In mid-February of this year, I returned to San Antonio after working and living in Israel for sixteen months as a contractor for Rackspace. While I have traveled quite a bit during the 29 years that I have lived here, I had never been away that long.
I don’t have to live here anymore. My children are grown and off on their own. I have family in other places. I choose to live here. There are others that do so as well. And there are many that I meet that have also chosen to live and make their lives here.
Having been away, and having returned, it took me a couple of weeks to adjust.
Somewhere in my head I just kept saying to myself, “It’s just normal here.” Maybe it’s the phase of life I am in, but after being away for more than a year, and upon my return, I came to the conclusion that San Antonio is the best major American city to live in, raise a family, and travel to and from in a globally-connected economy.
If I want to live, work, and experience New York, San Francisco, Portland, London, or in my case, Tel Aviv and occasionally Jerusalem, there’s your airline of choice and Airbnb to do so. I think it’s a matter of priorities, lifestyle, and the reality you want to create.
If you are raising a family and have a home base that is affordable, accessible to major global cities, and has fast connectivity, then you can pretty much do anything you want – and create your own reality.
To me, that is our greatest selling point.
I think the “City on the Rise” thing that has come out of nowhere is really dumb. The message I get when I hear this is that we are not quite as cool as other places, but we are on our way up the value chain. And when I see and read all the statistics and lists that we try to promote, they again remind me of some silly Chamber of Commerce self-justification so we can rationalize why we live here.
I don’t think we need a reason to live here. I think we should just live our lives, make better lives, do great work, and the rest will unfold.
I am not speaking on behalf of the super wealthy who can afford to live, work, and travel the world. I am speaking for the rest of us, those who have made a choice about the life they want to live.
If you’re really wealthy and have more than $5,000,000 in assets (not including your home), then you might be able to afford to live an equivalent life in major capital cities. For the rest of us, and in most of the world, it’s virtually impossible to find a really nice home in a great area with good schools and everything else for under $500,000.
Well, in San Antonio, you can. And you can do so for a whole lot less.
Everything I need here is within 10 miles of my home. For everything else, either I don’t really need it anyway, or it’s on Amazon.
As you are reading this article, I am actually back in Tel Aviv for six weeks for new client work, and am exploring the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in Israel on behalf of my new role with San Antonio-based James Brehm & Associates, one of the leading consulting and advisory firms in the space.
During the week of May 22–26, James is also coming over, and we will have meetings with policy makers in government, prospective clients, startups, venture capitalists (VCs) funding the space, and IoT-centric accelerator programs.
The Internet of Things will touch everything we do in every part of our lives. And given that Israel has more than 300 major research and development centers, is the second largest startup ecosystem in the world, and number three in the number of NASDAQ publicly traded companies (after the U.S./Canada and China), it made sense for us to take this journey to explore and connect the dots of the ecosystem.
I have actually known James for 20 years. We rarely saw each other in town; we mostly visited on airplanes, and maybe once a year had lunch at Central Market to catch up. We both were early Geekdom members and upon my return from Israel in mid-February, we started to talk about collaborating and where it might make sense to become part of James’ team.
This type of not-so-accidental and random collision is where the magic in our community is taking place. I don’t think I am alone.
Being back, it was nice to see not only the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem, but the rise of new organizations such as TechBloc and ChooseSA. In addition to Geekdom, just down the street is the San Antonio Entrepreneur Center, where Peter French is doing amazing work to expand the ecosystem beyond the “techie” community.
When you are away for a while and return, you get a different perspective. Having been home for three months gave me a chance to rest, create a new work flow where I can work from in the early mornings for overseas calls, at Geekdom, volunteer with some of the startups, and reconnect and hang out with friends.
While I am gone for a while, I look forward to returning in late June. I will be home, and then plan to return to Israel again in September, and possibly in December, and then start over again.
This is my reality.
It may not be yours, but today with a wonderful home base in San Antonio, you can create the reality that works best for you.
Top Image: Cyclists ride north right before sunset on the Mission Trail. Photo by Scott Ball.