Living in the bay area (california) as a climber

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 murray 26 May 2022

My partner has a post doc offer at Stanford and we're trying to weigh up pros and cons of moving there for a couple of years..

Would love to hear any experiences or opinions!

Should we:

Stay in scotland
Go on the american adventure
Login to vote
In reply to murray:

I’d say that you should grab any opportunity to live abroad for a few years - at worst you’ll gain a new insight, at best it will be life-changing.  The main issue in the Bay Area is usually the ruinous cost of housing, but access to academic accommodation might really help with that.

The Bay Area is currently a uniquely influential academic, technological and cultural hotspot (for better or worse) and a few years spent there is likely to a big plus on most CVs.

And that’s before you consider the climbing, surfing and general outdoors opportunities you would access to.  Go for it, definitely.

Post edited at 18:18
In reply to murray:

Couple of friends (outdoorsy though not climbers) did basically this but Berkeley. They had a great couple years living in walnut creek and don't regret it at all. I'd always stop by to see them when I was over there and go for a hike somewhere spectacular. They could have stayed on indefinitely but were always going to be treading water financially so moved back.

 duncan 26 May 2022
In reply to murray:

I've lived in California in the distant past and visited several times since. To reiterate what Dave said it is, in many ways, a great place to live and would certainly be interesting for a couple of years even if it's not completely to your taste. You could do a lot worse academically than a post-doc at Stanford. Make sure you've costed the accommodation. 

From a climber's perspective it's not dissimilar to living in London. There is some limited local climbing and getting around and out of the Bay Area can be a traffic nightmare (Mickey's Beach is 55 miles from Stanford but gmaps suggests it takes 2 hours to drive). There is characterful conglomerate climbing at The Pinnacles (about two hours south), hard sport at Jailhouse (three hours). 

Between four and five hours you've got Yosemite, Tuolumne, other parts of the high Sierras like Calavaras dome and the Incredible Hulk, Lover's Leap and the rest of south Tahoe. Several lifetimes of world class rock climbing and something will be in condition nearly every day of the year. 

Between  6-7 hours you've got Joshua Tree, The Needles and Bishop. All amazing. 

If you're prepared to do a bit of driving at weekends you could have a great time.

 duchessofmalfi 26 May 2022
In reply to murray:

If they turn it down can I have it?

In reply to murray:

Just back from visiting my brother in El Cerrito.  You'd be mad not to go.  It's not paradise but a couple of years exploring the phenomenal wilderness around that area is an opportunity I would bite your hand off for.  Also Indian Rock, for a bit of urban bouldering it wasn't half bad! 

In reply to murray:

I moved to Colorado 12 years ago - ostensibly for two years, but didn't hesitate to stay on. Still here now.  I also lived in Santa Cruz for a while, so close to the Bay area.

Good summary from Duncan. Just to add my own perspective:

Pros: The weather, the adventure, the climbing, ski-ing, surfing, the weather, general positivity amongst people you meet - and did I mention the weather?

Cons: It's expensive all round, things like groceries, daily stuff - is not far off 3 times the price of the UK. Climbing gyms are 3 times the cost. I would hope you get health insurance as part of the package.

Traffic in the Bay area is pretty grim. However, if you want to go to the mountains you just get going at 4am and get it done. Distances to decent climbing areas are big, but you soon get used to that. As they say - "Americans think a hundred years is a long time - Euros think a hundred miles is a long way"

American bureaucracy is a bit of a nightmare at first when you have to get things like driving licenses, social security numbers, pay your taxes etc. - but hopefully the university is geared up to help with things like that.

With all that said I wouldn't hesitate to take the opportunity.

Post edited at 00:06
In reply to duncan:

> From a climber's perspective it's not dissimilar to living in London. 

I used to travel to the Bay Area on business three or four times a year and the only difference I noticed between the Bay Area and London is that London is a flat sh*thole miles from anywhere nice and the Bay Area is surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. 

I mean, seriously, on one side you have the bay which is pretty nice and on the other you have a mountain range and then the Pacific Ocean.  It is absolutely f*ck all like London.

