Where should I settle next?

As some people know, I am currently taking a break from work and this is the first time I’ve been unemployed since 2011. This was by my own choice – I needed break and some time off from work to think and reflect on what I want to do with my life and where I want to go next.

Right now I’m in Korea and will be traveling Asia while I relax and think about things and meeting my Korean friends again. There is some choices I have to make – I think I will continue doing programming as my main career since it is one of the best jobs you can get right now – salary wise and flexibility wise. I am fortunate that I am a career programmer and one of the few people I know that have done this since I was young. It is one of the few jobs in the world that can give me good pay and good flexibility on location – I can work almost anywhere in the world since software engineers are popular worldwide.

But even then there are some choices I have to make – now that I’ve sold my San Francisco home, I don’t have a real ‘residence’ anymore and am free to choose where I should settle next. So I have a few choices on where to go but they all have pros and cons, and I’m still deciding between them. I have to take into consideration salary differences, location, do I have friends there or not, how easy is it to meet friends, (and for my personal future) how likely am I to meet the right Korean girl to marry?

Option 1: Seoul, Korea – the best choice if I want to get married soon

Pros:
-Awesome atmosphere. Lots of things to do. Lots of people to meet. With population of 10 million, easily the biggest city out of my choices
-Obviously lots of single Korean women, easiest to meet the right person
-Lots of Korean friends here
-Rent is cheap – can get decent studio for around $600 a month

Cons:
-Low salary for engineers, around $40k USD/yr
-Work/Life balance is difficult – probably have to work overtime regularly
-Probably won’t get much opportunity to meet those Korean friends because Koreans are usually busy bodies. Even close friends I only met once a month here.
-Take home pay: roughly $2700 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 2: Vancouver, Canada – the best choice if I want to be closer to family

Pros:
-Most convenient for me, don’t need a visa to get a job
-family and friends can visit me easily
-Lots of Korean women, probably #3 in North America after LA and Toronto

Cons:
-Rainy weather
-Salary is relatively low – $80k CAD on average for engineers which is roughly $61k USD and taxes is similar to California so it’s roughly $40k/yr after taxes, so basically same salary as Korea (without the overwork though).
-Cost of living is high, around $1400 USD/mo for studio
-Take home pay: roughly $2000 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 3: San Francisco, California – the best choice for the best tech companies

Pros:
-Very familiar with the city, still have some friends left there (including one really good friend)
-High salaries and lots of jobs – around $130k/yr average for engineers
-Very nice temperate climate and scenery

Cons:
-Cost of living is very high, around $2500/mo for studio
-Not a lot of women in general let alone Korean women, probably the worst place to meet girls on my list of choices
-High taxes, so take home salary (net income) would be about $84k/yr
-Take home pay: roughly $4500 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 4: Seattle, Washington – the best choice for earning and saving money

Pros:
-High salaries, lots of jobs – around $130k/yr average for engineers, but even higher than San Francisco due to no income tax which means net income is around 7% higher, around $94k/yr the highest out of any city on my list

Cons:
-Not many friends in Seattle, I have maybe one or two
-Not as many Korean women as LA/Seoul/Vancouver
-Cost of living is also expensive like Vancouver, around $1400/mo for studio
-Rainy weather
-Take home pay: roughly $6400 USD a month after rent/taxes

Option 5: Los Angeles, California – the balanced choice

Pros:
-Sunny warm weather all year round
-the most Koreans outside of Korea
-Have a few close friends there
-Nightlife better than other American cities. second biggest city on my list after Seoul

Cons:
-Not as many tech jobs as Seattle/SF. Average salary is around $110k/yr for engineers, and after CA taxes would be around $72k/yr, firmly in the middle of my list
-Cost of living is expensive, around $1500/mo for studio
-Take home pay: roughly $4500 USD a month after rent/taxes
-I would probably need a car (which is a hassle), which is something I cannot say for the other cities on my list…

So… where should I go? decisions, decisions.

