I’m a California kid—but let me tell you, Californian’s aren’t always as laid back as they are made out to be on TV.Sure, Northern California can be “chill” and a “hella” cool place to live, and to be honest, it will always be my home. But seriously—California stresses me out. More specifically, San Francisco.If you’re from the Bay Area, you’re a special breed of person.In the Bay Area, you need a unique “hustle” (for lack of a better word) just to survive.You’re the kind of person with 15 years of industry experience, working 60 hour weeks, scraping by in the low six figures, and sharing a “cozy” 400 square foot studio with a colleague. Your apartment is a steal at $2750 a month—the same cost as a 5 bedroom 4 bath mortgage on acreage in most other states.Though challenging, San Francisco offers incredible opportunity.If you play your cards right, anything is possible—and that’s exactly what keeps us coming back for more.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way?My biggest fear about leaving Silicon Valley was that my career would simply cease to exist, my connections would shrivel, and my brand would wilt into oblivion—or some combination of these dramatic thoughts and insecurities.With the help of several years of planing, fortuitous networking, and an increase in more remote business opportunities, I decided that I had enough stability to leave the "Tech Mecca" of San Francisco.I didn’t simply dip my toes, I took a leap of faith—meaning I didn't grab a place in Walnut Creek or within Amtrak distance, I vacated.I up and relocated my career and business to Incline Village, Nevada this past April. You could make a case that getting my San Francisco fix is only a short flight from Reno or an aggressive drive down I80, but that's not a common or particularly necessary scenario.The move meant no more six-figure job, which made me feel borderline certifiable.However, the move also meant that I could concentrate on building a fulfilling digital marketing agency where marketing creativity and work-life flexibility could collide.I found that 8-12 hour work days or 80 hour work weeks drove employees into the ground and hurt the quality of their work and lives—which only added more stress and anxiety into the world.Myself and the team I've gathered vows to break that mentality, but those details are for another post—back to the move.
Terrifying? Yes. Regrettable? No.Here were my 3 biggest reasons for leaving Silicon Valley.
Technology Favors Remote Work
Companies in the Bay Area often have tremendous overhead costs—from their lease agreements to housing costs, space is at a premium. Silicon Valley leaders and recruiters have needed to get creative to find talented people to manage their businesses.This means more work with freelancers, more contractors, and more software services to supplement in-house personnel.This also means that software companies have created more advanced tools to better manage and support employees that telecommute frequently or are 100% remote. Some companies, such as Buffer, pride themselves on the benefits of having a 100% remote workforce.I’ve spent the last decade working on the freelancer side, the company side, and the agency side and experienced a wide range of remote opportunities. I have found that great work can get done outside of the office and in some professions, better work comes from outside the walls of the company headquarters.While remote work can be challenging, project management, expectation management, and time management are all critical pieces that will help companies find more success in this category.I knew that, if I could continually create high quality service offerings and execute effective marketing strategies, then living outside of Silicon Valley shouldn’t be a detriment to the business. In fact, I feel confident creating more compelling cases for companies interested in outside help.
More Favorable Tax Climate
There are incredible benefits of living and working in California, but taxes are clearly not one of them. California has a variable income tax rate from 1%-13.3% depending on your income—which can work in theory, but in inflated areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles, it can significantly crush the middle class and morale of the working class.I would estimate that the majority of people in the Bay Area make somewhere between $51,530 - $263,222 - the tax bracket which California hits at a 9.3% rate.With some six-figure incomes considered “low income" in the valley, that extra ten grand or so that California takes can make a big difference in your family's life—particularly with the health and welfare of the people that you love.Now I'm not complaining about taxes as a whole or my duty to pay taxes, but if given the choice, what would you do?Nevada has no state income tax, meaning, if I am fortunate enough to make six figures next year, my rent is almost entirely covered with funds that California would have taken for state taxes anyway.The move to Nevada, if executed properly, could pay for itself in taxes, meaning that the 30 grand you would pay in rent in San Francisco is now new income.
Mental Health and Mindfulness
Mental health is often an aspect in our work lives that is taken for granted, but I'd argue that it is ultimately the biggest factor.Are hard working entrepreneurial types crazy or talented—or is it a combination of both?For me, it’s been an ongoing, almost bipolar battle with career ups and downs—and Silicon Valley seems to bring out the best and worst in people.I needed to take a deep breath and relax. That meant, relaxing on the beach, getting back to the gym, and hiking in the mountains.
For me, and a lot of other career focused people in the Bay Area, work-life balance is an incredible struggle.We’re either all in or all out.Forcing myself to relocate to a more relaxed environment has helped me reprioritize what’s truly important in my life, and has ultimately energized my career as an entrepreneur and agency owner.Business success is not about working each other to the bone or milking every ounce of ROI we can get out of an employee, it’s about building mutual understanding, being transparent about our expectations with each other, flexibility, and inspiring everyone around us to be the best humans we can be.I genuinely look forward to building this vision into my agency, ThinkWarwick Communications, and supporting my team to grow and tackle all challenges they are facing.If you’re thinking about leaving the valley—or are hesitant on chasing after your dreams, post a comment below or message me directly. I always make time for those that are looking to change their lives.