Season 1 Episode 1
Would You Raise A Family In the Bay Area?
Westmont High School is located in the center of Silicon Valley. Although plagued with unaffordable housing and debilitating academic competition, the Bay Area is also regarded as a progressive, diverse, and innovative hub brimming with opportunity.
As Westmont students prepare for the next chapter of their lives as they apply for jobs and colleges, issues of family living and residing question the general welfare of the Silicon Valley. Many students have lived in the Bay Area their entire lives, is it worth going elsewhere?
In this episode of The Sword, hosts Anjali Nayak, Lily Bourne, and Alex Gryciuk dive into the reality of living in the Bay Area and talk to Westmont students Sasya Reddy & Maddon Hoh-Choi and Westmont teacher Liz Jarrett for their perspectives and opinions.
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The Bay Area’s climate is relatively mild, allowing year-round outdoor activities to be enjoyed without fear of snow or extreme temperatures.
The Bay Area, specifically San Francisco, is considered to be an overwhelmingly liberal area. In fact, over 50% of voters in the 2020 were registered as Democrat and around 30%, Independent.
- People of color (POC’s) in the 1980’s became the majority of the population — 65 years before POC’s became the majority for the rest of the country.
- The largest and second largest Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations in the United States are located in San Jose and San Fransisco.
- The Bay Area has the largest population of people who identify as apart of the LGBTQIA+ community. 6.2% of the population aligned with the community compared to a national average of 3.6%.
While an average number of eight AP classes are available to students in the US, the majority of students in the Bay Area take around eight or nine AP’s over the course of their high school career; exemplifying the high academic standards for students living in this area compared to the rest of the US.
- The Bay Area hosts a total of 49 colleges and universities.
- 38 Fortune 500 companies, that make up $14.2 trillion in revenue, reside in the Bay Area. The businesses in San Fransisco and San Jose areas make up about $1.37 trillion in revenue for the US economy.
A prime location, Bay Area residents can access any type of terrain easily for exploration.
From Campbell (Where Westmont is):
- Beach/Santa Cruz: Around 20 miles
- Mountains/Tahoe: Between 156 and 230 miles (depending where you stay)
- Napa Valley: Around 100 miles
- Yosemite: Around 138 miles
- Los Angles: Around 343 miles
- Nearest Airport: Around 11 miles
*All distances calculated with Google Maps*
The Bay Area, specifically the Silicon Valley, serves as a hub for tech companies and advancements.
- 7,894 scale-ups (tech companies that raised over $1 million in revenue since establishment) reside in the Bay Area. Those scale-ups raised $501.3 billion in capital, about half of total capital made by US tech companies — 2.6 times higher than European counterparts and 1.1 times higher than China.
- 10.9% of the population in the Bay Area are employed in the tech industry compared to a 3.9% national average.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median wage for workers in the United States, as of 2022, is about $1,041 per week or $54,132 per year (assuming 52 weeks of work per year).
- Findings from the Bay Area Equity Atlas show that in 2019 the average income for Bay Area residents was $76,766 per year.
Bay Area rent ranges from anywhere between $2,600 and $3,400 on average.
East Bay – $2,570
San Francisco – $3,397
San Jose – $2,972
Oakland – $2,816
Fremont – $2,744
Santa Clara – $3,093
National average cost of rent – $1,326
With close proximity to successful companies, and a highly competitive environment in addition to examples set by parents, unrealistic expectations, and peer pressure, extreme levels of stress for students arise. It’s common for students to sacrifice sleep, free time, and mental/physical health for the sake of academic achievement in the Bay Area.
- In 2017, the Bay Area created 531,400 new jobs but approved only 123,801 new housing units. A ratio of 4.3 : 1 jobs to housing units contributes to an extreme homeless crisis.
- From 2017 to 2020, the homeless population in the Bay Area grew to a total of 35,118. The additional 6,878 individuals account for more than one fourth of total homeless population growth during that time period.
Average gas prices in San Jose ($5.551), San Fransisco ($5.656), Oakland ($5.517) are, as of November 4, 2022, about $2 higher than the United States’ average of $3.792.
- Due to an extremely academically competitive environment, students experience burnout and depression at extremely high rates. These mental health issues stem from the need to gain an upper hand compared to other students by taking more rigorous courses and loading up on extracurriculars, while sacrificing free time and sleep oftentimes.
- About 1/3 of Bay Area workers report that they are severely burnt out. Sighting that “career stagnation/no room for growth,” “constant interruptions/fires to put out,” “unmanageable workload/long hours,” and “toxic culture” were reasons for burnout.
Cost of Living
Cost of living in San Fransisco -38% higher than the state average and 94% higher than the national average.
Cost of living in San Jose – 53% higher than the national average.
Cost of living in Oakland –54% higher than the national average.
Cost of living in Campbell – 105% higher than the national average.
Cost of living in Saratoga – 199% higher than the national average.
Robbed of Childhood
Typical, many high school students in the Bay Area spend on average of 30 hours in classes and extra circulars in order to gain an academic advantage; leaving no room for “fun” and relaxation.