I moved to San Francisco 9 months ago from the East Coast bastion of Boston. Despite having experience living in a major US city, I found quite a few surprises coming here. Some have been great, while others not so much.
If you’re planning the move here, I hope this will help you know better what to expect. And if you already live in SF, this should give you a laugh or two and hopefully inspire you to leave a comment with anything I missed. Consider this the guide I wish someone had given me when I moved here.
It gets cold at 4pm.
On the east coast I got used to it staying warm on a nice day til 10pm. If it was 70 degrees in the morning, you could rest assured that the temperature would be about 70 when you left work that night. That is not the case here.
Working in SoMa, I’ve found that somewhere around 4pm the temperature starts dropping and so by 5 or 5:30pm it’s 10 degrees cooler outside. A lot of this is due to the fog that seems to roll in around then.
Pro Tip: Be prepared to always have layers with you. A light jacket is your best friend in San Francisco.
Neighborhoods define you.
People take the neighborhood you live in pretty seriously. It’s often a quick way to figure out a lot of what a person values most as SF is a city with something for everyone. Each neighborhood has a unique set of offerings, and pros and cons. Like any stereotype, it’s not always true, but you will find that yes, there are a lot hipsters in the Mission, bros in the Marina and families in Noe Valley.
Pro Tip: If you’re moving here, spend some time in different neighborhoods before you get locked into living somewhere. (See one man’s opinion here and *update* this is another set of stereotypes for the trendy neighborhoods)
If you’ve ever lived in SF, you’ll totally get this, and if not, it’s a pretty good idea of the stereotypes & diversity of neighborhoods:
Rent is insane.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get here is the sticker shock on rent. This is the most expensive city to live in now and only Manhattan is in the race with them. A studio is now over $2,000 a month in most parts of the city and even with roommates you’ll end up paying $1,000-$1,500 a month for a place pretty much anywhere in town. I just looked up the building I moved into April 1, 2012 and as of January, 2013 the rent is up $700 a month for a 2 bedroom apartment. If you’re wondering why that is, this PandoDaily article does a good job explaining why.
Pro Tip: Finding an apartment is a full contact sport. There’s a lot of important advice on finding an apartment in San Francisco here.
Lovely, an apartment listing site, did a great infographic on SF rent prices:
Update: Here’s a Mid-2013 Look at Pricing of Apartments per Priceonomics.
Cost of living overall is sky high.
Of course these high rental prices are just part of the challenge of living here economically. The cost of goods in my experience have been as high or higher as anywhere else in the country. I’ve solved much of this by moving to buying more online, which is a shame because that means not supporting local businesses. The most crushing aspect I saved for last though. Taxes here are significantly higher than I’ve experienced anywhere. This means you’re squeezed both on your take home pay and your expenses.
To put it all in perspective, I used to take home about 75% of my pay in Boston and here it’s only 65%. Meanwhile, my monthly expenses have risen almost a third from $2,500 a month in Boston to $3,300 here. This combines to mean despite a significant pay raise when I moved here, I live less comfortably here. I have no idea how anyone who isn’t working in a high tech role that pays an above average salary can live here.
Pro Tip: If you’re moving here for a job, take into account the added costs so you’re sure you get paid a salary that won’t dramatically hurt your standard of living.
There are crazy and cool things always going on.
One of my favorite things about coming to San Francisco has been this fact. It is truly amazing to me how often there are festivals, concerts, and just randomly awesome cultural events going on. From SantaCon to Fleet Week, Yerba Buena to the Academy of Science, there’s not just something for everyone; it’s impossible not to get drawn to something you didn’t expect. I give huge credit to the city of San Francisco for how often they let streets get shut down, allow for impromptu performances and try to make it easy for people to participate by adjusting public transportation accordingly.
Pro Tip: There’s quite a few great sites out there to find things to do. The best I’ve found are UpOutSF, and Thrillist. Finding something exciting on one of those sites and asking people to go with you is the fastest way to make friends.
Costumes are a way of life.
“Is that a costume, or is that how you always dress?” is a legitimate question in San Francisco. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought that question when I look at a fellow passenger on the bus or a group of people walking down the street. San Francisco takes costumes so seriously, we even make up extra occasions for it as Bay to Breakers is essentially a second Halloween for SF.
Also, as a forewarning, some people choose the cheapest costume of all, their “Birthday Suit”, on some days. As one friend told me, “You’re not a true San Franciscan until you see a naked guy walking down the street.”
Pro Tip: Don’t fight it. San Francisco is one of the most creative cities and it’s because of the self-expression that comes from events like this.
This is a drunken costume party, err, race, across the city:
Lots of homeless, beggars and crackheads.
This is definitely part of the uglier side of San Francisco. Unfortunately, the worst parts of the city for crime are the Tenderloin and Civic Center (as well as some areas of Western Addition and the Mission), which are right in the middle of the city. Market Street and Union Square, which are areas filled with startups and great shops, is unfortunately on the border of those areas. Due to this, going to work or going shopping you’re likely to have multiple people hit you up for money and probably meet a crackhead or two. Luckily, most are harmless, so you’ll find it humorous after while as evidenced by this Yelp thread on “Favorite Crackhead Moments.”
Unfortunately, this means there are some unpleasant scents in those areas. Walking down the street you may find yourself playing the game “dog or human?” (note: this is unfortunately referencing what kind of feces is on the ground…or in one case a high heel on the sidewalk in SoMa).
Pro Tip: Learn the streets that include the Tenderloin and don’t walk there at night and avoid any Muni buses that will take you through there on your trip. (See map below and learn about crime in San Francisco with this great site.)
PBR is pervasive, but microbrews rule.
No matter what bar you’re in or store that sells beer, you will always find a hearty supply of PBR, usually in cans. Even Whole Foods sells 30 racks of PBR while only selling 6 packs of everything else. Of course, being SF, startups have gotten into the game as well with recruiting pitches including a “year’s supply of PBR”:
Now, if you’re not into PBR, never fear. There’s actually a vibrant homebrew community and a number of great beer bars including Toronado and the Monk’s Kettle. California is home to tons of microbreweries so there’s always new beers to try. I personally prefer the microbrews but still see PBR everywhere I go. And if you’re not into beer, the influence of Napa is felt strongly with plenty of great wine options.
Pro Tip: When you’ve spent all your money on rent, you can still afford a beer thanks to the many happy hours and cheap cans of PBR.
An extremely pro-dog city.
If you’re a dog lover or have a dog, this is an amazing city for you. Every neighborhood has one or two parks in it and every one I’ve seen has had sizeable dog-friendly areas. No matter the time of day, you will always find people out and about with their dogs and socializing with others with dogs. A number of bars I’ve been to have even let owners bring their dogs in when it’s not too packed.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of your dog living in SF, this article captures it better than I ever could:
“Living here has been a revelation when it comes to my dog.
I’m not just talking about the fact that there are hundreds of acres scattered in and around the city where he can romp undeterred by a leash. I’m talking about the fact that the people of San Francisco love their dogs. Where else in the country is there an active dog owner Political Action Committee?”
Pro Tip: Not all landlords allow pets, so if you’re bringing a dog with you, be sure to look into it when searching for an apartment.
Divisadero is the fog line.
San Francisco is known for many things, and one of the most notable is the fog. It’s a big contributing factor to the temperature drop I mentioned before. The Divisadero is a street running North-South across the city effectively cutting it in half. If you live West of the Divisadero, you’ll see the sun a lot less than your East of the Divisadero counterparts.
Now, this isn’t to say that the whole city doesn’t get blanketed in fog, but if you’re on the West side, right around the time the sun has burned off the fog in the morning, the evening fog is rolling in.
Pro Tip: Don’t let the fog discourage you from checking out the West side of the city. The Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park are all awesome places on the West side.
Palo Alto and Mountain View are farther away than you think.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I was excited to know I had a number of friends who lived in Palo Alto and Mountain View. I figured I’d definitely make trips down regularly for work and pleasure. I also figured they would come up to the city regularly. In the 9 months I’ve been here, I can count the number of visits on 2 hands. Meanwhile, I do see them in the city on rare occasion mainly because the center of the Silicon Valley universe has shifted back up towards San Francisco.
The Caltrain actually is pretty reliable, and most things in Palo Alto and Mountain View are within a reasonable distance of the stations, but when you look at your phone and realize it’s a 90 minute to 2 hour trip each way, it suddenly feels a lot less appealing.
Pro Tip: If you love living in an urban environment, don’t even consider living in Palo Alto or Mountain View. There’s a reason Google, Facebook and other Valley powerhouses have shuttles for their employees living in SF.
The 3 things you need to know about MUNI.
The MUNI is the bus system in San Francisco that most San Franciscans have a Love-Hate relationship with. Learn these 3 tips and you’ll avoid some of the biggest pains.
1) Google Maps is never right about what time the bus will come.
– If you need to figure out the best bus(es) to take to get to your destination, Google Maps is great, just not for telling you when the next bus will arrive. Use Rover or NextMUNI for time of the next bus arriving.
2) Half of the buses require you to step down into the steps to get the back door to open.
– Failing to do this will get the whole bus yelling at you. Avoid the rookie mistake.
3) Chinatown is a bottleneck on any route going through it
– If your bus passes through Chinatown you can be sure that the bus will stop numerous times while passing through, usually delayed by a horde of people either cramming on or fighting to get off. If passing through Chinatown, add time to your trip.
Pro Tip: There are tons of great alternatives for any budget to MUNI & BART: walking, biking, cabs, SideCar, Lyft and Uber.
There are tons of amazing views.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk to your destination. This is because there are so many amazing views in San Francisco. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked around while walking the city and seen a truly breathtaking view.
You can learn where there are particularly great views in this awesome video (Corona Heights and Buena Vista are my favorites):
Of course, the views aren’t limited to the city sky line. There’s incredible nature all in and around the city from the waves crashing on the rocks on Ocean Beach to the sunsets on the Embarcadero to the Presidio view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s definitely one of the best things about this city.
Pro Tip: Alcatraz is not just a cool destination in and of itself, it has some incredible views of the city. Bring your camera and hope for a clear day.
Startup Central is in SoMa.
If you’re interested in startups, the center of all the activity is SoMa, which stands for South of Market St. With all the public transportation (MUNI, BART and CalTrain) criss-crossing Market Street and SoMA, it makes it super convenient to get to from most areas of the city.
Someone told me that there are over 1,000 startups in the area, and from what I’ve seen, it would not surprise me. Everywhere you look, there’s a sign for companies big and small. It’s not uncommon to find out an entrepreneur you’re going to meet with is in the same building as you.
For those that don’t have offices, many of the coffee shops in the area are notorious for great startup chatter and founders hacking on their laptops at EpiCenter and the Creamery or investors and partnership meetings at SightGlass and Blue Bottle.
Pro Tip: San Franciscans are a heavily caffeinated group that takes their coffee seriously, so try them all and choose your coffee meetings wisely.
SF is a super fit city.
One of the first things I noticed when I visited San Francisco a year ago was how fit everyone was. It literally seems like the population as a whole weighs 10-15 pounds less than their Northeast counterparts. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, the weather is virtually always nice enough to be active and go outside. While the Northeast is freezing and cooped up in their homes buried in snow, it’s sunny and in the 50s here. This makes it easy to stay active year round and helps avoid the dreaded “winter weight” many fight off every spring in colder climates.
Access to healthy food here is also pretty amazing. There are great farmers markets all over the city and with so much agriculture in California, the produce in grocery stores is also super fresh. Restaurant menus are also generally tailored to healthy eating as well. What surprised me most though was that even the Walgreens has produce, so you’re always within reach of something better than a candy bar.
Finally, with all the great weather, everyone seems to find some way to be active whether it be rock climbing, surfing, running, sports, yoga or the gym. Just Google your favorite activity and you’re sure to find a group for it.
Pro Tip: Joining a league or taking a fitness class is a great way to make friends. I made quite a few quick friends from the soccer team I joined and the ultimate frisbee league I play in.
If you’re a foodie, welcome to heaven.
A friend told me San Francisco has so many restaurants the entire city could eat out at the same time and be seated. From what I’ve seen, I’d believe it.
Seriously check Yelp. It’s truly stunning the wide variety of food available. With so many options, there’s little reason to eat at the same place too many times.
Pro Tip: Great places to eat and drink are a great conversation topic for any San Franciscan. If you want to move beyond Yelp and Foursquare Explore, just ask a local for a recommendation.
The 3 hour time zone difference is a big deal.
Having lived on the East Coast my whole life, I got very used to how much life revolves around the EST time zone. Sporting events, major news (like the State of the Union) and most television is optimized for EST. Being 3 hours behind can be difficult.
Being a big sports fan, this was a big adjustment. The first time I realized a Celtics playoff game was starting at 4pm was a sad day as there was no way I could watch the game until at least half time because of work. Meanwhile, NFL Sundays will never be the same as 10am kickoffs is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. For those of you playing Fantasy Football, you may find yourself setting an alarm to make sure you’re awake in time to check injuries and set your lineup before the 1pm EST games.
Most importantly though, is the adjustment with family if they live in another time zone. I used to call my parents at least once or twice a week, especially to talk to my father if I needed business or life advice in a pinch. Unfortunately that’s a lot harder when you realize that if you wake up at 7am, it’s already mid-morning for them. Meanwhile, after work, if it’s 7pm here, it’s already 10pm and my parents are getting ready for bed. Bummer.
