Live The Dream In Silicon Valley

November 23, 2008

Live The Dream is a new series of interviews, with folk who have immigrated to different parts of the world, to live the dream and start new lives, building amazing businesses or careers.

Live The Dream Part One: Silicon Valley

Vered DeLeeuw moved to Silicon Valley, California, USA, from Israel, a decade ago, to live the dream with her husband. Vered spent time bringing up her children, whilst her husband embarked on a dream career.

This year, Vered launched her amazingly popular blog MomGrind and quickly became THE most popular new Mommy Blogger on the Internet. And she was also appointed Director of Community, for UpToUs, a dynamic Internet start-up which provides great online groups for parents. At the moment, Vered’s main focus is on writing content for the UpToUs blog.

Cath: It must be great living in Silicon Valley. What are some of your favourite things to do in the area?

Vered: There’s lots to do! I love to do people watching in San Francisco. I also like to eat out at one of the many great restaurants the city offers.

With the kids, we like to take the ferry to Angel Island, go for a hike and have a picnic lunch. We often go to Chinatown, visit a fortune cookie factory and have lunch at Hunan restaurant (a little touristy but food is really good).

Or we go biking in Golden Gate Park. In the fall and winter we like to go tidepooling along the coast and finish at Duarte’s for lunch. Their olallieberry pie, served a la mode, is to-die-for. We also drive a few times during the winter to the mountains (Lake Tahoe) for skiing.

Cath: What’s your least favourite thing about living in Silicon Valley?

Vered: Cost of living. It’s one of the most expensive places in the United States – in many aspects it’s even pricier than New York.

Cath: Do you think bloggers who live in Silicon Valley have an advantage? There must be plenty of folk to get tips and advice from right?

Not necessarily. If you are a tech blogger, I guess there’s some advantage to being where all the action is, but since blogging is done online, geography isn’t that important in my opinion.

Cath: It must be exciting working for a startup in Silicon Valley. Is it difficult to get a job there?

Vered: Working for an internet startup is exciting. Hours are usually long but
there’s also a lot of flexibility. It’s a little like being your own boss because there’s very little corporate Bureaucracy and you’re measured by output, not by how much time you put in.

Getting a job at a startup is easy. The problem is that salaries are often low - the excuse is that you have the upside of the company stock but most startups fail so that’s a risk.

Cath: A while ago, I read an article that claimed folk who live in Silicon Valley feel relatively poor, if they’re worth less than $10 million. Do you think that’s an exaggeration, or is it true?

Vered: It’s not really an exaggeration. Since a starter home here costs around $1M, a nice home around $2M and a fabulous home starts at around $5M, you can see how being a millionaire here does not necessarily make you feel rich.

You need to be a multimillionaire in order to feel truly rich. This also goes back to the cost of living: salaries here are high, but cost of living eats into those salaries, so that saving is a challenge.

I dream of visiting the Google building. Have you been inside it and is it as cool as it sounds?

No I haven’t.

What advice would you give people who want to live the dream and move to Silicon Valley?

Research to find out what your annual cost of living would be, then make sure you are offered an income that would cover that and enable you to save. If you’re not prepared, the sticker shock once you get here can be intense.

Do most of the folk who live near you work in technology? Does that feel kind of weird?

Vered: Our friends are either in high tech or are Stanford faculty. While we feel blessed to be part of such a strong, influential community, it’s also weird because it’s a very homogeneous community. It’s a big part of why I like blogging: the people I meet through blogging are far more diverse than the people in my immediate community are.

Cath: Thanks Vered - you’ve shared some great information and insights for folk who are considering moving to Silicon Valley to live the dream.

If you’re considering moving to the USA, check out the official Greencard Lottery.

And thanks for reading. You can learn more about Vered at her excellent blog - MomGrind.

Want To Live The Dream In Silicon Valley?

