I Left My Life Savings in San Francisco

Can the 7×7 city contain tech’s titan economy?

San Francisco has a money problem. Well, “problem” depends on whom you ask. If you’re an entrepreneur or stock-owning employee at on of the major tech companies between the city and Silicon Valley, you’re putting that money problem to work buying an overpriced condo or home in the Mission. But the influx of cash that came with the tech boom of the last several years has also transformed the culture and identity of the city, where mom and pop shops and restaurants are being gobbled up by restaurants with a six-week waiting list and trendy boutiques that sell macarons alongside moccasins.

“I try not to resent newly arrived tech workers or the entrepreneurs who created the companies that brought them here,” says Gary Kamiya in his story for San Francisco Magazine. “Resentment and its first cousin, envy, are unattractive emotions. And get-off-my-lawnism, even if dressed up as progressive anti-elitism, is equally toxic. I try to take people as they come. But the sudden flood of so many well-heeled young people working in the same general field, many of whom seem motivated not by some world-changing ethos (please), but by life-changing sums of money, has tested the tolerance of even the most nonjudgmental residents.

According to Kamiya, San Francisco’s median household income has gone up by more than 10 percent a year this decade. The average salary is more than $100,000—up from $61,000 in 2001. A huge demand for housing matched with a dwindling supply caused the median single-family-home prices to soar from $660,000 in 2011 to $1,715,000 in 2018—an increase of 160 percent.

“These barking-mad numbers are the result, almost entirely, of a stratospherically booming technology sector whose growth and reach are unlike anything any of us has ever seen,” says Kamiya. “The combined market value of Apple, Facebook, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, all headquartered within 40 miles of downtown San Francisco, is more than $2.2 trillion—about the same as the gross domestic product of Italy, the eighth-largest economy in the world.”

You can read more about San Francisco’s complicated relationship with tech here.

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