Are you thinking about moving to San Francisco? The greatest city in California and maybe even the world, San Francisco has a lot to offer. Sure, it’s a little on the small side and famously expensive, but it’s also a vibrant cultural center, filled to the brim with interesting people, rich history, amazing architecture, and beautiful views.
Anyway, size is a matter of perspective. If you’re coming from cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, SF will seem small, but if you’re coming from a small town, it will seem larger than life.
The best way to get to know San Francisco is to live here, but moving is always nerve-wracking because you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into. On that note, here are six things you should know before moving to “The Golden City.”
Not Everyone Works in Tech or Wants to Talk About Tech 24/7
Many people think of San Francisco as synonymous with Silicon Valley. First of all, Silicon Valley is about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco proper. That’s where you’ll see all the Patagonia-clad techies that want to change the world.
San Francisco is much more diverse than that. For example, it has a strong art scene with renowned theater companies, a wide assortment of visual arts, and inspiring music. This city has a long history as a national art hub. For decades, artists from all over the country have flocked here to work with each other and share their ideas.
You might actually find that trying to talk about tech with anyone you meet might get you into awkward situations. Many residents feel some animosity towards the tech industry in the area for inflating their living costs.
The Housing Market
Although the ongoing pandemic has had a softening effect on SF’s rental market, the median price for a one-bedroom apartment is still not exactly cheap at over $3,000. The rumors are true. San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the world.
Most neighborhoods are well above the national average in terms of real estate prices, and the slightly cheaper ones… let’s just say they’re cheaper for several good reasons. Before you move here, you might want to do some research online to find some decent apartments with equally decent housemates. Chances are you won’t be able to afford living alone. Many of the one-bedroom apartments we mentioned earlier tend to have more than one bed.
It’s also important to pick a neighborhood you like. If it’s possible, see if you can live with a friend for a week or two to see what it’s like. Neighborhoods vary not only in terms of rent and general atmosphere, but even the weather is different. San Francisco is full of microclimates.
On a more positive note, because of SF rent control laws, some of the older units protect the renters from any drastic increases in rent. Stay alert and if you hear even a whisper of someone with a rent-controlled apartment, buy them a drink and become their new best friend because they might want a roommate.
The Architecture Is Amazing
The Painted Ladies may be San Francisco’s most iconic example of picturesque architecture, but it’s by no means the only one. The city is full of charming Victorian architecture details like scalloped roof shingles and windows with decorative trim.
Not only that, but as we mentioned before, San Francisco is full of both techies and artists, so you’ll find great art not just in the galleries on Geary Street but also on the sides of buildings all throughout the city.
San Francisco Will Get You in Great Shape
Because traffic is a nightmare. Not everybody can live without a car, but if you want to move to SF, you should know that cars are really not the best way to get from point A to point B. The streets are perpetually congested, and a good parking spot is more precious than gold. The residents of SF have more cars than available parking spaces, without considering all the tourists who visit San Francisco. About a third of SF workers commute by car, and many of the traffic congestions you see result from people looking for parking.
If you have to use your car, you have quite a few San Francisco monthly parking options you can use to search for your preferred location, compare lots and book a spot.
Since we already talked about the high rents in this city, don’t be surprised if parking is not included. Moreover, there are a lot of parking restrictions, so many of the residents who own cars will use Uber or Lyft. You also have the option of using transit, but you can expect some delays.
Since SF is quite small, most people will use bikes and scooters, or they’ll walk. But this is where it gets interesting because of the hills. If you’re not used to walking, that’s ok, because it won’t take long until you have calves of steel.
The Weather Is Interesting
When most people think of California, they think of sunny weather and wearing shorts, but San Francisco is special. You will have to become an expert at layering your clothes. Neglecting this aspect would be like leaving your house without a wallet—the temperature changes throughout the day and, as we mentioned before, from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Don’t expect tropical weather, but rather chilly breezes and lots of fog. In fact, summer is the foggiest time of the year, but in September and October, the fog lifts, and you can enjoy the sunshine in more than 200 parks.
Ok, San Francisco is expensive, the weather is confusing, and it’s hard to get around by car. But if you like food you’ve come to the right place! Even better, from all the hills you’ll be climbing, you don’t have to worry so much about calories. Whatever you like, whether it’s greasy comfort food, fresh, organic, vegan, or trendy, you’ll find it here.
SF is well-known for being open to diversity in all aspects of life, so the cuisine is incredibly eclectic. You can enjoy culinary masterpieces from dozens of nations.