Burning a trail to San Francisco

07/13/2011

Back in May I wrote a post about ‘jumping in the water‘ when it comes to opportunities in life. At the time I was on my way to San Francisco to evaluate it as a potential place to move myself and my startup company. When I arrived it was sunny and 65 degrees, and right away I met a bunch of people in the tech scene. It didn’t take me long to conclude that it was the right place to be.

So pretty soon after I returned I put in my 60 day notice to break my lease in Dallas, and booked another flight out for the first week of July, right after I got back from Japan, to go find a new home. Turns out I was there a bit early to book a place, but I know exactly where I want to be, and I found a cool room mate to split the costs with. So next month, I’m headed west to Californy.

If you’re like most people I’ve talked to about this, and you aren’t currently living in California or New York, you’re probably thinking about how expensive it is to live in San Francisco. That’s probably the first comment out of the mouth of 80% of the people I’ve talked to in Dallas. We’re very spoiled to a low cost of living here in Dallas though, and we’re spoiled to all the stuff we can afford to fill our oversized houses with.

The reality is that we can live with a lot less, and millions of people do so very successfully. Yes, it will cost me more to share an apartment with a room mate in SF than it currently costs me to have a 2 bedroom high rise apartment in Dallas all to myself. Yes it will cost more to keep a car. There are certainly trade offs. On the other side of the equation though, the weather is far superior, the public transportation is far superior (don’t really need a car), the scenery is far superior, and, for me at least, the business climate is far superior. In short, the opportunity benefit is worth the cost.

For some people it may not be worth it. It’s difficult if you have a family and kids in school, for example. And anyone who cares about what people think of their car, or whose measure of success is how big their house is and how much stuff they can fit in it, is probably going to balk at San Francisco, compared to a place like Dallas. A confession: I used to be one of those people. But the risk is that the attachment to all those things hold us back from opportunities elsewhere. Personally, I’m on a bit of an arson spree with things that are holding me back.

My current plan is to simply sell most everything I can in Dallas and drive to San Francisco taking only what will fit in my station wagon. And depending on how successful I am at reducing the ‘stuff’, maybe a small trailer. I want to shrink my 2 bedroom apartment of stuff down to something that will fit in a closet, and just buy what I need when I get to SF.┬áIt’ll be another fresh start just one year after my last fresh start. If this trend continues, I might be getting a fresh start in a box under a bridge next year!