A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me this article, the title of which, for those of you to lazy too click on the link, is “25 Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to San Francisco.” With all due respect to the author, who seems like a stand-up guy, I feel like this article was missing a certain…je nes sais quoi, so I took it upon myself to write a new version. Since I’ve been here a while and consider myself to be a Bay Area native, I won’t list “things I wish I knew before I moved,” but instead, without further ado, here are 25 [OTHER] THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SAN FRANCISCO BEFORE YOU MOVE HERE:
1. It’s cold. The author of the other article started with this one, and with good reason. I once had friends visit from NY, and the first thing they said to me was, “this is California, it’s supposed to be warm!” No, that’s southern California. Were you also looking for movie stars? Because you won’t find them here (except for Danny Glover, and Robin Williams sometimes). If you want the sun, move to LA. If you want an enjoyable life experience, move here. The choice is yours.
Pro tip: If you really want warmer weather, you can get it by leaving SF and traveling 2 or 3 miles in any direction (well, west is the ocean and you may have to go 5 miles to the south, but you get the point).
2. It’s expensive. Of course, if you’re going to move here, you already figured this out when you hopped onto Craigslist to find an apartment. Do yourself a favor—hop into your time machine, go back to March 2011 (or earlier), and find a cheap apartment with good rent control. While you’re at it, please assassinate Twitter. That’ll help keep rents down.
Pro tip: You can save money on food by not eating.
3. There do exist San Franciscans who are not tech people. If you’re moving here now, you’re probably doing it because you got a job in the tech industry, but please understand that there are many other people who have lived here for a long time (over 2 years) who never read Techcrunch and don’t give a hoot about apps. They are more knowledgable about the city than you (having been here for a longer time) and we’re also capable of appreciating some things with which technies generally struggle, like the joy of choosing a restaurant without the aid of yelp. Oh shit, did I just switch pronouns? The point is, the glorious city of San Francisco existed for a long time before tech people came here, and although we welcome them with open arms (and by “we,” I mean “greedy landlords,” who love the fact that not one of y’all could negotiate your way out of a paper bag), there’s so much more to the city than it being “tech central” or whatever the kids are calling it these days.
Pro tip: Make the most out of the time you spend with the teachers, police officers, waiters (that’s a unisex term now, right?), bartenders, artists, nurses, small business owners, and other people you meet in the city who are not lawyers, techies, or working in finance. They won’t be able to afford to live here much longer.
4. The Chinese food in Chinatown is shit. If you want darn good Chinese food, go to the Inner Richmond. You can also get amazing Thai and Vietnamese there (and yes, there’s also a Burma Superstar, if you succumb to that kind of trendy).
Pro tip: For dim sum, I say hit up Tong Palace on Clement and 11th. If you go on a weekday it’s insanely cheap.
5. Many people here are socially liberal, fiscally conservative. This is mainly due to the fact that many people here make a lot of money. If you’re looking for fiscal liberals, go to Berkeley with all of the other commies. If you’re looking for social conservatives, then get the fuck out of my town.
Pro tip: NPR is a thing of the past, now it’s all about podcasts for political opinion. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figured out how podcasts work, so I can’t tell you which ones are good.
6. The Richmond District is historically gay. Before the gays flooded to the Castro (in the time of Harvey Milk) and then to Folsom street (for those who like things a little more “interesting”), they generally lived side-by-side with Chinese immigrants in the Richmond. I know this because a gay friend of mine told me (I’m unable to find any proof on Google, but I think it’s true). Why is this important to know? Because when you take a girl on a date to the Richmond for some Thai food and Toy Boat, you can drop this little tidbit of knowledge and totally impress her.
Pro tip: Many gays from the older generation still live in the Richmond, so if you play your cards right, you can probably see some wrinkly old man balls in the area, if you’re into that sort of thing.
7. The tap water here is safe and delicious. I recently went to Costco with a friend and bought her a jumbo pack of Brita filters. It was $40! SUCH A WASTE OF MONEY! In San Francisco you simply do not need to filter your water! Really! LA is a different story; the tap water there is disgusting. But they do have that great California weather!
Pro tip: You’ll also save money by asking for tap water in restaurants, as opposed to bottled water. You shouldn’t be drinking bottled water anyway—ask me why if you’re interested in knowing more.
8. Living in Oakland is a totally viable option. If you want to move here but the rent is scaring you away, head east, young man! Oakland is basically the Brooklyn of San Francisco—slightly cheaper, rapidly gentrifying, and hipper…at least according to its residents. If I ever leave my rent-controlled apartment, I’ll probably move there.
