It's really difficult for me to explain the reasons why we want to stay in San Francisco. It's complicated and it feels like there are layers and things unseen (and unknown). Let me try!
We have lived here for over 6 years and it has become home for us. What once seemed scary and uncomfortable has become familiar and enjoyable (biking, public transportation, busy city life, etc). We have a really wonderful community that has gone through so many seasons together and provide love, support, encouragement to us - like family. So when we think of moving, we think of leaving them and that's just too hard to ponder.
But there is more to it than that. Its a strange and new season for us spiritually. When we first moved here we were very mission-minded. We've desired to do ministry here but felt stuck and uncertain for so long and finally, just this year have felt like we're ready for it. We still don't know what this looks like but we've both felt like something is stirring. Finally! I think for me it's a fresh involvement with my church through MOPS. For Chris, it might mean volunteering with youth somehow. Like I said, it's all uncertain. But our church just found a new pastor and with that comes excitement for steps of faith, growth and changes.
Then there is the logistical arguments. When we first moved here, our friends claimed that living on the western side of the city felt like a whole different city all together. No one visited you out there and it took such a long time to get from one side of the city to the other and required a lot of effort to stay connected. We laughed because we came from places that were super spread out and SF is just 7 miles wide. But it is true. If you leave your little pocket-community, it changes life and effects relationships. And even more so when you consider moving outside the city and staying within the Bay Area. People don't make time to cross bridges for play dates or hanging out! Life goes by too quickly and soon you are distant friends living 10 miles apart. When we consider moving we've often said "If we're going to leave the city we may as well leave the state. It would be starting over either way."
There is also a potential increase in commute times if we moved elsewhere. Chris already drives 45 minutes to work each morning. If we move east or south it would be even longer. And moving north means smaller towns, when we really love the urban city.
And then the financial points. My least favorite. Bay Area housing is expensive. I was told this even before I moved here. And it has increased so much more I can't even believe it. We do need to move to a larger space. That much is certain. If we decide to rent a two bedroom space, our monthly rent would at least double if not triple what we pay now (because of rent control, we pay basically the same amount as when we signed our lease). We're looking at buying a house here for two reasons 1) the mortgage could be less than paying rent if we found the right space and stick to our budget and 2) the city provides a really great loan for city residence to buy their first home here if you meet all their requirements. If we leave the city limits, this loan is no longer available to us.
So, we love the urban city. We can walk to a lot, bike, take the bus. There is a lot going on here -socially, professionally and with potential ministry. The city is full of people of all walks of life and that is really amazing. We are part of a wonderful community and don't want to start over. And if the housing stuff lines up as we're praying it will, it could work out and we could buy a house! We've been discussing the pros and cons for nearly two years and although there isn't anything really making us stay, we honestly don't feel ready to leave. So we're doing whatever we can to stay for however long that might be.