When we were visiting our friends in the Bay Area in the late nineties, they always mentioned how great the lifestyle was out there. But as far as we could tell they only took part in those lifestylish kind of things—mountain biking, hiking around the Muir woods, fishing—when friends from back East come to visit. Otherwise they were living in overcrowded shopfront apartments in the Mission, working on esoteric projects that they hoped would make them rich someday and drinking with Mexicans in local bars.
They imagined they were lifestyle immigrants but in fact they were economic immigrants. The main benefit of living in the Bay Area wasn’t the “lifestyle”—it was access to venture capitalists and tech talent that had gathered nearby.
All this was brought to mind by Paul Kedrosky’s observations about the dangers of hiring lifestyle immigrants.
One of the unique perils of being involved with early-stage companies in San Diego and Vancouver, BC, is that we have to beware of lifestyle immigrants. While it's nice to see that people want to move to either place for lifestyle reasons, it's a shitty reason to take a job.
Why? Look at it this way. No sane adult moves to the Bay Area for lifestyle; they move there because they think they can make money. So, while I think it's nice people like to ski, hike, bike, climb, surf, and golf, I don't care. I want people who are greedy , competive bastards who would move to Fargo in January to make money, and who don't know any other way to work than hard. The rest of it is a distraction.
So, ask when interviewing. You'd be amazed at how many people will tell you -- upfront -- that they're moving for lifestyle reasons. While they may be the ones wanting to run, you should run away.
If you’re one of those looking for a job, it’s probably a good idea to keep this in mind. Don’t say you are going for the lifestyle. Do say you are going because you want to work in a dynamic, cutting-edge tech company and plan to make lots and lots of money.
Beware of Lifestyle Immigrants [Infectious Greed]