My wife and I left San Francisco for Austin to start a family. We love it because people talk less about their careers and more about their kids.

Pengyu Cheng and his wife, Heidi Yu.

Courtesy of Pengyu Cheng .

Pengyu Cheng and his wife moved from San Francisco to Austin, Texas, in 2021.  
He said high housing prices and a homelessness crisis drove them out of the Bay Area. 
Cheng said life in Texas is more rewarding, and there’s less pressure for his family to overachieve.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Pengyu Cheng, who, along with his wife, Heidi Yu, left San Francisco for Austin in 2021 to escape the state’s high cost of living and its homelessness crisis. The essay has been edited for length and clarity.

My name is Pengyu Cheng and I’m 40 years old. I’m a principal program manager working remotely for a tech company. 

I moved to California in 2014 after getting a job with Apple as a global supply manager. I first settled in San Jose and then moved to San Francisco in 2019. 

Living in California has always been expensive. I knew that when my wife and I eventually expanded our family, we wouldn’t be able to afford San Francisco or the Bay Area in general — even though we both earn good salaries.

The state’s homelessness crisis — especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles — have also made living there unbearable. No one is really tackling the problem or communicating what can be done to help those in need, as well as residents and visitors in the affected areas. 

Pengyu Cheng, and his wife and son.

Courtesy of Pengyu Cheng.

In 2021, my wife and I left San Francisco for Austin. We chose the area for its low cost of living, but ultimately ended up falling in love with the community. Feeling comfortable with our new lives in the city, we had our first child in 2022.

My wife and I plan on living in Austin for a long time. Unless we absolutely have to relocate for work, I don’t see our family ever moving back to California.

We had enough of San Francisco  

Our desire to leave San Francisco accelerated in 2020. Due to COVID, everything in the city was shut down and we couldn’t go anywhere. We felt like we were paying a lot of money to live in a city we weren’t enjoying.

My wife and I were renting a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment for $3,100 a month. We didn’t really consider buying a home in San Francisco because every time we looked at Redfin or read an article about median housing prices, it was just the same story: The real estate market was just getting more expensive.

The Cheng’s San Francisco apartment.

Courtesy of Pengyu Cheng.

We realized that we were going to have to move. As we wanted a change of scenery, we looked into new cities. My wife and I wanted to remain within our budget but still have all the amenities we were looking for like access to community parks, hiking trails, and proximity to grocery stores and restaurants. 

We landed on Austin, a place that numerous publications had ranked as the best place to live for several years in a row. We also had visited the city before and had friends living there who highly recommend the area. 

When we first arrived, we lived in a short-term rental. However, in 2021, we purchased a five bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom, two-story home for $825,000. 

We went from being squeezed inside a small apartment to enjoying a more than 3,300-square-foot home that has an office and play area for our son.

We feel at home in Austin 

We live in a cul-de-sac and our neighbors are terrific. When we first moved in, everyone stopped by to welcome us with gift baskets. It feels like living in a little community within a community.

Our neighborhood is very safe and convenient for outdoor activities. I like to run and there are hiking trails in our area, which is amazing. The summers have been brutal, but with global warming, it feels this hot everywhere. 

Cheng and his son preparing for a bike ride.

Courtesy of Pengyu Cheng.

The culture In Austin could not be more different than in San Francisco. 

In the Bay Area, most of the conversations you hear are related to entrepreneurship or moving up in a company. People are very driven and, at times, it feels too competitive for both parents and kids. 

While living in Austin, it has been refreshing to hear stories about weekend soccer practice for the kids or community gatherings and concerts. And while careers are important, no one is talking about it all the time here.

To me, people are what makes a place great. There’s a real sense of community and togetherness in the city, and a lot of love and warmth. Everywhere we go, we are greeted with a smile. 

Cheng and his son celebrating Independence Day.

Courtesy of Pengyu Cheng.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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