Pro tip: BART is great and all, but there’s something called the “casual carpool,” wherein you let random strangers drive you across the Bay Bridge from Oakland to SF, and it saves you both money (as the fare is lower if you have multiple people in your car). I’d think it’s a great way to meet people, but apparently there’s sort of an unspoken “no talking” rule. Is “unspoken ‘no talking’ rule” redundant?
9. You never need to take public transportation in the city, because you can ride your bike everywhere. I know what your thinking—“but aren’t there all of those insane hills?” Yes, but trust me, after one month, you’ll have calves of steel. Also, you’ve probably seen this chart that shows which bikes are seen in which neighborhoods, and it’s true that, among the young folks, there is some bizarre snobbery involved in what kind of bike you ride. But honestly, fuck that shit. I ride a relatively old Cannondale mountain bike with city tires and Rock Shox and it gets the job done. That’s all that matters: getting the job done.
Pro tip: The hipsters still haven’t caught on that you can be the ultimate manifestation of old-school irony by riding a penny farthing. If you start that trend, you’ll be the coolest guy in town.
10. San Francisco is a tiny city, and you will bump into everybody you know here all the time. Including that girl with whom you went on that incredibly awkward and uncomfortable okCupid date.
Pro tip: There’s no shame in ducking into an alley to avoid a face-to-face interaction.
11. Going to the Ferry Building will make you happy. It always does, due to the multitude of amazing food options. If you want the full experience, grab a loaf of Acme bread, some Cowgirl Creamery cheese, and some tasty salted pig parts from Boccalone (note: not kosher), and you’ve got yourself some good eatin’
Yes, that’s salami in a cone.
Pro tip: The Ferry Building is appropriately located right next to the ferry terminal, where you can catch a ferry boat that will take you to Marin. And while you’re there…
12. There’s more to Marin than Sausalito and Muir Woods. I grew up in Marin, and it kind of bothers me when people talk about how the only places in Marin are Sausalito, which is one giant sea-side tourist trap (except for the No Name Bar, which is awesome), and Muir Woods, which is a slightly smaller, more outdoorsy tourist trap. Once you move past the rich white people, Marin County has so much more to offer.
Pro tip: I suppose I should tell you what else Marin has to offer, since I haven’t actually written that blog post about it yet that I planned on writing last year. If you’re the outdoorsy type, check out the watershed on the north side of Mt. Tam. There are four lakes (or maybe five?) and any number of excellent hikes. In fact, this one looks pretty damn awesome, although it’s kinda long. If you want something scenic but with a cute town feel, I recommend going to Blackie’s Pasture and walking down the bike path to downtown Tiburon, where you can order some fresh seafood at Sam’s or some killer gourmet Mexican at Guaymas.
* * *
We’re not even halfway there. Damn, 25 is a lot! I’m so used to top 10 lists! Fortunately, there’s hella more to know about San Francisco…
* * *
13. It helps if you know Spanish. San Francisco was once part of the Spanish empire, and the legacy sort of lives on today, with many of our residents speaking Spanish. Like California in general, there is a fairly large Mexican population (and smaller Central and South American populations), and although most of our resident Latinos/as speak English, it helps to understand Spanish if you want to know what they’re saying about you behind your back (as if you’re that special that they’re actually talking about you). Sadly, I don’t speak Spanish. I speak some Japanese, but that only comes in handy when I’m flirting with the waitress in a sushi restaurant (unless she’s actually Chinese…or Mexican).
Pro tip: If a woman begins a sentence with “Mira!,” that means you probably did or said something wrong.
14. 49er fans are legit… I grew up in the Bay Area in the ‘80s, when the Niners were simply a way of life. The team’s performance on Sunday affected the mood of the entire Bay Area the next week (bear in mind that the Raiders were in LA at this time, so even East Bay folks were Niner fans). If the Niners won, everybody was smiling from Monday until the next game. If they lost, the skies would be gray until we redeemed ourselves. If you wanted to befriend a San Franciscan, all you had to do was mention the word “Niners.” I think this all still holds true—when I was in Japan teaching English, one of the Japanese teachers with whom I worked said he loved Joe Montana, and we instantly became friends. Dana Carvey (a Bay Area native) has a great bit about the phenomenon:
As far as I know, Niners fans are faithful. I don’t know for sure, because I left the Bay Area in 1999, just when the Niners started to suck, and came back in 2011, just in time for them to start kicking ass again. I’m assuming that the seats at the ‘Stick remained packed all of those years, and the city still tuned in, gray skies be damned. That’s what I believe. Please don’t tell me otherwise.
Pro tip: Ladies, if you want to get a San Franciscan man, just mention that you think that Jerry Rice is the greatest player to ever have graced the gridiron. Note: this will only work if the man you want to get is straight. Actually, I’m not even sure about that.