Pro Tip: Build a routine around connecting with anyone you want to keep in touch with on the East Coast. It will help fill in for all those moments you’re about to call someone and you realize the timing won’t work.
Watching sports matters a lot less.
With such great weather, so much to always do and the time zones throwing off game start times anyways, it’s little surprise that sports aren’t the center of conversation like they are in much of the Northeast. In Boston, even women that hate sports have to pretend and wear pink Boston gear and watch the games. That definitely doesn’t happen here.
The good news is, if you have a team you love, there’s a “team bar” for just about any team in any sport. As a Steeler fan this has been great as I know there’s a place to go clad with the black and gold and the game on.
Pro Tip: If you’re used to bumming around inside on Sundays watching football, expect for that routine to change to brunch (a SF favorite activity) or any number of outdoor activities.
Everything is taken to the extreme.
San Francisco is a city with something for everyone. The interesting thing I found is how that is taken to the extreme. Whether you’re a hipster who will ride your fixie with your year-round (not just Movember) mustache or a bro in the Marina hulking on creatine, it seems everyone in a group tries to take it to the furthest point. In the most extreme case…look up the Folsom Street Fair (NSFW warning: graphic / sex-related).
In my daily life this has led to me noticing polarity like:
- In fashion, either you’re super dressed up or you try very hard to look like you’re not trying at all in your skinny jeans, sandals and a t-shirt you wear every day.
- Either you wear a jersey of your favorite team and go to the team bar to watch and talk about the game, or it doesn’t matter.
- If you have a startup, your pitch probably includes how you’re going to not just build a cool business, but change the world in a massive way.
Pro Tip: Use this to your advantage and take one of your interests to a deeper level when you get there. You’ll likely meet others with the same interest who can teach you new things and be a friend.
You’ll turn into an early adopter even if you weren’t one before.
As a city, San Francisco is at the forefront of a lot of innovation. Even our trash program is progressive as it tries to set us on a path for zero waste by 2020. More specifically in your day to day though is all the new products gaining new adoption and hype every day here.
A common topic of conversation whether at work, at a bar or just out and about is always the latest the apps people are using. You’ll try them out and have an opinion or be left in the dust. All this adoption has an added benefit of meaning that San Franciscans often gets the first look at apps other cities can’t even use yet (exp: Sosh, Lyft, SideCar, etc).
Your iPhone screen may start looking like this after a few months:
Pro Tip: Try a couple new apps every week and if you’re looking to spark conversation, ask someone if they’ve tried any great apps lately.
All the best tech startups are at their best here.
With all this great early adoption, it’s not that surprising that most of these startups are at their best here.
The most impressive to me is definitely Yelp. It’s amazing in SF. I always use it and hear tips constantly after never using it in Boston. It seems like every store and restaurant has hundreds of reviews and there are a crazy number of Yelp Elites.
Pro Tip: If you tried apps like Foursquare and Yelp in other places and weren’t impressed, they’re worth another shot here.
Working in tech is the norm, not the exception.
Coming from Boston, startups feel almost like a secret society that flies under the radar; most of the city has no idea the hundreds of early stage startups there nor realize giants like Constant Contact, Kayak, and VistaPrint are all Boston companies. Meanwhile, here, no matter what you’re doing, those you meet will almost always be in finance or startups.
Like in Hollywood a few hours South, if you’re trying to “make it” (in our case, in startups, not writing/acting/directing), this is the place to be. There’s a 98% chance the person next to you in the coffee shop with the laptop open is working on their own startup or someone else’s.
Pro Tip: If you listen carefully to the conversations around you at the coffee shops here, you’ll hear tech gossip without even having to read TechCrunch.
People love novelty and new experiences.
This was actually one of the most surprising adjustments I had to make in common to San Francisco. In Boston, people are all about routine; you go to your favorite bar or restaurant with a certain group of friends like clockwork. If you find something you like, it quickly becomes the old standby and everyone is excited to recreate that experience.
In SF, it’s all about trying new things. Just because the last place you went was awesome doesn’t mean you’d like to go back. Instead,everyone looks for unique things to do and the fastest way to make friends is to suggest something unique & awesome to check out.
Pro Tip: With great weather pretty much year round, you can safely assume every weekend you’ll be able to get out of your apartment and experience something new. Cabin fever is a foreign concept in San Francisco.
Tons of awesome lies just beyond SF’s borders.
It’s easy to get lost in exploring San Francisco, but what really makes the city great is what lies just beyond. No matter what you love doing or your favorite climate, there’s great places to visit within a few hours drive of San Francisco. You can snowboard or gamble in Tahoe, taste wines in Napa, rock climb or hike in national parks, mountain bike in Marin, or sail the bay.
Pro Tip: Oakland gets a bad rap, but there’s tons of great concerts and other events there worth checking out.
Come with an explorer’s attitude.
San Francisco is a city for new adventures and boundless opportunities. There’s great websites, apps and friendly locals who can help you take advantage of all there is to offer. With all the personality of the city and each individual neighborhood, there’s new things to discover and appreciate every where you go.
San Francisco native? What advice do you have for newcomers?
Update: Jacob, a native San Franciscan wrote a great post from a veteran’s perspective that’s well worth the read: http://sfloveaffair.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/34-on-things-you-should-know-about-san-francisco/
Special thanks to Zach Cole for help with this blog post.
I feel the same way. I wrote this about San Francisco a couple days ago. http://bufordtaylor.com/post/40632724667/on-san-francisco
Having lived in both Boston and SF for extended periods of time (a decade at a time), I’d say they are both very overrated. Bottom line is that living in SF if your job is in Palo Alto or Sunnyvale is stupid, just as living in Boston if you work out between 128 & 495 (where all the high tech is) is just plain stupid. I don’t hire people if during the interview, I find out they plan on doing that kind of thing. It says that their judgement is poor.
Some people can have valid reasons for needing to make that commute, so you shouldn’t generalize so harshly. If you don’t hire someone just because of that, you are an awful Manager.
Poor judgement? That is ridiculous. Speaking from a young person’s perspective who did the commute from SF for a year before leaving for business school- NOTHING compares to living in the city during your early to mid twenties. Period. To bias your hiring on that fact is completely obtuse.
Actually Tyrone, it matters little if you do or do not hire said people as they’ll always find a job elsewhere which shall prove a better fit. Your presumption speaks more of your character than the quality of theirs. A pity, the person(s) you chose not to hire might have proven a valuable asset to your organisation but alas…
People that commute are often on time more than people that live close by. They have to account for delays and therefore, plan ahead for them.
really?! WOw! I used to commute from SF to San Jose by bike and CalTrain just to make $12/hr……and my boss always invite me to go back. The hour ride in the train with my iTunes collection and the nice view and the cool riders were just fine….
wow … if i knew the company i applied to had a person like you as part of the hiring process, i would retract my application right away. if the company’s business practices is anything like your guideline to hiring a potential candidate, they best to let you go right away before you hurt their bottom dollar. if you’re the CEO/Owner then, bwahahaaha … chapter 11 !
Fuck these haters Tyrone, keep excluding people randomly. Most folks get jobs by chance in the first place. Who cares. I tend to agree with you, I just got a job in Redwood Shores, and Im living down here around Belmont / San Mateo / Redwood City area because it doesnt make sense to commute in my mind. Im in my mid-20s, I love city life, but I already had Manhattan city life, so… while SF is awesome… it just aint Manhattan.
In fact I might argue that since the bay is so outdoorsy in general, living in the city is kind of counter-intuitive. We dont have much nature back in NYC/Jersey, so it didnt really matter. Now im in this badass south bay suburb and fuuuuuck commutes.
I will say that the caltrain is awesome though. Absurdly cheap compared to NJ Transit for the same distances.
Um, so, Tyrone: how stupid do you think it is to tell people that living in SF and working in a neighboring city is stupid when what you’ve said will likely be heard, no only as a comment about their decision-making ability, but about them? Doesn’t seem very smart to me. One good thing I can take away from your punitive arrogance here though: it reminds me to warn people that there are a few employers out in the Bay Area who think they are THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ or something granting you from the bounty of their voluptuous clemency the IMPERATIVE exclusive opportunity to be associated with the reputation of the area in exchange for working for them.
Please try to remember you are talking about adults; and just because you got yo ‘lil business doesn’t mean you are in a position to dictate where people live. Come down. Oh PULEEZ come down. You as an employer, just as some of the landlords out here are not all of that just because you have a little piece of something in desirable area. Makes me wonder if you’re also one of those dumb asses who want to welcome yourself to a potential’s Facebook page during the interview too. You’re the one whose judgment is poor dear sir; you are permitted by law to go as far as, “Do you have reliable transportation?” and leave it at that, also you could be asking for a lawsuit if you find out after they are hired, decide you don’t like where they live and terminate them. Better ask somebody; maybe they’ll give you a clue on credit.
I can verify most of what you said. I’ve been here 3mo. Especially the rent part.
Yes on most accounts except the PBR stuff.
Agreed, PBR is most certainly NOT the office drink. If you are too poor drink water and save your chips for a good beer. PBR is a novelty item that tastes like shit.
Agreed. Fernet, Jameson and Fireball are the official drinks. As far as beer I’d say Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada or Blue Moon.
PBR is definitely the drink of choice in the hipster-ridden Mission and perhaps SOMA. But California (and the West Coast in general) is the center of the beer brewing universe these days. Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, etc. are all basically back-up beers (to be consumed when you end up in a place where they serve Heineken and the domestics) now, because they’re ubiquitous.
So I used to live in SF at back in 2000ish and can provide some hopefully helpful historical context here. PBR underwent a huge and wildly successful rebranding campaign nationally. In SF this manifested itself as a the company giving away unlimited PBR to art openings at places like Upper Playground. These things turned into epic drunken shitshows, but they also cemented the relationship between PBR and crazy times in the show-goer’s minds. The net effect was that the “cool art kids” got used to drinking PBR socially and that kind of set the tone for what the art scene drank for quite some time. This became mainstream and you could get PBR ANYWHERE no matter how high-end. It even was available in the can at the aforementioned Monk’s Kettle snooty beer bar where they charge $12 for a 6 oz pour of a $5 bomber bottle of Rodenback Grand Cru. It has been a long time since that campaign ended and the effects are wearing off. However PBR played a huge role in any “hipster” scene of the early 2000s because of this.
Anchor Steam is brewed in Portrero Hill (and the brewery has tours), so any self-respecting SF dweller will drink that when there is little else.
I think that PBR is an imported by people from the East Coast/Midwest, particularly new arrivals – 5 years ago you would have struggled to find it anywhere in SF…
If the NYTimes is to be believed, PBR fetishization started in the Portland bike messenger community:
I totally agree that PBR is an import. As a native San Franciscan (gasp!) I never saw or heard of PBR until the hipster community took over certain neighborhoods (guess which one). I still hate the s**t, and would prefer Anchor Steam or any other decent IPA over it, but hell, if your broke go get yourself a $2 dollar pabst. That is if you can even find one for that cheap anymore ;)
PBR was launched as an ironic trend thanks to Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet.
it’s also got a lot to do with burning man and DPW.
Thank you!!! Who drinks PBR? Certainly not natives…
I hadnt even heard of PBR until this article and I’ve been living in SF for 16 years! Wrong on this one but agree on everything else.
It’s a stupid hipster thing. Same deal in L.A.
Natives drink Speakeasy.
Agree, have lived in SF for many years and never heard of PBR either, great article otherwise and agree with all you said
SF native here, PBR is definitely a hipster drink. So those of you who’s never heard of it, guess that means you are not hipsters. ;)
Lord. It’s PBR. People have been drinking it here and everywhere for decades. It’s cheap. Get over yourselves.
I drink PBR all of the time and I moved to SF when I was 6.
The hipsters saved PBR.
hipsters are a fad that started what 5 or 6 years ago? deadheads have been drinkin PBR way longer than any imported hipsters. say what you want about us but we know how to party an we’ve been locals in san fransisco since 1965. when the hipster fad goes away (and god i hope its soon) the deadheads will still be here drinkin Pabst, talking shit, and making all you normal people feel better about the decisions you made in life.
…Anchor Steam anyone?
Now you’re talking!
Real Natives drink Anchor, while watching their niners come from behind…
i always thought tecate was the official shitty beer of SF.
only in the summer
tecate was the drink of college bars from 2008-2010
It’s all about the Steam beer. This writer def is hanging around the wrong crowds.
Or hasn’t been here long enough to really know whats up. First impressions are simple and shallow.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for 12 years – most of them in the Mission/Castro area – and I’ve never once had a PBR. I’ve never been to a party where it was served, and I’ve never been out with a friend who ordered one.
If you’re friends are drinking PBR, you probably need a better class of friend.
He forgot to mention the classism of beer snobs in the city.
I lived in SF for 9 years. PBR was fine but Tecate always won if there was the choice. Even in the “hipster-ridden” Mission, where I lived. Before it was hip. Which makes me uber hip. Or just poor at the time and it was still the ‘hood. In any case, Tecate, the PBR of Mexico!
PBR is for bicycle messengers and the hipsters caught on. I like the history of PBR comment from D Ryan, since all messengers know where to get free beer of course. Tecate is more true, since living here for 14 years, but for after hour parties only. When out, folks drink Anchor, Sierra, or Lagunitas, most commonly. Speakeasy, Fat Tire, & Big Daddy are close seconds…lets not forget Racer5.
