How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
James_0011
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How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Mon Jan 02, 2017 8:55 pm

I mean in terms of materialistic culture and career striving and speculating.

Basically I'm thinking about moving there for five years and van dwelling to save up some cash.

However I don't care about my career at all and only see it as a way to get free.

How status oriented is sv?

Thanks

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Sclass
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Sclass » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:13 pm

This much (...........................................................)

I'll get back to this when I'm done talking with my SO about how great it was to leave Los Altos after twenty years. We are discussing the culture of "striving and speculating " . Total crap from a bunch of people we knew who acted like winners who are in actuality losers.

More later.

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Sclass
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Sclass » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:23 am

The chances of hitting it big out there are slim. Most of my peers had a little way of fooling themselves into working hard. Passion, hope or just stupidity.

Now for van dwelling and drawing the salary, that's brilliant if you can pull it off.

I lived in basements and converted garages for years while my peers were making downpayments on overpriced SV homes. The peer pressure to follow along with the SV orthodoxy is intense. People are fiercely competitive and dumb. I had to listen to a lot of insults about my living quarters. It made people feel insecure that I was doing something wildly different. As I said, people will be competitive and dumb.

Most of those same people are hitting fifty now struggling to pay off their homes, terrified of losing their jobs and being forced to compete with youngsters. The home is their only asset.

So if you are really going to live in a van, there's a good angle. One of my reports actually did this with a camper in the company parking lot. Some social engineering with security was all that it took. It'll work till you need a mate...in my case my SO admired my lifestyle and joined in. That is about as rare as pre IPO options in VM Ware.

Yes the place is kind of crazy. Or dumb. Or culturally bankrupt. Unless you count petty competition and materialism culture. But if you can extract the salary without buying the orthodoxy there is some hope.

Good luck. Luck counts out there.

James_0011
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:34 pm

@sclass

I shouldn't let my co-workers know I am van dwelling right? Just checking as my social iq is pretty low and I know nothing about office politics/games.

Or will it not matter in terms of making more money?

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by theanimal » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:30 pm

I do not live in SV and have only seen one episode but... the television show Silicon Valley is said to paint a decent portrayal of the culture there. Might be worth checking out a few episodes (keeping in mind that some aspects may be exaggerated).

Otherwise look through Sclass's posts. He regularly shares stories and information (like the above) about those who bought into the culture and are finding themselves in trouble.

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BRUTE
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by BRUTE » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:12 pm

probably a good idea not to share van-dwelling status with co-workers no matter where James_0011 lives.

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Thu Jan 05, 2017 5:30 am

Ok thanks guys. I'll check that show out.

@brute, yeah that's what I thought. If a coworker told me they were living in a van I would think it was cool, but not everything thinks like that I guess.

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Sclass
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Sclass » Thu Jan 05, 2017 9:33 am

Yeah, I not only suggest not telling, I say have a straight up lie fabricated for the where do you live question that will come up. I dunno...young guys like to live in SF so you can say I live in Marin and I sometimes crash in my van when traffic is too bad. Or I have a place in Fairfield and I ultra commute and crash over with a friend locally when I'm too tired to drive home. Or I have a place in Santa Clara but I'm currently staying in my van because my girl/guy and I are fighting. He/she gets the flat for now.

Yes, people commented on my house. My car. My shoes. Think uber competitive nerds all trying to win the game. If they see you are using an edge they get really upset. I mean raising their voices in the company cafeteria literally thinking out loud, " but I can't do that! You live in a basement?! You must be living cheap saving lotsa money!"

It happened to me many times. Friends. Family. Coworker frenemies. They are all in pain trying to hit El Dorado. All of it by sacrificing starting from the childhood days of choosing to study for the SAT instead of going to the movies. Then they get to SV and start working like crazies...working dumb not smart for the most part, and you come along. Somebody who can sacrifice even harder and work smart.

Because you see, a van dweller doesn't have much of an ego. The other SV chimps are driven by big egos. It's the one thing they cannot sacrifice. "Oh I cannot do that! Oh I cannot drive that!" And I didn't even ask their opinion. They just blurted that crap out with a knee jerk when they heard what Kung fu I was using.