15. …Giants fans, not so much. Let’s not lie to ourselves. Before 2010, there were very few Giants fans. Sure, there were Barry Bonds fans, but very few of them could actually name another player on the team. Suddenly, the Giants won the world series and soon the whole town was bathed in Orange. Frankly I don’t care, I love seeing people excited about the “team of the tweens,” whether or not it’s solely due to the bandwagon effect. But don’t be fooled—if the Giants start losing, there will be no more sell-outs at AT&T Park. That’s not horrible—as of now, the only people who can afford to go to Giants games are those who work in fancy law firms or for wealthy tech companies, who sit in their luxury boxes and eat gourmet sausage and drink Chardonnay while looking up from their iPads only if there’s a homerun or maybe if Buster Posey is up.
Pro tip: At trivia night, when they ask a question about a former Giants closer, the answer is almost always “Rod Beck.” If they ask a question about an old-timey player from the New York Giants days, the answer is almost always “Mel Ott.”
16. There are a lot of poor and homeless people in San Francisco, and they are human beings too. I’m going to get a little political here…and preachy and annoying and self-righteous. Oh well. Most of the young people in San Francisco are liberal Democrats, and love talking about helping the less fortunate. However, many of these young liberals also talk about how homeless people in San Francisco are a problem that they’d like to see disappear. It’s as if we’d like to live in a bubble where not only are we more “accepting” than the rest of America, but we don’t have to see any of the downsides of the urban environment. I don’t want to make a blanket statement, because I know there are a lot of altruistic folks in SF too, but I have heard enough statements from friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and other folks-about-town to believe that this hypocrisy is rampant. I find it particularly disgusting that it is now in vogue for the nouveau riche to get dressed to the nines and go to fancy “speakeasy”-style establishments in the Tenderloin for $14 single malts. First there was just Bourbon and Branch, but now there’s also Rye, Swig, and I’m sure others—all places that none of the actual residents of the TL could afford to step into (if they got past the bouncers, which they wouldn’t.) The TL residents have enough shit in their lives without getting their noses rubbed in their poverty by young wealthy douchebags.
Don’t get me wrong—poor/homeless people can be scary. They sometimes yell to themselves, smoke crack, or shit on the sidewalk. And that sucks. But their lives suck more than you can ever imagine, and if you think the solution is to just sweep them under the rug, or out to Oakland, then next election you can vote Republican and see #5 above.
Pro tip: If you have time, there are myriad volunteering opportunities for helping the underserved communities in SF and the Bay Area. If, like me, you don’t have time, there are many wonderful organizations that accept donations. A few of my favorites:
St. Anthony’s San Francisco. This is a one-stop shop for poor/homeless services in the TL, with food, clothing, medical and rehab services (and you can volunteer here too).
Athletic Scholars Advancement Program: helping kids from low-income households get athletic scholarships into top-tier universities.
Women’s Community Clinic: Provides testing, outreach, birth control, and health career training for the poorest of the poor women in the Bay Area.
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto: Providing legal services to those who need it the most, for real.
17. Parking is tough, so learn how to work the system. I could write an entire post about where and when you can park in the city, but that would get kind of boring. As a general rule: you’ll struggle to find parking in residential areas at night (except on weekends), and downtown during the day. If you need to move your car to avoid the streetcleaner, do it in the morning before work, not in the evening afterwards. If you’re going out and you have a primo parking spot near your apartment, consider walking, riding your bike, taking an Uber, or, gasp, taking public transportation. Then, get as drunk as possible to further make yourself happy about leaving your car behind.
Pro tip: If you’re going to park your car somewhere overnight, (1) try to find a spot in front of a house or apartment building, as opposed to in front of a park, business, church, or other place where people don’t live; and (2) don’t leave anything in your car. If you follow (1) and (2), you probably won’t get your window smashed in. If you don’t follow (1) or (2) (or both), in certain neighborhoods (including, without limitation, the TL, Lower Haight, Mission and Portrero), there’s a pretty high likelihood that your car will get burglarized.
18. Noc Noc is a better bar than Toronado. I love the Lower Haight, and Haight Street between Fillmore and Steiner may be the best city block in all of San Francisco. When most people in the city think of this block, they think of Toronado, you know, the bar with over 100 beers on tap. Don’t get me wrong—the beer selection is amazing, and at 3 PM on a weekday afternoon, I love going there and letting the bartender introduce me to some amazing new microbrews. However, on a usual weekend night, the place is packed with douchebags, the music sucks, and the lighting is too bright. I don’t understand why people go here, when just three doors down there’s this amazing bar called Noc Noc. It’s never too packed, the tunes are bompin’, and the décor is trippy and evokes a kind of “Beetlejuice-meets-that-Cure-video-where-Robert-Smith-is-in-a-cave” vibe. They don’t have 100 beers on tap, but the beer they have on tap is always damn good (try the Peach Porch Lounger if they have it), and there’s a great selection of Belgian beer in bottles. Just go here, dammit.
