Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Seattle 2.0, and imported to GeekWire as part of our acquisition of Seattle 2.0 and its archival content. For more background, see this post.
By Aaron Franklin
In August, GeekWire summarized the reasoning behind my move to San Francisco. Since leaving, I’ve had many people ask how it compares to Seattle. Here’s a summary of my move.
- Startup Scene: First and foremost, I must say that I miss the Seattle startup scene. I took Seattle’s close-knit community and regular events like Hops & Chops for granted. The bay area does not have equivalent weekly events with familiar faces. The events that do existent are less personal; the volume of startups in the bay area makes it very difficult to stand out. The bay area startup scene that you do read about is an exclusive club that you have to gain entry to. Seattle should be very proud of its approachable community and support structure.
- Networking & Events: What the bay area does have is big events and opportunities for meetings that seem impossible from another city. No matter what your specialty, there’s a conference or meetup for it. I attended the Evernote Trunk Conference, the perfect event for a productivity startup, and had a meeting with Phil Libin, Evernote’s CEO. As a volunteer with backstage access at Disrupt, I met many heroes, including Kevin Rose. At a small meetup, I was able to meet Leo Babauta of Zenhabits, one of the top productivity blogs with 300,000 followers. The opportunities are endless, and one chance encounter can be huge for your startup.
- Funding: While the bay area has more investors, the competition is fierce. One thing I do notice in the bay area is that investors and VCs meet with everyone. They understand the next big company may come from an unknown, so they will take the meeting. I’m still shocked by some of the investors I’ve spoken to, and have benefited significantly from their feedback.
- Cost: Most people avoid the bay area due to the cost, and rightfully so. My fiancé and I pay $2,500/month for our 1-bedroom apartment in the Castro (finding an apartment was the hardest part of the move). While this is almost double what we paid for a 2-bedroom house with yard and view in Seattle, we sold one of our cars and take transit everywhere, so overall expenses aren’t much higher. If I stayed in Seattle I would have had to travel to San Francisco about once a month, so the cost is about break-even.
- Weather: Don’t move for the weather. To my surprise, the weather in San Francisco isn’t much better than Seattle, but there are spontaneous beautiful, warm days, and the sun is always a short drive away. If you move to San Francisco from Seattle, don’t move in July. The nicest months of the year in Seattle are the foggy months in San Francisco.
- Quality of Life: I love San Francisco because I never use my car. Everything I need is within walking distance. I have reliable public transit that will get me dontown, or all the way to Palo Alto. I don’t have to deal with $4/hour parking, 520 bridge tolls, and busses that never show up. I get out of the house more, socialize more and exercise more.
Moving to San Francisco was the right fit for me, but I worry about anyone moving based on a fantasy of the startup scene and easy access to funding. If you’re in Seattle, appreciate and take advantage of the incredible startup community. If you’re thinking of moving to the bay area, make sure it’s for the right reasons.
Aaron Franklin is co-founder of LazyMeter, the solution to your overwhelming to-do list.