It’s true though. After 30+ years I have never had or even seen anyone else drink that PBR. In fact if there hadn’t been a photo I would have been puzzled about what I was missing. Otherwise an excellent description of a SF overview. I marvel that I can actually afford to be in the area. Thank goodness I arrived so long ago to get a toe hold in the economy
So true Michelle…frankly if one feels the need to rate ones’ friends by what they drink, then one has serious concerns outside of what one chooses to imbibe.
in Mexico we love tecate, so sorry to hear that from you.
PBR only applies in Mission with all the stupid Hipsters.
Who are you you to call anyone stupid or any names at all?
Bottom line, people like whatever they like, prefer, or can afford.
Let’s not forget, a huge use for PBR is in Sunday brunch pancakes.
I was drinking PBR in Chi town in the 90’s. I
t was the midwest “hipster” thing WAY before this. BTW, have lived here for 14 years. Compared to Chicago and NYC (lived in both) this is a TOWN, not a city.
Wrong: SF is THE City & has been so in California parlance since mid-1850s. Rightly-so.
Thank you for this interesting post. I enjoyed reading it very much. I’ve been to SF a couple of times and would love to live and work there by the end of the year as a software engineer from Germany ;) Thanks a lot..
Thanks so much for the UpOut shout out, Jason. Let me know if you wanna swing by our party next week.
UpOut ShoutOut! We should coin that term
Just curious about the dogs. Are the dogs allowed to go inside the restaurants and the offices? Of course the answer is a percentage. Just an aprox please.
I would not consider the city dog friendly because it would be MUCH more difficult to find a rental with a dog especially a medium or large sized dog. If you think finding an apartment in the city is tough already, having a dog makes it nearly impossible!
Agreed. I moved in Sept., impossible to find a dog friendly apartment. As far as taking the dogs in places, the workers at Precious Rainbow Grocery told me that there is a loophole in the law that basically allows you to take your dog anywhere just by stating an emotional need. Serious.
There are more dogs in SF than kid under 12 years old.
More difficult, yes…but try offering an exorbitant deposit amount to people who say “no pets” and magic happens.
The city’s dog-friendliness is vastly overstated by those who don’t have dogs. 80% or so of rentals are closed to dog owners. It’s a huge obstacle to moving when you add that to the high prices and competition for rentals.
There are a population of dog owners who lose their minds if even questioned as to their conduct/behavior, let alone contacted by law enforcement. And most of the time it’s not the dog who present the danger, it’s the owners. Oh yeah, then there’s the dogs.Be sure to comment in february as the DOG nuts will be all over this, we need to rain in these dog nut idiots that are ruining the GGNRA including Crissy Field.
Crissy Field is not “an area where dogs are allowed to run loose.” Crissy Field is an area open to all, especially to the Park Police supervising it as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Officially Crissy Field is an area where dogs must be ON LEASH, unless they are under VOICE CONTROL.
Voice control means the dog comes when called, not just if it has nothing better to do, not just when it feels like it, but reliably, all the time.
I’d say the dog thing cuts both ways. There are a lot of dog owners who push the limits of acceptable behavior with their pets and there is a palpable pushback from many. If you want to really see SF at its worst, ask someone to put their dog on a leash.
Friggin dogs are everywhere and there’s more shit on the streets here than there was in NYC before they came up with the pooper scooper laws. You can’t go to the beach without a dog sniffing your ass, you can’t walk down a commercial street without a brain dead texting dog owner forcing you to either kick their dog or wait on the curb for their clueless ass to pass. Now just imagine if rentals let everyone have a dog (and think about that for another god damn second – dogs of single apt dwellers who work???? True dog lovers don’t live in cities). And lastly, if you’re a chick who lets her dog sleep in the bed with her – get used to being single. You’re a dime a couple of dozen and its clear you need therapy.
Guillermo – I’ve seen dogs in many offices (including my own), in bars, in restaurants, on public transit. Basically anywhere humans can go in SF, so can dogs. Save some apartments that are not pet-friendly.
Hangemhi – you sound like you’re jealous of our friends on leashes. I’m sure there is a thriving subculture for you in our fair city.
California State law prohibits animals inside restaurants, unless they are service dogs. Due to HIPPA, you do not have to show proof if your pet is a service pet. Thus, someone can state even their purse chihuahua is a service pet (and it may be, but the ones I’ve seen? I doubt it).
Bars that don’t serve food generally allow dogs. There are workplaces that allow dogs, but I would say they are in the minority.
Finding a place to rent if you have a dog is definitely more difficult, but once you have one, this City is really great. A friend who just moved here once remarked, after walking around with me & my pooch, that this City is 10x more friendly when you have a dog. And it’s true.
Annie, I’d like to see where HIPPA prevents someone for asking for your dog’s service status paperwork. I’m pretty sure the Service Animal guidelines say you are supposed to carry it with you. More and more restaurants are starting to happen way more often because of the hipster losers who think they can abuse a right some people need merely for their convenience.
If this is you, then stop. There are great reasons why animals aren’t allowed in food establishments. We all are happy to make compromises for people who truly have disabilities, but if you want to game the system, I hope karma bites you someday.
It’s not “HIPPA” but “HIPAA,” the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Service dogs have nothing to do with HIPAA. The relevant law is the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is indeed prohibited – by federal, not state, law to demand proof. What can be asked is whether the dog is a service animal and what the dog is trained to do. Only narrow types of services qualify, e.g., guide dogs for the blind, yes; emotional comfort dog for anxiety, no.
I’ve been in contact with my local pd about this very issue. It basically comes down to the owner. The owner can refuse admittance, and the only recourse the dog owner would have would be a law suit. They would stand little chance of winning however, if they can not or refuse to show proof of their dog being a service animal. That being said, as this enforcement responsibility usually falls on the waiters, they claim ignorance/ADA/”look it has a service dog sticker”. My advice – report dog-in-restaurant incidents to the health inspection service (part of FDA, NOT pd/code enforcement).
Glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has a problem with this blatant disrespect for the rules.
No restaurants, office depends on your job. They are aloud in lots of bars though, thank god.
Holy shit “aloud?” Nice suit; hope the interview doesn’t have a written portion. SF snobs who can’t navigate their own native language are the best.
You presume too much TLH. English might not be Macguru2000’s native tongue. This is San Francisco after all…cheers.
Would you ever really want to return to a restaurant that had dog pee on the floor? My dog Dribbles is very good about such things but …
I am from Spain, living in Germany, and I can go to almost any restaurant with the dog. I do it daily, and never had a single problem. Never saw a dog pee in a restaurant. Now I am thinking if move to SF is a good option or not.
Guillermo, worry not. I eat out regularly in San Francisco and have been doing so for over a decade. In that time I’ve never seen nor smelled a hint of urine in any restaurant I, or my friends, have frequented. it’s obvious that SC’s pulling your chain. Dog urine in a restaurant…seriously….
Every restaurant I know of where owners would actively look the other way have been reported to the health department. However, I’ve been told by the owners in more places than one if you have a service dog you do not have to provide proof it is a service dog. Those owners will tell you this with a wink.
Also, from what I understand it’s relatively easy to get your dog declared a service dog in California, although I’ve heard that there’s talk of tightening regulations soon. I see more “emotional support” non-traditional breed service dogs than I do guide dogs in SF.
As for offices, in my experience most traditional office buildings in the Financial District have no animal policies, it’s more building-based than tenant-based. I can’t speak for any other area from experience, but I see a lot of dogs in offices in SOMA.
Dog shit is a real quality of life problem. I’m a native and have seen SF get more dog-friendly to my delight, but as it has, there is so much more dog shit everywhere. Duboce Triangle’s nickname is “Dog Shit Park” but when you mention that almost everyone will reply, “Every park is San Francisco is dog shit park.” And that’s with the city cleaning up a lot of it. Take a walk the morning after a city holiday and you’ll gag at how much more shit is everywhere because no one was paid to clean it up that day. Gives those of us who pick up after our dogs a really bad name.
The “Here Be Monsters” subtext to Oakland in the original post cracks me up. Oakland’s awesome, particularly the North Oakland/Temescal area, it’s starting to remind me of what San Francisco was like when artists could afford to live here. If you’re into animals and the creative sort, I’d recommend looking into Oakland. It’s cheaper and the architecture is still compelling. There’s plenty of good food and drink. It’s more animal friendly, the population’s more relaxed on the whole and Macarthur BART is a transfer hub. And it is still within the realm of possibility to buy in North Oakland if you make less than $250,000 a year.
Duboce Triangle is a neighborhood, not a park. Duboce Park has a large off-leash area but the vast majority of owners pick up after their pets. I don’t think the poop problem is any worse than any other park, including those which are not off-leash areas.
That nickname for Duboce Park goes back to the days before the poop pickup law was passed in the 70s. Never heard anyone use it in the last decade.
Dogs are illegal inside restaurants unless providing an essential service (guide dogs for the blind, etc.) and I personally think it’s rude to bring your dog into to restaurant. If nothing else, most dogs shed copious amounts of hair, who wants that in their food? I have a legal service dog and wouldn’t think of bringing him into a restaurant. Outdoor seating areas are generally okay though.
Dog owners who don’t pick up after their animals should be fined heavily and banned from dog ownership. It’s only a small minority that are cretins, but they give the rest of us a bad name.
Great post Jason, but re: “Working in tech is the norm” who the HELL still has a flip phone in San Francisco? =) Also I think the text is grey for some reason.
I think that it’s just an old image Jason, look at the laptops shown…
I have a flip phone, it saves me from wasting countless; minutes, hours/days jockying my ego driven social media applications……ya cutty.
Protip: Maybe if you cooked at home more often, your expenses would reduce?
Obviously you haven’t been shopping at the small, overpriced SF supermarkets with no parking and few sales.
Who shops in supermarkets? We buy food from the farmers’ market in SF to support organic local farmers!
My buddy and I wanted steaks for dinner, but figured eating out would be too expensive. So, we went to Whole Foods and bought 2 steaks, mushrooms, green onions, garlic, and a bottle of wine….. $95…. could have had someone else cook me a much better steak at Ruth Chris for less. May just be WF though
You’ve not heard Whole Foods referred to as Whole Paycheck?
Try Molly Stones & double that price. Used to be a lot of really good, affordable, & local grocery stores in this town but they are all gone now.
It’s all in how you shop. I’ve been a stay at home dad for many years and I used to cook professionally. You could give me $20 and I could make you a fab meal (with steaks and wine). At Whole Foods.
go vegetarian uall, save $
Pretty much not true for most San Franciscan’s taste who don’t eat ramen or anything from a package and buy only organic, grass fed, with no hormones. Cheaper to eat out than whole foods or even trader joes.
So I’ve found two hacks to save money on food:
1) Safeway: It’s the only grocery store I’ve found with reasonable prices.
2) Amazon prime: If it’s a dry good, I’m buying it there. Nothing in the city can compare to the prices Amazon hits. I’d rather buy local, but little choice.
Try local ethnic specialty food markets I like the Mission small markets they have fresh produce and seafood and meats a more reasonable prices than the big chain stores. Diversify your options and anyone can win this battle , takes effort but is wonderful to explore SF , well I’m a foodie so I know how to find this sorta deals. Nothing is easy in the city including food
Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are expensive, and a lot of their stuff is ridiculous. The one time I visited Whole Foods, I saw Organic chocolate-coated pretzels. I regularly see sugar-infused dried fruits from Trader Joe’s. I defy anyone to tell me that those are real food.
What I do is:
1) Rainbow Grocery: For raw grains and similarly durable products.
2) Smart and Final: Whatever both Safeway and Smart and Final have, Smart and Final has a lower price. It’s useful for generic staples like eggs. But Safeway has a bigger selection.
3) Costco: If you are buying a lot, then the membership is worth it.
Hey.. the weather in Mountain View rocks compared to SF .. and the foodie scene is off the charts.. 300 restaurants within 10 blocks of myhouse.. and it’s a walking place.. *AND* you can park. Clubs, jazz, music, etc.. and very fun culture on Castro St. Don’t knock it til you try it.. and you won’t be slitting your wrists over yet another foggy day down here. You live like moles up there.
Exactly, the peninsula is like the city without the (1) cold, (2) smells, (3) filth.
Sorry. I lived in Mountain View for 2 years when I moved to California. Been in SF for the last 6–never looked back. To each their own, but I’ll take history, culture, community, diversity, and walkability any day. You can have your big parking lots and “weather.”
I live in mtn view and I cannot agree more! If weather is a main point, SF is foggy and cold. Even in the summer it sometimes stays cold and cloudy. Also, the start-up scene is still quite vibrant in neighboring Palo Alto. Full disclosure….I have never lived in SF, only visited. Still, mtn view and PA are not all that bad. The night scene in PA is also vibrant.
Just Don’t. Mountainview may be nice, but it’s not The City and you can’t compare the two.
SF isn’t “the city” either. Moving here from NYC – “the city,” SF was just a pale comparison. All the detriments of “the city,” but not nearly all the benefits. Total tripe about Silicon Valley moving to SF – that’s what all the hipster, my app is a business, 20 year olds want to think. The real tech happens in the valley, which is south of SF.
