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Ask HN: Am I missing out by not being in sillicon valley?
148 points by fomophile on May 19, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 167 comments
I'm a serial bootstrapper/software engineer that has been consulting remotely for clients in between trying to start different lifestyle businesses.

I'm living in a small town away from any tech hubs, I feel like I have access to the best of whats happening in tech via the web but sometimes feel like my career is being hurt by not being in sillicon valley.

The lifestyle is laid back here, and things are cheap. I'm not in any kind of rat race. But am I just staying in my comfort zone and missing out?

I would be very interested to hear thoughts of devs who have lived in sillicon valley and whether or not they find it worth the high rents.




No, absolutely not. I just left and I couldn't be happier. We work in this ironic industry where, on one hand, you can do this job from literally anywhere with an internet connection... but there is this tremendous pressure to be in the Bay Area. It's all hype my man. Save your money and keep doing what you're doing. Correlation is not causation: there are other ways for you to stay current, you don't need to be in SV.


The thing that's concentrated in the Bay Area is capital. You can work from anywhere, but raising money is exponentially easier when there's a ton of it in your back yard.


It depends, of course.

If your goal is primarily to save money so that you can retire or don't have to work or can choose when/where/how to work, you're already on the right path. Economically, demand for housing in the bay area is strong enough right now that rents are rising to whatever level people can afford to pay. That means you're basically assured of having little or no surplus unless one of your ventures is wildly successful.

If your goal is to develop a bigger network of people in your industry, you're probably missing out, although your client network will be very valuable to you as well. Also, not all of the people you're missing out on are people you want in your network anyway...

The culture in "silicon valley" is toxic. People are obnoxious and narcissistic; many are pathological liars and self-promoters. Plenty has been written about this, both serious and satirical. There are certainly people who enjoy it, but it sounds like you're fairly happy where you are, so you probably aren't one of them.

If you're tired of bootstrapping and want to get funded, you'll probably have a better chance in the bay area or some other large city. Otherwise this is moot for you.

Also, remember that most of "silicon valley" isn't involved in technology any more. It's become mostly a media/advertising center. There are still technology companies around, but the focus has definitely shifted.

You might want to ask yourself not "am I missing out?" but rather "what would I like to change about my present circumstances?" and go from there.


> The culture in "silicon valley" is toxic. People are obnoxious and narcissistic; many are pathological liars and self-promoters.

I grew in Silicon Valley and work here now as a dev at one of the major tech companies and have no idea what you're talking about. The people I work with seem totally normal.

Well I mean, they're all relatively enthusiastic about technology, and generally affluent, but aside from that I don't see anything particularly unusual.


I think the portion of people the grandparent is talking about is relatively small in numbers, but relatively large in shrillness.

I worked as a dev at one of the major tech companies here for 5 years and basically found that all my coworkers were nice, normal, fairly geeky engineers who really loved technology. My fiancee grew up in the area, doesn't work at tech, and most of her friends are locals. They're all very normal and friendly too. (Probably moreso than I'm used to - I grew up in New England, where everybody's reserved until you get to know them.)

The problem is that the folks who are grandiose self-promoters seem to spend all their time self-promoting, which makes you disproportionately likely to run into them, particularly if you go to startup events. Stay away from that corner and Silicon Valley is basically just a bunch of highly-educated nerds who work very hard.


> all my coworkers were nice, normal, fairly geeky engineers who really loved technology.

I spent a few years living in SF. I think the geek monoculture kind of drove me away. I accidentally fell into tech via math and felt like there was this pressure to conform to this image of a "nerdy engineer". No, I don't obsess about board games or comic books or the latest Japanese cartoons. I kind of get why someone likes them but it gets overwhelming.

Another thing that got annoying was how everyone kept going on and on about tech everywhere. Again, maybe things are different in the South Bay, but SF felt like a flurry of Coffee shops filled with folks talking about Ruby, Haskell and Data Science.

I still remember sitting in a Coffee Shop after I interviewed at my current company in NYC. I overheard a brief conversation between two girls about Python. The fact that they meant the reptile and not the language kind of sealed the deal for me.


Nah, South Bay is like that too, perhaps even moreso. I fit in perfectly - that's the type of environment I've wanted since childhood (although I'm a bit turned off by the posturing-wantrepreneur scene...I just avoid it though). It's a bit tougher for my fiancee, who doesn't care about anything tech-related and is much more the social do-gooder type. Even she's found her own crowd though. There are 8.6M people in the Bay Area - if you look hard enough, it's not that hard to find ones that aren't in tech.


> Well I mean, they're all relatively enthusiastic about technology, and generally affluent, but aside from that I don't see anything particularly unusual.

The culture of the bay area in general can be very toxic for a particular type of individual. If you're religious or lean to the right in any way, you'll be met with open hostility. The culture of the bay area is also passive aggressive. Nobody wants to offend or confront, so if your manager doesn't like you, you probably won't know it. You'll just get the shittiest tasks and won't be sure why. It's a particular kind of hell for someone who values honestly and blunt talk, like a new yorker, for example.


"Nobody wants to offend or confront, so if your manager doesn't like you, you probably won't know it. You'll just get the shittiest tasks and won't be sure why."

That's a pretty common practice in a lot of companies everywhere - it's called "managing someone out" (as in "out the door"). Companies do it because if an employee can be convinced to leave voluntarily, the company saves money and avoids the potential lawsuit that might ensue from a termination.


I'm aware. I stand by my statement.


I'm religious (mormon) and have not seen any problems.


There are neoreactionaries in the bay area and they seem to be doing fine.


Stunning counterargument.


> I grew in Silicon Valley > The people I work with seem totally normal.

It could be that it's just what your used to. People that grew up outside of the area may see things a little differently based on their life experiences in other places.


I've also lived in Washington, Utah, and Alabama (and NYC for a couple months), so it's not like I don't have other experience. When I say they're totally normal, I don't mean they're exactly the same as anywhere else, but their personalities aren't particularly abnormal, certainly not to the point I'd say that they're "obnoxious and narcissistic."


The pathological liars and self-promoters are usually not as common among developer communities.

Now, if you're a founder, you'll see many other founders and VCs whose actions align with those characteristics.


Interesting observation. I live and work in NYC. When I read about all of the sexism and misogyny in tech it sounds completely different from the tech scene I know and work in. I've long suspected that a lot of those stories are trumped up by "journalists" who want to write stories about the tech gender gap because it's a trendy topic and it affords them the opportunity to use the term "brogrammer" in a sentence. However, I wonder if maybe the Silicon Valley tech culture is significantly more assholey than the tech culture in NYC.

Several months ago I went to the south bay for a job interview. The people who interviewed me seemed nice, if not cut throat. However, I was rather shocked by some of the people I met at the hotel. They were very smug and had extremely entitled attitudes. A few of them were very happy to share with me the fact that they own multiple homes, although I didn't ask them. One guy straight up told me he doesn't like blacks and hispanics. This comment was made at the hotel rooftop pool. It was not a private conversation and the man didn't seem to even fathom that I might have found that offensive.