Facts and Resources For Living In Silicon Valley and the Rest Of The USA

“Official Green Card Lottery”
Newcomer’s Handbook For Moving To And Living In Los Angeles: Including Santa Monica, Pasadena, Orange County, And The San Fernando Valley (Newcomer’s Handbooks)

Newcomer’s Handbook for Moving to And Living in the San Francisco Bay Area: Including San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley, And Palo Alto (Newcomer’s Handbooks)
The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Chicago: Secrets of Living the Good Life–For Free! (Cheap Bastard)
Bet You Didn’t Know: Hundreds of Intriguing Facts About Living in the USANewcomer’s Handbook For Moving To And Living In The Usa (Newcomer’s Handbooks)
Living Landscapes: The World’s Most Beautiful Places [HD DVD]
I Love San Francisco: Do YOU Like Where You Live?
Is This The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Dream?
Live The Dream In Silicon Valley: Real Estate Blog
House Hunting Series: Silicon Valley
Live The Dream - Silicon Valley Careers
Build The Dream: Garage - A Silicon Valley Venture Capital Company
Silicon Valley News On Alltop
Looking For A Dream Job? The average IT Salary in Silicon Valley in 2007 was $93,876, which is $20,000 more than the national average.

Image Credit: Google Building by Isabell Schulz

Do you want to live the dream too? What part of the world would you like to go to?

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33 Responses to “Live The Dream In Silicon Valley”

  1. Erica Douglass on November 23rd, 2008 7:44 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Vered should clarify that she lives in San Francisco, not Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is an area 30-50mi south of SF. Sounds like she mostly hangs out in SF, not the Valley.

    I live in San Jose. Houses are certainly cheaper here than in SF, though still expensive compared to the rest of the country. A 4BR, 1500sq.ft. house in my area (4mi south of Willow Glen - zip 95118) goes for $400,000-$550,000 (huge variance due to foreclosures.) It would go for more like $700,000-$1M in SF proper.

    I’ve been to the Google HQ many times and it is very nice there — although a job is still a job! One of my big ideas — that I may implement at some point — is to build office space for startup companies that compares with Google’s. That would be a hugely fun project.


    Erica Douglass’s last blog post..Good Gifts To Give: Five Guidelines To Giving Gifts Your Family and Friends Will Love

  2. Mike Goad on November 23rd, 2008 8:20 pm

    Great Interview. Interesting to learn more about Vered and where she lives — nice place to visit, but I can’t afford to live there — I’d have to get a job and actually work!

  3. Marelisa on November 23rd, 2008 8:31 pm

    Hi Cath, Hi Vered: Living in Silicon Valley sounds heavenly, although I see the point that when things are so expensive the definition of “wealthy” is modified. I want to know if Vered has a laptop and if she sometimes blogs from cafés in the Silicon Valley area? :-)
    Marelisa’s last blog post..30 Creativity Cards: A Gift I Made For You

  4. Brad Shorr on November 23rd, 2008 9:38 pm

    Cath, Vered, Fun interview. Sounds like the real estate bubble hasn’t burst in Silicon Valley, which is good in a way. San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S. I’ve seen. People who move there seldom leave!

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..What Are You Thankful For?

  5. screenwritingforhollywood on November 24th, 2008 1:52 am

    MomGrind is a great site. Enjoyed this interview.

    screenwritingforhollywood’s last blog post..Sunday Picture Post 34How To Be Funny

  6. Patricia on November 24th, 2008 4:26 am

    Cath great idea and interview with Vered. Vered nice to learn more about you and your work and the love of SF

    I have enjoyed 2 days in San Francisco this week and will go on a walking tour of the Mission District tomorrow and Wine Tour on Tuesday. I think I can match Vered with some of her dessert pictures and wow oh wow has the food been fabulous so far - I’ll do a post and make you drool.;)

    I don’t think I could afford to live here, but I am happy I have a family member who shares and invites me to stay here when I come to work.
    What a fun post…we are so thank full for Cath and Vered and their good ideas and writing

    Patricia’s last blog post..Factoid Friday: House Gratitude in Focus

  7. Robin on November 24th, 2008 7:33 am

    It’s has been lovely to read Vered being interviewed - thanks Cath! I find the Silicon Valley terminology confusing - is it an actual geographical valley? Is SF actually in the valley? (because SF is very diverse culturally, isn’t it? ) These things are SO confusing from the other side of the world!