It really depends on your age and situation. If you’re looking for “the one” or a one night stand, San Francisco will offer more opportunities to meet people, but if the urban vibe is a bit much for you, there are other options. My husband and I ended up in Alameda because you can take the ferry to work and it has the benefits of a small town with easy access to the big city. Rent is a lot less and you can (gasp!) afford to have a car without the monumental hassle of car ownership in San Francisco. The island is flat, so even a less than stellar athlete can make their way around on one easily. Of course, because of the livability aspect, Alameda is known as the place you “go to breed.” It’s also really safe and loaded with Victorians and cottages so you can get something really charming at a better price. We’re much older than most of the people posting here so I’ll add this “voice of experience” bit: Acquire an appreciation for good wine early and invest in futures. We mucked around with the beer far too long and missed out on some amazing opportunities. You guys have the time for it to be worth your while.
Meant to say that you can make your way around easily on a bike.
I just fell in love with SF all over again! This was a fun post and very thorough. Thanks for sharing your insights. I agree on most fronts except PBR (microbrews are huge here)… and you should totally give Oakland more credit than a 1 liner!
Loved the read !!
factor in slightly (barely) cheaper rent and replace San Francisco with Portland and the article applies here as well
No way! The weather is way better in SF then in PDX. My friend is dating a guy there and flies to PDX about every 3 weeks for the weekend. This has been going on for over a year and she said she has NEVER been there when it is NOT raining.
No thank you!
And you Mt View folks if you lived in the city in the Mission, SOMA, Dog Patch, Potrero Hill, etc all those places are sunny. Yes they are not has warm as Mt View but what is a few degrees. I was raised here and the whole Bay Area is way too cold for me, all year round.
Great blost (blog post). I would add two things though. First, there is definitely two San Franciscos. One that you have described which is filled with transients. The second San Francisco is old SF. People that grew up in the City (dad’s probably a cop or owns a business). If you know what the Bruce Mahoney classic is then you are old (and some would argue legit) SF. The second thing I might add is that you are 100% right about people being into the newest thing but sometimes the best things about the City are the things that have been around for awhile (drinks at the Big 4 for instance – or even the Riptide).
I love that you brought up the Bruce Mahoney. The basketball game just happened a week or two ago!
Amen, from a fourth generation San Franciscan. In the current state of San Francisco dogs have replaced children, restaurants which serve tiny over-priced plates of very overpriced food have replaced fine old restaurants like Caesar’s, Interstate Brands has destroyed Parisian and Toscana French Bread, the “Castro” has replaced the wonderful old Scandinavian delis in Eureka Valley, and folks who have been here three-four years consider themselves to be definitive San Franciscans. Old San Francisco, like old single malt, must be learned; takes time to enter that group; once you do, and are accepted, you can call yourself a true San Franciscan. San Francisco was in large part a middle class family working town; that still exists, but, again, you need to find that San Francisco. And, yes, Oakland, in parts, is more like the old SF than downtown SF is today.
Amen. I might add that everyone/families ate fish on Fridays because whether you were Catholic or not, it was de rigeur. There were old rituals that tied us together. It’s as Jason states, what’s the newest and that is not Frisco (I’m old, our family & friends used it when the city was tolerant).
One of the few reading this that was actually born in SF, Mt Zion.
There are 2 Cities for sure; mostly a tale of transients pricing out the locals. Oh well, at least he/they don’t call it “Frisco.”
People like you are ruining San Francisco. Please move back to the east coast and so that middle class families can afford the rent here again.
Amen – I don’t even have a cell phone (gasp!) Did you know such natives existed, young Jason?
Don’t neglect to learn about the history of San Francisco and environs in any epoch or era or subject. This place has always been unique and uniquely different from anywhere else or at least comparable to other unique places in ways that inform and explain, and contribute to the wonder of it.
And the reason super high rises should never be built to make us a Tokyo or Manhattan as young Jason suggested.
I’m sorry but flip phones are NOT a common sight in SF coffee shops! ;-))
You’re right. I couldn’t find a picture that fit as well as that (minus the dated phone). Let’s just pretend he’s making an app for the 40% or so of the market that has a non-smart phone still ;)
You could’ve just had someone take a picture of you with your laptop & iphone and use that. :)
Don’t EVER call it ‘Frisco’, that’s a town in Texas (and you know how we feel about Texas) – DK, San Francisco Born + Raised
Not true. All the old-timers call it Frisco. It’s only the yuppies who came here in the 80s who took offense at calling it Frisco. Why do you think the Hells Angels here are called the Frisco Charter? You may be born and raised here but I’m guessing relatively recently ;o)
Actually it is true. I’m a 4th generation San Franciscan and no one I know who grew up here would EVER call it that (people from Marin or other parts of the bay area, sure but not anyone who was born and grew up here). It’s The City or San Fran – and actually the umbridge was talked about by Herb Caen absolutely ages ago.
Come on. in 1872 Emperor Norton proclaimed “Whoever after due and proper warning shall be heard to utter the abominable word “Frisco,” which has no linguistic or other warrant, shall be deemed guilty of a High Misdemeanor, and shall pay into the Imperial Treasury as penalty the sum of twenty-five dollars”
OMG. I was born in The City. *No one* calls it Frisco. Ugh.
Yes, no self-respecting native San Franciscan would ever use “Frisco”. Also, I actually don’t know any natives (myself included) who would say “San Fran”. It’s either “SF” or “The City”.
My family has lived in the Bay Area since before the Bear Flag Revolt – and ever since I was a little boy, I have always been taught it is an abomination to utter “Frisco” as it is disrespectful to a very popular saint – this custom goes back to Mexico and Catholicism and the Californios who saw their land be stolen from them – it has absolutely nothing to do with the 80s (not even the 1880s!) or yuppies!
I’m a fourth generation San Franciscan; if I’d ever called it Frisco, my mouth would have been washed out with soap. If you wanted to anger my great Aunt, who went through the 1906 Quake and spent several weeks in the emergency campgrounds, you used that word.
You are right, it’s only been about 50 years since people became intolerant of calling it Frisco (about the time of that maudlin song, ‘I Left My Heart in ‘Frisco’ overtook the proper ‘San Francisco’). Call it Frisco and if a person does not get their panties in a wad, you have found a REAL native.
Only Filipinos are allowed to call The City Frisco. Plus also too, the fog may end at Divisadero but originates from our cousins rice cookers down in Daily City. *hellafunny*
You betcha. I was born in San Francisco and one of my pet peeves is when people refer to this city as “Frisco.” It is The City to me and it will be forever. I am 4th generation.
Geri – One of my pet peeves is people who are intolerant of calling it Frisco – I’m from a native family here since 1814. I’m too old to change and there is no reason too. Besides go out of the city and call it The City and no one knows which one. Call it Frisco, and people don’t think of Texas.
In Oakland, we call it the West Bay.
Lived in SF for 3 years after 7 years in Boston – this post is 100% on point! Nice work.
Pretty girls are seen about as frequently as Big Foot in SF
And yet, my male friends who come in from other parts of the country are always astonished at how attractive all the ladies are. Clearly, you’re not walking with your eyes open.
Nope, I’ve been here for 2+ years, there are very few attractive females and they all have boyfriends. It’s real bad. In fact I know of 4 good looking guys who have moved to the east coast primarily for the female issue.
I must admit, there is some truth @NYC>SF comment. I moved here from NYC (i’m a NYC native) a year back and I’m hardly impressed. I live in Oakland and commute to SF daily for work. Womenwise there is absolutely no comparison to NYC. Not even a close second. I have come across very few ladies here that have sparked my interest, and its depressing. If you like ‘fly’ women, SF is not the place for you. There is also a very serious lack of ethnic diversity in SF, which transcends into the culture (it could use some soul) and the style here sucks. And, if you want the slightest bit of diversity go to Oakland. The style and presentation is unbelievably worse in Oakland but you can at least get a lil taste of ethnic diversity if you have an appreciation for that which is why I prefer to live in Oakland. As agreed with my NYC friends the style here is uninspiring and I feel like I’m letting my self go (while the folks here think I’m so fashionable) because there you feel like there is no need to make an effort. Ladies, I really appreciate how fit you are but where is the presentation? Where is the flava? And too be honest its not just the ladies it’s everyone. I apologize in advance for my ranting.
I am being serious here: what do you mean by “flava”? Is there a famous person you could give as an example?
@Gemma Tate – I highly doubt you are being serious, more like insulting. If you have to ask what “flava” is then I can’t help you.
Believe it or not, I prefer not to assume what other people mean online. I was genuinely curious to hear what “flava” meant from your perspective. But, feel free to feel insulted instead.
Interestingly, it’s worse for women. I love to travel if only to remember not all fit and attractive men are gay. It is impossible to find a hot guy in SF who is straight.
You know, there’s a match making service that links up Silicon Valley guys with SF women…http://abcnews.go.com/Business/silicon-valley-matchmaker-finds-love-geeks-nerds/story?id=16344946
SF is the worst as far as attractive women go. Plus the ratio totally favors the ladies. We used to call it Man Francisco. Born and raised in the Bay, but have lived in NYC for the last 12 years. No comparison. Diversity, culture, food, women from literally all over the world : NYC > SF by far
I lived in the Bay Area for awhile, moved to New York for a few years, and then came back to the Bay Area. I like it here more.
I live in San Mateo and which has a decent number of restaurants, better weather, and parking. I can get to SOMA faster than people in SF living in Sunset, Richmond or North Beach. The crime is way less too.
awesome post. moved here in august 2012 from Italy and had to find out the “hard” way…
It’s like to throw in a plug for Routesy, my SF public transit app. Not sure if you’ve tried it, but I’d love to get your feedback. http://routesy.com
Routesy is great – nice work, Steven! You have saved me a ton of time.
Definitely the best transit app, thanks Steven! ;)
Routesy is THE BEST app for mass transit options in the Bay Area. I use it every day.
PS, no one says “the” Divisadero. Divisadero. Or Divis. And that is not the fog line. Fog comes in past Masonic.
uh..Masonic is west of Divis. so what he said was more or less correct
Eh, I live west of Divisadero, but before Inner Richmond and I get plenty of sun.
Thanks for the correction, I fixed it above…I always forget where we use “the” and not…as a recall it’s “The BART” but the bus is just “MUNI”
@Jason. No, it’s just BART. Using pronouns is a SoCal thing. “The 101”, etc. It’s creeping into language in SF, but generally NorCal don’t use it.
“the” is an article, not a pronoun
Fog lines happen:
1. Park Presidio Ave
2. 19th Ave.
3. 9th Ave.
4. Mid Haight at Buena Vista Park
5. Alamo Square (near Divis but Divis is not the break point).
and ongoing pretty much anywhere there is a big hill to slow it down. You know its taking over the City when it hits Dolores Park.
Welcome! We’re also ridiculously picky about how you refer to streets and landmarks. For example, don’t call it “frisco” and “Gough” is pronounced like “cough.” On that note, it’s “Divisadero,” Divisadero Street,” or “Divis.” I’ve never heard anyone refer to it as “THE Divisadero.” It makes me think of this: http://www.theonion.com/articles/google-launches-the-google-for-older-adults,5850/
Although PBR is ubiquitous, I would say Northern California craft brews are the thing, like Lagunitas, Russian River, Anchor, 21st Amendment, Drake’s, Almanac, etc.
Don’t leave out the Yerba Buena ice rink on top of the Moscone Center! There’s even a rec hockey league playing there. http://www.skatebowl.com/Ice_Center/Hockey/HOCKEY.htm
Great post! As a 15-year veteran of this amazing city, I’d say you nailed it. Excellent introduction for people coming from the East Coast.
Pretty sure SF is a pretty big sports town if I’m not correct. I’m pretty sure I saw hella people in the streets when the Giants won the Series (both times), and its going pretty loco with Niners Fever right now. Pro-tip, watch more ESPN man.
Nowhere close to the frenzy people get into over basketball and football in the Midwest and on the East Coast though. Makes us even better, it’s not the MOST important but hell, we got some good teams and we are NOT afraid to support and love em both.
You nailed it, TKSF. People in Boston live and die by their sports team. A 3 game losing streak in April is a disaster and any big Patriots loss is the end of the world. People talk about it regularly even when the team isn’t winning championships. I’ve seen similar passion in other East Coast cities like Philadelphia.
So San Francisco certainly has great fans, but trust me, it’s taken to another level in some other cities.
We are a big sports town but what he said is correct – you can not follow our teams and not be ashamed or put down because you don’t watch sports. That said Go Niners!!
Natives tend to be pretty good sports fans (hell, my gradeschool had spirit rallies whenever the Niners went to the Suberbowl). But, a LOT of transplants (especially ones in more trendy areas) tend to not give a sh*t about sports. It’s like The City’s artistic reputation encourages kids who got beat up by jocks at home to come here to be free. ;) Also – there are a ton of fair-weather bandwagoners, too, as evidenced by the plethora of Giants and Ninets gear being worn by people who don’t know the difference between a force out in baseball vs. football.
No. Real sports fans suffer the team when it sucks. How about sitting through games at Candlestick huddled in parkas and sleeping bags? Were they Giants fans in 1987? Do they rue Atlee Hammaker’s contract until this very day? Or maybe they were there in 1995 when the strike happened and they mourned with all the hot dog vendors the last day of that abbreviated season? Or maybe they were in the stands in 2001 when all the overcapitalized start-ups had season tickets and the seats were all empty? Everyone celebrates when the team wins. Chicago gets that. Mets fans get that. Redskins fans get that. New SF doesn’t get that. Protip: Anyone who uses “hella” is probably from Hayward.
glad you caught that . I’m second generation, and NEVER ever heard “The Divis.” And I never heard “San Fraaaaaaan” without smiling and adding “-cisco”. “PBR” was never “ubiquitious.” I grew up here and never ever drank the stuff. I’d hardly ever heard of it until it started showing up in all the bars that the “art students” (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) hang out in. Anchor is the real San Francisco beer.