Then again, it was a ritzy hotel in the most expensive part of that town. I might meet similar people if I stayed at the St. Regis in NYC for a few days.

So IDK, are Silicon Valley types ass trumpets?


> When I read about all of the sexism and misogyny in tech it sounds completely different from the tech scene I know and work in.

I work in NYC too, after spending quite a few years in the bay area. Tech has a diversity problem in general. It is not like things are magically all sunshine and rainbows in NY.

The only distinction is that the Bay has so many many of these small companies that are filled with white men in their twenties who all went to school together and think alike.

Yeah, a lot of them can be as bro-like as your typical finance bro.


Working for a "major tech company" would insulate you from what Silicon Valley is like, I imagine. There's valley VC/startup culture, and then there's company culture, and they're quite different.


I was going to say the same thing. Talking to co-workers in a "major tech company" is different from talking to other startup CEO/CTO's and just general Silicon Valley networking. The latter is quite exhausting.


So don't, then. Most of the big Silicon Valley success stories came from people that were either students/professors at Stanford (HP, Sun, Siri, SGI, Yahoo, Google, SnapChat) or worked for one of the big tech companies of the time (Apple, EBay, Intel, Oracle, Whatsapp, Twitter, Nest, Android, Slack). Occasionally you get a transplant from another region (DropBox, Facebook, AirBnB, Flickr, del.icio.us, YCombinator), but then they've usually found an idea that's somewhat promising and actively started working on it before moving.


While I might be able to afford this luxury, I think networking in Silicon Valley directly relates to OP's question. What he's missing out on is the interaction with the VC's here, the incubators, the work spaces, the hackathons, etc. Participating in all that and interacting with other self-promotors because you also want to self-promote can be exhausting and what can lead to the 'toxic' referenced in the parent comment.


I grew up in the Silicon Valley and I thought the same thing until I moved away.


Exactly where? People calling the bay area the "silicon valley" is strange to me. Kids don't even agree you're from the same area if you're not from a certain side of a city, so you have to specify where and when.

There is a big difference between "east side san jose" or sunnyvale or something.


Sunnyvale. 3 blocks from Apple HQ.


Isn't that cupertino? There's a huge difference between different subcultures, I grew up in san jose and can recognize extreme differences in each city and side of a city.


Apple HQ is on the edge of Cupertino.

And yeah I agree, San Jose is a lot more chill... but IMO that's because there's less of the Silicon Valley there, if that makes sense.


I lived in Alabama for 2 years, Utah for almost 3, Washington for almost 3, and NYC for a couple months.


Hm, I guess we grew up in different parts or got exposed to different types of people.

Oh... and for the record, I just agree with the narcissistic part... I have no idea what OP is talking about with regards to being obnoxious, pathological liars, self-promoters, etc.


>grew in Silicon Valley and work here now as a dev

>The people I work with seem totally normal.

These two statements don't seem related to you?

I grew up in Orlando, Florida and for the first 25 years of my life, I thought people just went to Disney World when they felt like it. I thought everyone was tan and wore sunglasses and shorts all the time. I thought everyone knew how to surf, or had been to the ocean recently. I thought most people just had guns and didn't worry about them.

All of these things were normal to me, because I hadn't experienced other people's normal. So when you say "I grew up here, all of the people I know are normal," you're basically saying "I live in a filter bubble and might be accidentally proving your point."


You sound bitter, so maybe you've been burned. I'm not from here, and the people I work with don't seem toxic at all. Maybe I got lucky and found a good working environment that isn't the norm. I get your point, but the poster didn't exactly expose himself as a toxic person, so I'm not sure you can make the leap in assumption about his point of view that you seem to be trying to make.


He doesn't sound bitter to me. He's pointing out a possible oversight in perspective.


I've also lived in Alabama, Utah, and Washington (and also NYC for a short time). I'm not saying my co-workers are exactly the same as other demographics, but they're certainly not "obnoxious and narcissistic."


"The culture in "silicon valley" is toxic. People are obnoxious and narcissistic; many are pathological liars and self-promoters."

There are obnoxious and narcissistic people everywhere. I've been living here for many years after having grown up and lived in many different places all over the world. I feel like I'm usually surrounded by usually nice and helpful people here.

Those statements by you sounds like an overly cynical's person's view of a place they've somehow come to hate and are probably perceiving that reflected back at them from the people you're surrounded with. Please please don't project your own problems on the whole society around you.


>The culture in "silicon valley" is toxic. People are obnoxious and narcissistic; many are pathological liars and self-promoters.

This hasn't been my experience at all.


Maybe not as a developer, but as a founder, I imagine you will experience this culture.


Who do you think I have been working for, and with?


>> Also, remember that most of "silicon valley" isn't involved in technology any more. It's become mostly a media/advertising center. There are still technology companies around, but the focus has definitely shifted.

Can you please elaborate?


Not the OP, but in the golden age of Valley tech, say when Hewlett and Packard were still building great O-scopes full time, the dominant business model was "let's build this really useful apparatus and then sell it."

Today, the dominant business model is "let's find a way to get a lot of people's attention and then sell the right to show them propaganda."

Obviously these models are not even approximately equivalent and will attract/create very different ecosystems.


Sure, but, the dominant business model would have been that back then too, if the economy supported it at the time.

There are, in fact, a lot more companies now that do what Hewlett and Packard were doing then.

One can't reasonably expect that set of companies would grow to infinite size, because the economy can only support so many of these types of businesses.

So if we want to define only the former business model as a technology company, the end result would probably be "we've hit the limit of supportable technology companies, there will be no more technology companies until that changes". Because of this, it doesn't really make sense to define it that way[1].

It turns out the economy seems to support more of this other kind of business, so it has become dominant. That too is the natural order of things.

Otherwise, this is like OP complaining "man, there aren't a lot of paper mills anymore", when the economy doesn't support paper mills being around anymore.

[1] Though it is, of course, reasonable to have liked it better back in those days if you did.


I think a deeper discussion of what it means to be a technology company and the focus of bay area companies would be a hijack here. But, very briefly, if you view Google and Facebook as "technology companies", we disagree. The closest analogue to Google in terms of business model is a company now called Dex but for decades known as R. H. Donnelley and Sons, which published telephone books and sold advertising in them in the form of the Yellow Pages. Facebook's best analogue is probably a reality television show production company. These companies and many of their brethren are not in the business of developing and marketing new technology. They are in the media business and any technology they happen to develop is a sideshow. It may be used internally and never shared or it may be made open source for any of a number of (usually sound) business reasons, but the development and marketing of that technology is neither the company's primary business nor a significant source of its revenue. If you don't believe me, read the 10-Ks. You are what your revenue says you are.