    Robin’s last blog post..An Unusual Experiment

  8. Cath Lawson on November 24th, 2008 9:39 am

    Hi Erica - I’m not sure of the exact location of Vered’s house. It sounds like prices vary a lot depending on where you live.

    I didn’t know you’d been to Google. I would love to see what it is like. Do you have any pics? Your office space for start-ups sounds like a great idea.

    Hi Mike - it sounds like you’d definitely need a well paying job to live there.

    Hi Mare - I don’t know if Vered does that - hopefully she will tell us.

    Hi Brad - it sounds great. I haven’t been there yet but it’s high on my to visit list.

    Hi Patricia - It sounds like you’re having a great time - I’m looking forward to seeing your pics.

    Hi Robin - your guess is as good as mine. I’m from the UK - so geography of the US confuses me too. Some of their States are bigger than my country.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Live The Dream In Silicon Valley

  9. Erica Douglass on November 24th, 2008 10:28 am

    Hi Cath,

    It’s really easy to tell for me, but that’s because I’m a local. There is definitely a difference between SF and the Valley. Vered is a city dweller, not down here in the Valley suburbs. ;)

    Robin - yes, Silicon Valley really is a valley. Geographically, it’s situated south of San Francisco. I’d probably qualify the north end of the valley as the Palo Alto/Redwood City border, and San Jose as the south end. I live on the south side of San Jose. Palo Alto is 30mi south of San Francisco, and San Jose is about 50.

    My house is 61 miles south of SF and 11mi south of downtown San Jose.

    San Francisco is a totally different animal, but everyone gets them confused. SF in and of itself has a very different culture from the Valley. More hippies and feel-the-love types up there; more suits and big businesses down here (HP, Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Yahoo all have huge campuses down here.) City dwellers prefer condos and the walkability of SF; it’s mostly suburbia, cars, and single-family homes here.

    The networking events have a totally different feel, too, and the types of companies people start or work at are different.

    I wish Vered would have qualified that she lived in SF, not the Valley, but to most people they’re the same. Only living here do you really get to know the difference.


    Erica Douglass’s last blog post..Good Gifts To Give: Five Guidelines To Giving Gifts Your Family and Friends Will Love

  10. Andrew on November 24th, 2008 11:16 am


    I am glad to hear that you are starting a series about people living their dreams – such a positive and upbeat topic makes a welcome break from the constant negative which is in the media these days.


    Silicon Valley sounds so dynamic and vibrant! Ok, my very small amount of savings probably won’t go very far in terms of the cost of living, but never mind. It’s a place that I would love to see if I ever have the opportunity to visit your country.

    Andrew’s last blog post..Employee rights and responsibilities part 4: Why workers should be allowed to belong to unions

  11. Lance on November 24th, 2008 3:01 pm

    Sounds like a great place (well…except for the cost of living!), Vered! The more I hear, the more I know I must get out and visit this area!

    Cath - I love this new series - what a great way to get to know some of the people out there a bit better!

    Lance’s last blog post..Ask?And You Shall Receive

  12. Vered - MomGrind on November 24th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the interview, Cath. I enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read more interviews.

    It’s true that San Francisco and Silicon Valley are two different locations, but many San Francisco residents, including my husband and myself, work in the Valley so I believe I am quite qualified to comment on the Silicon Valley lifestyle.

    Plus, maybe I do live in the Valley. Who knows. ;) I’m trying not to disclose my exact location for safety reasons.

