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What I’m really thinking: the Silicon Valley newcomer | Life and style

My husband and I moved here for the jobs. This place had way more than we could imagine. We packed our bags and uprooted our lives without ever having been to the west coast. Being selected to work for a major tech company was like winning the lottery; it wasn’t a question of whether you’d accept the prize, but how soon.

Most of the friends we’ve made are colleagues from other states who are here for the same reason. The companies we work for have taken over the role of our parents, sponsoring what feels like an extension of our college years: free meals, laundry and shuttle buses. We are making six-figure salaries, but we’re also slow to outgrow the frugal student lifestyle. One friend’s version of meal-planning for the weekend is to stock up on free food from the office cafeteria on Fridays. Apparently, this is common practice.

The last time my manager gave me a raise, I thanked her and said I didn’t know what to do with that kind of money. Secretly, I and other Silicon Valley transplants know what happens to it: whatever is left after our (astronomical) rent gets stashed away in preparation for the lives we plan to lead after leaving the Valley. You know everyone is just passing through. “So, how long do you plan on staying?” is a typical question for a new colleague, as if they’ve got an invisible countdown timer on their head.

It’s hard not to feel dispirited when my husband and I know our support system out here consists of people who might decide to leave at any time. Still, we are grateful for their company. A community of transients is better than none.

Tell us what you’re really thinking – email mind@theguardian.com


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