In the technology world, no question comes up more frequently these days than "Are we in a bubble?" And while it's not up to us at CNBC to answer that question, we do sometimes happen upon little nuggets—data, anecdotes, tweets and the occasional wild party that can possibly help others make their own assessments. When we do, we'll share them in a little column we're calling "Bubble watch?"
Living in the Bay Area, it's easy to forget what the rest of the country is like. Elsewhere, million-dollar homes are called mansions, not three-bedroom starter units. Being an entrepreneur doesn't equal working at a venture-backed, pre-revenue Internet start-up. And spotting a Tesla is about as odd as, well, finding a public charging station.
How rare is it? We had SurveyMonkey, the provider of online survey software, ask the same set of questions to a diverse group of Bay Area residents and to people spread across the country. Topics included the state of the economy, the job market, the housing market and their own optimism about making more money.
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One question read, "How many Teslas have you seen on the road in the past six months?" There were seven possible answers. Within the Bay Area, the most popular was "too many to count," from 35 percent of respondents, followed by "more than five" from 20 percent. For the rest of the country, the answer most frequently given was zero, from 35 percent of people. The next most frequently cited answer was, "I don't know what a Tesla is." That was given by 33 percent, compared with 6 percent locally.
Sorry, Elon Musk, your electric car company isn't entirely a household name outside of Silicon Valley and definitely isn't filling up corporate parking lots. Perhaps people associate the name more closely with the 1980s and '90s glam rock band Tesla (also from Northern California). Or even the inventor Nikola Tesla, whose inspiration spawned the band and the car.
We didn't ask about that, nor did we ask participants if they'd ever heard of SpaceX or the Hyperloop, Musk's other high-profile projects.
Bay Area residents complain about the cost of living for a reason. And in this survey, 62 percent strongly agreed with the statement, "The housing market in the area where I live is overpriced," while only 3.2 percent somewhat or strongly disagreed. Elsewhere, 16 percent somewhat disagreed and 4.4 percent strongly disagreed, with 33 percent saying they neither agree nor disagree.
As for the job market, competition is tough everywhere, but more so in the tech capital, where 56 percent of respondents strongly agreed with the claim, "The job market in the area where I live is competitive." Outside of the Bay Area, 20 percent strongly agreed, with 37 percent saying they somewhat agreed.
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For those that wonder if people in San Francisco and Silicon Valley get the wackiness of it all, 39 percent said the economic climate in the city where they live is not at all representative of the rest of the country, with just 2.2 percent saying it was extremely representative. Surveying the broader nation, almost half (45 percent) said their city was moderately representative of the country, with 18 percent saying not at all representative and 2.9 percent at the opposite extreme.
SurveyMonkey polled 413 people in the Bay Area and 212 outside the region. All participants were at least 18 years old.
—By CNBC's Ari Levy.