Pro tip: Normally, if you want to keep your secret spot secret, it’s not good to post it on your blog. But I really want more people to go to Noc Noc, mainly because the only attractive women I’ve ever seen in the bar are those whom I’ve brought myself.
19. You can see great music in small venues. Yes, we get all of the big acts at Shoreline or Oracle Arena or sometimes at AT&T Park, and we get lots of really dope concerts at the Independent and the Warfield and the Fillmore, but you can see some hot, quality shows on the cheap at our little venues, such as Make-Out Room, Elbo Room, Slim’s, Bottom of the Hill, Amnesia, and Neck of the Woods. I prefer small shows—I often find them to be more intimate and more interesting.
Pro tip: Elbo Room also has some fun DJ nights, including “Soul Night” every other Saturday. If you dress up, you get a discount! Note to ladies: “dress up” = “don’t wear jeans.”
20. There’s a fun underground comedy scene. Some of you know this, but I had a brief foray into stand-up comedy, doing a couple of open-mike nights before I realized that, like all hobbies, I didn’t have time for it. There are a bunch of regulars, and I got to recognize many of them and their respective styles. They seemed to form a great community, one that I would have liked to get into, but the reality is that I’d never join a club that would accept me as a member. This was not particularly relevant, as they didn’t really accept me as a member. Still, good times, and I would recommend checking out some local comedy at some point.
Pro tip: If you’re gonna try your hand at the comedy thing, you can’t go wrong with dick jokes. At least that’s what everybody here seems to think. Of all of the jokes I heard in my month-long sojourn into the SF open-mike comedy world, I only remember this one:
“I like to do this trick called ‘the stranger’. When I wanna get off, I sit on my hand for a really long time, so it falls asleep and I can’t feel it. Then I have a stranger jerk me off.”
21. You are not allowed to make a left turn in the city of San Francisco. Kind of a pain in the ass.
Pro tip: Some people like to say, “In San Francisco, two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left.” My corollary: “In San Francisco, two wrongs don’t make a right, but one wrong can make a left, if there are no cops around and there aren’t any of those pesky cameras. Fuck those.”
22. You can actually get good pizza here, if you know where to go. Since San Francisco is such a “foodie” town (ugh, I detest that term), I thought I’d throw in one food item. East coasters, particularly New Yorkers, claim that SF doesn’t have good pizza. I’ll concede that delicious pizza is not as ubiquitous here as it is in NY, but you can still get it. Here’s the breakdown:
Pizza-by-the-slice: Escape from NY (various locations)
Italian-style: Delfina (in the Mission)
Chicago deep-dish style: Paxti’s (in Hayes Valley and I think they opened somewhere else too)
My other favorite: Club Deluxe (Upper Haight)
Pro tip: Pesto/potato pizza is common here, and it’s usually damn tasty. Say what you want about our hippie culture, but this is one of its best side effects.
23. Due to a new city ordinance, public nudity is no longer allowed. Sorry.
Pro tip: There are exemptions for certain events, such as Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair. There is not an exemption for Christmas. I learned that one the hard way.
24. The touristy crap can be kind of fun! San Franciscans rarely go to Fisherman’s Wharf, the California Academy of Sciences, or Haight-Ashbury, but if you have a friend visiting from out of town, or a 4 year-old nephew, it’s totally worth it to check out these places.
The Haunted Gold Mine was my favorite Fisherman’s Wharf attraction as a wee lad. Note: the kid in the picture is not a younger me, nor my nephew. This is just the first pic that came up on a Google search.
Pro tip: If you want to actually enjoy Fisherman’s Wharf, it helps to get drunk before you go.
25. Yes, we’re snobby. I apologize. Deal with it. While writing this post, I’ve been gchatting with a friend. She asked the topic, and I sent her a link to the article that inspired this whole shebang. She replied, “i thought to send it to you, but i figured you would think it’s too elementary.” I wonder how many of my fellow San Franciscans read that piece and thought, “this so pedestrian, clearly this man does not know his feces from his shinola when it comes to our glorious city by the bay” in a really haughty internal voice, while drinking some microbrew you’ve never heard of. I bet at least several dozen. And yes, I know that this blog itself has been quite snobbish (I like the part where I refer to Burma Superstar with contempt, as if I’m too cool for their tea leaf salad and mint chicken). Don’t worry, the irony is not wasted on me.