I need a break…

Ever since I came back from Korea last year, I find myself more and more lacking the passion that got me into programming and computer science. Since I was 12 years old, all throughout high school and university I’d been designing and working on webpages and websites. After I graduated in 2011, I immediately found a job in San Francisco and was happy to live there and attend tech meetups and startups there until 2014 when I moved to Korea.
When I was in Korea I was also working though my enthusiasm was slightly diminished due to me focusing more on the goal of meeting someone there. When I failed that goal ultimately and was forced to come back to SF, I found myself even less eager to get back into programming and working a day job again. There’s nothing wrong with Spigit, the company that I work for, nor my coworkers who are pretty easy going, nor the salary or benefits (except I wish I had more PTO), nor the technology (I actually prefer Angular 2 to ReactJS) but its just the timing I guess.

I’m at a point in my life where I needed to find a partner, and being back in SF definitely does not help. It doesn’t help that SF has gotten a lot worse than before. There’s more homeless, more crazy people, prices have gone up, less women, less internationals, less Koreans and salary is the *exact same* as what I got from Walmart in 2014. So same salary, less PTO, and everything else in SF has become worse. I only have one friend left in SF now and he wants to leave here even more badly than I do! Coincidentally or not almost all my close male friends have chosen to be with Korean women.. and all of them have had more success than me, ironically, even though my Korean skill is probably the highest out of all of them. And not to mention that I have been focusing on Korea the longest, since 2012.

So yeah, I need a break from work, and I need a break from this city. SF while its still a tourist friendly city, has become a worse and worse place to live in. There’s less and less reason to stay here while the salaries are still stagnant.
These days I just hang out with my friend who constantly complains about life in SF and the lack of women here (doesn’t help my cause) and play video games all day. All my other friends are in Canada or Korea. What a life.

I really want to stay at my company at least one year though, since I’ve never worked for a company less than that and I want to make it seem that I’m somewhat loyal to the companies I go for. Plus I have a plan to sell my place next year and get out of the US, which means this could be potentially the last US job I work for. So why not make it last a little longer?
But yeah this is still next June, and surviving until that time is… difficult. Almost all of my friends from 2014, from before I left SF the first time, are no longer here. Making new friends is difficult; most of the internationals I’ve met this year have all been temporary couchsurfers who I only get to know for a few days before they take off again.

So yes that is my pitiful situation currently. I’m not enjoying my job, Its hard to make new friends here, my old friends have all gone, its impossible to make a girlfriend here due to lack of Koreans, and all this while all my friends and people I care about are next to North Korea, a country that Trump might decide to attack any day now. It is quite misery indeed. Even though 2013 and 2015 weren’t terrific years, in retrospect they were, and in addition to 2012, 2014 and 2016 (those which I always remember fondly), I even begin to miss my life in 2013 (in SF) and 2015 (in Seoul) too… compared to those times 2017 feels like being in a prison. I have to stay here to save money, but at the same time I feel no joy, depression comes fairly often, and I feel trapped in this place that I can’t escape until at least June 2018. I need a change in my life for sure.

New Job and uncertain future…

Well, as a lot of my friends know now, I was laid off a month ago at my previous company Walmart Labs, and I’ve spent the last 2 weeks doing a lot of hectic interviewing. I enjoyed doing interviewing and coding exercises when I was young but now I am kind of annoyed of having to do them over and over. And companies judge you a lot based on how well you do on those, based on arbitrary parameters. I did get to learn a lot more ReactJS and Angular 2 / TypeScript and did get to compare the two a little. Its interesting that JS, once a language that was thought to be a ‘kiddie’ programming language, now can be considered more closer to Java than ever now, as we have ES6 and TypeScript and classes / static functions / constructors / type checking all coming into play now.

So after interviewing with a bunch of companies, I’ve settled on a small-medium sized company based in downtown SF called Spigit, which is an innovation management company. Part of the reason I chose them is because 1) they are in downtown SF and I hate commuting 2) the people and work environment reminds me of Switchfly the first company I worked at which is a good thing 3) they will work with Angular 2 which I did enjoy learning and feel its not a steep a learning curve as ReactJS.

