own startup, etc.) you'll be happy to have several months (if not years!) of living expenses saved up.
Heh, sure there are! I run a startup here in Austin, and there are plenty of tech jobs, sandals, and free M&Ms here. After living 10 years in the Bay Area, I am also enjoying owning my own house with a yard for far less than I would pay in the Bay Area. And, if you like to cook, Central Market beats the pants off any grocery store in/near SF.
One day a customer shows up in the computer store with an Internet question. I get called out of the back room to go to the sales floor, and I went onto the floor with my birkenstocks on.
The sales floor manager had a complete conniption fit and I was going to have to dress up like a sales guy to keep working there. There was no way I was going to do that, so I resigned.
There might be more by percentage in the bay than other places but not the only place by far. Standard wear at my jobs have been flip flops, jeans, tshirts for everyone who wasn't meeting with clients regularly.
One of my internships in the midwest was at a place where barefoot was ok, sandals were the norm, and M&Ms (specifically the peanut variety) were called "developer pellets" and consumed in great quantity.
Food: Jacks Prime, Jeffery's, Super Duper and In and Out all make great burgers.
One plus to living in the San Mateo area is 92 can bring you to the 280, 101, El Camino and the East Bay with Half Moon Bay only a 20min drive over the mountains and you're closer to SF. it's by far my favorite area in the valley.
Disclosure: I work at Apartment List. Since someone already mentioned LiveLovely, I suppose I'll recognize them too :-D
All areas with good schools will run you over 1M for a house. A place that isn't ghetto with mediocre to bad schools will run you about 750k.
San Mateo is not a bad place to live, especially if you like urban areas. Rent is more expensive there, though, and there is more traffic.
Indeed, as a general point, I do hope that Palo Alto is not known solely for Palantir, but also for its many long-standing institutions. From Stanford and the Palo Alto Unified School District's amazing (top-ranked) public schools, to its 6 libraries (for 66,000 people).
--A Palo Alto native (born and raised).
Silicon Valley still has lots of silicon tech!
They have a great map-based UI that easily lets you see how many listings are available where and for how much, and you can easily filter by price, type of stay, # of bedrooms/bathrooms, etc.
I have found that (Bay Area subset of N. CA) is a very common misconception of people who have recently moved to the area.
The Bay Area is definitely not within Central California, taken as a sociogeographic term. The Central California Coast is the coastal region between roughly Santa Barbara and Point Lobos, centered on SLO. There is also another inland definition of Central California: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_California
The same is true for Northern and Southern California. There's no official distinction. Calling the Bay Area part of Northern California places too much emphasis on the Los Angeles area. By analogy, saying that "North" begins at the Transverse Ranges is like saying that "Upstate" begins at Yonkers. Ridiculous.
"Northern California is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The San Francisco Bay Area (which includes the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose), and Sacramento (the state capital) as well as its metropolitan area are the main population centers."
No idea on the tech scene out here - I've been consulting & bootstrapping from home.
For example, coming from Denmark, I was able to buy travel health insurance for coverage in the U.S., from http://www.gouda.dk/, for $100/mo. It would've been cheaper if it were for travel to any other country besides the U.S. (there are three price categories: Europe, world excl. US, world incl. US), but c'est la vie.
If you become a California resident, you can buy health insurance here: https://www.coveredca.com/
The Bay Area had a great run, spanning several decades, but the VC darlings and private equity carpetbaggers who never belonged in the tech scene, in their zeal to turn everything into a shitty New York knock-off, ruined it.
It's not the land of opportunity any more. You're not going to get rich on 0.05% "equity" (inequity?) in some hail-Mary startup, nor are you even going to get the implicitly promised (but rarely delivered) investor contact and the mentoring to be a founder in the next go; get real, the train has left the station. I don't know where the next emerging opportunities are, but if you're 22 right now and have no inherited connections, the VC-funded nonsense is far along in its decline process that, by the time you'll be positioned to take advantage of it, the opportunities will all be gone.
Bay Area VC-funded companies are now the conservative, boring choice. They don't involve much risk. There's almost no upside, because engineers aren't respected in that world any more. It's what you do if you're 22, intelligent, prestige-focused, and can't think of anything else. There's nothing wrong with it, as such-- most 22-year-olds have no clue what the fuck they want to do with their lives, that's nearly universal, and it's generally not a mark against the person-- but it'd be better to see more material pointing the young to something that still has real opportunities. VC-istan social climbing ain't it. It's become like the investment banking analyst program, but instead of getting a bonus every year, you get a get a bonus at "liquidity" if that ever happens-- and if you're an engineer, it's a mediocre one and you'd have done better at a hedge fund.
If I were just coming out of school, I'd move to Chicago or Austin before San Francisco, just to avoid the effective debt bondage of exorbitant rents. New York's also nice if you're into finance, although its tech scene is pretty pathetic.
The real goal should be to end the tyranny of location, because it hurts people on both sides. First, it forces people to move out to San Francisco who really don't want to be there; that's probably half the Bay Area tech industry-- people go for the opportunities that are there, not the place itself. Second, it drives up rents and ruins things for the natives who've lived there forever and love the city-- and it should be given back for them.
The question I love to ask around is whether any of these VCs or so-called "angels" of today would write a check to a smelly barefoot bum in a garage working with two other nerds on some unknown unproven electronic board. (in other words, how Mark Markkulla wrote the check to Steve Jobs to fund Apple)
> "I don't know where the next emerging opportunities are"
I am not sure either, but if I was 22 today I would be packing my stuff and buying a one-way ticket to China. (I did live 2 years in China and left recently due to family reasons, but I am almost 40 now).
It can be understandable why he doesn't like them.
But if you find something cool in Boston, don't let the location discourage you. I haven't been out there much, but I like the city and, in general, am a pretty big fan of New England.