There are many, many other examples. If you look at a random sampling of promotional posts to HN, you will see a cross-section of the entire global economy: retailers (lots of 'em), restaurants, media, manufacturing, and yes, technology. It's fair to say that a lot of people in the bay area are interested in technology, but most of their employers are properly placed in other sectors based on their business models, revenue sources, and other objective metrics. The development of new technology for sale as a business model has been in decline for a long time and is far from dominant in the bay area today.

Note that this is not necessarily good or bad. It just is, and reflects a transition among a group of people from developing new technologies to exploiting that technology in more traditional business models.


Technology is always a means to an end, though. During the 50s and 60s, the technology being developed in Silicon Valley was all about how to make death rain down from the sky. The first wave of Silicon Valley immigration started with Lockheed's Polaris missile program. Fairchild Semiconductor was financed by a company that got started manufacturing bombsights, machine gun cameras, and spy satellites. Hewlett Packard started out building artillery shell fuses and anti-radar devices. Lawrence Livermore Labs was where nearly every atomic bomb of the cold war was developed.

Usually when people talk of the bygone era when Silicon Valley was actually about technology, they're referring to one of two things:

1.) A particular sort of nostalgic history whitewashing where we forget that the money for all of these fundamental innovations largely came from DARPA contracts to find new, more efficient ways to vaporize Russians.

2.) The PC revolution of the 1970s, which started at Intel and PARC and then spread through Homebrew, Apple, and numerous other startups.

Both of these apply the benefit of hindsight to what was actually going on at the time. There's plenty of the old Homebrew culture still going on in Silicon Valley - all you have to do is go to Maker Faire to see it. It's just that right now, at this moment, without the benefit of hindsight, it just looks like a bunch of geeks tinkering with toys.


I'm contrasting mainly #2 (although the source of funds for the development of novel technology doesn't seem relevant in the abstract here, so #1 applies too) with the current state of affairs.

In the 70s and 80s, Silicon Valley was primarily interested in making new hardware and software to put inside metal boxes, then selling the box and its contents as the solution to some problem the buyer has (or not). Today, the bay area's "tech" companies are primarily interested in writing or customizing software to solve some set of their own problems with whatever business they're really in. Those are very different ways of making money. Neither is wrong, but I submit that only the former makes you a "technology company". Otherwise every company is a technology company and the term means nothing.


You just said "You are what your revenue says you are", so I assumed the source of funds for development of novel technology would be very relevant to you.

I'd also disagree on your characterization of how Google/Facebook apply technology, but figured I'd meet your argument where it was instead of where it should be. Having worked for the non-revenue-generating side of Google (which, by employee count, is roughly 2/3 of it), we cared a lot about solving the user's problems, where "users" = people who search, not people who paid us. Google is in a multi-sided market: it's a business that has identified multiple different groups of people, such that all of them gain something from the product and some of them will pay money for it. Larry understands very well that the market collapses if any one of those groups (users, content creators, advertisers) stops using the product, and organizationally Google is (was?) setup with an executive solely responsible to each of those groups who is explicitly told to ignore the interests of the others.

There are still hardware startups whose business model is selling a physical "thing" that embodies technology and lets you do things. By and large, though, that segment of the economy is shrinking, as younger buyers increasingly don't want to own "things" and do want to own "experiences". Companies slim down in response to offer the experience their customers desire while retaining ownership of the things that make that possible.


When I said source doesn't matter, I meant whether your customers are public or private sector. The salient aspect of a technology company, for me, is that it develops and sells new technological artifacts and derives most of its revenue from that activity. Google would be a technology company if it developed a search engine and then sold it to others, which for a brief and economically irrelevant time, it did. That's not its business model.

What's objectionable about today's Silicon Valley isn't that it's not about silicon (or even software or any kind of new technology at all) but that it continues, collectively and individually, to market itself as though it were. There's nothing wrong with making phone books. Phone books are useful. Google makes a pretty nice one, and sometimes the Yellow Pages (the ads) are exactly what you want anyway. But you're not selling technology, you're selling ads in phone books that you then give away. Just say so.

While we're here, don't deceive yourself into thinking that assembling the contents of the phone book in a complete, concise, useful way (what "users" want) isn't revenue-generating. The more useful the phone book is, the more advertisers will pay to appear in it. If you end up creating some whiz-bang technology for internal use that makes that easier/better/whatever, that's great. But if you're not bringing that to market for others to use, you shouldn't be calling yourself a technology company.


I thought HP's first product was an oscillator, used in the theramin that produced music for Disney's Fantasia. Or is that an urban legend?


That was their first product, but their sales took off because of defense contracts during WW2, growing from $100K in 1940 to millions of dollars by the end of the war.

http://www.smecc.org/hewlett-packard_the_start__-2.htm

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/264529/Hewlett-Pac...


>The culture in "silicon valley" is toxic. People are obnoxious and narcissistic; many are pathological liars and self-promoters.

This should be read as YMMV (your mileage may vary). One person in Silicon Valley and his anecdotal evidence based on interactions w/ a few bad apples does not represent every single person in Silicon Valley.


Everytime I visit California, as a Chicagoan, I'm a little put out by the really ugly displays of materialism and general ostentatious attitudes. To each his own I guess, but if someone grew up with that, I could see them not even noticing it.

For example, I find all the characters on HBO's Entourage to be insufferable and self-obsessed douchebags, but to some of the people I've talk to in the film business, they seem to love those characters and deeply relate with them.


FWIW: I have found the same in Chicago :) These are all subjective things in practice, so ...


Anyone who knows the two knows that Chicago is far worse. Also you cannot just say "California" you have to say which part and which subsection/side of city.


I'm in a similar situation and I've decided that while I won't live there, it's worth visiting my friends and contacts once in a while to catch up and learn about what they're doing.

I've been told by many friends in the Bay Area that day-to-day, it doesn't feel to them like there's enormous networking because everyone is in their own routines. They advised me that a huge percentage of networking can be accomplished by telling people you're "visiting for two weeks".

However, living there long-term and having your personal network double as your professional network is a different order of magnitude benefits. My perception is, from the outside and from visiting, the reason specific companies get bought or partnered with is often because they were more closely socially connected and geographically nearby (more likely to hear about one another, have friends in common, etc.)

I believe it's not something that happens overnight, but over time as an investment in the community and being there long-term.

I've recently made a conscious decision to put other priorities in life (where I really want to live, and my life outside tech) on equal or greater footing. For those for whom that's no conflict, I'm sure it's fantastic to live there.


