I really like living in the Bay Area. In fact, I prefer the Bay in general to my native Southern California. It's greener here, there's more pretty landscape, it's much more fun to photograph, there's a proper city here - LA isn't so much a city as a string of small downtowns and communities with a couple random stands of skyscrapers - traffic is better here (well, at least not any worse), the variety of communities is great, the BART and CalTrain are better public transit options than anything LA has, and the access to nature is practically immediate from just about anywhere you are.
That being said, though, I have yet to find a community that makes me think, "Yes, I have to live here." I've spent a great deal of my free time over the past two years searching for a community that compelled that reaction out of me. In fact, there's only one place that ever has held that sway on me anywhere: Santa Monica. SaMo has just about everything I want in a community: it has eminent walkability, easy access to nature (the beach, hiking 15 minutes away, many long and easily accessible running routes), great restaurants and bars, amazing groceries and farmers markets, and fairly easy access to a large airpot. Combine all that with a fairly vibe that's a unique blend of massive civic pride, beach town relaxed, urban cool, and outdoor active, and you get the great Republic of Santa Monica. I loved living there. In fact, the only thing I'd say it lacked was dim sum and Pizzeria Mozza (my favorite pizza place so far). Nothing has fit me as well as Santa Monica.
And that leads me to the hard realization of it: Santa Monica fits me because it imprinted itself on me. I moved to SaMo at 24 when I graduated from law school, and left at 30, when I moved to the Bay. Who I am today solidified in those environs. Santa Monica shaped my preferences and personality; not in a gross and direct way, but in a subtle shaping of me around her community.
So the fault for me not being able to find a community with which I can fall in love lies not with the stars (or in the Bay Bridge): it lies within me.
Realizing that fact reinforced just how good an idea it was to move away from SaMo. Sure, I love it there (and do every time I visit), but that attitude is what leads to complacency and personal stagnation. The difficulty I've had in finding a community that I actively want to live in has been good: it's made me evaluate and consider what I want in a community.
And that realization also is what made it okay to settle on Dublin. Sure, my commute is going to be brutal (but my wife's is going to be easy), but there's about as much walkable from my soon-to-be house as there is in anywhere we'd have bought in San Carlos, Redwood City, or San Mateo. Plus, there's a lot of trails to run around, I'll have family very close by, and it has the things I'd want for when our family grows (great schools, parks, etc.). Plus, it's affordable; always a nice plus. :)