Re: The Cost of Living in the Bay Area
Wed, 05 Aug 1998 23:47:44 -0500 (EST)

The last month of my life is but a blur of airports, highways and hotels.
I am sure that I have logged enough miles and destinations to rival
Rohit in one of his busier travel months -- move over Travelman, you've
got competition ;-) In the last three weeks I have been to: Toronto,
Washington DC, Princeton NJ, Boston/Salem MA, Canyon TX, Santa Fe NM,
Kingston ON, San Francisco and several smaller towns and destinations
not worth naming. As well, I may be flying out to Seattle within the
next week or so if all goes well tomorrow as I have a second telephone
interview with Microsoft.

So, as those of you on this list may or may not know, much of this
travelling has been due to the fact that I am in full job search mode.
The dust is beginning to settle, offers are starting to come in and
my confusion grows more intense with each passing day. I have come
to a fork in the road (no pun intended) and must make some serious
life-altering decisions in the next 2 weeks. I will be moving
somewhere in the next month or two, I just don't know where...
it is a complex equation of pluses and minuses to each of the job
offers that I have been given and I need to figure out the correct
formula for deciding which job to accept.

As well, I want to see if Microsoft is going to get serious and make
me an offer soon enough to get in the ball game (I can only stall
the other prospective employers that have already given me offers for
so long). If anybody out there has any advice on how to prolong the
job negotiations dance and otherwise stall on an offer, I would be
interested in hearing your advice. I need stall tactics and lots
of them! Conversely, how do you make a company the size of Microsoft
move quickly? Is it even possible?

Now, here is the part that relates to the subject line of this post (sorry
to bore you with all of the preamble).

I just spent 4 days visiting the Bay area and have come to the
conclusion that I am most likely going to turn down this particular
job offer. San Fran is a great city and the Bay area is gorgeous,
but I don't think I will be turning in to a "California Girl " in
the near future.

I looked at a few apartments in the lower Pacific Heights and in Berekely
and (despite warnings from people about the cost of living in the Bay
area) still felt a sense of horror when I was shown places that were mere
holes in the wall and then told that the rent would be $1,000 per
month plus utilities. I did look at two "bachelor" apartments
in Berekely that rented for $700 month, but they were pretty
skanky and not anywhere near the standard of my current place. Not that
I am turning down the job offer because of the outrageous rents,
there are other more significant reasons than that. Essentially, the
company I was interviewing with did not impress me and at the end of
the interview they became extremely inflexible about things such as
moving allowance and actually tried to give me less than they had
offered me originally! Plus, there were no stock options or
merit bonuses. What's the use of leaving academia to go and work
in the corporate sector if you don't get a few perks? Oh well, at
least I got a 4 day all-expenses paid excursion to San Fran out of
the deal :-)

My advice to Ian and others considering a move to CA from the
Great White North is this: spend at least 4 or 5 days looking
around the city and get a feeling for it. Look at some
apartments and try to visualize yourself living in the shoebox
that you are viewing. Look at the traffic on the freeways
and the cost of gas. If, at the end of the 4 days, you feel
like this is a place you can call home (and if they are
offering you at least 50 or 60 K) then go for it. There are
many advantages to living in the Bay/Silicon Valley. The
company I interviewed with were not the right match for me and
so I am pursuing other options.... but if I were to get the
right job offer and salary, I would consider converting
to the CA lifestyle.