We live in Northern Virginia just outside Washington, DC. I love the Bay Area - living there and working 70 hours a week for startups in my late 20s was AWESOME!
But it was hard too. We worked so much there was no time to go sailing, biking, hiking, to the beach, skiing, out with friends or any of the other great things the Bay Area lifestyle offers. Then face time in the office was expected from early morning to late at night at least 6 days a week. Our tiny two bedroom apartment wasn't really big enough for comfort even for the small time we spent in it. We scrimped every extra penny to pay off our grad school loans early and save for a house, but with no deductions, we lost more than half of our house savings every single year to AMT. It hurt. A lot.
When my husband was asked to relocate to help open the Wilson Sonsini DC office in 2000, he talked me into moving. (I don't know how, but he's a really, really good negotiator.) NoVA was close to his family and astonishingly cheap. We bought a 5BR house on a 1/2 acre lot in one of the best public school pyramids in the country for just $200 more than our rent in Cupertino. At that time the DC startup environment was growing and compared to the dot com crash it looked like an OK opportunity.
I would love to go back. The chance to be close to my family and back in such an innovative growth environment is irresistible. But now we have two children in elementary school. Even though our house here has tripled in value, we still couldn't afford a decent place on the pennisula in any of the areas where the schools don't absolutely suck. We'd have to live in the East Bay with an insane commute every day. The Yahoo! inspired trend against flexible working options and teleworking is really unfriendly to parents with kids. The totally work-obsessed lifestyle just doesn't work for us at this stage of our lives and I don't see the culture getting much better in the Bay Area.
I've organized my consulting practice to work primarily with Bay Area companies so I enjoy some of the excitement and challenge of California companies while totally avoiding our local soul-sucking government contractors. Yes, living there would be better professionally, but here our kids go to a magnificent school and I have the flexibility to help them with homework and play with them in the late afternoons and on the weekends. But I still fucking hate the snow and the mosquitos.