    Mare asked “I want to know if Vered has a laptop and if she sometimes blogs from cafés in the Silicon Valley area?” I do have a laptop, and there’s a nice little café within a walking distance from our house, but I never blogged from there… maybe I should. :)
    Vered - MomGrind’s last blog post..Desperate Fifties Housewives

  13. Jannie on November 24th, 2008 7:53 pm

    Interesting. Here in Austin, the high-tech “Second Silicon Valley ” of our country, we see many families who have left that area of CA and move here where they can buy comparable house for usually less than half of what they sold theirs for. And have all that left-over equity to have fun with.

    Vered, do you think you might move here someday? We could hang out with our laptops once in a while. I’ll show you all the best Austin WiFi cafes!

    And Austin is Awesome. Great place for kids. Eveything here you might want, except Ocean, but we do have a river and lakes we all like mighty fine.

    Jannie’s last blog post..Why do you blog?

  14. cathlawson on November 24th, 2008 8:09 pm

    Hi Erica - I will have to take a look at a map, to get a better understanding of the area. It all sounds so nice and you have lovely weather still - it’s so cold here.

    Thanks Andrew - I was getting tired of all the doom and gloom too. Folk need a bit of inspiration right now.

    Thanks Lance - I’m hoping it will help us to get to know people a bit better and provide some great info for folk who are considering moving to a different country, or somewhere new in their own country.

    Hi Vered - Thank you for agreeing to the interview. It’s a lot of fun talking to folk like you and finding out about where you live.

    I thought that was the case that you live in one and worked in the other but I wanted to wait until you had confirmed. It sounds like you have the best of both worlds. I can’t wait to visit there.

    Hi Jannie - that is in Texas right? That’s another place I’d really love to visit.

  15. Davina on November 24th, 2008 9:10 pm

    Hi Cath and Vered. Sounds like a dream to me :-) Thanks for the visit. Hey, maybe we’ll be seeing a Google tour post soon???

    Davina’s last blog post..Small Steps To Empower Your Attitude

  16. Play Games Win Prizes on November 24th, 2008 11:53 pm

    That’s it, I’m moving to Silicon Valley in 10 years :D


  17. Betsy on November 25th, 2008 12:01 am

    Hi Cath and Vered - Great interview - it’s fun getting to know you better. I’ve loved San Francisco and the Valley every time I’ve visited, but have to say my all-time favorite is across the bridge in Sausalito. Thanks for the memories!

    Betsy’s last blog post..TENACITY

  18. Tom Volkar/ Delightful Work on November 25th, 2008 12:17 am

    Hi Cath - It seems like one would need a really good reason to live there. If you aren’t connected tech-wise and don’t need to be why even consider it? I’ve got a buddy who lives in Aspen and the real estate is very dear there as well. To each his own I guess.

    Tom Volkar/ Delightful Work’s last blog post..An Authentic Approach to Making More Money

  19. Kelly@SHE-POWER on November 25th, 2008 2:23 am

    Great interview Cath, and thanks for sharing Vered. San Francisco sounds ridiculously expensive - one of my backpacking friends came from there and she said the same thing as Vered.

    As for the debate about areas and housing costs, the truth is it can vary so much within a couple of miles/kilometres, can’t it? I know Sydney water suburbs are silly expensive ($1 MIL doesn’t buy much of a house, but would get a nice unit), but Sydney inner city less so (>$600,000 for the same thing). It’s why I left the inner city beaches of Sydney to move to a beach area an hour away. I still have the ocean lifestyle I love, plus I traded in my small 2 bedroom unit for a 3 bedroom house.

    I have always wanted to go to San Francisco, and I definitely will within the next few years. Look forward to more of these interviews Cath.


