Majority of tech workers want to move out of NYC, Silicon Valley for cheaper cities

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So they came in, helped drive up prices to ridiculous levels, and now want to go do it cheaper cities?


Well, do they want to move out of where they are now or do they just want a cheaper cost of living? There’s a pretty big difference between the two.


In other news, Siamese Cat Partially Obscured By Large Laptop Screen just sold for $1.2 million at an auction at Sotheby’s

VMware staff in Silicon Valley can leave a pandemic, wildfire-ridden zone – if they’re willing to accept less pay

VMware, the cloud computing biz headquartered in Palo Alto, California, will reportedly cut salaries for employees opting to permanently work-from-home if they decide to move out of Silicon Valley.


I personally direct my ire at the myopic management (of firms as massive as IBM), who forced workers (like myself) to uproot their families (often at their own expense) and endure higher costs of living for no tangible benefit to the employer, just to placate myoptic management. These same managers who now have realized productivity increases when you don’t force your staff to endure congested commutes and office life to get shit done.

Over the last two decades, I worked approximately half inside, and half outside offices, often for the same companies, and have managed teams that literally spanned the globe working remotely. I can speak with some authority on the subject that for most tech jobs, if you can setup your processes to ensure remote workers are treated inclusively and structure your process appropriately, you can increase productivity while making a hell of a lot of people happier for not being forced to endure tiny living spaces, harsh commutes, and high-density living if they don’t want to be there.

Now we need to find a way to extend the privilege of work-from-home to non-tech workers who could also be productive at home, but instead find themselves with the same outdated management ideas about “having to be in the office to be productive”, but without the clout tech workers enjoy to force change.


I’m pretty sure this is industry standard practice and has been for at least the last 15 year. I’ve worked in tech in the Bay Area since 1989 and know people who’ve took that type of deal at companies like Google to move to other places like Denver and Austin. They take a pay cut, but the cost of housing is so much cheaper in the new locations that it’s totally worth it. However, most are middle aged people with young kids who want either a bigger house or any house at all and aren’t as worried about climbing the corporate ladder.


I think that’s part of it, but there are also plenty of highly paid tech workers who wanted to live in cities like NYC and SF, even though their work was not in or near the city center. That did drive up prices to a ridiculous degree, along with pushing working class people out of these cities. We’re seeing some of that dynamic here in ATL, with tech businesses often being located in the north part of the city or even in the northern suburbs, but people choosing to live in in town neighborhoods that have often been working class neighborhoods. Cost of living in those neighborhoods have been spiraling up in the past decade.

I think that the current experiences from the pandemic is more than proving you right. I suspect lots of tech workers are are going to continue to work from home for the long haul because you’re correct.

Agreed. At the very least until we get a vaccine.


Don’t get too excited about finding cheap rent in Austin, once the giant Google office opens it’ll all be over.


My friend’s brother just moved his family from Silicon Valley to a small town in Oregon that seems to be quickly becoming a destination for outdoorsy types. I can’t blame him given what’s gone on with remote work, and although prices are going to rise there maybe this exodus will aksi bring rents in big desirable cities to reasonable levels.

Still, the predictions of the death of big cities (e.g from opportunistic hucksters like Altucher) are greatly exaggerated: the diverse ones generally have found a way to adapt to and survive change better than all those small dead-end towns, one-industry cities and the hinterlands of Ameristan do.

Same here. Part of that was servicing the insecure egos and paranoia of managers and supervisors who simply had to hold their meetings and who spend most of their day wandering Lumbergh-like from desk to desk. Another part was creating an excuse for the existence of HR.

What’s changed is that COVID finally gave corporations the opportunity to demand that remote workers take pay cuts en masse. Lowering labour costs to that degree magically has boards and major shareholders over-ruling those myopic managers on these issues.


From what I understand, the cost of living in some small towns in southern Oregon has been rising from people leaving San Fransisco. The rising costs of living in cities have an impact on the surrounding environment as well. Many metro areas now encompass larger areas. Metro ATL now includes at least 60 miles or so north of the city, as plenty of people move there for cheaper housing and then commute to the city.


I personally believe a lot of this speaks to poor urban planning, or at least failing to understand what makes neighbourhoods “desirable” and have government react accordingly.

I know when I started looking for places to settle for my last stretch of work-from-home (pre current pandemic, pre my move to Austin) what I was looking for was a community that offered reasonable traffic management but still had the sorts of amenities that I was accustomed to in Toronto. The reality is, too few communities like this exist, so they get hammered by people trying to exfiltrate themselves from the urban landscape.

If more governments and chambers of commerce recognized what makes areas “appealing” to larger swaths of the population, I think you could have a more even spread of folks, so that neighbourhoods aren’t suddenly upended when they become “hot” like this (because there’d be many more choices).

Unfortunately, it seems more and more neighbourhoods are either wholly neglected or tailored to the wealthy without any thought to liveability for the average person, which just perpetuates a problem - not enough “liveable” spaces.

I envy the countries that have gotten that right, but none of them are in North America.


I agree.

That’s the case here, too.

Again, spot on. This the is driven by the whole idea of treating housing like a commodity instead of a right.


If San Francisco were cheap to live in, almost everyone would want to live there. (Except maybe right this very moment.)

Transit and traffic have really has become major deciding factors for a lot of people. Drive times, access to amenities and a good Walk Score are just as important as quality schools and tax rates these days.

A well-managed city can offer all of that, but as you say those large cities that finally came around to the lessons of Jane Jacobs are still few and far between. Some, like Buenos Aires, are (bafflingly to me) deliberately going in the other direction.

And rising quickly. The person I was talking about finalised the move fast because the housing costs are rising on an almost dailty basis.

I don’t think the U.S. will ever get back to the idea of a home being a home instead of an investment until the mortgage tax credit is gone (which won’t be in my lifetime).


Well to be fair a great many showed up while prices were already ridiculous, didn’t exactly want to be there, but actually merely where the work was.

You can blame me though, I actually wanted to come to CA (about 12 years ago) because I like the climate better then MD (I really don’t enjoy humidity). Then again I didn’t exactly come to SF.


Entirely true, of course. It still was part of pushing out working class communities. And as @orenwolf indicates, a good deal of blame lies with poor planning on the part of the city. Obviously, you or any particular tech worker as an individual isn’t to “blame” for the problem. It does help to be aware of these dynamics if you’re in a position of relative privilege.

It is also true that plenty of tech workers worked in Silicon Valley and commuted from San Fran, though. It was enough people to have buses to help workers commute:

So it’s not an insignificant part of the problem.


For people who work all day and stay home on the weekends, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to live in an expensive city. There is a lot a big city has to offer, but if you’re not taking advantage of it then you’re accepting compromises like a smaller living space and higher rent or mortgage for nothing in return.

There are lots of affordable suburbs and planned communities all over the US (even in California) where you can have a big lawn, a big house, clean air, and can hear the sounds of leaf blowers instead of sirens. Sadly you will find options more limited for public transportation, live theater, adult education, cafes, etc. If those aren’t interesting then by all means, get out as soon as you can afford to do so.

This will mean that some cities become abandoned shells like Detroit. Other cities will likely rebound into stable communities as housing pressure is reduced, outside real-estate speculation dries up, and the people that remain take up long term residency.


It’s already happening here in the Sierra’s, except it’s their bosses who are hiding out in their cabins.

I think that and the city and developers wanting to protect property values by not building up and making areas with higher population density to accommodate the need for more workers.

This was a solvable problem, but no one seems too keen on doing that.

I personally am not missing my office commute, which is pretty tame compared to many in CA.