Pro tip: There are a few well-known quotes that exemplify our general attitude towards our city and ourselves, which you can feel free to use:
“One day if I do go to heaven…I’ll look around and say, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’” – Herb Caen
“San Franciscans are very proud of their city, and they should be. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.” – Robert Redford
“We San Franciscans don’t think we’re better than everybody else, we are better than everybody else.” – Bumper sticker, circa 2007
You gotta give us some credit—we do love our town. It’s okay if we’re a little bit obnoxious about it. At least we’re not New Yorkers. FUCKIN’ 49ERRRSSS!
UPDATE: 9 months later, this remains, by far, my most visited post. Thank you Jason! I’m working on a couple of new SF-based projects, so if anybody has any further interesting thoughts on my fair city, please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shogawa Steve-o said:
Top tips… always been keen to see this city, and preferably learn how to come out with mind opened and personal belongings intact. Your suggestions seem to provide this and more. I salute you.
Pingback: 25 Things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco « The Art of Living
The Chinese food in Chinatown is fine. As long as you escape from the tourist trap areas, and eat where the Chinese people eat.
I wouldn’t call most people financially conservative. Everybody loves rent control, but other than that, we seem to pass almost every new bond and tax that appears on the ballot.
I’m a little disappointed that the public nudity ban is already in force. The reports made it seem like the ban would take effect in February, just in case the nudists get a judge to issue an injunction. I don’t expect them to succeed.
SF Native said:
Beautiful! Glad to hear that things haven’t changed much since I moved to Europe. I can hardly believe that NocNoc is still there after all these years!
it better be, and it better stay there, dammit… where else am i going to bring all my dates to impress them by immersing them in the cool new world that i live in, if not the Noc Noc?????
Andrew R. said:
Love the post — thanks in particular for calling out the hypocrisy of “liberal” SFers who act like homeless people are not people.
this was far more enjoyable than the app-worshipping east coast transplant version. by the way, the newer paxti’s is in the inner sunset and club deluxe in the haight closed recently. if that boston dude is so serious about friend-making techniques he should bring me some delicious pizza from his homeland 🙂
Club Deluxe closed? WTF? I love(d) that place! And I just added Paxti’s to my do-not-eat list because the management embezzles the healthy SF tax. So basically, one of my 25 things has already been negated. Little Star ain’t bad…
Club Deluxe didn’t close – Giovanni just doesn’t make the pizza there anymore. He left and they have a new guy making similar, but sadly not as good, pizza. The bar side of things is the same as ever.
Psssst. There’s very little good pizza in Boston–a few interesting places–but you go to New Haven if you want actual pizza.
So, you say you’re native, and then you say you grew up “in the bay area”. Sf natives would never say that.
Which is it?
Hi Joey. I believe I say I’m a “Bay Area native.” If you really want to know where I grew up, the answer is hidden somewhere in the post if you read it VERY CAREFULLY.
I think native means that you were born there, not because you’ve lived there a long time. You’d never say Eucalyptus trees are native to San Francisco, would you? Even though they were transplanted here many, many years ago.
Hey Joey! Where you from and wheredja go to school?
Where *did* you find that picture from the GIants game? Truly Epic. It embodies one of 84 reasons why I’m leaving the bay area. (most of them are money related).
Though I will take point about there being no Giants fans prior to 2010. You weren’t here but, the opening of pacbell/SBC DID bring alot of people back out to the games (yes it was costly even at the outset). There was a lil’ world series here in 2002 as well. But we don’t speak of that. Its my personal opinion that that’s why 2010 was such a explosion of happiness. Giants fans were devastated over ’02, I know I was.
And yes. Its really crappy to go to a Giants game now because of the surrounding BS. But that just means I have to go mobb deep (with my glove I might add).
RobertaK (@justme2) said:
Let’s also remember those of us who suffered through hot dog wrappers at Windlestick (aka Candlestick) and watched the moving vans nearly back up to the loading dock to take the team to Tampa in 1992. (I personally see the Giants waiting till Bonds was long gone to win a World Series as a bit of baseball karma at work, but that’s just me.) I was there when Joe Morgan knocked the Dodgers out of the playoff hunt in 1982, I was there when you could move from upper to lower deck in late innings because no one showed up, I was at least listening when Hank Greenwald announced the attendance at a Braves-Giants game as 1734, and said, “That’s not an attendance figure, that’s my shirt size.” Yes, there are Giants fans that are not bandwagoners.
Many people don’t realize that I’ve actually written other blog posts besides just this one (which gained immense popularity solely due to the fact that it’s linked from another, more popular post). But I’ve written (at least) one other post that I think you, RobertaK, will appreciate: https://sfloveaffair.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/17-on-the-san-francisco-giants/. P.S. Is this Roberta Koss, my high school geometry teacher? If so, you should know that in college I went on to major in math…before becoming a lawyer.
A very bold statement about Toronado! Though I have to admit it is an accurate one. Shout out love for Wing Wings and the wonderful women who make the sandwiches at Love N Haight.