It's like a college girl telling her dorm mates "I strip one night a week to pay my tuition so I don't have loans." Then all the other miserable indebted coeds shriek "I can't do that!" Who asked them? The stripper was just telling her method of defeating the college loan devil. So why do the others fall on the ground crying kicking screaming pounding their fists saying "but I can't do that!" Who asked them anyway?

Don't do it. Blend in. Lie.

This happened at every place I worked. Guys were really worried and insecure if they found out where I lived or how I invested. Yep, one really smart nerd figured out by changes in his 401k deposit limits which employees participated in the 401k. They're that nosy.

Coworker's obsessed about my living situation. Heck, they were upset that they were living paycheck to paycheck and I was saving on housing. Pretty simple right?

So you will be dealing with a bunch of people who are willing to sacrifice to win. The valley filters for that mentality. They are competitive and they will lash out at you (well some not all) if you look like you're using an unorthodox method to beat them.

And here's the sad part. The nastiest type A engineers I used to work with, the worst score keepers and jealous types, are all still there toiling away. Because most of that behavior they're embroiled in is not getting them where they want to go - ahead.

Autistic, jealous, insecure, fearful types all tossed in the crab pressure cooker along with you. Pretty sight huh?

Man I can just think of the list of idiots in my head. All still doing the same thing. All presently asking about me through FOFs and LinkedIn. But too cowardly to message me and ask how I actually ended up kicking their ass and escaping the crab barrel. Big egos. Blinding egos. Once again never asking the right questions. Answers to which are too painful.

You're there to draw the "enhanced " salary. Don't get caught up paying the housing bill. Van dwelling is awesome if you can actually do it and sustain it. I found it hard enough renting basements and just fitting in. In all reality the worst part was getting annoyed by the naysayers...if I had to do it again I'd do exactly the same thing but I'd just say "blow me" in my head while they attacked me. But at the time I too was insecure and doubtful of my path. I let them get to me.

Good luck.

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Did » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:17 am

@sclass Crab barrel, I like it ! (although I had to google it).

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Smashter
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Smashter » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:10 am

I lived in SF for 8 months last year. I worked remotely, but my core group of friends worked in tech. So, my perspective is not nearly as earned as SClass's, but my experience was not as bad. I did not deal with status hungry lunatics.

I found most people to be open minded if ERE-type stuff ever came up. My group of friends tended to enjoy biking, finding free activities, exploring Golden Gate park, boardgames, etc. They still loved going out to eat though. It seems like it's a raaaaaaare breed that can break out of the "let's do dinner and drinks and spend $60 bucks a person" cycle.

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Tyler9000
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:53 am

I lived in SV for 5 years and worked as a mechanical engineer. Although we ultimately decided it was best to leave, my experience was not nearly as negative as Sclass on the interpersonal front. I suspect it's a matter of company size and culture, but the series of small companies I worked at were (for the most part) all fun and energetic with good people and generally a young workforce all excited about making something new. That was terrific up until the point where I realized that companies fed on that youthful energy and turned it into a superpowered new product treadmill with virtually no boundaries between work and home life. People love it until they hate it, at which point they leave. IMHO, the number one value in SV is dedication to your job. Not to the company by any means (job hopping is totally fine and generally encouraged), but to the working ideal of spending every waking hour thinking about being productive because there's so much competition that to pace yourself is to fail.
James_0011 wrote: How status oriented is sv?
I think it depends on your perspective of status. Fancy clothes are generally discouraged, and you'll be laughed at for wearing a suit to work. Fancy meals are definitely a big deal. Cars are status symbols as long as they're electric, otherwise they're looked down upon. Titles are mostly irrelevant unless it's CEO, which spurned a funny trend where every Millennial friend I knew had a "startup" on the side just so they could claim to be a CEO on Linkedin and at parties. Liberal political value signalling is mind-numbingly persistent.

