10 Things I wish I Knew Before I Moved to Silicon Valley

by - Saturday, January 19, 2013

I started this on Tuesday,  and it reads as a little bitter and frustrated, but I promise I am slightly less resentful of the Silicon Valley than it comes off here.

1. It's warm and there are no distinct seasons- People expect it to be hot, but it hardly ever is. Instead, it is somewhere between 50 and 65 most of the year. It gets slightly hotter in September and slightly colder in January, but this is pretty much the gist all year. There are things about this that are really nice, but when the fall comes around and the leaves don't change, you can start to miss that. It is also really cute to see tourists in shorts and tank tops, because they thought "Oh it's California, so it's warm" Not the case here. I like it because it is nice enough to go out when you want to, but it also still encourages a cozy indoor part of life.
2. Everyone is healthy-EVERYONE. Everyone eats right and exercises as a regular part of their routine. It is incredibly easy to identify healthy options for eating. It is also hard to avoid all the hiking and biking that goes on everywhere. The bikers scare the crap out of me, but it has been nice to live somewhere where the standard of living is high in that way.
3. You will do the vast majority of traveling to see people- Since I moved to California 5 years ago, the most anyone has visited us (other than my mother, who is freaking wonderful) is 3 times, which is The Boy's Sister who came with 2 different groups. Since I moved, I have traveled home 27 times, to see my brother at least 5 times, and to Tennessee to see family 5 times. This part of being away begins to really get depressing. I recognize people need that contact in different ways- my brother is the absolute best at keeping up on a daily basis with phone calls (actually the Boy's brother is great about that too), and I am the worst about that. It's a big ball of things, but I definitely didn't expect the challenge of moving away long term. Everyone else's lives are the same, just without you in it, so the loss and missing them that you feel ALL THE TIME is not as pressing in their minds. Especially because I think there has to be some sort of adaption curve- there are people who would call a lot when we first left, and now we can't get ahold of them! When I moved, I assumed that people would want to come see us because we want to see them, and we are so grateful when people do come, but in general, you just have to accept that when you move, people subconsciously consider it your responsibility to maintain that contact with them.
4. There are about a million cool things to do and explore- We aren't super close to San Francisco, but we can go for friday nights or Saturdays. We can go to the redwoods, or to Tahoe to ski, or to the Beach, or to Yellowstone. As Elizabeth says, we are fifteen minutes from everything. This part is cool, and it definitely gives us the chance to try lots of new things!
5. Rent and overall cost of living is crazy high-It's way expensive to live here. Everything is expensive.
6. 3 Hour Time Zone differences can be a big deal- The Pro, when I wake up in the morning, everyone I love (including my mother, who lives in Hawaii but still lives on East Coast time) have been up and moving. It's like checking in at the middle of their day when mine is just started.The con is that we can't always catch people before they go to bed.
7. Everyone is exceptionally competitive and alpha, but everyone pretends that they are super laid back- No one in the Silicon Valley is laid back, but if you actually say that to them, they will be shocked.The metaphor for this at Stanford is the duck, who seems to be calmly floating in the water, but is paddling like crazy underneath. They are all people like the Boy, who have always been at the top of everything they did, and now they are all in the same place, so they all push eachother's competitive spirits, but few people own it. Like they all want to act like they are such a huge genius that it isn't a big deal they are a genius.  They just act like they don't notice other people's existence. They actively avoid ever asking for help. It's a very weird culture that is hard for me to understand, but it is definitely better than everyone spitting in each other's faces or something.
8. It is not that close to San Francisco, and you really don't want to go to San Jose-When you move, you think you will go to the city all the time. We probably go like once a month, and when a friend moves there, it basically feels like they have moved away. San Jose is closer, but it feels a lot like the Valley as a sort of heightened strip mall. Like it doesn't feel exactly like a place. Kind of dystopic, in my opinion. But if you are committed, like some of my classmates, you could go up much more often then we do.
9. Fresh produce and great medical care will freaking change your life- I never knew you could love your dentist or gynecologist until I moved here. I love them both so much now! I will genuinely be sad when we move. Being somewhere like here, your options are relatively limitless. Part of what this means, is that there are more really good options. Such as, shopping at the farmer's market and always having great produce. I do love that.
10. Google employees are horrible drivers- it's the alpha thing again. They are all just so aggressively goal-oriented that they sometimes don't notice if people or ambulances are in their way. Otherwise, people are mostly pretty low-key drivers, because you know, they are just so chill. Hella chill.

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  1. Great post! I just stumbled across this and you sound like a great person to grab some info from> I am moving from Philadelphia this summer to work in Cupertino for 2 1/2 years. I am trying to get the low down on whether to live in SF; if there are any surrounding towns that I could choose instead, but still close enough to go in on the weekends or at night. You seem like you have just the right view point and I appreciate any help greatly. Sorry to bomb your blog like this! rob.j.penney@gmail.com