Neighborhoods definitely define the experience. Venture west or south to places like the Outer Sunset, Forest Hill, West Portal, etc and you’ll find legions of extremely dedicated sports fans. In the winter, it’s all black and orange, and now it’s all red and gold. You’ll also sit at a bar and meet people with regular jobs. I work at a startup and I am not the norm in my neighborhood.
I’m from New York and I think SF is more affordable. Again, venture outside of SOMA, Mission and those neighborhoods and you’ll see a completely different perspective.
– it’s not called ‘the’ Divisadero.
– i’ve been living here for 13 years and never had the ‘any new apps lately?’ convo.
thanks for keeping the value of my place up tho.
bonus: Boston girls having to ‘fake’ it and wear pink. lol. go home, dude.
Great article, just one thing. Its Yerba Buena not Buena Yerba. Divisidero fog line is right on.
Excellent list. I relocated from Boston to San Francisco 13 years ago at the peak of the dot-com boom. I expected to stay just a few years, but am still here today and not sure when I’ll leave. I’d add to your list:
1. I think you are *much* younger than I am, hence the PBR comment. PBR is not the drink of choice in my circle. In fact, I would say people in San Francisco take their drinks seriously–so expect to learn a lot about wine and cocktails if you live here. I love that nearly all waitstaff in this city are pretentious about these drinks, just well informed and happy to share what they know.
2. Take up hiking. Most everyone here loves hiking. Cross the Golden Gate bridge and within 30 minutes you are far, far away from the city and enjoying the splendor of the redwoods and amazing endless views of the Pacific Ocean.
3. This city has rent control, so once you sign a lease, you’re rent is pretty much locked in. People have always complained about high rents in this city, which continue to creep up … so, if you plan to stick around, find a place you like and stay there (you do not want to know how low my rent is).
4. The “extreme” attitude … ugh. It’s a downside, I’m afraid, particularly when it comes to dating. People here are generally more interested in being impressed by your list of “passions” and activities than getting to know you, your values, your friends, your family.
5. People here do not care where you went to college. In 13 years I’ve only been asked a handful of times where I went to school and it was–of course!–by people originally from the East Coast. Don’t try to impress people by throwing your college name around (and if it’s a small East Coast school, you may get a blank stare) or ask about schools as a conversation starter (so refreshing to leave that BS back on the East Coast). You are who you are out here, not where you spent four year of your life.
I meant to say NOT pretentious, above re: waitstaff and drinks.
Also, I’d add: I disagree about cost of living here. Dining out in SF is far cheaper than other cities (Boston, for example).
Re: #5 I find that a lot of people talk about where they grew up and which college(s) they attended. Although the primary purpose is not to judge but to find mutual friends and similarities – especially since a lot of people who live here (at least in my age group) grew up somewhere close to SF or LA/SD and went to a UC or Pac12 school. Then you get to use the “it’s a small world” cliché and tack on a “when you live in San Francisco.” =)
Very few buildings in the city are actually rent-controlled. If you live in a rent-controlled building, you’ll know it. If you don’t (and if you’re unsure, trust me, you do not) your rent is raisable by a maximum of 2% per year.
That’s not correct. Rent control has raises of no more than 2%, but California law allows much higher raises for non-rent controlled buildings.
The fact that there’s a limit on the percentage your rent can be raised means you’re in a rent controlled apartment.
You guys seriously need to look up what rent control is. Capping rent increases is NOT rent control. Rent control is arbitrarily setting the maximum amount that a building owner can charge in rent. That amount does not change even after one tenant leaves and another moves in.
Sorry, James, but it’s you who don’t understand rent control. ANY building built before 1979 is rent controlled in San Francisco. Which by local definition means you pay market rent when you first rent, but thereafter it can only go up by 40% of the annual inflation rate (essentially nothing these days). Anything built after 79 can have unlimited rent increases. Most rental stock was built pre-79.
James, you need to follow your own advice:
You’re wrong. Quit while you’re ahead.
Those of us who have been here awhile can tell you – Rent control applies to apartments built before ’89. Anything after ’89 isn’t subject to it. Rent control sets the highest percentage of increase a landlord can impose in a year after your original lease runs out. This may not be how the term “rent control” is defined by other cities, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have rent control.
Agreed people actually do care where you went to college. Had a friend who went on a date with a Stanford grad who’s friends are all Stanford grads and when she said where she graduated from (mind you, everyone is 15+ years post college graduation) and it was not Stanford (nor was her grad degree), he declared with extreme sarcastic patronization “oh, gosh, you’re a real self made woman, aren’t you?” Seriously? Sheesh. Been in SF 13 years and happens all the time. Plays into your #4 point, KT (which I 100% agree with.)
That comment would only come from someone who went to Stanford. What a bunch of jackasses!
That’s on the younger generations. :-) I graduated from that university twenty-five years ago. In my 20s, I used to avoid mentioning it in conversation. Then I noticed that I met a lot of people who, when asked where they went to school, would hang their heads, mumble, and say, “Oh, in Palo Alto.” I came to realize that this specific behavior smoked me out every time. The bragging thing is new.
Love the article, I’m less than a month in and I already am finding most of these out through experience.
Sports is actually pretty important here. We have two football AND basketball teams in the Bay Area and the Bay Area LOVES them both. You just have to go to the right bars (which shouldn’t be too hard to find this weekend, GO NINERS!!)
Baseball. I meant baseball.
Lol, this was too perfect.
FYI, Giordano Brothers is another Steelers bar. Their original spot is in north beach, near columbus & broadway. they have a new spot in the mission also – i think it’s around 16th & valencia. They have a decent beer selection and great food. The mission spot has a full bar, as well.
Exactly at 16th and Valencia. LOTS of beer.
Totally thought I would scoff at such a list when I clicked on the link, but this is a solid one. Good compilation.
I don’t entirely agree that the cost of living is that much higher here, than in Boston. Look at utilities — my winter heating bill there could top out close to $600 – $700 for a one bedroom, and AC was not the norm in any of my apartments, so I sweltered.
In San Francisco, as well as Oakland where I now live, winter bills average $65 a month, or seldom more than $300 for mainly December and February. Go figure… January is usually very mild. It starts warming up in March, unless it’s an El Nino rainy season. AC in Oakland — using it less and less, never used it in SF.
Cheap produce all year ’round — either in grocery stores or at farmer’s markets, and the variety is almost as good as summer. Compared to the only reasonable winter produce being carrots, lettuce, bananas, citrus, and apples. By April, my palate would be anxiously awaiting the first of the stone fruits.
Things you should know:
1) If you refer to the city as “San Fran” people will hate you and know you’re a transplant. Call it ‘The City’ or even ‘SF’. Your damned mid-western accents make “San Fran” too grating on the ear to tolerate.
2) People here are not good at following up at making friends. If you meet someone you like, make sure to get their number and email. Try to put something on the calendar right away, or you’ll probably never see them again. I didn’t even know this was something people did until I went to the east coast in my 20s – most of us just expect to run into people.
3) Don’t watch sports in the Marina or Russian Hill. Pretty much anywhere else, you’ll find true fans that can actually discuss sports – you might not be able to get them to stop though.
4) If you move into a building that was constructed in the 1960s or earlier, it will be rent controlled – your rent won’t increase more than 3% a year. Yes, that means you will have to live somewhere other than SOMA, but it also means you won’t get priced out of your home.
Don’t call it the city even though most do. Frisco or SF will do just fine. Good points on 2 and 4 though.
No one calls it Frisco…except tourists.
I’ve never thought about Divisadero as my stopping point but I guess that’s pretty accurate. Some days I am for Twin Peaks, some mornings I stretch to the Mission, and other evenings I’m content just hanging out in the bay. I like to change it up.
wow! Karl The Fog commented on my blog. …I feel honored. Definitely a big item crossed off the bucket list :)
Reblogged this on Renelly Morel and commented:
A fantastic article that sums up my personal experiences of living in one of the best cities in the world, San Francisco. Jason Evanish covers some important topics that you must know if you’re considering moving to the city by the bay.
Abso-freaking-nailed it…with the glaring omission of Fernet anywhere. “Pro Tip” sidebar to the PBR mention, please.
Fernet. Don’t miss that cheap Jaeger alternative. How can he forget the Fernet… :) and PBR??? Maybe for transplants. Not even close in my opinion. Give me Prohibition and some Boont Amber Ale please. … it’s not a Bear, its not a deer…its a BEEEER.
HAHA, EXACTLY, the FERNET! LOL
Weekend Sherpa is another great resource for outdoor activities in and around SF.
And let’s qualify the “great” weather…yes, it is temperate year-round, but great? Maybe compared to the extremes of the East Coast/Midwest, but you have to get outside of SF-proper to see really great weather. In SF it is often foggy & cold, especially in July…which is great for the I heart SF clothing industry!
Exactly. It’s rarely above 65 degrees in the city on any given day and if you live out west like me, it can be no warmer than 50 and foggy at least 11 months out of the year.
i moved to san francisco for school in august. so far i’m tired of being cold, tired of hobos, and tired of having to walk up huge hills or ride crowded buses everywhere. everything closes early. i would LOVE for someone to show me what more it has to offer.
If you can’t find a niche in this city, it’s on you, not the city. That’s like saying NYC or Paris boring when you stay inside sulking. Can’t help you with the hills or the cold, but walking up hills will warm you up.
i love both new york and paris, rain or shine. i’m just not sure it’s the place for me.
NYC and Paris are awesome dude. You can’t even compare SF with them because SF is not even a real city.
There were a ton of sunny days in October and November. I was lying in the sun at Dolores Park the day after Thanksgiving. That said, when I first moved here it did take me quite awhile to get used to the city so don’t give up.
It’s a walker’s town. Find a used copy of San Francisco at your Feet, and read while you walk. Take Muni to outer neighborhoods — NOT Castro or the “hip” Mission — to explore the real City. 24th Street is great from end to end. So is West Portal. Downtown, walk the streets on Sunday and look up — the architecture at the tops of the buildings is often beautiful. Look for the quiet, upscale, older alleys and the bookstores or restaurants there. Maiden Lane is still worth a walk — there’s an art gallery designed by Frank Lloyd Wright which was “practice” for the Guggenhiem. Also, take BART to downtown Berkeley, walk uphill into the UC Campus, and it it’s open, visit the Faculty Club — designed by Bernard Maybeck. Excellent restaurant and bar, open to the public. And…but I could go one forever, so consider this a start.
thanks guys. :) i’ll definitely keep these things in mind when i go back!
I really envy the people who think “SF is amazing!!!”
If SF is amazing, what the hell is Rome? New York? Taipei? Istanbul? Tokyo? Paris?
San Francisco is not a real city. It’s the biggest village of US.
The streets smell pie and marijuana.
Tenderloin is the shittiest places I’ve ever seen.
Local poor people stick on tourists and try to rip you off.
Go one street below of Market, you’ll see junkies injecting heroin to their arms.
There is no street that can be called as “the heart of the downtown”.
Cafes get close on 6 or 7pm.
The ocean is fucked up by some industrial shit. and the people think “it’s ok”.
The transportation is fucked up.
Streets are big and straight. Nothing smells historical or romantic.
Rents are crazy. I saw an apartment in a shitty neighboorhood for 1450$ per month and I even don’t leave a dog in that kind of small and unhealthy place with no sunlight!
The city is full of shitty zombies making too much noise. There are a few great people, remaining ones are very sticky and they don’t know how to respect.
There aren’t enough parks that you can go and peacefully enjoy clean and healthy environment.
LOL, go ‘enjoy’ the suburbs, douchebag. It’s safe, sterilized and boring, just like you seem to like it.
hey, I love the smell of pie!
a city has to have good downtown. that what the fuck I was talking about.
OK, where is Paris’ ‘downtown’? I lived there for 10+ years and I couldn’t tell you…. Same with London, what part of London is ‘downtown’?
Same question counts for Tokyo, too. It doesn’t have a downtown. But the city itself is full of good, very lively streets, parks… People are very friendly, environment is clean, transportation is awesome…
SF? Come on! People even steal bike seats here :)
Let me guess, New Yorker right? Guess SF is not for you. I lived in Paris, NYC & Amsterdam, I prefer SF to all of them.
Not New Yorker. I saw hundreds of the cities and SF is the shittiest one.
clearly not a New Yorker, they would have proper grammar and English.
“Streets are big and straight. Nothing smells historical or romantic.”
Beg to differ: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont_Street_(San_Francisco)
Glad you don’t like it! We don’t want you there anyway.
I’m here because of the idiots advertising SF like it’s a real city.
Hear, hear Tara =)
I’ve lived here for 40 years so the 1st blush of love has passed. The city is nice for a lot of things but, you are right, it is not a great city. There was a time, however when great artists, composers & thinkers walked these streets & you could talk to them. But that all went away in the 1990’s. Still, the weather is nice & the food is good.
Second that. Right on. Quite accurate. Some of your thoughts were exactly mine too. People who tell you this is the “best city in the world” (there’s plenty of them) either haven’t been around much or they’re lying to themselves. Anyway, now I’m here so got to try to make the best of this shithole — it’s tolerable with the right attitude.
And yet, you’re here….
Typical internet flamer – just looking for a reaction. Hey, SF just called, said the feeling is mutual!