Hat tip for Toy Boat AND Club DeLuxe… too bad about Joey’s departure.
Larkin Callaghan said:
Interesting read. I’m a born and bred Inner-Richmond girl and fifth-generation San Franciscan currently living in NYC. This was a nice little trip. Also, important to note that there are differences between all the King of Thais, even the two withing three blocks of each other on my home street of Clement.
Thanks for the laugh out loud moments including (but not limited to) :
“Do yourself a favor—hop into your time machine, go back to March 2011 (or earlier), and find a cheap apartment with good rent control. While you’re at it, please assassinate Twitter. That’ll help keep rents down” Luckily I have done that and feel I can never leave my Hayes Valley apartment that is now sadly a steal even though I think the rent is atrocious.
“There’s no shame in ducking into an alley to avoid a face-to-face interaction.” Done that or rather…a version of that.
“San Franciscans rarely go to Fisherman’s Wharf, the California Academy of Sciences, or Haight-Ashbury, but if you have a friend visiting from out of town, or a 4 year-old nephew, it’s totally worth it to check out these places.” Sometimes I like when the friends/fam come into town just so I can shamelessly head to Pier 39 and eat mini donuts at Trish’s.
“Going to the Ferry Building will make you happy.” Without fail. ‘Nuff said
Natives do go to Fisherman’s Wharf, but not till mid to late October when the weather is balmy and the tourists are gone.
Pingback: 35. On the Recent Tech Wave in San Francisco « San Francisco Love Affair
RubberToe Penne said:
I know this isn’t exactly the right forum for this, or a forum at all, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. Great read and I am moving from Philadelphia this summer to work as an engineer in Cupertino on a construction project for two years. Is SF the only way to go in the Bay Area (sounds like it!) Or is there a surrounding town that may be better for commuting in and out of that I can still be a regular in San Fran. I’m just trying to soak in as much as I can while I’m enjoying your coast! Thanks!
ruth carlson said:
los gatos is the only place I’d live in the south bay
RobertaK (@justme2) said:
Commuting from SF to Cupertino is doable, but time-consuming; best way would be to take CalTrain to Lawrence Station (I think) and catch one of the free shuttles. Or if you want, you can live down here; don’t listen to those who say Los Gatos because that’s super-expensive. Sunnyvale’s got some reasonable places that aren’t dumps, and Mountain View’s another good option especially if you have a car and can hop on 85 to get to Cupertino. (Is that construction project related to the new Apple campus perchance?)
I moved to Portland in 1999. I think about our 5 bedroom flat at Hayes and Steiner that we paid $1400 for when I read stuff like this. Or our four bedroom flat at 24th and Bartlett in the Mission that we paid $1200 for. Can’t believe the rent people get now. It’s insane.
Gay SF history, I’m not familiar with the Richmond having much of a role. But here are a few other well documented historically Gay parts of SF.
Late 1940’s – The Black Cat Bar on Montgomery in the Fidi was a stomping ground from the recently out Gay war veterans who came out in the service and realized they could not move back to their small towns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Cat_Bar)
Late 1950’s – North beach and the Beat movement was well documented by Alfred Kinsey. And was a key population that he based the Kinsey scale on 1 = 100% straight, 6= solid gold gay, with most everyone falling somewhere inbetween.
1940-70’s – Polk St & the Tenderloin was the hub of for the Gay bars & transgender population. Folks were fighting bar raids and gender checks at bars. Actually before stonewall there were the Compten Cafeteria Riots in SF where Drag queens fought back against the SF PD. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compton's_Cafeteria_riot )
1970’s onward – Castro, need I say more
1970’s onward – Mission became the hub for the Women’s community with bar’s like Amelia’s & Maud’s being community mainstays. (http://www.bartabsf.com/2010/11/barchive-come-as-you-are/)
I would like to add: The Sunset is not located in another country. So stop whining every time I invite you out here.
For the record, I don’t think you’ve ever invited me out there, but I’d gladly go if you did. Well, that depends. Are we talking about inner or outer sunset?
Inner Sunset? Don’t step up to me with that Inner Sunset talk. Grad students from Ohio on their first big Internship at Twitter come out to the Inner Sunset after their second day in SF. So don’t act all high and mighty because you can ride the N two stops past Crepes on Cole. … Inner Sunset. BAH!
Thank you. The Sunset is a great place to live and I can always get to the Inner Sunset with a quick drive. I rarely have a need to go East of 19th Avenue though.
I’m also a San Francisco native and, wow is this spot on! I am sort of taken aback by how closely you read my mind.
I enjoyed this, but I agree with the earlier comment about the Giants and Pacbell/AT&T Park. The attendance has been pretty good since the new park was built.
