Maximize the City – Part 2

by Dan Walsh


An attempt to squeeze every cent of value from my exorbitant San Francisco rent.

This post is the second half of Maximize the City – Part 1. In part 1, I briefly put forth that the main benefit of living in a city is opportunity. The increased cost of living is a fee for the amenities of city life, but if those amenities aren’t being used then the extra money is a waste. It’s kind of like living in an expensive luxury condo and not using the concierge, laundry service, or state-of-the-art gym. I worry that I am not taking advantage of all the city has to offer – that I’m not getting my money’s worth. I enjoy living in San Francisco, however, so instead of looking for dwellings in the burbs, I’d rather maximize the opportunities available to me. I identified 10 areas of opportunity in part 1: food, night life, culture, transportation, social interactions, services, events, professional networking, career choices, and serendipity. I defined and decided on action items for the first five opportunities in part 1. I’ll do the same for the last five in this post.

  • Services
  • Events
  • Professional Networking
  • Career Choices
  • Serendipity


There are more services available in a city. Laundry services and home cleaning services are an obvious example. Other niche service like Uber Cab, TaskRabbit, and the handful of delivery services also count. These all cost a premium, however, and my goal is to maximize what I’m already spending, not to increase it needlessly. I hate folding my clothes though, so perhaps a laundry service would be an interesting experiment.


San Francisco hosts gallery openings, festivals, holidays, farmer’s markets, lectures and more. I used to go to these more frequently, but my attendance has diminished as the novelty wore off. The North Beach festival is pretty much the same as the Haight St, Union St, and Fillmore festivals. But I’ve gotten so used to skipping most events that I think I’m skipping out of all events. San Francisco just hosted the America’s Cup and I only checked it out for about 15 minutes from on top of a hill. That’s lame of me. I have attempted to make use of sites like that aggregate events, but they never seem to a list that’s right for me. I might have to start aggregating my own events.

Professional Networking
I am good about this, though I should be even better. Some of my favorite authors, artists, and entrepreneurs live in the San Francisco area and I have taken advantage of this on many occasions. And if they don’t live here, SF has enough pull that they will eventually visit on a book tour or for a conference. However, this city is also full of non-famous like-minded individuals with whom I don’t make enough of an effort to connect. Meetups seem like the most straightforward way, but everyone has their own agenda which often makes it hard to forge a connection. However, my office is only a 10 minute walk from the Moscone Center which hosts all manner of professional expos and conferences. I will go every Tuesday during my lunch and hand out at least one business card.

Career Choices

I love my job, but in some ways I feel like I’m missing out here. I see other people bounce between Facebook, Twitter, Square and pickup wisdom and stock options from each company. This bouncing also helps their career and paycheck advance quickly. I’ve done well at my current position, but I miss some of that excitement. I feel like I’m missing out on part of the zeitgeist of Silicon Valley by not working for a crazy startup. To be fair, my current company sort of is a startup, and it does exist in the Silicon Valley zeitgeist. Perhaps this is just a case of the grass being greener somewhere else.


It’s so great to run into people I know at coffee shops or on the street. I should increase this by spending more time in coffee shops, I mean, by getting to know more people in my immediate neighborhood. :)