Today I looked at a small house, about 900 square feet, renting for $3,350. This house is comfortable enough for two people. In 2009, this home sold for $550,000 and today it’s worth $1,100,000. I could just say, “that’s the market we’re living in,” and skedaddle. Instead, I walked away feeling angry and frustrated from the open house. As a child of immigrants, I was constantly reminded that if I go to school and work hard that I’ll be successful. Success meant owning my own home, in the neighborhood where I grew up, and it meant being able to travel without batting an eye, and basically living a life where you weren’t counting your pennies; where things I considered luxuries, like this small home, would be accessible to me. Fast forward to today with a college degree and MBA in hand, and luxury today is being able to order Blue Apron every week. I order it because I’m a terrible cook and it beats spending $75 a week on groceries that will end up tasting terrible once I’m done with the recipe I found on allrecipes.com.
So if a college degree, an MBA, and a decent paying job at a large tech company don’t mean success in terms of today’s Silicon Valley economy, how do I get to the success I worked for growing up? How do I get to the success I’ve been working so hard to reach? Do I need to add being a Lyft driver as a part-time job or maybe provide freelance on TaskRabbit on top of that second job so I can pay this astronomical amount of rent for a home that I could have paid the mortgage on in 2009? Did Silicon Valley create these service companies so that those of us that grew here could afford to stay here? It doesn’t add up.
I have a lot of questions and no one to answer them. I’ll continue to work hard and pretend that there isn’t an invisible ceiling placed by the economy or a system I’m not aware of. It’s hard not believing in, “passion, education, and hard work will make you successful.” It hasn’t been my experience so far maybe time will prove me wrong.