A user rides a Spin scooter on April 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
- Silicon Valley residents live a completely different lifestyle than people in many parts of the US.
- In Silicon Valley, it’s not unheard of to commute 10 hours to work, order a car that hasn’t even been designed yet, or pay $1 million for a condo in a sinking skyscraper.
- Here are 10 crazy things Silicon Valley thinks are normal — but aren’t.
Living in or near Silicon Valley can sometimes feel like living on a different planet than much of the United States.
In Silicon Valley, it’s not atypical for people to work 80-hour weeks, accept payment via Bitcoin, or travel everywhere by electric scooter. According to San Francisco Business Times, commuters may venture 10 hours to work every day or live in their employers’ parking lots in an effort to avoid the surging real estate prices of the Bay Area.
As it has become a global hub for some of the world’s largest tech companies, Silicon Valley has transformed drastically, often shocking the residents who were there before the tech boom.
Here are 10 things that Silicon Valley residents do that might seem weird to everyone else:
1. Paying $1 million for a condo that’s sinking
Millennium Tower in San Francisco, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Prices for condos have gone down over the last few years in the Millennium Tower in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, as Business Insider previously reported. That’s because the 58-story building started to sink shortly after it was built and will continue to do so.
If you don’t mind velcroing your furniture to the floor, you can buy a 2-bedroom condo for a mere $1.2 million — slightly below the median sale price for San Francisco of $1.35 million, reported by Trulia, and well below the initial list prices for many of the units.
That old joke about swampland for sale is dead serious in the Bay Area’s beyond-tight housing market.
2. Living in an RV in your employer’s parking lot
The average salary for a software engineer in the San Francisco area is about $124,000, according to Glassdoor. Someone making that much would still have to spend about half their income to rent a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, where the median rent is almost $3,700, according to Zillow.
Some tech workers have found a cheap solution: Forget getting an apartment entirely and simply move into a converted van in the parking lot at work.
There have been many accounts over the last few years about tech employees setting up shop in vans outside their places of work, as Business Insider previously reported. A whole community of RV-dwellers lived outside Google’s headquarters, leveraging the company’s amenities to make life in the parking lot work.
3. Living in a shipping container
Homes made from shipping containers have been showing up in the Bay Area.Ian Waldie/Getty Images
For Silicon Valley workers who don’t want to call their car home, there’s another low-cost option: Move into a shipping container.
Offices and homes made from shipping containers have begun to pop up in Oakland (which has lots of empty containers, thanks to the Port of Oakland). An offshoot of the tiny home movement, a shipping container provides four walls, a roof and a floor, ready to be built out – if you can find a spot of land to put it on.
4. Commuting for an hour and half or more to work
That’s right, 10 hours.
To escape high real estate prices, some Silicon Valley workers spend an hour and a half or more or more getting to work. Stockton and Modesto, Calif., on the outer edge of the Bay Area, are home to almost 20% of the Americans who commute more than 90 minutes to work per day, according to research by Apartment List.
But some tech workers have taken the move a step farther — to Bend, Oregon. This small, affordable city, a 10-hour drive or 70-minute flight from Silicon Valley, has become a bedroom community for some Silicon Valley refugees.
5. Paying $10,000 to mix with the cool kids at the TED conference
If you think of TED talks as simply interesting videos that are short enough to digest during your lunch break, then you’re missing out.
For a cool $10,000 (if TED accepts your application), you can become a member and attend the annual TED Conference. The acronym stands for technology, entertainment, and design, and the conference attracts the tech set.
6. Paying big bucks for luxury accommodations at Burning Man
Burning Man Festival in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images
You may know Burning Man as the giant counterculture village that springs up in the Nevada desert every summer.
The festival’s 10 principles include gifting and decommodification, meaning that nothing is sold (except ice and coffee). Burners participate in a gift economy for a week, often bringing “playa gifts” to share with anyone who passes by.
That is, unless you’re a Silicon Valley mogul — in which case you can drop in by helicopter and camp in exclusive luxury. Elon Musk once said that Burning Man is Silicon Valley.
7. Ordering a car that hasn’t even been designed and waiting years for delivery
A Tesla Model D.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Speaking of Elon Musk, the Tesla Model 3 is a great example of the crossroads between innovation and insanity.
With a sticker price of $35,000, the Model 3 is the more affordable cousin to Tesla’s all-electric Roadster sports car, which goes for $200,000 plus a $50,000 reservation fee. Over 200,000 people put down deposits on the Model 3 back in 2016, on the promise of Musk’s design and manufacturing mojo.
More than two years later, buyers are still waiting, ever hopeful.
8. Losing sleep over the coming invasion of killer robots
Pepper, a humanoid robot at the 2018 eBIT technology trade fair in Hanover, Germany.Alexander Koerner/Getty Images
Last year, Musk issued impassioned warnings that artificial intelligence (AI) is a “fundamental risk” to human civilization. He even started a movement to ban killer robots.
It’s all a big joke until the giant robot Baymax in “Big Hero 6” goes rogue.
9. Refusing to drink just plain water
Some Silicon Valley dwellers drink “raw water,” or untreated spring water that is fresh from the earth and loaded with bacteria that can make people sick. Refreshing!
Others drink meal replacements from startups like Huel and Soylent that are “more efficient” than eating a regular meal.
10. Going everywhere by electric scooter
A user rides a Bird scooter on April 17, 2018 in San Francisco, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
If you walk around Bay Area streets, you’ll often see tech bros whizzing by on electric scooters. Venture-funded rental scooter companies, like Bird, Lime, and Spin, have earned the ire of locals in the Bay Area and elsewhere, where abandoned scooters clog sidewalks.