Why I Don't Live in Silicon Valley

Image credit: me; view from my old office

Why I Don't Live in Silicon Valley

Tracy Roesler bio photo By Tracy Roesler Comment

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× NOTE: I have been ready to post a technical article for a few weeks now, but important subjects have been taking precedence. I am still dedicated to posting quality technical blogs -- over the next two weeks, we will have a guest blogger and a deep-dive of HTTP2.

I recently read an article on the guardian discussing how difficult it is for people in technology to afford living in the Silicon Valley.

My husband, who also works in tech, and I have previously discussed moving to Silicon Valley. In a lot of ways, it makes sense to be near San Francisco – there’s so many job opportunities, chances to learn. Yet I have no intention of ever moving to Silicon Valley for one simple reason: the cost of living is way too high. We’ve fallen into a really great situation in Salt Lake City, and the tech world here has exploded, earning them the moniker of ‘Silicon Slopes’.

I’ve done some research. My salary could arguably increase anywhere from 0-50% (if I’m lucky) moving to California. Yet the cost of housing alone costs roughly 309% more in SanFrancisco, which I think is actually a quite conservative number. And that price differential is only increasing, at a rate much faster than current price increases in the Salt Lake Valley.

Living in Salt Lake City has provided me a great quality of life I couldn’t realize in California. Side note – I grew up and spent a majority of my work career in the Washington D.C. area, a very expensive metropolis, albeit not as much as NYC or San Francisco. I have a 10 minute walk to work; I can go home and take a nap at lunch if I want.

I also feel I have a better work/life balance than I had when working in the Washington D.C. metro. I have fewer night and weekend work obligations. I have a decent amount of flexibility where I work from, and when I work. Several friends in a sundry of companies can take a few hours off in the morning to go skiing, just a 30 minute drive from downtown. There are a lot of outdoor opportunities year round, balancing my penchant for staring at a screen with getting into nature. Families are important here – there’s a high importance placed on spending time together.

The family component in particular makes me feel like the Salt Lake Valley is more amenable to a female tech worker. Like most areas, paid parental leave is still being worked out; city Workers were recently granted 6 weeks paid leave, male or female, but private company policies vary. In many cases, companies are willing to work with employees, allowing them half work or flexible work hours beyond standard FMLA policies. Companies emphasize the importance on making time to take care of your kids and spouse.

Sure, there are a lot of opportunities I miss out on by not living in Silicon Valley. There’s a lot of incredible talent that lives and works out there, there are companies I would love to work for. Conferences and MeetUps that would be so much easier to attend if I lived locally. But Utah’s tech sector is only getting more breadth and depth (cf. How Utah Became the Next Silicon Valley and A High-Tech Mecca Rises to Rival Silicon Valley). And it’s easier to get to know the tech community in general here – a benefit to forming important connections.

Utah is only going to get more expensive as people flock here to work in tech, but it’s going to take a long time before it becomes as cost prohibitive as Silicon Valley. I’m glad I got here early.

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