After 3 years in Singapore – traveling check, learning how things work in Asia check, and getting an MBA check – I wanted to come back to the Western hemisphere. Asia, especially Singapore, is buzzing. I was amazed by how fast it grew while I was there. Think about the coolest coffee shops, restaurants, bars, startup events, a brand new sports stadium, and 2 brand new metro lines… all popping up at lightning speed.
I thought I could probably start a company in Singapore if I put my mind to it. But my wife and I are from Canada and the US, and starting something up in Asia would be a life investment of 5+ years that we were not willing to make.
Why? You’ll easily get the picture.
We talked so much about all the places we could move. Lots of ideas over coffee, dinner, and too much wine. It seemed so confusing:
- London would be awesome because it is so international and beautiful, but it costs so much to live in the city center, and tech is not a top industry.
- Ditto for NYC minus the beauty but plus the non stop action.
- San Francisco is the mecca of tech and I had built a decent network there, but there’s so much traffic, it’s far from our family and anywhere interesting frankly, and costs so much over time. Did I forget the nasty traffic?
- Toronto is like home, and is just an awesome city. The tech scene is growing but does not compare to any top US city.
- Boston is close to family, has a top tech scene, but sounds kinda boring (at the time), and I would have to build a new network.
- Zurich would be a well-located spot in Europe where we would make tons of money, but it’s known to be “boring” and lacks a proper tech scene.
Lots of pros and cons of various cities were clear, but it was more difficult to see how the cities weighed up – and which city was the best for us.
There was a simple “scientific” solution.
We sat down one Saturday and created a framework. We defined 5 variables, gave them different weights according to their relative importance to us, and rated each city along each variable on a scale of 0-5. The variables were:
- Proximity to family and current friend base
- Career opportunities
- Adjusted Cost of living / Saving opportunities
- Life style assuming a family – schools, traffic, restaurants, bar scene, public transportation and so on.
- “Internationality:” having friends from all around the world and ease of international travel.
We averaged both of our weighted-average scores, and guess which city won?
Boston! San Francisco and Toronto came second and third. We could not believe it! It was not so intuitive at the beginning. San Francisco, London and New York all sounded so sexy. This is why I say that Boston “became” a no-brainer.
In my next post, I will detail what I did when I got startup offers in San Francisco and Boston…