Another couple of close friends are leaving the Bay Area and I've realized San Francisco is turning into a college town for me.
Back in college, I spent four years in the same city, finishing bachelor's and master's degrees among a group of 10-15 friends. I recall being one of the first to move on to another city and over the course of a few years eventually everyone, including the holdout 7th year PhDs, left. Five years since I completed my time there, I don't know a single person in that town (save my graduate advisors that I haven't spoken with in a couple years). It's weird going back there and feeling in a way that you're home, but realizing you don't have keys to any place and you don't even know of anyone's couch you can crash on.
I came to San Francisco at the height of the bubble (the stock market tanked a month after I arrived) and like the blur of ideas and constant stimulation that college embodied, the past 2-3 years moved very quickly. Fortunes were made and lost, there was party after party after party, and too many engagements, weddings, and babies to count. But we all awoke from the stupor and realigned, and for a growing number of folks, that means moving on to another place.
Like college, I can understand why people are leaving, and feel that eventually I'll be taking off too. While I once found the foggy weather and the circling the block for an hour to get a parking spot somewhat quirky and part of the fun of living in San Francisco, the fun wore off until I moved to a nearby suburb that offered sunny skies and room to breathe. Hitting 30 reminded me that it's time to settle down, buy a house, and raise a family. However, the real estate prices of the boom haven't gone the way of the aeron chair, and a $500k asking price on anything in the 1-2 bedroom, 1000sq ft range is still normal for the city and the surrounding area. The public schools are hit and miss, the daycare situation is still pretty bleak, and private schools are out of almost everyone's price range.
The weird part is going to be coming back to SF in 5-6 years, knowing barely anyone, and feeling like a tourist again.