I moved from the midwest to San Francisco. In my experience:

  -> the culture here is more optimistic and open-minded; people are more willing to take risks and try hard things
  -> the weather is more moderate
  -> the scenery is more interesting and varied
  -> there are vastly more (good) job opportunities for software engineers.
  -> Bay Area/NYC software engineers get paid more than engineers elsewhere *on average*. But they are also much more skilled on average. If you're skilled enough to be hired in the bay area, then you probably will be paid less than what you could demand where your skill is rare.
  -> cost of living is totally unreasonable in the bay area, and the stats understate this because many people here have massive effective subsidies from rent control and fixed property taxes.


Bay Area does pay more than elsewhere. However, given the extraordinary rents, it doesn't pay that much more. If money is a concern, I'd say somewhere like NYC or LA is a better option.


Sorry, I was not clear: I think if you have the option to work in Silicon Valley, you can make more elsewhere.

The housing crisis and (to a much lesser extent) generally high wages amplify this imbalance.

Lots of people say that Silicon Valley pays particularly well, and I think this is true only statistically. Silicon Valley pays world-class engineers more than Chicago pays mediocre engineers. I believe a world-class engineer is likely to make more in Chicago than in Silicon Valley, provided that the engineer can find a suitable job at all in Chicago.

So if want to maximize expected income, I think you should live in NYC working in finance, or if you don't like that option, anywhere in the U.S. except the Bay Area. I don't know anything about the rest of the world so I wouldn't give any advice about that.

If you want to maximize the likelihood that you can find an interesting job in software, you should move to the Bay Area.


Maybe...I'm not sure if you can find "world-class engineers" that are somehow interested in working with less than world-class coworkers (so if they were paid crazy amounts of money perhaps).


Given the rent it actually pays less. A lot of people don't realize this. $3k for a studio apartment is insane.


Or work in NYC and live in NJ/Long Island. If you can get productive on the commute, you can live in a nice house for very little money, in a good school district. It's not as trendy as Brooklyn/SF, but I have a basement, a back yard, and a shed (with power and water). I might put a rack back there, and not worry about noise...


I am sorry but I find it hard to be productive in a crowded and noisy NJ Transit train.


Salaries in LA area are low. I used to get recruiter spam for positions paying 38k-50k and asking for two years of experience. This wasn't even very long ago, about late 2013 in the Santa Monica area


I don't think that is a truthy assessment as I just got a recruiter email in my inbox at $140k for full stack node.js. I think you can easily find both ends of the spectrum. Average seems to be about around $80-115k for most devs in LA.


I live in NYC and have been considering moving to California. My impression is that both NYC rents and salaries are pretty much in line with SF, while LA is behind in both.


Having worked in tech in NYC and now in Mountain View you are technically correct, but it is not the whole picture.

In NYC I lived in Brooklyn and took the subway to work and was pretty happy with that. In silicon valley this is usually not an option. There are company shuttles, but it is not the same as just jumping on the next city bound train.

You will need a car, and you will want to live in expensive areas to avoid horrible commutes. This is also true for SF, the transportation system even there is nothing like NYC, even including NJ.

On a personal level, I find SF/Bay area much more boring than NYC. The food options are nowhere near as good either. I'm happy with that as I'm getting older with a nice house and family. But if I was 25 I would stay in NYC, there are more than enough tech jobs there and you can live for cheaper if you want.


Know any places to work in NY? I've been thinking of moving to Brooklyn myself.


I worked for Google and enjoyed that. There are a number of startups in Brooklyn that look promising and of course there are lot of financial software development opportunities in Manhattan.

I really liked Brooklyn, there is a lot going on there.


I lived in SF on-off from '98-'01, and I'm out there semi-regularly.

If you're hoping to raise funds for a company, there's a clear advantage to being in SFBA.

If you're hoping to avoid taking investor money, there's a disadvantage to being there, because of how the place impacts your cost structure.

There's such an intense competition to get new ideas, technologies, and that kind of thing in front of as many eyeballs as possible that you're almost definitely not missing out intellectually from living somewhere else.

I think it's also worth remembering that there's really, in a day-to-day living sort of sense, two "Silicon Valleys" --- the Oakland/Berkeley/SF† Silicon Valley and the South Bay Silicon Valley. Most people aren't willing to drive 2-3 hours regularly just to be casually social on a weeknight. So: even if you lived in SFBA, you'd still have to pick which SFBA to live in, and "miss out" on a lot of the other part.

I may be being overly generous and there's really 3 SFBAs, or maybe East Bay is like an adjunct to both SF and South Bay, I don't know.


<tangent>Burritos (as generally served in US) are basically cheap concentrated umami. Not my favorite form factor for it or what I would gravitate to at a Mexican place, but I can see the attraction.</tangent>


You've been fed some weird burritos.


Tangent is an understatement, I would call that orthogonal!

Speaking of which, monads are like burritos :-) http://blog.plover.com/prog/burritos.html


I think patio11 meant to respond to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9572750


I went to Cancun and came back without eating anything similar to what I once got at Chipotle. Unfortunately.


100% agree - in 2 years of living in East Bay and working in SF, I went to the South Bay exactly 3 times.


Simple solution to find out?

You work remotely right? Split some time here. about 3 months here will let you know for certain if you are or not.

There are alot of hostels and hacker houses (just google "hacker house sf" or "hacker house silicon valley")

Also remember its really interesting how the layout of companies in the valley follows the OSI model

https://engineering.linkedin.com/endorsements/geographic-tre...

So make sure to spend time not only in San Francisco but also in Palo alto, Mountain View, and maybe even San Jose.

That way you can experience the whole of whats out here and decide for yourself.

Myself personally I found out I very much was. The level of talent and the caliber of the average person in tech here is rarely paralleled.

Not to mention most other markets don't create the caliber of consumer tech compaines I'm most passionate about and are more focused on B2B.

I learn alot through osmosis so I would be short changing myself to be anywhere else if I want to be among the best in the field.

There are certainly snakes and sociopaths around but any place there is money to be made or power to be had you will find those people.

SF and SV do the best job they can to still only reward those with the talent to make big things happen.


Awesome, I wasn't aware of "hacker houses". I've always wanted to visit (move to?) SF, but the rents are a huge turn-off.

I'll check them out right after graduation.


It's hard to answer this question without some idea of what your goals are. What is it you feel you're missing out on? The chance to work with great people? To make a lot of money? To eat a decent burrito?


I think that the burritos in LA are better.


Burrito based decision making is clearly the way to go.


As is Burrito Driven Development!


You may be on to something. I did a quick search for `BDD` and found a LOT of results in google. This Burrito Driven Development must be a thing already.


Let's write the manifesto!


"Dear Humans, for the last several centuries you have used many different mental strategies to try and make decisions. These seem to have produced a generally optimal outcome (ignoring the genocides) with globally increasing standards of living and increases in freedom for humans generally. We are here today to proclaim that you have been wrong all these years. You could have been so much better off if you had only migrated towards where there were more burritos. Ignoring the blatantly counterfactual spin this argument carries, the data is in. Burritos are king. Sincerely, BBD Evangelists"


We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

Burritos over processes and tools

Burritos over comprehensive documentation

Burritos over contract negotiation

Burritos over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value burritos.