Giants Home Attendance at AT&T Park
Season Attendance Avg./Game Rank
2000 3,318,800 40,973 2nd
2001 3,311,958 40,888 1st
2002 3,253,203 40,163 1st
2003 3,264,898 40,307 1st
2004 3,256,854 39,718 3rd
2005 3,181,023 39,272 3rd
2006 3,130,313 38,646 4th
2007 3,223,215 39,793 5th
2008 2,863,837 35,356 7th
2009 2,862,110 35,335 7th
2010 3,037,443 37,499 5th
2011 3,387,303 41,819 2nd
2012 3,377,371 41,696 2nd
Thanks for this great read! I thought the other guy’s article was lacking as well. I was also annoyed with his part about “no matter what you’re doing, those you meet will almost always be in finance or startups.” Thanks for highlighting the non tech folks who most likely won’t be able to live in SF anymore- I wish people understood that before they welcomed all these high powered tech companies to the city. I wish they turned that unused retail space on Market to affordable residential homes. I agree to get Twitter to move away and all the other tech companies that mainly hire people who are not from the bay area. They move here and drive up our rent promoting gentrification (whether they do it explicitly or implicitly). If those companies want to stay then they should mostly hire people who have lived in the bay area for a certain number of years or went to high school or middle school here. Why such a drastic and crazy requirement? I’m tired of meeting new people in SF and finding out they moved here from wherever that’s not in the bay because of a job offer and blah blah blah and I’m tired of hearing about friends I grew up with who have to move farther and farther away from SF because the rent is too damn high. Also please don’t move to Oakland bc then you’ll drive up my rent which is currently happening. I moved from SF to Oakland for college ( go Cal Bears!) but the skyrocketing rent prices make it so that I can’t afford to move back to the city even though I have a decent job and make a lot more than my SF high school teachers. WTF is wrong with that picture? Also save it with the “these companies bring all that tax money to the city” and “they should be able to hire the best and the brightest to make their companies more successful and be a driving force in tech” because I would still say they should mainly hire people who already live in the bay area and that their tax dollars should go to investing in public schools to create those future innovative best and brightest. Also you might say my logic makes it so that people should never move anywhere far, not so I said companies should mostly hire local, they can still hire non local people they just should’t be the majority of their work force.
Peter Albert said:
I would’ve enjoyed this just for the wit and style — good writin’! It only sweetens the deal that you write so lovingly and astutely about my home.
I thoroughly enjoyed your passion for San Francisco
As a new comer to the Bay area, I’ll be using all of you tips, and especially the permission that you gave me to NOT like the Giants! 🙂
JuicyCanvas (@JuicyCanvas) said:
thnks for this..
Pingback: Things I Learned About San Francisco (So Far)
As someone considering a move to SF to take a job (yes in tech, but not for a startup or tech company) I appreciated your witty and informative post.
Hoping to join this amazing place in next two months from Florida. ? I’m prepared and excited for the change: from 2000 SF house, with pool, 2 blocks from beach, $1600 mortgage to a small apartment at twice the cost.
Any advice on which neighborhoods to live in? I’d love to be near a great farmers market. Also, what are your thought on not having a car? That is appealing to me (Asian woman driver stereotype applies)
I found this article pretty helpful. I’ll leave it to the author and other commenters to speak to its accuracy.
I would like to give you a whole-hearted thanks. I’ll be moving to San Francisco later this year, and your post has probably been the most helpful (and, it seems, honest) of all the endless pages of articles I’ve read about the area.
Toby Belch said:
Just a few notes. Chinatown–correct but everyone should check out Sam Wo for its historical value and fun quotient. It’s the narrowest three-story cafe in town. The water–delicious but not safe for everyone. Because it is not filtered and may contain giardia and crytosporidium spores, the NIH recommends persons with HIV avoid it. Bicycling instead of driving–no. The weather is too cold, often too wet, and the drivers too erratic. Wait for cycling events to outlying areas. Parking–drivers shouldn’t have to “work the system”; rather, the city should stop its War on Motorists and build more parking. In the meantime, try the excellent downtown Alameda restaurant scene with its ginormous parking garage. The homeless–our town doesn’t have many authentic homeless, it has Outdoorsmen, and local taxpayers should feel no obligation to support their anti-social choices.
Thanks for the info on Sam Wo and water! If you don’t like cycling, San Francisco is also very walkable. Also, what is an “Outdoorsman”? Urbandictionary says it’s another word for a homeless person, or maybe somebody who is unemployed. Are you suggesting that the people on the street who claim to be homeless actually have homes, but are just unemployed? If so, then you are talking to the wrong homeless people. Also, you’ll be happy to know that local taxpayers (other than me and a small minority of other radical liberals) feel no obligation to provide any sort of help to the homeless population of SF, and for the most part do not even consider them to be human beings (and justify their feelings on the matter by noting that homeless/unemployed people are homeless/unemployed because, to quote the great thinker Herman Cain, “it’s their own damn fault!”). That’s kind of the point I was making. See https://sfloveaffair.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/36-a-modest-proposal/ and https://sfloveaffair.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/37-on-homelessness/.
