I work in software but I love to hack hardware. there are many surplus electronics places around here that you won't find many other locations in the world.
there is a lot of food choices here and that's a huge draw for those of us who like choice.
you can dress how you like and few judge you by it.
the weather is amazing (we get our spring a week or two before valentines day, most years). cars don't rust out here and we only have snow if you drive to the mountains. you can ski if you drive there and you can go to the beach that same day if you want.
of course there are lots of big name computer-based companies out here. lots of start-ups, as well. (but semi high unemployment right now and companies that simply cannot be pleased and wont' hire you unless you walk on water, sigh).
housing is hella expensive here, that's true. cost of living otherwise is not much more than other nice areas in the country.
social views are very liberal (I consider that a good thing) and racial unrest - at least in the bay area - is essentially non existent other than near oakland and some other select areas; certainly not widespread and the crime rate is not at all high (car break-ins do happen, though).
all in all, I like being here and would be very sad to have to leave it. been here over 20 years and while the economy has certainly had its up and downs, there are more benefits than negatives to living here, especially for those of us who like to dabble in hardware hacking.