Collin Donnell

April 12, 2021

Leaving California

I came to California at the end of 2018 to work for Apple on the Reminders app. Since then, I’ve:

  • Helped write an app that ships to hundreds of millions of people and that lots of them use.
  • Attended WWDC as an Apple engineer and helped developers as a volunteer at the Core Data lab.
  • Worked with some of the most incredible engineers and designers I’ve met.
  • Learned how things like UIKit, AppKit, and internal apps work on the inside.
  • Come out of it a better engineer than I started.

It‘s been a crazy two and a half years, and I don’t know that I’ll never work at Apple again, but what I do know is I’m leaving California.

I’ve lived in Sacramento, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and finally Silicon Valley. That means I’ve lived in every major city on the West Coast besides LA. When I think back to the places where I was happiest, Seattle and Portland top the list. San Francisco also had happy parts, but the cost of living was high, and the quality of life was often not the best.

I thought about moving to Seattle. I have many friends there — more than anywhere else by far, but the cost of living has gone up a lot, and one thing I want is not to be spending all my money on rent. That leaves Portland, which is conveniently only a three-hour drive from my friends in Seattle.

I’m a little scared. The last time I lived full time in Portland was 2014. I’ve been back, but that’s the same. I’m afraid it’s changed, or I’ve changed, or something else. I’m also sad. There are people I’ve met here; it’s been hard to keep up with people during the pandemic, and I know how hard it is to keep up with friends in places you don’t live.

I’m also excited. I can afford a much nicer place in Portland, in the part of town I love the most, for hundreds less than I’ve paid to live in Silicon Valley or Seattle. Also, being vegan, the food situation here has been dark. It’s just not a thing here. I started making a list of entirely vegan restaurants in my part of town, and after getting to fifteen or so in ten minutes, I stopped. 

Getting back to biking a lot will also be great. The last time I lived in Portland, I didn’t own a car, and I rode my bike everywhere. I stayed in pretty good shape without trying; it was awesome.

So, that’s the situation. On Thursday, people are coming to load my stuff into a container and ship it to Portland. I’ll do a bit of cleaning, and after that, I’ll start driving. By sometime on Friday, I’ll be a Portlander again.