Moving to San Francisco has been something that I’ve thought about since I first started working in the tech industry. When my employer, Bigcommerce, opened an office in the Bay Area last year, I was pretty excited. I had the chance to go out and visit, and was even able to bring Emily along with me. As I’d predicted, she fell in love with SF during that week she spent with me living in a hotel in the Financial District a few blocks away from the Bigcommerce office. Thus began our plans to move to the Bay.
Knowing that I had a job to move to already really made things a lot easier for both of us. Initially, we planned to move, stay in short term housing for a short period, and then move into a more permanent space. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into with the housing market in San Francisco. Quickly it became pretty obvious to both of us that finding a home was going to be a daunting task for two people who just showed up in the city.
At the same time we (mostly Emily) were doing research into where in the Bay Area we wanted to live, and could afford. We discovered that unlike Austin, San Francisco is a much more complicated place. There are what seems like hundreds of neighborhoods, and each one seems to be unique and different from it’s neighbors. With so many differing opinions on the neighborhoods and rent prices, we wanted to make sure we make the best decision possible for our first time around.
One day, about a month before we were set to leave Austin, we stumbled on what seemed like a loophole on Airbnb: renting for 28+ days in a row meant that we would have to pay a significantly smaller short-term occupancy tax. This made month long rentals at Airbnb properties fairly affordable, so we ended up booking a one month long stay along with our two one week stays that we had already booked. We initially reasoned that a month and a half of time in temporary housing, would be plenty of time to find a home. But as moving anxiety mounted, we considered extending the stay to another Airbnb in a different neighborhood for another month. Which is where we hit on an idea by accident, what if we lived in Airbnb’s for an entire year?
At first, the idea seemed crazy. Who’d want to live in someone else’s house for an entire year, and even more, who’d want to move every month to a new location? Would we get tired of having no personal space? Would we be able to live out of just a couple suitcases for a whole year in a city where we’re working and living otherwise normal lives? We came to the conclusion that we both like to live our lives as simply as we can, and if this project does one thing for us, it will encourage that lifestyle even more. We also both enjoy traveling and experiencing new things, so we’re confident that we can move once per month to a new space without getting too tired of it. So yea, we decided to commit to this crazy idea and have some fun with it.
Right off the bat, we found lots of places we wanted to stay, so we started booking. Before we knew it, we had out rent paid until June! That was a pretty cool feeling, not to have to worry about paying for a place to stay for around 6 months. The biggest benefit to our new plan, was that we’d get to try out every neighborhood that we were interested in. This way, when it comes time for us to get a real place, we’ll have experienced a good portion of the city and be able to make decisions based on what we actually know about a neighborhood, and not what we’ve heard from other people. We also realized from talking with friends, and from reading online resources, that a lot of the good apartments in San Francisco aren’t even on Craigslist, but are advertised using signs or good old word of mouth. Being in the city for a year before settling down will allow us to figure out if this is indeed the case, and if it is, it’ll let us find some of those little spots that we would have maybe not found on the internet.
Getting out to San Francisco was the next big hurdle. We felt that driving ourselves to California would be the best way to ease the transition out of Texas and into a totally different environment. It’d give us the opportunity to drive through Arizona and Southern California to visit with my family, and stop in Joshua Tree National Park and White Sands, New Mexico, two stops on Emily’s list.
We’ll be driving our U-Haul, across half the country together, and plan to take four days to make the 1,976 mile trip. We’ll spend the night in White Sands National Monument the first night, so we can wake up the next morning and have our coffee here:
The next night will be spent in Phoenix, Arizona, then we’re on to Joshua Tree National Park for lunch and then to Ventura, California where we’ve got an Airbnb bungalow right around the corner from the beach. The last day will bring us right up the coast and into San Francisco where we’re heading to Oakland for our first official Airbnb stay of our trip.
All in all, both of us are very excited and ready for the big change in our life. We love that we’ve found a compromise to satisfy Emily’s desire to go travel for a year, and my desire to continue to move forward with my career. We cannot wait for this coming Friday, March 27th, when we’ll say “Goodbye, for now.” to Austin, and embark on a new journey.