Have you been to HRD?


Them be fightn' words.


Them be true words. (I'm a santa clara valley native)

San Diego is even better.



Ahem. Austin.


If the "burritos" in Austin are anything like those found in San Antonio...

Well. That would make them these little things you can fit thumb and forefinger around that come off a grill. They are but sad, pale, imitations of the true glory that is a Mission burrito. A burrito as done by someone who believes it just a slightly upsized taco.


Consider the midwest. Minneapolis, MN. So many burrito options.


I used to live in Michigan...burritos were terrible there. I seriously thought the entire midwest had burrito blite. I also spent a lot of time around Bemidji many years go, I don't remember seeing a burrito there.

Hopefully you are right and Minneapolis is better. But for my money Phoenix has some great burritos (I don't live there, I'm in Boise)


But very few good ones. If you find a Taco Morelos nearby, eat there!


What is it with the burritos? Burritos are not very good, I mean, just as a dish. "To eat decent dim sum" seems like a good reason to move to SF, though.


Where have you found decent dim sum? I'm asking for a friend.


Both Ton Kiang and Yank Sing are better than anything in the Midwest.

Crispy tripe tacos at the carniciera near Cook Country jail are better than any Mexican food in San Francisco.


Do you count Toronto as "in the Midwest"?


Game theoretically the only rational response to that is "no". Does Toronto have amazing dim sum?


I have had very very good experiences there. I have not eaten dim sum in the Bay Area, but compared to the pacific northwest and southern California it ranks favorably.

If you fly into Toronto City airport you can walk to Chinatown...


(Best dimsum in Toronto is to be had in car-only suburbs, though dimsum in Spadina-Chinatown isn't bad)


I live in Phoenix, Arizona. My cost of living is $800/month, living comfortably (yes that includes rent, food, utilities, and transportation). It's always sunny, and 3/4 of the year it's beautiful weather, and the rest is swimming season. There are no natural disasters here, and when it rains, people go outside because water is associated with fun. Everybody owns a car and there is parking space everywhere. I'm not sure how life could get easier here.


Not being 100 degrees in the summer would be a start. I'm not a fan of SF, but their weather is much more temperate (despite the annoying-ness of having to carry a jacket with you all the time, all year for when it randomly turns to 50 degrees).

But maybe this is the part where everyone trots out their ideal personal locale as fact.


I think you can build a great life and career anywhere. There are upsides to being in the valley, but there are many other upsides to living somewhere else that you love.

Ultimately it's up to you to slam dunk your business.

I moved out of Toronto a year ago to a city (Hamilton) about an hour away where houses were affordable and the city was seeing renewal. My mortgage is much cheaper than a 2 bedroom rental in Toronto and I feel because I have such low overhead, it makes me a much better entrepreneur. I'm willing to take many more risks because I can make my mortgage pretty easily.

So - my quality of life is very high outside a major tech hub and because we work on the internet, I'm still very involved.

I recommend you watch this video about Chris Coyier / CSS Tricks. He runs one of the biggest web development websites around, two podcasts and CodePen from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRmbVOI6oIM


"The grass is always greener" right? :)

I work in the eye of Silicon Valley and sometimes I wonder if I might be happier with more distance between me and the madness. They pay well to keep me here but it's just human nature to wonder what's on the other side of the fence, I think.


My family and I just recently moved away from SF. We lived there for close to five years. I still consult remotely. My network is valuable.

Yes, it's worth spending some time there. Especially if you can find a company that is successful in an area that interests you.

Some companies have fantastic engineering processes but still die because they don't meet a market need. Some company's have hyper-growth but an atrocious engineering culture. Tons have neither and die horrible deaths. A very small few have positives on both sides.

If you're considering, be deliberate in your choice. Want to learn about growing a company, try to get on a company that's showing signs of fantastic growth (IFTTT, We Heart It). If you want to learn engineering processes, choose a company that's incredibly opinionated about their engineering processes and learn from them (Pivotal Labs, Carbon Five).

Please for the love of god, don't just choose whoever will take you.


Always take quality of life into account.

SV has more opportunities for engineers/entrepreneurs, but then you're up against people who have done a lot more of that, plus the outrageous housing costs in the area. Oh, and the crazy traffic.

I was living in a 'burb and moved back to the city for quality of life. Being able to walk to things (grocery store, restaurants, bars) was more important to me than having a bunch of land. Also, my commute is now 5-10 minutes instead of 30-90. The cost of it was a smaller house on a much smaller plot of land, but we decided that's a sacrifice we're willing to make.


I chose what I wanted out of life, and moved to a place that had the most of that (great food, good weather, reasonable cost of living and a growing startup ecosystem). I lived in SV for a few years (2007-2009). It was great. I live in Portland now, and it's better in many ways (lifestyle, cost of living, ability to get out of the city) but it's def not the startup hub that is SV. On the other hand, you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond here, vs. SV, where you're swimming with sharks. Both have place, but, for me, moving away was a good choice.


First rule of Portland: You don't tell people how nice Portland is.


Portland, great weather?! But I agree for quality of life Portland is better.

Unless you're one of the very few that work trumps all. Other factors can be more important. I still live in my hometown (Sacramento) because family is here.

Personally San Diego is more tempting than the Bay. An uncle moved for school and never left...


Portland is only dreary in the cold season. You get a nice mix of sun and rain other times. It's good if you prefer variety over constant 70 degree sunniness.


My wife is from Portland and we go there nearly every year for the months of July and August. Amazing weather during that time of year. I've been there ten years (during the summers) and would highly recommend it.


As a former Portlandian, I fully agree that Portland has amazing and wonderful weather during July and August.

I will also note, as a resident of the USA familiar with the common calendar, that there are ten other months to the year.


I lived in the Bay Area for 3 years and might return. You do meet some pretty cool people working on interesting projects.

Besides the networking you just feel pressure (and inspiration?) to work faster and harder. Not just because your savings are being eaten alive, but also because many are majorly ambitious.

On a list of top five things that will make or break your company, I don't think Silicon Valley would make the list. But if you live and breathe your startup and want nothing else in the world, it's worth a look.


Companies that want you in their office will say you're missing out. Investors who want you to hire and raise from the area will say you're missing out. But these things are only as important as you make them.

I will say that the weather is nice in much of the bay, SF has (I think) one of the highest young single populations in the world which can make for an interesting time, and there are many events that take place that could help your business but a plane ticket can rectify that.


I'm gonna divide this into two questions:

1) IS THE BAY AREA THE ONLY GOOD PLACE FOR SOFTWARE ENGINEERS?

I think most would agree there are other good cities. Seattle, New York, or Boston are great examples with large tech companies located there.