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..A Picture Perfect Anniversary

  20. ru4real? on November 25th, 2008 5:34 am

    “… a nice home around $2M …” WHEW! I know the area is great, but wow … that’s a steep price tag. I enjoyed the interview, and I look forward to more.

    ru4real?’s last blog post..7 Super Helpful Bible Study Tools

  21. Vered - MomGrind on November 25th, 2008 6:21 am

    @ Jannie: I just might! Once we’re tired of these ridiculous prices. :)
    Vered - MomGrind’s last blog post..Desperate Housewives

  22. Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog on November 25th, 2008 7:31 am

    Hi Catherine and Vered - What a great duo. The interview was fabulous and it was fun learning more about Vered and her life. Having lived in that area (I lived in Burlingame), I know first hand it’s beautiful. I especially loved the SF skyline at night. To me it’s the best.

    Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..NBOTW - An Explorer Of Life

  23. wilhb81 on November 25th, 2008 9:26 am

    All I can say here Cath that it is really a tall dream to live and having a life in Silicon Valley…

    However, if you’re afford to do so, then just go ahead! :)

    By the way, I agreed with your thought that NY is no longer the most high cost living city in the world, where it keeps slipping down from the chart year by year…

    wilhb81’s last blog post..Starting Your Own Business is Not a Dream Anymore!

  24. cathlawson on November 25th, 2008 11:21 am

    Hi Davina - that’s a great idea. I’d love to interview someone wh has toured Google.

    Hi Mike - it sounds great but expensive doesn’t it?

    Hi Betsy Glad you enoyed it. Where is Sausalito?

    Hi Tom - that is true - you’d be mad to pay such high prices if you didn’t need to live there. I’m betting Aspen is extortionate also.

    Hi Kelly - I researched Sydney and the area you live in. There’s a huge price gap and where you live is so nice. It would be crazy to live in Sydney unless you really needed to.

    Hi Vered - I’m guessing it would be weird for you moving to Texas. I’ve heard the heat can be overwhelming if you’re not used to it.

    Hi Barbara - I knew you’d lived in California but I wasn’t sure where. You’ve lived in some really cool places.

    Hi Wilhb - I think I’ll just visit there. There’s so many places I’d like to live but I don’t want to be somewhere with ridiculously high house prices, unless I have to.

  25. sharon on November 25th, 2008 1:44 pm

    The interview is such an inspiration, Vered seems to have achieved a lot for a fairly new blog! Have just checked out the site and am in love with it. I am truly inspired. Thanks Cath!

  26. Jenny Mannion on November 25th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Hey Cath & Vered,
    Excellent interview and it was so nice learning more about Vered. I love SF and look forward to going back with my kids someday. Beautiful city and it is wonderful to hear about Vered loving the experience of living there! I wish her all the best with the start up - I just visited the site and it is a wonderful idea. Thanks!

    Jenny Mannion’s last blog post..The Reconnection - A Healing Modality Like No other

  27. Maya on November 25th, 2008 5:39 pm


    You should come to Seattle. It has the energy and certainly more affordable …
    I do get the feeling I might lose out on the weather battle.
    Guess what, even I read your blog because of the diverse yet intelligent community you have built.

    I would love a fashion trends post on Momgrind - from people watching in Frisco city :)
    Maya’s last blog post..Integrity, Values and Happiness

  28. cathlawson on November 25th, 2008 6:08 pm

    Hi Jenny - I’m glad you enjoyed the interview. The start up company Vered works for really is a great idea.

    Hi Maya - Seattle is another place I want to visit. But as you say - Vered probably gets the better year round weather.

  29. Kim Woodbridge on November 25th, 2008 6:35 pm

    Vered never mentioned exactly where she lived but I can see Erica’s point. I live in the city of Philadelphia. When I meet someone and they say I used to live in Philly, I’ll ask where expecting them to name a neighborhood. They then will say Bryn Mawr or somewhere in the suburbs and I’m like that isn’t Philadelphia.

    It sounds really nice but I don’t know if I would want to live there. I think I would choose Seattle, Portland, or Asheville, NC instead.

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..Stuff This in Your RSS - 11/25/08 - Jay is Games

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    its seems to be fun living in silicon valley, made me think of staying there for a long time.

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