When I head down to the Bay Area, I tend to spend less time in the city than I’d like to - and it’s generally for my day job (in a huge software company). Hence, I’m usually in Palo Alto, which is the birthplace of Silicon Valley and home to a few companies you might have heard of: Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard and oh, Apple - amongst hundreds of others.
While this town is the nesting ground for companies who contribute significantly to America’s economy, you’d never know it judging by how sleepy it feels and how absolutely terrible the traffic is. Ok - this is going to sound like a rant. But trust me when I say that traffic in south bay is HORRIBLE. At times, it can take me an hour just to go two miles. It doesn’t help that in many areas, the speed limit is 35 miles an hour - not like you’re going that fast anyway (see previous sentence). So everyone is driving slow, and there are many of these types of drivers so no one is going anywhere. People are constantly late or have to leave the office at 3:30 pm in order to get home in time for dinner. It’s insanity. Why people live here, I have no idea.
Wait. Actually, I do.
This is a town of ideas, of egos and immense successes and failures. It’s a place where human minds have generated the largest seismic shift in history - the evolution of mankind into the digital age. This is where dreams are made of, and often are rewarded in the form of Teslas and million dollar homes.
I never thought I’d find the suburbs appealing - because let’s face it, Palo Alto is essentially in the ‘burbs outside of San Francisco. But the pace seems slower out here (if the traffic is any indication) even though the technology that’s created in each of these ‘campuses’ - yes they’re that large - are created and released at breakneck speed. So I do find that it’s an interesting study in contrasts.
The warm weather helps too - it’s usually a few degrees warmer than San Francisco, which tends to cool down when the fog rolls in; something that occurs quite often.
And while real estate is through the roof, at least there’s a significant economy - plus wages that reflect this economy - to support the housing prices. Which is a lot more than what I can say about Vancouver, a place that’s turning into a resort town with property prices driven by offshore speculation and no significant strength in any particular type of industry to speak of. As a lifetime Vancouverite, I can’t imagine leaving the city (especially given my kids have roots here) but it’s getting increasingly difficult to give them a reason to stay when they get older.
Hey, at least the traffic’s not so bad.