2) WOULD YOU BE MISSING ANYTHING?

Absolutely. Whatever city is behind Silicon Valley in second place, is very far far far behind. The best and the brightest talent head straight to silicon valley, so if you want to be exposed to new technology then Silicon Valley sits a head and shoulders above the next place.

Peter Thiel made the statement that they are not opening Venture Capital offices in any other city because they didn't think there was enough value, meaning that the big ideas come to Silicon Valley - so venture capital will wait for it there.

There is no EASY way to simulate the same network from afar. It works for most people for 2-3 years or you need to actively visit regularly, but usually it's some combination of the two.

In summary : if you care about working with great developers, learning new technology, building a company/raising capital, or building a professional network then Silicon Valley is a smart choice. If you care about having work life balance, being near family, or saving earned income then the bay area maybe a big mistake.


> The best and the brightest talent head straight to silicon valley

I know a lot of really good developers who left because of the toxic culture.

> so if you want to be exposed to new technology then Silicon Valley sits a head and shoulders above the next place.

This is not true.

> Peter Thiel made the statement that they are not opening Venture Capital offices in any other city because they didn't think there was enough value, meaning that the big ideas come to Silicon Valley - so venture capital will wait for it there.

All this means is Peter Thiel is providing VC exclusively in SV.

> There is no EASY way to simulate the same network from afar.

We have IRC, Github and tons of other social networking options that have been more than enough for me, and surely for many others. Plus the SV isn't the only place to network.

> In summary : if you care about working with great developers, learning new technology, building a company/raising capital, or building a professional network then Silicon Valley is a smart choice. If you care about having work life balance, being near family, or saving earned income then the bay area maybe a big mistake.

This is probably the only part I agree with here. The Silicon Valley isn't objectively the best place to build your career. If you don't give a shit about work/life balance then it probably is a top choice, but if work/life balance matters to you then it's probably one of the worst choices. You won't fit in with the people in the valley, and you might end up getting depressed or burnt out.


I am curious to get a little more information about your opinion.

What do you mean by "toxic culture". You said you grew up in the bay area...what part?

I said... "so if you want to be exposed to new technology then Silicon Valley sits a head and shoulders above the next place".

You said, "This is not true." WHICH CITIES ARE YOU THINKING OF as better than Silicon Valley for exposure to new technologies? I would love to find the best place possible and if there is a better place... that would be exciting to me.

>The Silicon Valley isn't objectively the best place to build your career .. WHERE DO YOU SUGGEST?

>if work/life balance matters to you then it's probably one of the worst choices... I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU 100%.


> You said you grew up in the bay area...what part?

Sunnyvale. I went to Homestead High School. It was 3 blocks away from Apple HQ. Steve Wozniac went to one of our football games after Steve Jobs died... presumably to reminisce about his high school days.

> What do you mean by "toxic culture".

I'd say that 1/20 people I've ran into fit into this personality type of "I'm better/smarter than you" in a passive aggressive sort of way. Their opinion is an objective truth, and anyone who disagrees with them is stupid. They tend to look down on everyone who isn't as smart or successful as them. And when you talk to them, all they give a shit about is how successful you are and what your accomplishments are, and if you aren't as successful as they hoped you to be then they give you the cold shoulder and think of you as a plebeian or something similar.

It's kind of like what you'd imagine an asshole New Yorker to be, but they don't say anything to your face.

I was definitely guilty of this while growing up there... I'm trying to unlearn all of that shit.

And again this is about 1/20 people. You might not end up running into these people but my high school and my first internship had quite a few of these characters. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

> WHICH CITIES ARE YOU THINKING OF

Dunno. Depends on the technology. I was mostly just disagreeing. To say that SV is best for exposure to new technology would have made sense back in the 80's with all that hardware, but 99% of the shit there now is just web and mobile, which can be found anywhere as long as you have an internet connection (and programmer friends to suggest you new stuff).

Like, if you want to build your career, all you really need to do is move to where there's a lot of people. There will be tech people there if the city is big enough, and you'll probably make more meaningful and substantial connections if you actually like and connect with the city you move to, instead of just blindly moving to SV because that's what everyone else is doing.

> WHERE DO YOU SUGGEST?

It literally depends on who you are. What might be the best place to build your career for one person might not be for another.

For example, on paper, SV would be the the best place to go because I have shittons of connections there.

But I know I would get depressed. I'd long for a better life if I lived there. And I'd hate myself if I got exposed to that 1/20, and felt myself becoming like that again.

I'm going to try my luck in NYC, and possibly abroad in Germany if that doesn't work out (unlikely).


Upvoted. I appreciate the feedback. That makes more sense.

NYC doesn't seem like the first place that comes to mind to avoid "that 1/20" that think they are "better/smarter", however you're right than you can learn mobile development from any location with a couple friends and a wireless connection.


Did you also grow up in the SV?


What is this 'toxic culture' I keep hearing about? You have to name the particulars.



I grew up in NYC and lived there until I was 32 and then moved to rural Massachusetts. The time I spent in NYC has been invaluable to my career, but I am able to draw on that (the network, the experience, etc) from where I am now and get much of the benefit and a much lower cost. I currently remote to a job in NYC.

So, knowing nothing about you, I'd generically say that, yes, a few years in a tech hub can be a lifelong benefit.


Flashback: Mark Zuckerberg: You Don't Have to Move to Silicon Valley> http://www.inc.com/news/articles/201111/mark-zuckerberg-in-a...

Striking a balance -- it's also good to attend workshops, meet-ups, and conferences in other markets.


>"I knew nothing, so I had to be out here. Facebook would not have worked had I stayed in Boston,"


You don't say where you are, but one thing you may want to consider is that your area is probably good at something that people in Silicon Valley, on average, know nothing about, and live nowhere near. I live in the Detroit area, and for all the drama, the automotive industry is still quite strong here, for instance, and we have at least a bit of a medical research community. Whatever you have in your area, you have an opportunity to get your foot in, ram home your advantage of being local, and bootstrap that way.

It is likely that while you won't grow a billion-dollar social media site that way that you can find yourself an underserved niche, or a niche dominated by somebody still peddling software from the 80s, or something like that. This turns the "problem" of not being in SV into a foundation of your career, which, if that is what you are looking for, can be a good deal.


If you are young, ambitious, and enthusiastic about technology, then I'd say you are definitely missing out. The energy you get from being surrounded by other like-minded people passionate about technology is the most amazing experience. Between meetups and parties, I learn about new technologies and how its used to solve a particular problem regularly. I learn about new technologies before it becomes mainstream. I get to try new apps and new experiences that might never become mainstream. All these experiences and learning will cultivate your creativity and as you grow older, might give you a very unique way of solving difficult problems that would have stumped others. Personally, I think that the cost premium of living in silicon valley is worth it. If I had a kid in his/her twenties I would strongly encourage them to live in silicon valley.