Reblogged this on sfcalvinaz.
Pingback: Welcome to San Francisco | Mikaela - in the worldMikaela – in the world
Reblogged this on I have a blog- now what and commented:
#confirmations I should move!
Not bad, but IMO the best pizza in San Francisco is at Tony’s in North Beach! I think its easily on par, or shall I dare say- “even better” than anything New York has to offer. Not surprising given that its standard margarita pizza won “Best Pizza in the World” in Naples, Italy.
I am a California PI and thinking about moving to SF! I read your blog and it has very valuable info. I was also laughing about the stand up comedy jokes that has to do with a “dick”. One of my website’s is http://Www.myprivatedick.com
Great post! I’m a native but also a recent college grad moving back home, so I’m also among the “young people” you refer to. I’m trying to write a post similar to this directed to my peers and I agree, especially with #16. It makes me sad to walk past homeless people with my friends and see their reactions sometimes. Glad to know I’m not the only one who’s noticing this. Thanks!
Sarah Lee said:
Can I just say, this is absolutely great. Love it. Exploring the web for feedback on potential new place to call home. I laughed out loud. Great writing!
Great post! Actually honest and accurate. Please excuse this post as it will get a little negative later. My fiance and I moved from SF to WA for a few years and realized that we needed to be back home. We had to learn the hard way that there’s no other city like SF. We were shocked to see how the city has changed. Us “frisco” peeps can’t stand all these yuppies and hipsters that think San Francisco is your playground. We can tell right away if you’re actually a local or not. *Ahem* Crowding all the restaurants with your iphones looking at yelp on one hand and your expensive coffees on the other, calling SF “San Fran.” Tip: NO ONE here calls it San Fran and if you don’t use the word “hella” in almost every sentence you use, you don’t belong here. San Francisco is really a bohemian diverse city and we’d like to keep it that way. What a shame with what it’s become….”Trendy” what a shame.
I arrived in San Francisco just when the personal computer was being invented, around 1978. At that time, Silicon Valley was dominated by old school semiconductor companies like Intel, HP, Signetics. Apple was barely a sparkle in the eye, and remained that way for a long time. The August 18, 1995 issue of BusinessWeek cover had 12 CEOs from Silicon Valley companies, and I either recognized or had met all but two. It was the golden age of Silicon Valley. I lived in Palo Alto three miles from the ad agency where I worked. My biggest account was Apple. I would run into people like Regis McKenna at business lunches. Even when I worked for Cypress Semiconductor on First Street, I could ride my bike to work, taking back streets. I loved spending time in Golden Gate Park and surrounding areas like Pescadero, kayaking in Monterey Bay, backpacking in Yosemite. There was a large field of mustard grass next to Cypress which is long gone. John Chambers, CEO of
Cisco, would walk across the street to Cypress to meet with it’s CEO TJ Rodgers to talk about some political issue. It was an idyllic time for the Valley, and I felt like I was in the center of it all. I eventually bought a condo in Campbell for $225,000, which probably sells for triple that now. As much as I loved the area, I wouldn’t move back. I live in the North Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico at the moment, which is similar to Woodside but ten times better with horse ranches and 300-year-old cottonwood trees and roadrunners and hot air balloons and pay a fraction of what I’d pay in California. I got what I needed from the Bay Area, but it’s a long gone era. The quality of life is so much better in other places.
The Destruction Diaries said:
Thank you for this…I was debating weather or not a move to San Francisco would be something that I would regret – now I’m even more excited to move there – thank you for your honesty.
What a coincidence! I had come across your blog post a couple of years ago, maybe around the time you posted. My friend was moving here and I wanted to make her a list of dos and don’t as a present! Now, am moving to San Fransisco (for an internship) and I bumped into your blog via another post. I feel happy. Your post is no-nonsense and it’s great to have this perspective. I am looking to move to Oakland. I like the sound of the place. I will bookmark you for the future. Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.
San Francisco has changed for the worst. DO NOT MOVE HERE. I literally get harassed on the street daily, just once a day if I’m lucky, by aggressive homeless people. All of the interesting people have left. This is a city full of self-righteous 24 year old boys making wayy too much money at FB/Twitter/whatever and who will look down on you and disrespect you if you are female and not in tech.
This city is not safe. The crime rate is lower but you can’t avoid it, it’s everywhere.
I used to love the city, and I am so sad, because it is literally falling apart.