Why We're Leaving the Bay Area and Returning to Pittsburgh

by Brittany Martin


We're excited to announce that Jeff, George and I will be making the cross-country trek to move home to Pittsburgh this week. San Francisco has been an amazing experience these past two years but we know in our hearts that it is time to return. 

When we took off to San Francisco two years ago, we knew we would move back after several years (even though our friends and family didn't really believe us). One of Pittsburgh greatest exports is, unfortunately, young, educated people so I think it is important to outline why we are coming back, what we will miss and ways we hope Pittsburgh can continue to improve. 

Why Pittsburgh?

#1 Pittsburgh Tech Community

Every night, there are dozens of meetups and events going on in San Francisco -- which makes sense, it is the #1 tech city in the country. I jumped headfirst into a busy night schedule but then quickly realized that a lot of the meetups were superficial and filled with tech "CEOs" trying to get you to use their product. If you were technical, those same CEOs were desperately trying to hire you for free. I ended up narrowing my meetup schedule to Women Who Code and even became a Ruby lead. I made a lot of meaningful friendships that way. 

I've watched Pittsburgh's tech community from afar and with the formation of Code & Supply and Pittsburgh Startups and Entrepreneurs group, I'm excited to rejoin the Pittsburgh tech community. Pittsburgh is ever so slowly making a name for itself with success stories from Alphalab (Shoefittr, the Resumator and NoWait) and with larger tech companies (I'm still impressed that Uber chose Pittsburgh for the robotic car lab).  

#2 Cost of Living

It's no secret that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. We knew going into it, but it is still shocking when your rent is over $2k a month for a 600 square foot apartment. We found a great townhouse in Sewickley for a fraction of that cost that we can't wait to come home to. I'll have a basement and a yard again!

A point I like to make here: just because you live in Pittsburgh, it does not mean that you have to work for an employer in Pittsburgh. I currently work remotely for a great dev shop in Seattle. Living in San Francisco and paying the high cost to be here simply does not make sense when I really can be working from anywhere. 

#3 Safety

I might be showing my age here, but safety has become a big concern for me. Recently, I was mugged at a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco (luckily, he only stole my train pass), but I've become aware of how utterly dangerous it is walk in the city at night. I realize that I am talking from a place of privilege, but I want to be able to attend a meetup in the city and be able to walk to the train without having to be in defensive mode the whole time. Sadly, there is a homeless crisis happening in SF that has zero hope of improving anytime soon, and has lead to a lot of mentally unstable people living on the streets. 

#4 Family and Friends 

Last, but not least, we are so touched by how our family and friends managed to keep in constant contact with us while we were on the West Coast. We never stopped missing them. Now that our homecoming news it out, we're enjoying the feeling of Pittsburgh taking us back with open arms. There are so many memories we can't wait to make -- weddings, movie nights, and being in person to watch my niece and nephew grow up. 

I also have a special needs brother whom I love very much. As he gets older, it's important to me that I am present to help him, with my sisters' help. I can't thank my family enough for watching over him these last two years. 

What We Will Miss From San Francisco 

#1 Food and Coffee

philz.jpg

If you find yourself eating a mediocre meat in the Bay Area, then you must have tried really hard to find bad food. From hole-in-the-wall diners to food trucks, the food here is quality, healthy and authentic. I can't remember the last time I stepped foot into a chain sitdown restaurant. 

The coffee in the Bay Area is something special too. Philz Coffee has become a facet of our day to day lives (no acid and higher caffeine!). We're lucky that they have coffee subscriptions to keep us stocked with their beans for years to come. Stop by our new house for a taste. Philz is expanding and we're crossing our fingers for a Pittsburgh location soon. 

#2 Tech Infusion 

Anytime you needed a service, I could just Google for the "need + startup" and,, inevitably, someone in SF was already working on it. Even with our move, I jumped on signing up for MoveLoot, so we could have someone sell our furniture for us. It was fabulous getting to visit the HQs of a lot of the companies I admire: Airbnb, Facebook, and SurveyMonkey. They were all just a train ride away. Here's hoping that for ,Pittsburgh 

#3 Weird and Wonderful Adventures

A big thank you to San Francisco for the wonderful memories, food and coffee. It was addicting to be in a city where big national events always came here (book tours, conventions). I appreciate everyone who took us in and showed us this vibrant, cultural city. I truly believe we are better people for making this journey.

Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear if you ever have come back to a city you've left. If you're in Pittsburgh, see yinz soon!