I travelled to California for the first time since I’ve been in the States. I’d always wanted to visit but I never found sufficient reason to but this year I finally took the plunge.
My visit brought me to the San Francisco Bay Area. And I’ll tell you right now? I love it. California is so beautiful.
Views like these were all over the place. And mountains. Beautiful weather. Mountain views so picturesque they named a whole city, Mountain View, California after it.
I visited office campuses for Google, Facebook, went to a Tesla store, rode the San Jose-San Francisco train (Caltrain).
I finally met up with Eche and Femi, a few old friends from SC, Emelie at Apple, Jessy at Survey Monkey, AD who came in from outside Cali, Chi, Iyin, Ifeanyi Emole and unbelievably my junior from secondary school whom I had not seen for at least eight years. It’s been crazy and fun.
There are some really amazing things that stand out about California. The good ones: the weather here is ridiculously good. Summer feels like spring, sunny but cool. Houses here don’t have A/Cs only heaters for winter, which as a Nigerian and having lived in the South for years, makes no sense. If your house gets hot, just open the windows. Amazing. Unlike the East Coast, humidity is super low. I used to partake in East Coast vs West Coast debates but outside of New York City which is still the GOAT, West Coast wins hands down.
Another good thing: weed is totally legal, both medicinal and recreational. You can go into a dispensary and buy from over 300 strains, choose how you want it whether cookies, brownies, gummies, chocolate, buds, pre-rolled joints or the really gigantic blunts. If you don’t feel like going out to get it, you can call and have it delivered to your door. Amazing.
The people around here seem generally more evolved, for lack of a better word. The cultures are diverse, people are cosmopolitan in outlook, San Francisco elected a black female mayor just this week. It’s less overtly racist compared to the South and even parts of the North.
Also, Nigerians are out here killing it. I met Nigerians working at Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, crushing the classes at Stanford, UC University system on full scholarships, running companies, what have you. Everywhere I saw black people in the most accomplished, high level spaces that White and Asians dominate, most of those black people were Nigerian. In one case, all six black peoples I met at one very intense program I attended were Nigerian. It’s crazy how good we are.
Good highlights also include: the food, the ease of Doordash, UberEats, the fact I can order anything off Amazon and it’ll arrive at my door within 2 hours.
The downsides: EVERYTHING IS SO EXPENSIVE. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. What I’m being charged for rent is daylight robbery, and I don’t live in San Francisco proper. What my friend who lives in SF proper pays in rent is robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. A house that you can get for $120,000 in the South and maybe $300,000 in DC is straight $1.5m here. Nothing about it makes sense.
That cost feeds into the food, groceries, Uber, etc. Being out here has left me broke to stupor. It’s mad.
The other downsides: not enough Nigerian food. The only Nigerian restaurant nearby is in Oakland over an hour away. And I’m carless so I have to take a train. Very sad. And it’s SF so it’s going to be expensive. I’m having withdrawals as we speak, someone send Jollof.
Finally, there is a shortage of black barbers. The closest one is in a near by city and because they know they’re in demand, they always carry shoulder up. I had to book an appointment and then when I got there two minutes late, after searching for the salon the guy had the nerve to tell me “You’re late I almost gave up your spot.” And I tried to watch Nigeria’s game and dude was like I should keep my head still so he can cut me he doesn’t have all day. What a wawu.
But outside of all that, California is awesome. I could see myself living here if I made like $200,000+ a year. Anything below that might cramp my admittedly Spartan style.
Oh, and by the way I’m here mostly for work/business purposes so while I will try to have fun and try to share the experience, 80% of the time I’m holed up in the apartment not going anywhere except my laptop.
It’s the life we chose.