After a lot of thought, I've decided to return to the East Bay. I've lived in San Francisco a few times, on and off, usually a year at a time.
After enough time in San Francisco, I've realized Oakland is a better place for me. It's been a journey to get here.
Oakland to LA (2020)
During the start of the pandemic, I lived in Oakland with Vero. We built our community in East Bay with friends and family.
I was in Downtown San Francisco 5 days a week for Finix, so I felt plugged into friends living there. My brother was Downtown daily for work as well.
When the pandemic started, the world was falling apart, and we decided that if this was the end, the end should be in LA. We loaded up our Subaru with the help of some friends and Vero's dad. We then drove down the 5.
Reflecting on 1.5 years in San Francisco (2021-2023)
When I moved back to San Francisco in November 2021, I thought we were post-pandemic. We had vaccines; President Biden declared the pandemic was over; I was over it; we were all over it.
When I returned, San Francisco didn't feel right and how it used to be. I thought I'd return to San Francisco and things would be just like they were.
I thought the loneliness we all felt during the pandemic would end if I returned to San Francisco. I'd be surrounded by community, and things would be... easy.
I started to process it by thinking I just missed LA, but there was more to it.
Side Note: I don't know if we're post-pandemic today. You could say we are or aren't depending on your political, moral, and medical perspective.
San Francisco in my early 20s (Pre-Pandemic)
San Francisco in my early 20s was a lot of fun. It was so easy to hang out with friends, and the city felt alive daily.
Reflecting on it, was it the city? or was it the friends we had along the way? Or was it my age bracket?
San Francisco post-pandemic -> Loneliness and Isolation
Returning to San Francisco made me confront a few things I hadn't dealt with during the pandemic. The city was still empty from COVID, and restarting a community was more challenging than I had expected.
Most of my close friends moved to New York or LA. There was a consistent SF to New York Pipeline with remote work.
- Hayes Valley -> Williamsburg
- Nopa -> Lower East Side
- Mission/Oakland -> Brooklyn
I was also away from my family, which was the joy of living in SoCal during the pandemic.
However, there was more to it than just the move.
The Quarter Life Crisis
After much soul-searching and reflection, I realized I had a delayed quarter-life crisis.
All I was thinking about during the pandemic was getting through it, and once it ended, what now? All of these questions on the back burner got put into overdrive when I moved back.
What is a Quarter Life Crisis?
I like Zippia's framing of a Quarter Life Crisis. Zippia frames a Quarter Life Crisis as the following:
First: you may feel trapped in some form of commitment, either in your personal or professional life. Now you have to pay rent, or are obligated to continue working at your current job, or are trapped in some kind of “adult” relationship. These feelings of obligation and commitment can be unpleasant and overwhelming, especially if this is your first time experiencing them.
Next: you might experience a feeling of prolonged loneliness due to being separated from past romantic partners, jobs, or social groups. Maybe you just moved to a new place and feel completely alone.
Then: during this period of isolation, you’ll be forced to reflect on where you are in life and recalibrate your plans. This is often the most difficult time to experience a quarter-life crisis, but it’s necessary for clarity. Perhaps you need to change your plans and explore new activities, social groups, or career opportunities.
I can relate to it, especially the Next and Then portion.
Zippia recommends the following on how to navigate a Quarter Life Crisis:
- Remind yourself that this is normal
- Allow yourself the time to think
- Find ways to ease your loneliness
- Communicate your thoughts and goals
- Don't let your degree or job define you
- Don't be afraid of change
- Be decisive
The Aha Moment
I was definitely in denial last year that I was dealing with this. Regardless of whether or not I admitted it, I was in denial, and it still affected others. I was emotionally closed off and not necessarily sharing my feelings with anyone.
I had coffee with one of my mentors, who is very successful, kind, wiser, and older than me. Maybe it was on my face, but he opened up by saying:
Whatever you're feeling. Whatever anxiety you have right now about what's next. I still have it. And it's OK. You're going to get through it. It's going to be OK. You're going to have questions, and you'll always have questions. It's going to be OK.
I didn't really grasp the thoughtfulness and candidness of his answer. How could someone that has IPO'd multiple companies and built an amazing family still have questions???
I think I was ashamed I was having a Quarter Life Crisis. But I don't believe that's how we should approach these situations.
In the same way, we normalize therapy; we need to normalize the Quarter Life Crisis.
With the support of my partner, family, friends, and loved ones, I've made a lot of progress on my Quarter Life Crisis.
Reasons I'm moving to Oakland
I'm not leaving Finix anytime soon. Therefore, I'm not leaving the Bay Area anytime soon. The best companies are built in person, and I'm excited to work with everyone in our SF office.
Yet, I don't have to live in SF. Here's why Oakland is a better place for me.
1.) A fresh start
I believe in fresh starts. I'm looking forward to a new start in Oakland in a different city.
San Francisco has been emotionally heavy for me personally, professionally, and spiritually. Everyone has chapters in their life, and I'm ready to move on to a new chapter.
2. Cultural Diversity in East Bay
I didn't realize how vital Diversity in a neighborhood was to me until I returned to San Francisco.
I grew up in San Diego, a very diverse community. However, I grew up accustomed to being one of the few Latino students in many AP classes, the Math Team, and other extracurriculars. I was used to this, which made my transition to Stanford easier. All I needed (I thought) was to find a few friends that could relate to my cultural experiences, and I did!
However, it was a cultural experience for me when I moved to LA. It felt like a homecoming to my Latino identity. I couldn't believe everyone spoke Spanish everywhere. It's hard even to describe, and it deserves its own post.
The closest I can think of is that feeling when I go to Guatemala and feel my culture. I do get more of that feeling in Oakland. I see people that look like me. Even Guatemalans. They see me, and I see them.
3. I'm tired of being cold
So surprisingly, this is my #3 reason for moving.
Most buildings in SF have terrible insulation and thin 1 layer windows. This makes heating inefficient, and people give up and don't turn on the heat. For example, I forgot to turn on the heat one night, and I woke up, and it was 37 degrees inside.
I'm cold in the following places:
- My apartment
- When I go to restaurants
- At bars
- At Giant Games
- On Muni
- On BART
I am actually not cold at work. The heating is excellent in our building. However, I used to be cold in our old office! (Seed Stage)
4.) Better value for rent you pay
Oakland provides a better value for rent in square footage.
Part of that is that new high rises are going up in Oakland. There aren't that many in San Francisco, and a lot of the high rises are competing with each other for rent prices.
I've never lived in a luxury building, but it's on our list to try. We can afford it in Oakland, not San Francisco. It's actually cheaper to live in a luxury building in Oakland than my current place near Golden Gate Park (my covid rent special expired) 🙃.