Why Goldilocks would rather live here.
You‘ve no doubt heard the old saying: “The three most important things in real estate are: LOCATION, LOCATION, and LOCATION!” I’d like to offer a few ruminations on this topic.
I enjoy backpacking. After a long, exhausting day on the trail, it’s critical to find a place to camp for the night. You can’t stop just anywhere. Your campsite must contain at least three features:
1. Dry, level ground on which to sleep.
2. Access to water.
3. Logs or rocks on which to sit.
In some places, such as the steep-sided canyons of the Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur, these sites are rare. If you arrive at your campsite just before dark, tired and hungry, only to find that it’s already occupied, you don’t have the time or energy to trek miles to another campsite. It’s then that you discover in a very elemental and painful way the value of LOCATION. You’d be willing to pay any price for a flat spot by the water!
The best places to live in Northern California, like the best campsites, are already heavily occupied and hence the most expensive. What makes them desirable? Weather is one factor. The best year-round weather tends to be in the “Goldilocks” zone: Near, but not directly on, the coast. Not too hot, not too cold. You must be positioned sufficiently inland to get the Pacific’s cooling breezes, but less of the chilling fog. Venture too far inland, and the summer heat can be unbearable.
Unfortunately, Northern California’s topography allows only a few sizeable swaths of Goldilocks land, most of it surrounding San Francisco and Monterey Bays. In other words, the high-cost areas. The steep mountains that crowd most of the remaining coastline make large settlements impractical.
The southern bayside stretch of the San Francisco Peninsula, from Woodside to Los Gatos, is squarely in the Goldilocks zone. Our embracing hills, in the words of John Steinbeck, “guard us jealously from the fog and wind”.
And it’s only my opinion, mind you, but California is the greatest state in the greatest country on earth. I challenge you to find a better place to live and work.
But why stop there? In his award-winning book “A Short History of Almost Everything”, author Bill Bryson outlines the lucky coincidences that make our planet habitable, blessed with all the right ingredients to make life possible. Here are but a few:
1. We have abundant water, and we’re just the right distance from the sun for it to exist in a liquid state. The Goldilocks zone. Much closer, and the heat would boil the oceans away, as on Venus. Much further from the sun, and our world would be locked in perpetual ice.
2. We’re just the right size to produce enough gravity to hold onto our atmosphere. If we were much smaller, the solar wind would long ago have stripped away our precious gaseous blanket. That appears to be what happened on Mars, one reason why it’s now (to the best of our knowledge) a lifeless rock. Had Earth not collided with and accreted mass from a sister planet early in its life, we’d be too small to sustain life.
3. Our relatively puny sun is in fact just the right size. Large stars burn out faster. Ours has been burning at a pretty steady rate for billions of years, and is expected to continue for another few billion years. The evolution of complex life takes time!
4. We have a molten core, which confers several key advantages: It produces a magnetic field which shields the planet from lethal solar radiation; It releases (through volcanoes) the gases that became our atmosphere, which traps heat and deflects bombardment from most space junk; and it drives plate tectonics, keeping the continents on the move and causing environmental changes that drive evolution.
5. We have an unusually large moon, a byproduct of that colossal collision with our sister planet. The moon’s gravitational pull keeps our planet from wobbling on its axis, creates ocean tides (an important influence on evolution), and the constant tugging creates friction in the earth’s core, helping to keep it hot.
While we don’t yet have proof, it’s a safe bet that there are billions of other planets in the Universe. Although many may possess water and orbit happily in their sun’s Goldilocks zone, what are the chances they are blessed by all those other lucky coincidences? Earth is unique in our Solar System, and it may be unique in the Universe.
So the next time you’re shocked or dismayed by the price of our real estate, just remember it may be the best location in the best state in the best country in the world, and it may also be on the best planet in the Universe.
And unlike on other planets, you can get financing!