I received offer for job at Google a year ago after my graduation from Northeastern University and I moved from Boston, MA to Mountain View, CA. It has been a very different experience as I transitioned from East Coast to West Coast. One thing that I did not anticipate earlier is that I was moving from a city to a suburb.
There are many things I learnt living and working in silicon valley as my first job at Google.
You need a Car
The public transport is nowhere good enough to help you get around the area. There’s a lack of subway, the buses don’t cover enough routes and they’re not as frequent.
This was particularly visible as I moved from Boston which has second best public transport in the US. In fact, ‘get a car’ was one the first advises I received when I started living there.
Boston’s subway lines and bus system were a real help during my stay there which indeed was one of the reasons I fell in love with this historical city.
What to do on the weekend?
While some people can find some events of interest in Shoreline Amphitheater and San Jose Convention Center, however, in south bay area there are not as many places to go out.
If you’re not into events like conventions and concerts or want to visit a beach — it’s at least an hour drive to places like Santa Cruz or Pacifica Beach — and again, you need a car.
Downtown is One Street
Downtown in Mountain View means couple of blocks of Castro St. This was a major shock since Downtown Boston was one of my favorite places with lot of happening, restaurants, Boston public garden nearby and so many great places in walkable distance.
In Mountain View however, it’s just one street that can be walked from end to end in 15 minutes and it’s nowhere as much fun as downtown in Boston which in fact many such places like Seaport and Harvard Square.
If you want to visit a more happening downtown like area, visit San Francisco which is one and half hour train ride from Mountain View. SF has the public transport, downtown, beaches and the skyline.
Socialization Isn’t Easiest
In a place with home to major social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, it’s weird to say that but in my observation if you’re an introvert like me socialization isn’t the easiest task.
While you can make friends at work, most of the times, they’re limited to work. Your weekends are yours and to be honest, I’ve given up on making more friends and it feels more comfortable to be alone.
A colleague from Google once told me why he dislikes the valley mentioning that they cannot make personal connections here since everyone is so professional.
Hiking is Popular
Possibly because of lack of many other events, and a lot of available trails, hiking and biking are quite a popular activities.
Almost everyone I met and talked to in my first few months who has been living here for at least an year mentioned hiking as one of their weekend activities.
I also trekked some biking trails. I must say though that because of a lack of many other activities and good downtown, it gives an opportunity to explore new hobbies and to spend time in learning new things.
Landscapes Don’t Change as Much
While I knew that winters are mild here compared to Boston, what I didn’t realize was that I had started liking snow.
I missed the snow at times and the changing landscapes every few months.
To summarize, I think it’s a great place for families but not the best place for people in twenties or anyone wanting to live in a lot more lively ambience.