Wednesday, 15 November 2006
Seven Year Itch
In a nutshell: After a lot of angst, back-and-forth, and false starts, we’re moving back to Melbourne next month, seven years and a few days after we arrived in San Francisco. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows us well, although many of our Australian friends have expressed that they won’t really believe it until we step off the plane.
The Long Story
In late 1999, Anitra and I were living in Australia, and I was working for Merrill Lynch and really getting into Web caching. When Peter Danzig offered me a job at Akamai — the hottest Web caching startup then or since — we thought “hey, there might be some money in that,” and took it.
We had already planned a trip to Europe for a friend’s wedding, so two days after we got back, I got on a plane and flew to SFO to start working in a place called San Mateo, California. Anitra followed a few weeks later; we expected to save some cash and move back to Australia in about two years, tops.
That didn’t quite work out, but we were having fun and liked living in the Bay area, settling in one of the best small towns in America, Burlingame. I started working at BEA, we had one and then another son, and life was good.
Like they say, though, all good things must come to an end. Burlingame is a great place to live, but the Bay area is also very expensive; a house you’d want to live in ends up costing somewhere north of a million dollars, and that doesn’t guarantee that the school your kid goes to will be good.
Moreover, once Charlie got to a certain age, we started thinking hard about where we wanted him and his brother to grow up. While we’ve made lots of great friends in the Bay area, it’s a very transient area; most people don’t stay here in the long term. There also tends to be a culture of work-and-nothing-else here (probably because the cost of living is so high) that isn’t good for a family.
In short, we’re making the decision that we’ve seen many others make; to raise their family elsewhere. We’re just going a little further than Portland or New Mexico.
So, we’re both excited and scared. Excited because we’ve always considered Melbourne our home; we have lots of friends and family there, and it’s one of the most cosmopolitan, young and community-oriented cities in the world, and it’s consistently ranked as one of the most liveable.
It’s scary because it’s such a big change; we’ve become very comfortable in California, and know how things work here. We know we’re going to miss Trader Joe’s, for example, and we won’t be able to hop off to Half Moon Bay at a moment’s notice any more. We know we’ll miss our friends; Hugo, for one, just got here, and we’re already leaving! Luckily, it looks like I’ll still be seeing him a fair bit.
We were prepared to go without jobs — mostly because the Australian school year starts in January, and we didn’t want to move Charlie halfway through — but Yahoo!’s Media Group is being very accommodating by allowing me to work from there, coming back to the mother ship a few times a year. Anitra’s employer — the Academy of Art University — is also trying to accommodate her in some fashion as well, so it looks like we’re set for the time being. Of course, we won’t know if it’s really working until we’re already down there, and that’s the scary part.
We’re going to be very busy for the next month or two; although most of the groundwork is laid, moving countries is never easy, and with children it’s doubly complex. I’ll post updates as I can.
P.S. Anybody want a cat?