Other than that, life is boring. I got homesick a lot when I was living in Korea, and now that I’ve been back for 2 months, I’ve missed Korea a lot too. I only have one good friend Ethan here, and we usually hang out at least once a week. My other good friend Tony moved down to Redwood City so its hard to see him, and my other good friend Patrick is pretty hard to get a hold of these days as well. So yeah its been hard making friends, and I find myself more and more missing my life back in 2011-2014. Those were the days when I could go to meetups, meet a lot of cool people, there were a lot of Korean international students back then, and I liked working at my company. That’s part of the reason why I chose this company is because it reminds me of my old one – but I know that times have changed, and the Meetups are definitely not the same as before and there’s definitely not as many Koreans in the city as before.

I used to meet Koreans a lot on the conversation exchange websites – now I am lucky to see even one new Korean on that website I haven’t seen before. I think its a combination of Trump’s anti-immigration policies + cost of living in SF going up that has driven away alot of international students.

I have pretty much given up hope of meeting the right girl now. I failed to bring a girl back from Korea – and now there’s 0% chance of meeting a Korean girl here that would be interested in me. Its hard to meet ANY Korean here, let a lone a cute girl who’s interested in me. And SF might be the worst place ever to meet a girl – not only is SF getting more and more gentrified – which means more engineers come here which are mostly men – but any decent looking girl who comes here automatically gets bombed / spammed by guys as soon as she comes here! There’s absolutely NO chance of meeting anyone on a dating site because almost guy here is on there and any cute girls get their inbox spammed after a few days – its not uncommon to see some Korean or Chinese girls with their inbox too full to even message on OKC! My friend’s current gf (who is Chinese so she doesn’t usually wear makeup or dress up that much) gets hit on constantly at her work and guys constantly compliment her and want to take her out and buy her stuff. And that’s without her putting that much time into her appearance! Imagine if the typical makeup / short-skirt wearing Korean girl comes here what would happen? I fear they might get stalked and/or raped.. I’ve had stories of some of my Korean friends going back to Korea and still being contacted by guys that they met in America a year before. Combine this with the fact that most girls in SF don’t pay attention to their appearance + are super feminist = you get tons of desperate horny guys here salivating for traditional Asian girls.

Adding onto those woes, my plan of going to Vancouver has been thwarted by my company suddenly letting me go – and remote jobs are really hard to find so my new plan is to stay with my new company for a year – I am a contractor now after all – and save up money to buy a place in Vancouver so I can move there in the future.

I also have some travel plans this year. First of all I should go to Vancouver next week so that I can renew my TN Visa with my new company (fingers crossed Trump won’t make any changes with the TN visa), then I will definitely go back to Korea sometime in the summer.
I have three girls who *might* be interested in me back in Korea – one of them is emotionally unstable, one of them is married and has an abusive controlling husband so I’m trying to convince her to divorce her husband, and the other one doesn’t speak english well and has never been to US or Canada before and doesn’t want to quit her job in Korea. So yeah -pretty grim choices I think, but I’m definitely more desperate now than before and really regret being as picky as I was back in 2015.
Finally – I want to go back to Canada and visit Toronto and Winnipeg again to meet my Korean/Chinese friends as well as my brother. Hoping to go sometime in the fall.

Right now, pretty depressing relationship-wise and trying to save up money..

Well, I started working again just 1 week ago, and as ever it feels so tiring commuting to the office everyday and working at a smaller company –
the demands are higher, that’s for sure, and I can’t coast like I did at Walmart anymore.

I had hoped that working at Spigit would bring me back to my glory days working at Switchfly, 2011-2013 where I had the best time of my life both
with cool coworkers and with meeting cool friends at language exchange meetup after work everyday.
But times change, and those days are gone now. Meetups aren’t the same anymore. SF became way more gentrified now, there’s way more guys here than girls, and very few Korean students are here compared to before. Yeah, I’m working at a small tech company downtown again, but everything else has changed.

All my friends went back to Korea or Taiwan or Japan. One of my best friends in SF moved down to Redwood City and he works in Mountain View so I can’t see him that often anymore. I only have one good friend left in SF now and I hang out with him so much that I feel like I really need
to get away and have another friend to hang out with cause hanging out too much with just one guy isn’t good for me. I need some variety.