I didn't live in a basement or a van, but my personal experience is that if I had I don't think it would have been an issue. Spin it as caring more about inventing a new algorithm than about mowing a lawn, and people will nod approvingly. I definitely wouldn't lie about it.

James_0011
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:10 pm

@Smashter

I really dislike eating out, so I think I am good on that front. What do you do that allows you to work remotely if you don't mind me asking?

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:11 pm

@Tyler9000

Ok that doesn't really sound that bad at all. Why did you decide to leave? Not enough work-life seperation?

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:34 pm

Working in SV helped us make and save a lot of money but leaving made us FI. Work/life balance was also a factor as well as family and overall culture.

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Smashter
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Smashter » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:24 pm

James_0011 wrote:@Smashter

What do you do that allows you to work remotely if you don't mind me asking?
Online advertising and some writing. It's a unique situation where I am working with a friend. I doubt my next job (if I need to get one) will be as accommodating.

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Felipe » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:32 pm

I live in SV. I don't work in tech but have many friends who work as engineers.

I second a lot of what Tyler, Sclass, and Smashter said, it really depends on where you work (job hopping is common) and who you surround yourself with. 60+ hour weeks are the norm here. Status chasing is common here and gets old quick, people are nosy. Where do you work, what do you do are too common questions here. I've been at the gym working out and an old acquaintance comes up to me and asks me where I work after years without seeing him. I know some people who literally laughed at me when I told them I was volunteering at a hospital(I don't think this is common though). I know a whole family whose worked here for decades and loves the challenge, it's not common. Most people burn out.

People bluff their status. I know someone who says specialist at Google when he's a security guard there, CEO of some made up company, and doing this to try to get into high paying tech.

One relative lives at home earning 6 figs and is still paying off debt on status symbols. Another got out and left the country after saving a bit since it goes so much further elsewhere.

I haven't seen too much focus on clothing as long as you pass for business casual, almost everyone splurges on eating out though, you might get excluded over time if you're not as willing here.

I'd keep the vandwelling on down low for a while. There's some communities here that vandwell but it tends to bring more stress than it's worth if you share too liberally. Most people end up having roommates as rent is so expensive, nobody will shame you for that. You don't "have" to answer any questions but you'll probably get ragged on for it.

There are some of the world's greatest natural reserves around here in the Santa Cruz mountains. I'd recommend Henry Cowells for the old growth redwoods. Mountain biking at Castle Rock, hiking everywhere, surfing in Santa Cruz, windsurfing in San Francisco, ocean kayaking, great nature if you have time.

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Felipe » Fri Jan 06, 2017 6:23 pm

I have a similar strategy to you of minimal housing expenses with nice pay then get out of SV.

Nobody here believes 1 million is enough to retire.

James_0011
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by James_0011 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 7:39 pm

@Felipe,

Yeah its crazy what people think. I plan on pulling the plug at less then 400k, and moving to a cheap developing country. Should be easy to save up in SV.

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Sclass
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Sclass » Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:48 pm

I had a boss that got a $1m payout from a previous job. He told me "it sounds cool but who can retire on $1m?" He's still working for one of the majors.

Good luck. The last thing you want to do is take financial advice from your coworkers. They're no match for you.

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Tyler9000
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Tyler9000 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:58 pm

Sclass wrote:I had a boss that got a $1m payout from a previous job. He told me "it sounds cool but who can retire on $1m?"
Yeah, as someone who didn't grow up in California, it always surprised me just how oblivious the natives are to the rest of the world. The money baseline you establish in your head really does get way out of whack living there for a while.

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BRUTE
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by BRUTE » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:14 am

how much house does $1m buy in silicon valley? probably not much.

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Tyler9000
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Tyler9000 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:33 am

A nice little starter home. Better get back to work! ;)

When I explained to people that my old home back in Texas was three times as large and one fifth of the price of a typical home on the Peninsula ("your down payment here would pay for it in full and you'd have no mortgage"), people used to look at me like I was from another planet. The typical response was "but why would I ever want to leave here?" followed by a lot of bitching about work. Neurons take time to connect.

