In early March I went to San Francisco to visit a friend that I work with. I was really excited about getting back up to the bay area, despite only taking a short two day trip. As usual, I decided to stay in the city and Uber my way around so I wouldn't have to rent a car. As a side note, I started using Uber-pool, which is a really great way for two people who don't know each other to share a ride together based on a nearby destination. I haven't seen this feature in other cities and it was exciting to use. It really does work! I also met some really cool people.
Dismal weather, great food
I was disappointed to see that it had been raining for the past few weeks. Because I primarily stay in Las Vegas, I am used to the sunshine. Between all of the rain and wind it was a pretty miserable environment even just for a few days. The saving grace was that the food was really good as usual. I went to a restaurant right near the Fairmont Hotel and was surprised to learn that the Portland Trailblazers NBA team ate there at the same night I did. I guess I should have taken a lap around the restaurant just for good measure.
Cost of living impact
By now, most people have heard about the fact that San Francisco is an incredibly expensive place to live. Because of all the technology companies in the area, the housing market has ballooned up to being the most expensive in the country. I believe it is on par with Toronto, which is really expensive. When I was staying in Palo Alto a year ago I remember the apartments costing around $3,000 per month for a basic studio. Because this rate is so unaffordable, I always wondered how people in professions such as teaching made ends meet. After all, not everyone is a savvy computer programmer with a six figure salary.
I quickly found out that the high cost of living has really impacted the people in a meaningful way. The people seemed pretty upset, depressed, and generally down. I think that the high cost of living has resulted in San Francisco becoming the world’s largest gated community.
Findings from eavesdropping
Between the dreary weather and high cost-of-living I decided to go to local coffee shops and listen in on how people were feeling around the city. It was kind of tragic to learn that a lot of local people were really struggling not just financially, but also emotionally.
For example, if you are walking down the street you will no doubt see people walking with bags under their eyes like zombies. The people seemed to always be in a rush to get somewhere, probably their jobs or maybe even their second job. Despite being a city on the West Coast, the demeanor of the people really reminded me of New York City or another major metropolitan area with the hustle and bustle lifestyle.
While sitting in a coffee shop I was listening in on some waitresses talking. They were complaining that all they do is work and pay their rent. Everywhere I went, people were complaining about the cost-of-living and the housing crisis. After visiting several restaurants and listening to other conversations near me I noticed that this was a common sentiment among people. Some people even mentioned that this is taking a toll on their personal and social well-being.
It's one thing to hear about high housing prices and high cost-of-living, but it's a completely different experience when you hear these people address these grievances firsthand.
The cost-of-living is a serious problem.
Potential for mass exodus
While my first instinct is to just recommend that they should move out of the city, we all know it's not that simple. A lot of people spend years planting their roots in a specific city. To just get up and move is not always as easy as it sounds. Additionally, moving requires saving up some money for the inevitable expenses. Despite this, I think there's a very high potential for us to see a mass exodus away from the city. At some point it will become more and more impractical for people to live there. One could say that maybe it's just a bubble and it will go down at any time. However, based on the housing trends it looks like that costs are going to keep increasing.
It looks like the computer software industry is really devouring the city from the inside out. All I can say is that I certainly hope that housing and general costs go down in the near future, otherwise the general population may start trickling out.