Traveling to MV or PA may not be a 90 min trip. I was lucky to live in SOMA, which was right by the CalTrain, and the bullet train was about 46min to MV (which is past PA). The short walk, followed by some quiet time on the train is one of the things I miss most. For a developer who works on their local machine, the spotty 4G signal while moving is really no big deal either. Getting off in MV led me straight to Red Rock Coffee for an espresso ;).
Preach Matt ;)
I do love San Francisco. Probably the best city on the west coast, but I’ll never leave my Eastern Standard Time. Go Sox!
Google Maps uses the MUNI schedule. Routsey uses the GPS on the busses, and is almost always perfectly correct. If you want to know when your bus or train is coming, you use Routsey, but that isn’t even all that necessary, because it never snows, so you can bike year-round. I’ve lived here 20 years (came from NYC) and have no idea what you are talking about with the PBR. Technology is certainly huge here, but there are people working in restaurants and bars and stores and making clothes and teaching school and selling real estate and everything else that happens in any other city. Your impression that everyone works in tech says more about your social circle than our city.
Inequality in this city is off the charts — no mention of the Outer Mission, Excelsior, let alone Sunnydale or Hunters Point. “Everyone works in tech” is ridiculous.
Dear god this is well done. I’m born in raised in the Bay Area and from a native’s perspective, this is extremely on point. Great job!
For the happy hour part (and also events), check this site out: http://www.happyhourindex.com/
Funny if you read this @Evanish’s twitter account all he does is rag on the city.
SF is most certainly NOT more expensive than Manhattan. Yes, SF is the most expensive city, but when you compare it to New York, you also have to count the other four boroughs, which brings down the average.
Some quick Googling says the average rent in SF is $2663 while the average rent in Manhattan is $3418. I can’t find numbers, but I’d be shocked if Manhattan wasn’t more expensive per square foot, too.
(Also, Tecate is clearly the official beer of SF, not PBR. PBR is, like, so five years ago.)
Great list Jason! Right on point for all your points. One more thing I would add which is important about San Francisco is how its one of the greenest cities in the world. Things like the elimination of plastic bags, electric driven public transportation, required composting and recycling, and energy efficient building design make SF a leader in sustainability.
26th tip, the reason everything is so expensive is because of the flood of people moving in from the East Coast and everywhere else. Native San Franciscans don’t drink PBR either.
OAKLAND ≠ BROOKLYN
One really important thing that most people don’t know is that Oakland is NOT Brooklyn. Bay bridge is 8 miles long and the last subway heading east leaves the final SF stop at 12:16. Oakland is an awesome place but not very conducive to going out in the city.
Brilliant post Jason. I enjoyed every bit of it and could relate to what you’ve mentioned! Loved the image on bikes of SF and don’t wander into the dotted line area alone since I live pretty close to that area in the Nob Hill and always avoid venturing across into certain blocks. Thank you! :)
“Walking down the street you may find yourself playing the game “dog or human?”
What a shitty thing to say.
also incredibly shitty to make fun of people struggling with addiction, poverty, and mental illness. Of feel “inconvenienced” by real life, in all its socio-economic expressions, in a city. In fact, people actually used to move here specifically to experience that, and work toward making the world a better place. Not sure why they move here now, judging from this somewhat naive piece.
Sorry for the confusion. I’m referring to poop on the ground, not trying to put anyone down. Just a fact of walking through some rougher areas of town.
Um, no. I live in the Tenderloin. There is (actual) shit smeared all over my block’s sidewalk every day. Some of it is from dogs, and some of it is from humans. One of the escalators at Civic Center Muni/BART actually BROKE last summer because there was so much feces clogging the works. They had to call in a hazmat team.
This isn’t “vibrancy” of a city, it’s a health risk. And God forbid the city do anything to actually address homelessness. Oh no, that might involve telling somebody what to do, and we can’t have that, can we? Someone might call us a big meany! Waah!
If you have a dog and you don’t pick up it’s shit, you don’t deserve to have a dog. A pet is a privilege, not a right.
If you have nowhere to use a bathroom, at least go into an alley or a gutter or on a piece of newspaper that you fold up and throw in the trash. Do we really have such low expectations for people?
I was really impressed when I moved here about how smart and talented most people are. I came here from DC where most of the people I interacted with were not brain dead, but overall in comparison to DC I am very impressed while living in SF.
I am going to diverge fro, everyone else and agree on the PBR front. While it is not the drink of choice, it is available NEARLY everywhere. Even in the Marina you can find PBR on tap. So, even though I do believe microbrews are more the “drink of sf,” I would agree that PBR is probably one of the most readily available beverages. I totally agreed with almost everything you said! To the people debating on the dog front, if you can get a note from your doctor your dog or cat could become your “anxiety” service animal. While this is a legitimate need, many people use this loophole to get their dogs into apartments that otherwise do not allow animals.
You forgot to mention that there exactly zero attractive women in sf
maybe you’re ready for a new city
Move to Atlanta. We manufacture beautiful women here by the thousands. I visted SF in September for the first time. Yeah, its dirty and old, but aren’t all cities. We thought it was pretty cool and had a lot of fun there. The views are spectacular. Mission are was pretty rough looking like you said. We could have stayed for a month.
agreed, sf is full of miserable looking women, and men for that matter
I’m assuming they’re still better humans than the ones from your miserable town
What rock or bar were you sleeping under? SF has tons of beautiful fit smart women. Just watch the flow on Marina Blvd, Crissy Field or Marina Green some weekend!
FIRST OFF: you must live under a rock if you think sports don’t matter here. I’m a girl and i know MANY others who are die hard giants and niners fans. secondly, girls who wear pink sports paraphernalia shouldn’t be allowed to partake in sporting events anyways.
Secondly, if you don’t have TVs at your work, you should get a new job. most start ups have tvs and important to SF games on or available. Celtics who?
you must be walking to PA or MV, b/c it’s never in my 30 years of living here taken 2 hours to get there or back. and i’m from the peninsula.
Thirdly, IPA wins heavily over PBR. maybe just not in the Mission…
get back to us in another year when you’ve finally got it right.
FIRST OFF: Great tone, Rose. You sound like a peach to be around.
Second, (see how I didn’t resort to all-caps there? ….I disagree with you wholeheartedly on the matter of sports. This is a city of US-Immigrants, meaning that, more than a lot of other cities, people come from every corner of the country (and world). So, sports opinions are varied at best, and potentially the most bandwagon of all. There are diehard Giants/Niners fans here, but there are more bandwagon fans than I’ve found elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many people around here have told me that their fav Giant of all time is Tim Lincecum or Buster Posey. You gotta be kidding me. I think you should try living in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit, Boston or Philly, and then tell me that, comparatively, sports matter here.
aweasome read, made me want to visit SF real bad
You lost me after the official beverage of San Francisco… By the way, it’s Anchor Steam, not PBR.
It’s really all about perspective I guess. While I agree with about half, the other half seems inconsistent with my experience here for the past year and a half. :) Some examples:
“It gets cold at 4pm” – Its never really that cold here. 60 isn’t really cold for me. In fact 60-70 is absolutely perfect. I grew up in Portland, but I guess if you grew up in a hot location you’d have the opposite feeling.
“Lots of homeless, beggars and crackheads.” – partially agree. There are a lot more crazy homeless people here, but there are almost no beggars. Ive lived here for a year and a half and have been asked for money/food/etc maybe half a dozen times. In Portland, just walking a few blocks you’d be asked.
“PBR is the official beverage of San Francisco” – I don’t really think SF is all that much of a beer city at all. In fact, I used to drink beer exclusively as my alcoholic beverage of choice until I moved here. Everywhere I know here drinks whiskey mainly or other hard alcohol. Ive also only seen people drink PBR a handful of times.
“An extremely pro-dog city.” – I can’t imagine many places being more dog unfriendly ;) 99% of the places we looked at dont allow dogs or cats. My friend had a similar experience and was the hardest thing for them to find. We ended up leaving our pet in Portland with family because we were unable to find a place that allowed them.
But, as I said, it’s all about perspective :)
You’ve got to be fucking kidding RE: the homeless population. Have you never set foot in SOMA or the TL? I lived on Sutter for years and got asked 5+ times a day (often aggressively) for handouts. When I said no, I’d sometimes be threatened or cussed out. The “homeless problem” in Portland is laughable in comparison.
Being that I was born and raised in the East Bay this post was really interesting to me. Love your outsider/insider take on it all. The cold thing has always been funny to me. People never believe you and they always compare it to their snow and what not. The need for layers every single time is no joke. I still carry layers and I’m in Southern CA, some habits you can’t break.
Screw PBR! When in SF, I only drink whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey.
PBR!? That’s a big negatory, Good Buddy. Gotta be Anchor Steam.
The poor man’s beer in SF 5 years ago was Budweiser. It still is in some parts of the city. Cheap beer at night clubs was Miller.
You people are out of your mind saying there are no attractive women here. What insane standards have you set for yourselves. It’s sad, really.
And you make the Tenderloin out to sound like Boyz-N-the-Hood-era Compton. Relax, it’s not THAT bad. I’ve lived there for over a year. Dirty? Yes. Annoying crackheads? Sure. NEVER GO THERE AT NIGHT EVER. YOU WILL CERTAINLY DIE? Not quite.
I don’t know what you’re all talking about. PBR is everywhere, though it isn’t as prevalent as it was about 2 years ago.
yelp is the best ‘start up’ you can think of? you are pathetic
The sports thing is misleading too. Local indigenous people love the local teams as much as Bostonians do. It’s just that there are so many transplants here drinking PBR that don’t care. The fan base of course stretches all the way down the peninsula too.
I agree that Fernet and Jameson are huge here, although I personally like scotch. Beer is either Lagunitas IPA, Anchor, or anything made by Belgina monks.
Chimay all the way or a good gin and tonic if need be…
How about just avoid MUNI and bikes altogether. MUNI is slow and unreliable. Bikes suck on all the hills.
Best advice is to get a moped.
I like your post, but the “dog or human” comment was totally out of place. Have some empathy and keep it on the up and up — homeless or addicted people are still human, and they certainly are not miserable by choice. Leaving this bit out would make for a stronger post.
Agreed. Tyler’s comment succinctly epitomizes the most acceptable and common views San Franciscans proudly maintain.
I agree. I find his comments about the homeless to be totally dismissive and offensive. There’s nothing “humorous” about people with mental disabilities living on the street (they’re not on “crack” by the way, it’s 2013). Pull your head out of your ass.
Uh, Aidn? Some of them actually *are* on crack. I see people smoking it in broad daylight in the Tenderloin, particularly at bus stops. Crack never went away.
He was talking about feces, not saying that homeless people are dogs.
Did you miss that he was talking about poop? Yeah, I thought so.
Good grief! Please stop acting like everyone is just poor down and out and it isn’t their fault man cmon…I’ve lived here for years and the pan handlers are ridiculous to the point where I’ve had to get physical!…A lot of times in SOMA especially it isn’t just the homeless and METH HEADS but drunken partiers and just people with no effing self respect who urinate and deficate like the streets are a toilet!…So miss me with that bleeding heart BS! Leaving this bit out would certainly keep the warm fuzzies for some of you but it’s reality so…uhm yeah there it is…
I agree with you. Seriously, there are geniune people who have had misfortune in their lives and then there are people who are druggies, alcoholics, or just plain crazy. I’ve noticed far more of the latter. I can recall a homeless guy who has a sign that reads (and this is verbatim) “Why lie? I want beer.” People who get offended from a poop comment need to take off their rose colored glasses.
I’ve seen a guy peeing in broad daylight over near Rincon Park. I’ve also seen a woman squat (again, in broad daylight) and piss outside the Asian Art museum. She didn’t even bother to cover herself. Actually, on New Year’s eve I got to enjoy the sight of a drunken idiot pee against the roof of our apartment building… I was astounded that such people live in these nice apartments (or perhaps it was someone’s friend who lacks any sort of good judgement).
That aside, I just moved here in August and most of what Jason posted is spot on.
Having moved here a little over a year ago, I mainly agree with most of what has been written on this blog. However, I agree with many of the comments about PBR. I too came from Boston which has a couple microbreweries I love. In S.F. there are microbreweries galore! In and around the city you can find quality brews like 21st Amendment, speakeasy, lagunitas from up North, Racer 5, and Rogue–which is actually from Oregon but has a fantastic bar in North Beach! Oh and I can’t forget Russian Rivers Racer 5 and Bling Pig IPA. This city is strewn with great bars and brews!
Bear Republic (in Healdsburg) does Racer 5. >hiccup<
Pretty spot on, and I lived there for 5 years during the first tech boom (96 – 01)
Very spot on with many things, but totally misleading about the sports thing. Sports is HUGE here. Giants, A’s, 49ers, Raiders, Warriors, Sharks, Earthquakes. There are many sports teams and fans. Also there’s the Cal/Stanford rivalry. And people are WAY passionate. Remember the Giants World Series parade? Buildings being lit orange through the playoffs? C’mon – I’m east coast and have been WAY impressed.
Everyone knows the official drink of SF is Fernet!!
When people ask what school you went to, they don’t care about where you went to college. They want to know where you went to highschool in SF. And if you answer with a college, they will immediately know you’re not from here. Sixth generation represent!