I have good memories of SV, though. If money was no object it's a really nice area, and I probably wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't followed the opportunities that pulled me out there. But ERE woke me to greater possibilities that my previous career-obsessed self never even knew existed, and moving on was absolutely the right choice.

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Sclass
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by Sclass » Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:57 pm

Just got home from Los Altos. Nice to see my old friends. I had some insights I'd share.

I always thought the old guys had it good. Cheap homes. A booming industry. Semiconductor stock options.

But I got to take a hard look at friends this time. We talked a lot about the lifestyle since my departure was still recent news. I saw my fifty something friends struggling to hold on to their jobs while young techies were nipping at their heels. Pinched between average careers and mortgages/college tuition. They were chained to the treadmill. Not happy.

One wife started to cry when I said I was never coming back to that trap. She was no slouch either, she was middle management at a major software services biz. But she knew exactly what I was talking about. It looks really different at 50.

Another 70 something was bragging about her $3M Palo Alto home. But I had to wade through weeds to get there because she and her husband were too poor to hire a gardener. He was an EE PhD. But now he's just a guy trying to cut his freaking lawn with a cord trimmer. The lady knew I dealt in vintage watches and tried to get me to sell a Rolex for them on consignment. I tried to explain I am not a Rolex dealer and cannot move a gold president. When I told her to use a dealer or eBay she said they couldn't give her enough. We did a completed auctions search on my phone and found it would fetch $4000. She said, "that's the problem, I need at least $6000. The consignment stores offered even less." Right, unlike me they expect to make a profit off this. I politely excused myself.

It isn't pretty if you weren't handed a pile of eBay, Intel, Oracle etc options back in the day. I had HP and they turned out worthless. Most people there are survivors. Not winners. And the endgame is not pretty. You can brag all you want about your $3M home but I know cash poor when I see it.

I literally had to assure guests at a dinner that I hosted that I was paying before they RSVPed. Seriously?! Either they hate me or they cannot afford dinner. Then at the dinner I hear how underwater their businesses are and I want to slip out the back door before the IOUs start coming out.

I have my friends who hit the options lottery. I can count a dozen. Yes, Qualcomm, VMware, EBay, Intel, Google, Apple, etc minted them millions.

But the rest? They're sad. They're old. And they're in debt. That place has had many gold rushes. You will not be the first to be disappointed. But few seem to get it.

Make your enhanced salary. Save as much as you can by living cheap. Then get out. A winning hand of options should just be the bonus jackpot.

Edit - oh yeah. I stopped by Stanford to get a mug. Omg it is an RV lot on El Camino Real. Smart guys.

https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/201 ... camino-rvs

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bryan
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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by bryan » Thu Jun 29, 2017 5:52 pm

> Edit - oh yeah. I stopped by Stanford to get a mug. Omg it is an RV lot on El Camino Real. Smart guys.

Would love to see some census of (RV and) van-dwellers... for the most part people are completely blind to vans being lived in or even RVs parked around. Once you start learning about van-dwelling etc. it's the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon where you start seeing them everywhere (in the Bay Area). My guess is it's mostly people that can't afford to live in an apt/house since the RVs and vans are mostly in poor condition. When I looked for parking for my van, I tried to avoid parking near other vans and RVs.. except for in SF where there is just this one great area for vans..

edit: did James ever move into a van in SV? Would be down to meet up if so.

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Re: How much does it suck to live in silicon valley?

Post by NPV » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:13 pm

Sclass wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:57 pm
Another 70 something was bragging about her $3M Palo Alto home.
...
You can brag all you want about your $3M home but I know cash poor when I see it.
Why on Earth would they not sell the $3M house and either move to Florida and live well-off lifestyle there or (if staying in the area is critical) just move into a smaller place in Bay Area and free up $1.5m+ for cash-generating investments or even just cash to spend? Just resistance to change?

Grim picture for those with a large mortgage and career runway ending for sure... But if the house is paid off and one is retired, option value does not look too bad.

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