For Bay Area’ites (or Former’ites Who Still Care)

Is it just me, or are ALOT of people leaving for more affordable places to live? I did just see a story where LA is the new San Francisco for artists. WHUUUUUT?!  Truly had to do an am-I-dreaming check when I saw that story.

This is one of my favorite headlines…
“San Francisco is Expensive and Residents are Over It”.   Ha! That about covers it!

The important thing to remember, is that “expensive” is rarely a solo variable. I can’t actually know if something is inherently expensive, until I compare it to something. Expensive is a ranking term…it implies that it costs more than other things. But what are those other things, specifically, and how do they apply to me?

I confess, I do think about leaving the Bay Area from time to time. Only in the past year did it become an inquiry at all. I felt at home and in love with this place as soon as I stepped off the plane in April 1999. For most of the time between then and now, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to leave the Bay Area. I still can’t *actually* imagine it, but the changes the area has gone through, and probably the changes that I’ve gone through, as well, have made it a possibility.

I want to share some of the questions that have been supporting me through the thought (and feeling) exercise of even just considering it. Some of these may also apply to any major financial decision that may be on your radar.

1) Am I more wanting to get away from something, or head towards something? Whether either/or, or both, what are the specific somethings?   I don’t think it’s enough to say “it’s too expensive to live here”. WHAT is too expensive, compared to WHAT? What’s my value and priority when it comes to this?

2) <This one arose when I started spinning about how I won’t be able to buy property here.> What are my actual monthly expenses in my current situation? (take the future and the possibilities out of it for now) What expenses do I imagine would be necessary to move? (including lost work/earning time, if I’m not in a situation where income would keep coming in unless I work)  What do I anticipate my actual monthly expenses would be when I move? (And not the “I’ll be good, I promise” type of budget, like a kid wanting a puppy at Christmas. Actual. Sustainable. Likely.)

3) Who are the allies I can talk to about this? (An ally of this nature, for me, will not get too personally upset by the topic, but also care enough about me so that it’s not completely neutral for them.) If I’m going to reach out to them, do I have any specific request about how much feedback I would like from them or not? (Take it back to this scene in Jerry Maguire…imagine them saying, “help me help you. help ME help YOU”

4) Check your assumptions. “I think if I move to Alaska, the cold won’t bother me because I will buy a new winter wardrobe.”  Hmmm, let’s break that down. So you’re going to leave the Bay Area because it’s too expensive, and you’re going to relocate in a way that requires substantial further spending, in order to likely be happy there?    Maybe so, but also maybe not. I heart reality checks. This can be particularly helpful if you’ve been using the idea of moving to decrease your stress about your current actual financial situation. That can turn in to unicorn-chasing. (I love a unicorn, I just don’t want to have to pay for the chase out of my bank account, especially if it might not even be there at the end of the spending rainbow!)

5) Who is in my head on this topic? Where is my information coming from? It’s amazing to me how many of us can feel strongly about something, pretty much just because someone else feels strongly about something. Before I moved to San Francisco, 99% of the people I talked to about it in North Carolina, said, “But it’s so expensive there!!!!! How will you live?!!!”  My rent has been below $1000 per month the entire time I have lived here, knock on wood. Thank goodness for rent control and my years of living in community. AND it was possible to spend my formative adult years living the life of my dreams in the most gorgeous place I’ve ever been in my life.   Now *that* is actually priceless. Yes, I could live more cheaply in Alaska, financially. I could not have had the amazing experiences there, that the Bay Area has shared with me. And experiences are my value…they are how I grow, learn, play and discover. They are what I spend my money on. Then I spend less money in other areas to balance it out. Each of us needs to make that decision, unless funds are completely limitless and conditionless.

The people that are better served to have the “should we stay or go?” conversation are the ones whose hearts are not being held here. I do believe the Bay Area has her version of Pele, (a la Hawaiian volcano goddess, as opposed to the soccer sensation). Some kind of an overseeing, ever-loving, ever-stimulating pulse that makes or breaks peoples’ time here. If I’m disconnected from “her”, and I’ve earnestly tried to reconnect with no result, let’s call it a day for living in the Bay Area.

If, however, I’m still feeling in love with this place, and I’m willing to make the dollars work, the conversation is still in play.

What I see from time to time, though, is people who are still in love with the idea of living here, but are not making the numbers work. Debt City. Or Workaholic City. Or Poverty City, with free views. It doesn’t bother some folks to live like that. For those that it does bother, though, my prayers are that the fires of willingness to sort it out will get stoked and burn brighter. Immediately.

If someone belongs in the Bay Area, truly, it will work. If the time is done, or if they are better meant somewhere else, the Bay Area will release them. I have not yet observed an exception to either of these.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

I Fell In Love. Glad To Share With You.

I listen to a lot of coach-y type books. Most of them are like a nice plate of pasta…tasty and easy going down, but I get kind of sleepy afterwards, especially if I eat too much.

One kept catching my eye on Hoopla (the library card app I mentioned in a previous newsletter). I didn’t dig the title and I didn’t know why it was being suggested to me.


If you like a matter-of-fact feisty lady, who also cuts to the chase with spirituality and personal change, check her out when you can.


Jen Sincero’s You Are A Badass

I’m finding this great for helping me reduce my own anxious chatter and self-doubt. I AM a badass! And so are you! Be it!

Upcoming Services Preview

I am very pleased to report that I have signed up for mediator training, to begin at the end of this November.

Really looking forward to be able to offer specific mediation support to:

~families sorting out a loved one’s estate

~families trying to make decisions about their estate details, and who gets what

~couples considering divorce, and specifically how the finances might be settled

~business partners ready to resolve disagreement

~couples deciding whether or not to move in together, or get married, and also how specifically the finances might work

Something I’m enjoying discovering about the field of mediation, is that there doesn’t have to be a “problem”  or “fighting” to offer this support. Of course there can be, but I love the idea of someone hiring help to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone involved with significant transitions.

Would love to talk more with anyone who has questions or ideas about mediators!