If you get a chance to stay in Palo Alto / Stanford for a year take it.  Palo Alto is rich AF so maybe not affordable but it is really nice. Post doc at Stanford in many tech disciplines = set for life.

 peppermill 27 May 2022
In reply to murray:

1. Finite contract so if you don't like it there's an end point.

2. Do it. Even without any details it sounds like a "Once in a lifetime"  type thing.

3. Yosemite for the weekend, any other reason needed????

In reply to murray:

I'll own up to giving you the solitary vote urging you to stay in Scotland, on the basis that I visited LA recently and wouldn't want to live there in the slightest... Overcrowded, overpriced, overhyped. I was heartily glad to get back home again.

 Brown 27 May 2022
In reply to Darren Jackson:

I spent a year and a half living in LA when my wife worked a postdoc at USC. (I've also lived in London for a few years)

It was a great experience and far far better than living in London. Yes one has to put some effort into getting out and you do a lot of four - six hour drives but you get to amazing places. It's nothing like getting up at the crack of dawn to slog your way up the M1 to the peak.

There is generally much more close "locals" climbing than you realize. Stuff that you wouldn't fly across the Atlantic for but good for non-epic weekends.

It will help that it will take months to get a work permit (as a J1 spouse) so you will initially have loads of time to explore. You can get real cheese in Trader Joes. If it's anything like our experience academic pay is good and the health insurance was top notch.

To re-iterate as it cannot be stressed enough..... It's nothing like living in London which is shit.

In reply to Darren Jackson:

> I'll own up to giving you the solitary vote urging you to stay in Scotland, on the basis that I visited LA recently and wouldn't want to live there in the slightest... Overcrowded, overpriced, overhyped. I was heartily glad to get back home again.

LA is not the Bay Area, nothing like it, and Palo Alto where Stanford is, is a particularly nice part of the Bay Area.  Have a look at the views on Google Streetview at Route 35 (Skyline) near Palo Alto e.g. Windy Hill viewpoint.

Although, to be fair to LA, there are some nice bits of LA and the LA region. It's not all a horrible smoggy sprawl.

 Brown 27 May 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

LA is a good place to live for a few years and a dreadful place to visit.

Not sure why you would visit it as a tourist! (Although it does have good dinosaur tar pits)

OP murray 27 May 2022
In reply to murray:

The people have spoken! That’s a pretty strong mandate.. Thank you for all the replies. It has really helped, I think to some extent I’m just afraid of change (and of congested 12 lane highways), and I do love the highlands more than anywhere else in the world. But at worst we’ll be back in a couple of years with a heightened appreciation of home! And who knows what the best case outcome might be..

Anyway thanks again for sharing.

 hang_about 27 May 2022
In reply to murray:

Enjoy -  my time in California (many years ago) was some of the best of times. There are downsides but there's nothing like widening one's horizons. Take up surfing as well!

 stubbed 27 May 2022
In reply to murray:

I worked in the US for years (East coast & Louisiana) and it was horrid: culturally not my thing, hierarchial / sexist at work, awful food, crap tv, no decent Sunday papers - but even I would take a 2 year job in California. Definitely do it.

 seankenny 27 May 2022
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> I It is absolutely f*ck all like London.

My only visits there have been for climbing trips, but the Bay Area does feel like London in some ways: very racially/ethnically mixed, often super liberal and tolerant but a type of tolerance that sits alongside great economic inequality. 

The traffic is pretty gobsmacking but so are some of the places you’re driving to. It is quite the sullied paradise in my view but given an offer like yours, I’d totally go! It would be amazing. 

 Fraser 27 May 2022
In reply to murray:

Do it, 100%.

It's better to regret having done something than not having done it. By all accounts, SF is now quite squalid in places and there is a big homelessness problem but when I lived and worked there in the 80's it was great and a wonderful experience. 

In reply to murray:

4 hours drive to Yosemite?  in a word...


In reply to murray:

Penny (aka. my wife) lived in Berkley for 6 months and absolutely loved the area. Worth buying/borrowing a copy of Bay Area Rock, because there is - as Brown as suggested - a lot more local cragging than you expect, both in terms of trad, sport and boulder. The fact that you've got all that on your doorstep, then other areas of international renown a relatively short drive away makes the area massively much so that I'm a bit jealous...

As someone else has just posted: do you need any other reason apart from the fact that Yosemite is 4hrs drive away?!

You won't regret it...

New Topic
This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
Loading Notifications...