That sounds.. quite distracting, a real-life version of checking HN all the time. How would you find the time to focus on building something with all these meetups and hype and... squirrel!


But this isn’t just the case in silicon valley – there are many places with a healthy startup culture where rents are lower and pay is equally good.


I moved to Orange County after living in Bay area for 4+ years and I don't miss a bit. The ridiculous cost of living, full of pretend-like-entrepreneurs, incubator scams etc was too much. Looking back I wish I hadn't caught up in the hype of Bay area/silicon valley being the center of the universe.


Yes, if there's some place to move to get away from people who think they're the center of the universe, Orange County was definitely the way to go ;)


Nailed it, lol.


This thread is full of fake-californians. I'm calling bullshit on this.


It depends how social you are. The value of being here is being able to go to social and networking events, and hanging out with others in the industry, where you'll make serendipitous connections and discoveries.

If you're not into socializing, then you aren't missing out on anything.


What a surprise to see my afternoon pondering on the front page. Thanks for all the responses!

To get a little more specific with my point of inquiry, is in person networking in silicon valley better than networking by making cool things and showing people (on the web).

I've been disappointed in the past with all my in person networking (not in the valley). The signal to noise ratio has always been terrible. My hypothesis is that its better to make cool things (with tech) and show people (on the web) and meet allies and fellow travelers that way. This type of networking gives you access to the entire world, and should be much more efficient than meat space.


I actually would look at it a different way. In one sense, if you don't "make cool things" then it doesn't really matter where you live. That is the bare minimum for building a network.

It's my opinion that you would have MUCH, MUCH more success in Silicon Valley building a network of quality developers. It takes much more than cool projects for people to want to work with you, recommend you, or invest in your company. Culture fit is consistently expressed for a reason, it may even be more important than cool projects (assuming you have some programming background) for some companies.

Everywhere you go you meet someone building something, compare that to reading HN from a far and hoping someone is paying attention (and impressed) at a Meetup.

My 2 cents: Yes you are missing out with your in person network living in other locations.


Nope. I lived the rat race for 7 years before I learned enough to get out and do exactly what you're doing. If you're already successful enough at consulting remotely and starting lifestyle businesses to be making a living at it, then there's little benefit to going to the valley.

There are two exceptions, though. The first: if you want to start a fast growing startup with venture capital funding. For that, you still need to go to the valley. The second: if the customers for your lifestyle businesses are silicon valley companies, then you want to go to where the highest concentration of your customers are.


Explore alternative cities outside of Silicon Valley. I just graduated college and I didn't want to be in the Valley because I didn't want to live and breathe tech. I'm currently living in Austin, TX, working for a bigger tech company and I love it. Its still a huge tech city and I have plenty of opportunities for growth. But you have other cities such as Boston, Chicago, Denver, Portland (?), and Los Angeles that are up and coming tech cities. Also don't forget about NYC. Don't just limit yourself to one area.


Not until you marry if you intend to. The quality of spouse material in smaller towns is higher.


Care to elaborate?


I'd guess he means that it's easier to find a girl who writes less elegant code than you outside of the Bay Area ;)


????? My experience was exactly the opposite :)


Obviously only you can decide. My vote is no, not if you make an effort to stay involved and to network at least somewhat. I live in San Francisco, having moved here a bit over 3 years ago from the east coast (working in Manhattan, living across the river in NJ). Before that I was in central Virginia.

I love the bay area and enjoy how easy it is to stay connected and up to date, but it's definitely a tech bubble disconnected from how the rest of the world works sometimes. Housing is crazy expensive due in large part to demand, terrible policy, and a weird west coast "I got mine" attitude that's so pervasive among voters.

The bay area is right for my wife and I right now -- we are near extended family, we enjoy being able to walk everywhere, we are easy day trips away from amazing outdoor activities (world class scuba diving and hiking, skiing until the drought finishes it off, etc). We put up with the crazy real estate market because we have to (and I'm fortunate enough to work for a tech company).

I would not move here solely for the tech ecosystem unless I was trying to start and sell a company, though I would probably consider northern California (or the pacfic NW) in general for other reasons regardless.


I've been in San Jose since 1984. I was three when we moved. I don't remember anything else. I've worked in tech since the end of '99. The valley has changed a lot. I used to know my neighbors. People used to be polite and helpful. It used to be easy to find a quiet place to sit and reflect, within walking distance of your own home. None of these things seem to be true any more. We have tech though... So that's a thing.

I've stayed because I'm a startup junky and haven't hit the Big One yet but my current startup may be my last one. Early phase startups like to see your face. We've grown to the point where I can wok remote and visit every couple months. I'm finally able to leave California.

The valley is a neat place to be but I don't think it's a great place to be unless you're willing to give up your right to make your own decisions and give in to the hive mind. It's not a place for free thought, only free engineering thought. Everything else you buy wholeheartedly or you play alone.


If your goals are to make a good bit of money and retire by solely doing your consulting business, then you definitely aren't missing out on much. Save that dough up for when the bubble bursts.

That said, if you are interested in a new living scene, weigh the pros and cons. SF has amazing weather and average person is pretty intelligent. However they are passive aggressive as hell and dating scene for men is absolutely terrible.

I don't know if you're seriously interested in it, but I also think you are reducing your chance of building a huge startup, in large part because:

a) SF-tech is a positive signal for funding

b) easier access to funds from VCs + angels

c) easier access to tech clients (nothing beats face to face)

d) easier access to business information (want to find out how Zenpayroll makes money? Find some employees and get coffee with them. Try doing that in St. Louis).

e) A lot of great tech talent has moved here, so you can find some awesome employees relative to other American cities


A shocking number of the developers who live and work in Silicon Valley think JavaScript on the server is a perfectly good idea.

Keep that in mind when deciding whether living within that self-assembled tech bubble is necessarily a good thing when it comes to being exposed to what is ostensibly the "best of what's happening in tech".


Most points made here are quite valid, especially around the burritos and all the obnoxious pretender-preneurs.

I too live in the valley, and although it is a great place to live and excellent place to raise a family, the cost of living is so prohibitive, even with the high salaries. At the current growth rate of housing and related markets, with almost no end in sight, plan on your cost of living consistently going up 20-30% a year.

Sure it's hard to beat having one finger on the pulse of things, but it comes a high cost, which makes it hard to validate for many. If you do decide to make the jump, I'd make sure that your long game plan mostly sussed out. Most important, know what you expect out of moving anywhere, don't do it blindly like many, including myself have done. Though that said I don't regret it at all.

I vote telecommute for a company here and jet-setting in on demand.


I think SF + SV have the highest concentration of interesting people in the world. Just sitting at a run-of-the-mill meetup on a Tuesday night, you might have one of the world's leading experts casually sitting next to you. I haven't lived in any other place where it is like that.