In Korea I was homesick about SF, but mostly homesick about going back to working a normal schedule again and not having to sleep in the daytime and live like a vampire anymore. In Korea, it was terrible for my health. Everyday I woke up at 5pm or 6pm, then went to some meetup, met some people
I probably never talk to more than once or twice, go home, I would eat fast food or instant ramen or pasta or rice at 12am and then start work at 2am, then eat again at 5am then sleep at 10am. I maintained this schedule for TWO freaking years. And never went to the doctor or hospital because I was afraid of my Korean ability and also did not have health insurance. As you can imagine, it took a toll on my health. I am definitely not as healthy as I was back in 2014.

But I knew that as lonely as I was living in Korea like a vampire, living in SF was just as lonely. It’s soul-less here. I feel like since I started working my life has become totally robotic. Every day, wake up, go to work, eat, finish work, then meet my friend for gaming or eating. On weekends its the same, gaming or eating with my one friend. And he has a gf so its not THAT bad for him, but for me its far worse since I know I have NO chance to meet a girl here this year.

When me and my friend went to Vancouver we saw a place where there was an even ratio between guys and girls, a place where Koreans actually stayed long term to work, etc. SF is different. There’s way more males here than females due to a concentration of engineers. It’s like in China, where guys outnumber girls and as you expect that kind of ratio favors women way more, making SF a much better place for girls than for guys. Whether for pricing reasons or visa difficulties or Trump or everything, there’s almost no Koreans that stay in San Francisco long term. Almost every Korean here is a student or a traveler. I hosted several Koreans and other Asians at my house as a Couchsurfing host much as I did in 2014 since I enjoyed meeting new people, but sooner or later they eventually leave since they are temporary, and once again I become lonely. There’s very few options for me anymore other than to just tough it out this year and save money to go to Vancouver next year or year after. There’s no way I can move back to Canada right now since the American dollar is so strong and I can earn literally double what I can make in Canada.

I also don’t think I’ll ever move back to Korea again. And unfortunately for Korean girls, most Korean girls that I like either have a bf already, or live/work in Korea, and don’t want to move abroad or are not interested in me or all three. Since they are so conservative especially compared to Chinese, Koreans usually stay within their own country and date their own race. This makes it very difficult for a foreigner like me. Working in Korea is so hard and most Koreans are incredibly busy due to how much they have to work, and they make very little money on top of that. So there’s pretty much no point to try to work in Korea if I can get an American job.

I can try to find a remote job again, but then I would have to risk the time difference problem and thus my health again, which I don’t want to do. What if I was a freelancer and could work my own hours in Korea? Well, that would be better, but there’s still a fundamental problem… in Korea most girls meet guys through blind dating. In Korea I never had many friends that would introduce me to girls. The main reason I believe (since I can speak Korean fairly ok for conversation) is because I couldn’t stay in Korea long term, and eventually I would go back to Canada or US. And that will always hold true. I don’t think I would ever live in Korea long term… its very difficult for me to do so since I don’t have a house or family there. And since Koreans are so conversative about moving or living abroad, basically this narrows my chances to women who: 1) I can meet either at meetup or online 2) keeps in contact with me (very difficult since in my experience 90% of girls I meet online and meetup eventually stop contacting me or become too busy or get a bf) 3) speaks decent enough English to live abroad 4) has a desire to take a risk and live abroad particularly in Vancouver/SF 5) is open minded enough and has parents that are open minded enough to date foreigners 6) has good compatibility with my interests 7) is cute/slim/feminine enough for me (most Korean girls satisfy this but just putting it out there) 8) Is interested in me enough to start a long term relationship with me
As you can imagine it is VERY difficult to find a girl that meets all those requirements, even in Korea during the 2 years I was there it was very difficult to find a girl who can satisfy all that. That’s why even if I could find a remote job, I don’t think I would live in Korea again… there’s too many challenges still meeting the right girl there. That’s why Vancouver or even Toronto are far better places for me since I wouldn’t have to change my schedule around, I eventually will have to move back there anyway since I only have a US work visa and not a green card, the Koreans there are not as busy as they are in their home country, and the Korean girls there are already “pre-filtered” in a sense (they already have a desire to live abroad since they are already there, and probably have a desire to meet foreigners as well). Of course, the downside is I would still have to find the “right” girl but I think my chances are as good as it can get if I move back to Canada. It’s not like I had good chances getting girls to like me in Korea, their home country anyways.

On a positive side note.. I did a brief overview of all my UMPC collection / gadgets! here they are: