Adventures In San Francisco
Once upon a time I lived in San Francisco and interned in Walnut Creek, CA. I was there through a Miami University program. In short it was an awesome four months of interning, exploring and learning. I visited start ups and tech giants alike. I roamed the touristy areas, local hangouts, and the natural gems that San Francisco has in abundance. It was the time of my life. After the program I was never more sure of my desire to work in the technology field.
I returned to Columbus where I had a good internship then returned to Miami’s campus in the fall. Since then I have been asked why don’t I return to the Bay Area? Why doesn’t Columbus, Ohio have the same opportunities that San Francisco has?
The short answer to the first question is it’s a risk. I am not adverse to risk, but it’s something I really have to consider. San Francisco has a wide array of opportunities but it also has a lot of competition to fill it. The housing itself can be a complicated expensive matter. It’s an all in or all out decision.
Addressing the second question, it’s relatively simple to answer. The climate and geography are what gives San Francisco it’s edge. The temperatures in San Francisco only fluctuate 10 degrees in a day give or take thanks to the Bay Area Effect. Jeans and a jacket for most of the year are sufficient. If you desire to experience extreme temperatures it only takes a BART, Caltrain, or car ride out of the city to find the temperatures that you desire. The weather will rarely interrupt your plans, which makes it an ideal place to visit or live. In Columbus we are subject to rain, rapidly fluctuating temperatures, storms and whatever else gets thrown our way.
Next San Francisco is endowed with a bay, rolling hills and greenery. It is all very picturesque and provides economic benefits that Ohio will never have. San Francisco is an import/export city that constantly brings in revenue. The bay itself provides entertainment for it’s citizens who can sail and surf. Its a view that caters to a thriving tourism industry. Tourist who can come to the city via ship, airport or rails. Surrounding the bay are beautiful hills where residents and visitors can lose themselves on a hike, bike ride or sit down for a picnic. Most of Ohio can’t compete with that especially a landlocked city like Columbus. Sure we have rivers but what good are they when we can’t use them for half of the year?
San Francisco is actually relatively small for a large city (yeah, I know contradictory statement). It’s easy though to visit all of the main attractions within the city via public transit, foot or bike. Yet the city still feels large because within city limits there’s a lot of culture and history to discover. San Francisco is a major supporter of organic and gourmet food. This translates into a unique eating experience that is harder to find in the average city. This mentality arose from the heyday of the hippie district, Hayte-Ashbury. It’s a mentality that is also reflected in the city’s support of independent artists and start-ups. That’s one of the things that I love about SF is it’s respect for it’s history. A majority of the houses look like they could have come out of the 1900's and places like Alcatraz Island are well preserved. San Francisco knows how to make their history iconic and that’s why they have sight seeing tour buses roving about the city. If we had those in Columbus I am not sure what would be on the tour.
Next, Columbus is not where the money is at. The money is located in Silicon Valley and with the Angels/Venture Capitalist that are located in the nearby Menlo Park. Without this money the ability to launch a startup is rather difficult. Sure you can work out of your mom’s basement or from a dorm room but then you have to believe that you will be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to success. It’s a tough gamble to make. With the backing of a VC or Angel though you can increase your chances of success. This lures in young ambitious entrepreneur, dreamers and visionaries that might not otherwise step forward. Then talented programmers, marketers and designers follow suit in order to make the dream a profitable reality.
While Columbus is a fine place to live, sufficient in it’s opportunities, affordable and offers spacious housing it lacks the vibrant draw that San Francisco has. San Francisco’s weather is ideal all year long. It is networked by train/rails to other major cities like Berkley, Oakland, San Jose and Palo Alto etc. The bay and tourism bring in a constant stream of revenue which keeps the city’s economy up. A good economy means things to do, places to go, and people to see. When young talented people are seeking a place to live it seems that San Francisco would by far be the more alluring proposition. It’s a cycle of success that keeps feeding itself and propels the city forward in ways that Columbus can’t.