Locals don’t drink PBR – they make fun of recent arrivals that think they have to order that to look cool (or hip). And you haven’t really been here long if you think Palo Alto is 90 mins to 2 hours away. More like 30 min to 45 on Caltran commuter trains and 35 mins by car outside of commute times when it could be a lot worse – then again if you’re in a start up, you ‘ll be working much later than commute times anyway so you’re good. It also depends on where you start in the city – it’s a long way from the sunset or the richmond district to the freeway, but the mission or SOMA is a fast jump onto 101 or 280.
SF is actually not that large. Every district is about 15-20 minutes walking distance from the next. Even older people have more stamina up those inclines then the youngsters. You meet the crazy as you note, but you meet some very heart warming people. There is always someone drunk walking around.
I lived in the City from 1983-2006. Most of the time I didn’t have a car. Real SFs walk up all those hills, only pausing to light a cigarette halfway up.
As a person from a quite cold country (it was minus 16 by Celsius scale when I left it in December), I would modify the first point to “It is warm here! Even at 4 pm!” :)
Also — it’s totally surrounded by water on THREE SIDES! Can you imagine?
Oh, Yankee . . .
I loved this article and, as a San Francisco native (I was born at Kaiser Hospital on Geary), I feel compelled to comment:
A)See how I name the hospital I was born at in SF?A true native will always include the hospital or grammar school they went to/was born at, because there aren’t a lot of us.People say they’re a native but in reality were born in places like Pleasanton, Santa Rosa, Los Altos, etc…nice cities but NOT SF(and we native are just that proud that we have to tell you).
B)Never try to be cool and refer to SF as “Frisco” like it’s a nickname we all use for the city.It’s not and when I hear it, it makes my head want to pop off…just don’t do it.
C)We have a GREAT music scene out here…lots of talented, local musicians and you can pretty much catch some live music any night of the week.
D)PBR-a good campaign to sell/buy cheap beer and still appear to be cool. I applaud the campaign for being successful but, personally I’d hope for a better tasting beer to represent us. Notice how I said, “personally”…San Franciscans really don’t care what you do or drink…really, we think “to each their own” (another cool thing about SF).
E)You can travel from Mexico to China to Italy with just a 45 minute walk.
F)It’s the best city in the world.I may be biased but I grew up here, traveled and lived all over the world (including Boston) and came back…the view from the top of Hyde and Lombard never gets old…never (and San Franciscans always appreciate what they have…they really do:).
That is so true! My husband always says that he was born at Saint Luke’s. His parents point out that they moved here as kids BUT they met at Mission High!
Yes — my pharmacist in Arroyo Grande called my dentist on Ocean Ave. When the dentist called me to discuss the call, he mentioned that they’d had a long talk: “He was born at St. Joseph’s!”
You should have a special edition specifically for people who move to SF from LA. Most of what has been said still holds, but there are a few extras like:
1) Many people in SF hate LA and believe that the two cities are locked in some kind of rivalry. Who knew?! Once you mention that you’re from LA, many people won’t hesitate to insult you to your face. Try not to take it too personally;
2) San Franciscans love rules! Folks from more reserved parts of the country probably won’t get this, but despite its eclectic, outward appearance, SF is actually far less socially laissez-faire than LA. This manifests in 2 ways. i) Individual expression is encouraged as long as it fits within certain pre-ordained archetypes. You can be a hipster, a hippie, a punk, a biker, a yuppie, a pot-head, etc., but you can’t really cross over between these things, and you will get funny looks from all of these people if you present yourself in some attention getting way that doesn’t fit within these categories (see #3). ii) There’s a lot of, stand here, don’t stand there. Some examples: At one biker friendly SF bar, in one afternoon I was told not to put my beer on the edge of the pool table, not to stand in two different spots, and I watched them kick a girl out of the place for wearing patchouli. This was a palce where you could smoke weed openly. And I’m not kidding, they actually kicked her out; I can think of tons of other examples of seemingly laid-back people freaking out in public over any number of minor things that nobody in LA would give a crap about, but space is limited…
3) Glam is bad! This is probably just a more specific offshoot of 1 and 2, but whereas in LA there is always a place for a more, shall we say, “fashion forward”, look/attitude, the same does not hold in SF. A fashiony appearance will get you lots of odd looks from people, many of whom are wearing clothes that would get them ushered out of most restaurants in nearly any other city. Homemade burlap overalls? Fine. See-through peasant-top with no bra? Sure. Waxed mustache that curls around like Captain Hook, worn with a pair of homemade, star-shaped antennae? No problem. (These are all real-life examples BTW) But walk down the street in a pair of trendy high heel boots, or a tailored blazer and you will get some funny looks.
4) No kidding about that light jacket, SF is ALWAYS cold. I know this just reiterates a point that has already been made, but someone coming from a colder climate like Boston won’t feel this as deeply. If you have been living in LA for a while, you will find San Francisco downright cold and gloomy, most of the time. I never go out without some outerwear handy. NEVER. In my 4 ½ years in SF, I have never experienced more than a week or two at a time of what I would call consistently warm weather inside the borders of San Francisco.
5) Be sure. Everyone I know who has moved from LA to SF has gone through an adjustment period where they felt disappointed with SF on some level. From the outside it seems like the perfect blend of California attitude and East Coast urbanism. But living here is very different from visiting, and though SF is a vibrant, unique city with a lot to offer, life here is often more expensive, less comfortable, and grittier than life in LA, and the attitude is considerably less welcoming. Though there are certainly cliquey elements to LA life, overall I always felt it was a “write your own story” kind of place. SF has always seemed much more to me like a club you’ve got to earn your way into. SF has its own story, and just living here is not necessarily enough to make you part of it. You are not necessarily welcome here just because you decided to show up.
Aaron, I grew up in the Bay Area. Piedmont Elementary in Oakland, and graduated HS at SSF El Camino High. Went on to live in Sunset District, worked DT just off Sutter and Montgomery, and also over on Market Street. You’re right, SF doesn’t dig LA. I recall LA co-workers looking down on No. Cal. like it was somehow “out of the loop”. Your comments brought back memories in which I used to wonder why people from LA moved up to SF and then talked non-stop about how much more cool LA was. I recall feeling on the defensive. Your points in 2) are very insightful. Even people who say they are open minded and believe in the ideals of “live and let live”, usually have a qualifier. IMHO, SF is a city that embraces being “out there”/ or “over the top” as holy. And as long as you fit in with The City’s definition (box) of counter-culture “kool” you’re accepted and embraced. And within the counter-culture, there are micro-counter cultures. Through reading this blog, I see there is greater diversity than what I grew up with, but suffice it to say, I left many years ago because I wanted to be more than the cultural norm of the city could accept.
I moved from SF to LA for a while (then moved back), and I agree with some of what you said, but…
re: “Glam is bad!”
You need to hang out with more drag queens, and/or go to Union Square and SFMOMA. My feeling about LA fashion is that it has its own look, which is louder than SF’s, but there is more fashion in SF than you realize.
re: Attitude less welcoming than in LA.
I eventually found some nice artistic circles in LA, but at first it seemed like if you weren’t into plastic surgery, there wasn’t anybody to talk to. And since everything is so spread out, it can be harder to find your place. I’m not saying you’re wrong about having to “earn your way” in SF–since I grew up in the area, I haven’t had to deal with that here–but I think LA can also be like that, to a newcomer.
Definitely a fun list for a recent immigrent, but there’s so much to this city. You meet new people and do new things that change your perspective about San Francisco every day. Number one thing I wish I knew about San Francisco before I moved here? It’s the biggest little city in the world, never stop exploring it.
I’ve lived here for 10 years. My only gripe is that I’ve never heard Divis called “The Divisadero.” Oh and the photo depicting a common sight at SF coffee shops shows –GASP– a freaking flip phone! No self respecting techie has had one of those since the iPhone debuted in 2007.
Re cost of living for average and less income households, I’ve wondered about that too. The best simple answer is rent control.
“Yet rarely mentioned is that the estimated 200,000 San Francisco tenants in place — whose numbers greatly exceed the number of annual vacant units — are paying the lowest annual rent increases in the United States.”
200,000 units paying substantially less than market in units whose rent increases are substantially slower than market. If the avg unit household is 2.5 people, that’s 450,000 beneficiaries, about half of the total SF population of ~800k people. Wow.
Given the large amount of replies, I doubt you will even get to this one, but let me say: I dislike your articles headlines. I say this only because I did not take the time to read your entire article.
Ummm, lets see what we learned from your writing: there are dogs, a different timezone and you are defined by what bike you ride. Also, I never drink PBR, in fact our beer kicks the east coast’s ass if you take Vermont out of the equation. Another thing, you apparently think we don’t like sports, but I never saw bonfires on the block when I lived in Charlestown when the Red Sox won the world series (for the first time in how many year? not a bostonian) but I did in the Mission.
Not trying to be mean, but hey I didn’t belong in Boston and well maybe you don’t belong in San Francisco.
I made it down this far!
Wicked Pissah Article!!!! Haha!
I just moved here from Boston in August, and I think most of what you said is accurate and the advice is pretty good.
….Aside from excepting brunch instead of football on Sundays, nevah evahhhhh!!!!
Thank for the good read,
Always enjoy reading newbie comments about our City. San Francisco is an international destination/venue where one will carve out a niche if serious about being here. Many of the same things could be said about London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York. Are you simply following employment or is where you live important and a part of defining who you are? Living is an art and takes work; I have been in San Francisco for 43 years, taught public school and never made a lot of money, but have a comfortable life in a condo with equity near Mission Dolores with my wonderful husband. Public transport, creative shopping and being street savy make it a joy to still be here at age seventy. The only alternative to San Francisco for us would be living in an European City, and it wouldn’t that much of an improvement. Fortunately, San Francisco isn’t for everyone, but the right people seem to stick…
Super Awesome Article – it put a smile on my face and really made my day… moved to the San Francisco Bay Area just a little over 19-years and am really impressed with the spot-on accuracy of this article. Bravo. Well done and kudos.
Ive lived here for 7 years. I dont work in tech and make about 2,500.00 a month. Cost of living doesnt have to be high to live a really comfortable life in the city. But in order to do this you must be really really good at networking. That is one of the most important skills to live areally good life in SF. I have all kinds of access to aptartments all over the city. The kind that kick ass with quaint cool features that havnt seen craigslist for years and are not expesive because they are rent controlled. But in order to find your self on a position of choice like this you have to treat socializing like a job and dont expect it to happen overnight and be really good at connecting people with others. Dont protect your contacts share them. The biggest difference between manhattan and sf is the KIND of competition that exsists. In ny the competition is hostile and selfish. In sf the competition is about being bold with your skills and how much better can you augment other peoples lives. Help them and they will help you. If you try to undermine people to get ahead here you wont last.
Great write-up. I thoroughly enjoyed it. As someone who also moved to the Bay Area from the east coast, there is one thing that I will add that is kind of unique to this area… In other parts of the country, people who have money, or some who think they have lots of money, like to “dress the part.” Not so much here in the Bay Area. People prefer to dress comfortably – wearing layers as you point out.
I agree with Timothy Wells and Rose, and have more than a few offended reactions to your article… although I can’t be too surprised at some of it, considering spending 8 months in Boston several years ago was… well, 8 months of my life I’ll never get back. Primarily the reason for that was the painfully obvious and entrenched attitudes of so many of the middle and upper-middle class residents there. I almost forgive you for the (plethora of) elitist, priveleged views and observations you listed, but actually not quite. Good luck making friends with your “is it a dog or a human” mentality. This city prides itself on welcoming and accepting folks from ALL socio-economic backgrounds, and is non-judmental (by and large) toward folks that do not have the appearance you might prefer as a Bostonian; this city is a haven for those coming here for a better life and better opportunities in one of the most broad-minded cities in the country. San Francisco supports struggling folks in ways that other cities do not, because it has always been a city that believes in people achieving their own personal visions regardless of national background, race, economic status, sexuality or clothing style. Last (and least), I’ve lived here for 12 years, and it is NOT as overrun with techies as you mentioned; and neither have I ever heard anything whatsoever about PBR being the beer of choice here.
Hey song71 — just because the author lived in Boston, doesn’t mean he’s a “Bostonian”, which is evidenced by the fact that he’s a Steelers fan and his claim that Boston women only “fake” being sports fans — gimme a break. Boston has been my home for over 20 years and this is definitely as “broad-minded” place as any. As one example, we were the first place in the country that allowed gay marriage. What happened in 2004 when SF’s mayor tried to allow them? So you can take all your horseshit stereotypes about Bostonians and shove them right up your ass.
I commend you, sir.
Well said song71. I do notice there are quite a few privileged, well educated (many east coasters) transplants that do carry a certain elitist and entitled attitude in SF. I make it a point to call these people out. They must pay attention that the diversities, inclusion, and the talents of our immigrants (including the author’s ancestors) are what made this country great. Do not let technology detach you from reality. If the census statistics and the Obama election results have not demonstrated the direction our country, our world, is heading then you are in trouble. I thought the blog was interesting at first glance but after reading all the comments and have not seen the author acknowledge and update some essential elements of the city it’s credibility is diminishing. I am beginning to side with some of Cabbie’s comments on the author.
