February 21, 2016

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: “How can I survive in the Bay Area with $400k family income?”

The brutal, complete answer: don’t procreate. Sure, you may be the smart, thoughtful sort of person that humanity absolutely needs in its gene pool, but Silicon Valley doesn’t want you in its gene pool: you don’t make enough to own a house in a top school district. It’s sending you a clear economic signal. So, you have two options.

The first is to leave Silicon Valley. It’s expensive, exclusive, obsessed with power and success with no concern for how they are achieved, and an utterly terrible place to raise children– unless you want your kids to be the sort who bawl when you give them, as a 16th birthday present, a car that’s “only” $35,000, because the doors “open like this instead of this”. Unless you have no hope of getting a comparable income (say, $250,000 or up, considering cost of living) in Boulder, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, Boston, or New York… (ok, New York probably requires more than $300k to raise a family) I don’t know why you would stay there. The Bay Area’s fine when you’re 22 and need to establish yourself, because the benefits of being in Corporate HQ if you work at, say, Google or Apple, are pretty massive. If you haven’t made fuck-you money (so you can say “fuck you” to all the insufferable people in Silicon Valley, and even if they have more power and wealth than you, it doesn’t matter because you have enough) by child-raising age, I don’t know why you’re still there. It’s not a mark of failure to leave Silicon Valley. (Hey, I know plenty of really smart people and, statistically, most of them will never get anywhere close to $400,000.) It’s a mark of good judgment. San Francisco is just OK, and the rest of the Valley is an overrated, unattractive suburban tract. Sure, the Bay Area has an incredible 3-hour-drive radius… Napa Valley, Big Sur, Yosemite… but, let’s be honest, it takes a vacation to really enjoy a place like that and, if you lived elsewhere, the money saved on not paying Bay Area housing costs would easily cover airfare and hotels, anywhere you want to go.

And note this: “The economic signal that our society sends is that it doesn’t need or want more children.” Well, that’s certainly the signal that the Bay Area sends. It’s not a coincidence that for years, San Francisco has had the lowest percentage of children of any major US city.

“Unexpectedly,” as Bloomberg News might say, though not by anyone who’s perused the (NSFW!) back catalog of the Bay Area blogger known as Zombie.

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