I'm a relatively new software engineer who grew up in the Silicon Valley.

I moved out the day I graduated high school and am never planning on coming back (I'm 21 now). I haven't used any of my contacts from high school in order to land myself a job.

I feel like my general quality of life has improved since I left. The bay area is a really boring and expensive place to live. It is also very homogenous (not race-wise but ideology and career wise), which could be a pro or a con depending on what kind of person you are.

Also there are a lot of stuck up assholes that live in the valley (I thought this was just how people were until I left - huge relief). The dating scene is almost nonexistent compared to other places. And there's a huge filter bubble there. I found it very suffocating.


I've been pondering this myself as of late. I live near NYC but work in NJ. I often feel like I'm missing out at my current job - but it's hard to make a change as I'm getting compensated relatively well. If I were to go out west I'd surely be competing with people much more talented than myself for similar or possibly less pay.

I feel that NYC has a huge pool of below average developers that somehow find a way to stay employed in the larger financial companies here. Of course I'm only basing that on a small sample size of people I've worked with and interviewed over the years. But I would imagine that on average SV has a much greater concentration of talented devs and people genuinely interested in technology.


Consider some other options. I really like the situation that I'm in now. I work remotely for a San Francisco company and enjoy salary that's inline for that city, but I live in Tacoma, WA--one of the cheaper waterfront cities of the west coast. I spend a week down in SF every month or two, catching up with all of my awesome super-nerd coworkers. Being temporarily freed from the demands of fatherhood, I spend my nights going to tech meet-ups and networking. At the end of the week, I fly back to my nice, cheap city where I can afford to own a gorgeous newly-renovated 4/3 Craftsman home in a great neighborhood that we pay only $2400/mo for.

It really is the best of both worlds.


Yes, you're missing out by not being pushed out of your comfort zone. There are many things you're not missing out on: expensive cost of living being a good one, but even living in New York I feel like I'm missing out on the challenge of being amongst so much raw talent and the dynamism / sense of possibility you feel there. It pushes you, inspires you, and keeps you from falling for your own bullshit.

That said, I don't think I would live in Silicon Valley proper, rather SF where you can actually run into other human beings, which is the point. And actually I personally wouldn't live in SF either due to the lack of any meaningful cultural industries (art, music, etc.)


If you're an actor and want the most opportunities, you go to Hollywood. In the same vein, if you're in tech and you want the most opportunities, you should go to Silicon Valley.

Just like Hollywood, Silicon Valley can be a very poisonous environment. So it's a double-edged sword, because there are many unhealthy things about living here (materialism, greed, house prices, wealth inequality, etc). But if you're looking strictly at opportunity in tech, nothing surpasses it.

That said, you can definitely have a happy and prosperous life outside of Silicon Valley. You don't need to be here at all to be happy and fulfilled, but if you want a plethora of opportunity, your best bet it here.


Yes, its worth it. I wouldn't retire here or even think about saving too much money. What you learn here and the network you build is, in my opinion, not something you can find anywhere else.


You might be interested in a middle ground. While the valley is a great networking hub, you can probably get a similar but more limited experience from some of the smaller startup hubs like Denver, Houston, Chattanooga (my own home). You might want to visit one or more of them to consider your options.


If you're single and otherwise have few responsibilities, why not just give it a go? Move over for a few months and see if you like it.

If you have predictable and steady income and can do that remotely from anywhere, you could easily budget for a "trial period".

It'll be MUCH harder to do with family responsibilities.


I'm looking at moving somewhere more interesting (I live in DFW which mostly sucks for programming) but SV seemed to expensive and overworked. What about Austin or some other non-snow area? Or is the Northwest the place to go? I lived in SV 20 years ago and it was reasonable but that was eons ago.


I've been in Austin for 8 years or so. Like it a lot. Plenty of tech companies and jobs.


Come on down to Austin. Developers are gold down here.


I just listened to this relevant interview with Brad Feld, a VC in Boulder, CO: http://www.feld.com/archives/2015/05/build-life-want-live.ht...


I'm a freelance iOS developer living in soma SF. I do feel that a lot of what I bring to the table is the ability to work onsite and discuss things face to face. Despite all of our technological advances, I feel like there is just no substitute for hashing things out face to face.


Here are some other locations worth looking at:

http://www.jobdensity.com/QueryGrid.aspx?q=687&t=Software%20...


As someone who left the valley. I think not. I think we are the lucky ones. The valley is only useful for VCs and having an enourmous choice of startups. But honestly life is better away from it. Unless you can afford a 3M$ house.


i think in your sector of the industry it probably matters more than most. if you care about games or finance, you will find that silicon valley is about as far from the centre of that world as anywhere else.


Not in the slightest.


No.

I moved here. It's terrible. Leaving soon.


I'm going to get hate for this, but here it goes anyway: no, you're not.

There are a lot of compelling reasons to be in Silicon Valley, but there are (IMO) many more for staying away. You've hit on most of them: the laid back lifestyle and the cost of living being the big ones.

There are a lot of companies that want you to be in Silicon Valley to work for them, but there are quite a few who embrace remote employees (Etsy and 37Signals come to mind). Does it limit your job options? Probably somewhat. Can you still do really interesting work but live in a place that isn't insanely expensive? Absolutely.

If you're happy where you are, stay there and find companies that embrace that. They're likely to be better companies to work for anyway.


> There are a lot of companies that want you to be in Silicon Valley to work for them, but there are quite a few who embrace remote employees (Etsy and 37Signals come to mind). Does it limit your job options? Probably somewhat.

In the time I worked remotely, I couldn't help but get the feeling that it also limited your career mobility options as well. Google hangouts or Skype sessions are nice in theory, but when you're in one with a bunch of people across the country who are in the same room together, you miss the subtle quick back and forths with things like body language, as well as the more important ones like actually being able to speak as much as the people actually in the room together (or at all).


In general, I'd say that the answer is no.

It depends on what you want. If you can travel, if you can get out to 3-5 conferences per year, and if you get out to Meetups (or organize a few) in the nearest major city, then you're probably learning just as much as you would if you were in the Valley. You might be learning more, because you're more relaxed.

That said, if you want to work for one of the giant tech companies, the main office usually gets the most interesting projects. If you decide to work for Google, try to get them to relocate you to Mountain View. The imperial culture is strong in Bay Area tech giants and in venture capital.

In general, though, the Valley sucks (unless you're trying to raise money). Under 30, you suffer a bad dating scene if you're a heterosexual male (and I've heard that it's unpleasant more generally). After 30, you're too old for the nonsense and, if you're thinking about having a family, forget it. San Francisco is half-decent and has a lot of natural beauty, but it's dysfunctional and shockingly expensive (worse than New York, and you get a lot less!) There are a lot of great jobs in the Valley that I'd say you should take if you're a typical person, but you'd take them in spite of their location, not because of it.




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