Goddammit . . . I’ve been reading my way through the comments – most of which are snarky, unashamedly judgmental, righteously (but unjustifiably) indignant, or in some cases openly hostile – and a rare few manage to combine all four of these rhetorical elements in a single comment (see, e.g., song71). The more I read, the more I bit my tongue and tried to press onward, foolishly hoping that the next comment would be a substantive response to your blog post (in which you invited readers who already live in San Francisco to leave a comment addressing any subject you missed – an invitation that most commenters hastily ignored as they rushed to fashion a critical response more biting than the one before). But then I arrived at song71’s comment, where I found that my ability to suffer fools does indeed have limits. As song71 correctly stated, “[t]his city prides itself on welcoming and accepting folks from ALL socio-economic backgrounds, and is non-judgmental [sic] (by and large) toward folks that do not have the same appearance you might prefer as a Bostonian; this city is a haven [blah, blah, blah] . . . one of the most broad-minded cities in the country.” The aforementioned quote is an expansion on song71’s judgment regarding “the (plethora of) elitist, privileged views and observations you listed.” As best I can discern, the elitist, privileged observations to which song71 refers are: (1) Your quip about walking in the Tenderloin, wherein one might encounter something that would prompt a person to wonder whether that something is “dog or human” [this being an unmistakable reference to the question of whether it’s “dog shit” or “human shit” – which unfortunate though it may be, is an entirely reasonable and legitimate question]. (2) Your (unfortunate, and largely misguided) statement that “PBR is pervasive in San Francisco.” [This statement is not without some basis if we define “San Francisco” in narrow geographic and social terms (e.g., most Mission District bars, and faux-dive bars in other neighborhoods frequented primarily by hipsters). This sweeping statement is unwarranted when applied to San Francisco as a whole, without regard to neighborhood and/or clientele.] And (3) your observation (also overbroad) that “[w]orking in tech is the norm, not the exception” – or to paraphrase song71, that San Francisco is “overrun with techies.” [If you work and socialize in a fairly limited part of the city, then it’s understandable that you’d perceive the city as dominated by tech jobs. And to be sure, we have more tech jobs than most cities, but if we were to research employment sectors across the population, I suspect we’d find that tech accounts for a relatively small percentage of San Francisco residents, and that most residents work in one of countless other fields.] But while some of your observations seem exaggerated or misguided, or can be viewed as making unwarranted generalizations – it shouldn’t be surprising (and it’s certainly not shocking) that a relatively new resident might err in some of his judgments about the city – and to your credit, you make quite clear that your observations are those of a recent transplant. But neither the nature nor context of the three aforementioned comments justify song71’s decidedly judgmental and altogether hostile comment. Your first statement was entirely valid – that is, when one encounters sidewalk shit in the Tenderloin, it’s entirely valid to ponder the unpalatable question of whether it’s human shit or dog shit. The odds of one versus the other are a coin flip. As for the other two observations song71 found so offensive, they’re both overbroad, and suggestive of the narrow circles you run in – but neither warrants a venomous (and profoundly ironic) lecture on how nonjudgmental we San Franciscans are. Song71 should have blushed at the irony when he/she wrote that diatribe, because he/she was clearly not practicing a nonjudgmental, tolerant philosophy while accusing you of failing to meet San Francisco’s standard for same. And therein lies one of San Francisco’s most unattractive truths: we claim to be tolerant and nonjudgmental in shrill tones and with an unashamed lack of self-awareness – but in truth, like most other humans, we’re only tolerant and nonjudgmental of people whose opinions we share. At the precise moment that an opinion differs from the one we hold, that’s when you see precisely how tolerant and nonjudgmental we are – which is to say, not much more than anyone we claim superiority over.
That’s my $.02, and I’ll say nothing more on the subject (no matter how much I’m baited by the predictable responses that this will elicit). For what it’s worth, I thought you wrote a nice piece about San Francisco. Overlooking a few generalizations, it was a reasonably accurate impression of our city. Thank you.
Thanks. I appreciate the breath of fresh air and grounded response amidst a sea of strong opinions both ways.
I had no idea half a million people were going to read this nor that the comments would get so wild.
Much agreed. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jason. I appreciate it as a fellow newbie to the city (most recently from Los Angeles, but I’ve lived in several US cities). Congrats on being pressed!
Almost perfect. The PBR one is horseshit.
Definitely a little chilly, but how could you not love it?? :)
“The coldest winter I’ve ever spent, was the summer in San Fransisco.” – Mark Twaine
San Francisco…even :P
After living in SF for 2 years I can safely say NEVER AGAIN!! A great city to visit and eat in but after living in beautiful,green,safe,cheap,friendly Portland,Oregon SF is a scum pit.It’s so crowded,so many scary people,so expensive,dirty and no one is that interested in anyone else.I’m not trying to be mean so if this offends anyone,well truth can hurt..
Seems like folks are getting confused a bit: “dog or human,” would we call that offensive? I used to play the same game living in SOMA, especially on those long walks to the court house while reporting for jury duty…because SF calls you to serve every year. I believe this is in reference to a “fun game” in which you guess the source of defecation which has been presented in front of you on the sidewalk–not an actual comment on street beings, neither human nor dog for that matter.
I’d also like to note that the Vodka-soda combo is missing from the popular SF drinks featured in the article. Am I just imagining that that’s a thing in SF? Maybe it’s just a Marina thing, and please don’t throw out everything I say because I occasionally hang out in the Marina…pretty please :).
After five years of SF living (SOMA/start up style), I’m now two years deep into my residence here in sunny San Mateo, which is lovely and features Caltrain, grocery stores, the movie theater, a weekly Farmer’s market, and some hips bars too all within 1-5 blocks’ walk.
Here, it’s warmer, there is parking a plenty, there is some culture, but it’s not San Francisco. Sure, I visit SF often, but the “oh I’ll just take CalTrain later, REMIND me that I HAVE to leave in 20 minutes to catch the last CalTrain” convo that quickly turns into a $60 cab ride home or crashing at a friend’s apartment sometime after 1/2am, both make hanging in SF less accessible. But it’s still so temptingly fun and there are so many interesting people pursuing interesting startups, hobbies, and activities to meet in SF compared to other cities I’ve lived in and visited.
It seems like the best part about leaving SF for me is the following:
1. I can fully fund my retirement accounts and save up a proper emergency fund
2. I have a covered parking spot, and it’s not on the street
3. I have a quaint one bedroom apartment (with a REAL separate bedroom) to myself
Still, I miss SF, I miss walking out my door to meet friends for brunch, meeting up for a run to the ballpark or the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoying the building decorations during the holidays, going to the museums, frequenting the art shows, and for many, many more reasons.
This article was a very fun read, delightfully included some infographics on rent which I enjoyed, and really captured some of the glaring impressions available in this wonderful city by the bay.
Great article but one personal thing that irks me is that the TL gets suuuuch a bad rap. Yes it can be disgusting and wild to walk through but I have lived on Hyde & Ellis for 3 years and it is not a very dangerous place, even from a female perspective. Each block from Ellis until Civic Center Bart is more and more wild with tons of crackeads swarming the “homeless swapmeet” but you really just have to have your wits about you, not walk around like an idiot with your wallet bulging or yakking away on your iphone with no caution or awareness and you will be fine. Don’t stop to listen to panhandlers and don’t engage if it’s unnecessary. If you follow these steps you are in a central area of the city with tons of access to more fun, family friendly neighborhoods. In the meantime if you’re in to dive bars or good hole in the wall restaurants you’re in luck! Also rent is cheap and there are some secret hidden gems as far as apartment buildings go. Worth checking out in the desperate search for an apt. I have started seeing it refered to as the “trendyloin” recently as a matter of fact.
Overall your article is very acurate, fun and enlightening. It will be shared with prospective SF citizens!
FINALLY, someone sticking up for the TL!!! It’s posts like these and the oblivious people who write them that perpetuate the supposed horrors of the Tenderloin.
“Pro Tip: Learn the streets that include the Tenderloin and don’t walk there at night and avoid any Muni buses that will take you through there on your trip.”
For someone who avoids the Tenderloin at all costs, how can you pass such resolute judgement?? I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and blame it on your naivety. You clearly know nothing about the Loin. As a petite female who has lived (alone) in the TL for 2 years, I have never once felt in danger of being hurt or mugged or anything else crime related. And I walk through all those streets within your dotted lines constantly (and usually alone or at night).
I don’t live in the TL for cheaper rent (sidenote: total myth, I pay $1600 for a mediocre studio), I live here because I love this neighborhood. Super convenient location and easy to get around to the rest of the city. Fantastic bars and restaurants. Great architecture. And a lot of fucking history; maybe read about it some time.
All that said, the residents of the Tenderloin are overjoyed that people like you are avoiding our hidden gem. If you all knew how awesome our neighborhood was, you’d be moving in left and right and driving up our rents even more.
I’m seconding the TL shoutout. I lived on O’Farrell & Hyde for two years, and loved the TL (this was in 2002-2004). I had no problem going back to visit my favorite TL spots after I moved to the Mission. (Beautiful drag bars around the TL, and Lahore Karahi, yum.) And, really, once the people who hang out on the streets know that you live in the neighborhood, they will greet you daily, and watch out for you. OK, not all of them will, but smile at the ones who don’t look mentally ill or cracked out, you’ll see! A fave of mine was the Flava Flav lookalike! I wish I knew his name. He used to stop traffic for me. You know him. He wears the clock around his neck, and gold fronts. Plus, TL is super close to Chinatown and the theater district.
The worst thing that ever happened to me in the TL was the day I rounded the corner and saw that someone had committed suicide by laying his head beneath the tire of the 19 Polk.
What a great article. I moved here many moons ago 1978 (Maybe 79) I dated (now husband) a guy born and raised in The City (his father borned and raised in City) All his friends were native so it was especially fun to go places then and cab drivers to Waiter were amazed that the table was all natives (except for me). The City they grew up in was small and family orientated. Everyone knew each other famlies. It was three degrees (at most) of seperation. Music was the thing for them. My husband saw every major musican and most for free. We own rentals in the city (which is a story in it self) but our tenants in the past were 35 and up and would stay for 20 years. Now all tenants are rich 20 somethings… and move yearly.
I’m not currently looking for a spot (been in mine for 30+ years) but if that changes I’m asking to rent from you first. :)
Amen, Mimi, and spot on.
Welcome to the City. Thanks for your insight. It’s wicked cool. PBR innit the official drink btw-it’s Jameson. PBR is the official poor man’s cocktail of choice. Hide your maps, ask locals for directions, they never lie. Don’t trust IPhone maps. Shit changes. Tip your bartenders. NEVER, EVER refer to The City as ‘San Fran’ or ‘Frisco’. Natives, transplants who might as well be natives and cool folks all agree it’s sooo uncool. PS: Flip flops are for the beach not street. Worn in combo w/puffy jackets is extra douchie and if you’re inside take off your shades. You’re not Kanye. And if you were Kanye-we-don’t-care.
DEFINITELY TIP YOUR BARTENDER!
If you say “Frisco” or San Fran you’ll be cut…from the inner circle of acceptability. they talk like that in Oklahoma NOT California. you are correct no one cares cuz everyone has been with Kanye ;-)
I moved to the city 2 years ago. I came from Germany with my family and stayed a couple of weeks in Noe Valley (like you mentioned it). We moved out of the city, since we couldn’t find something affordable for a bigger family (6). I’m still working in the city, commuting with the BART (reliable) and enjoy my time there. I can agree to most of the ‘dark’ sides that you mentioned, but I think this is something that every bigger city around the world has to face. Some of them less, some more. Anyway, great write up!
I’m from the Tenderloin and it is really knowing about WHEN to ride the bus and be out and about in the Tenderloin rather than avoiding it altogether. I find that staying out of the alleyways and sticking to major streets like O’Farrell with major bus lines is safer than less populated, less traveled streets. The more activity that is going on, such as concerts, movies, dining out, etc., the less likely the more “seedy” elements are going to bother you. Be street smart, keep your eyes open, and use some common sense and you will be fine.
I moved to SF from Ohio a year and a half ago. I spent 6 mos in the Mission, which wasn’t the neighborhood for me, and ended up all the way out in Palo Alto. I agree with everything – absolutely everything – you’ve said. I would add a couple of things, including it’s hard to make friends out here because people are heads down in their tech (phones, ipads, etc) instead of socializing with the person on the bar stool beside them, people out here live in a weird bubble (esp in the Silicon Valley) where there apparently isn’t a recession of any sort and the only cars you see on the road are either the Prius or German luxury cars. :-) Oh, and the idea of crossing the water to the East Bay (or vice versa) is like going to another country beyond Oakland or Berkeley. Walnut Creek? Concord? Where?
Again, I agree with every word you said. And I’m glad to know that other transplants have observed the exact same things. I tell everyone back home about the dog-friendliness of SF.
Oh, and I make 3x what I made back in Ohio and I can pretty much say … I’m broke. Damned rent.
very difficult to meet anyone in California especially to start a relationship. best to import a love interest than to find one . the people in all those great and beautiful cars you see driving around are broke too. its still a better winter than any other place.
I met my other half at How Weird festival almost 3 years ago. Lots of peeps here looking for love, in my experience. L.A. is a different story though.
people love to throw down on L.A. just like SF but after living in California, then New York and then God forsaken Austin(wonderful to visit but summer lasts 8 months and there is no beach) and several other countries , I always come back loving my home state. its just beautiful and vibrant and accepting. starting a relationship is difficult for everyone in california, too many distractions and too many self help groups and self help book stores telling you to take your ‘me time” also i hear from folks who say they are worried to start a relationship cuz they are afraid they will miss something better if it comes along.
I just told you it’s not difficult for everyone. You and your circle of friends don’t represent “everyone” in SF. I’ve been in the SF bay area for 14 years, have been in 3 relationships that lasted 3 years or longer, and I have several friends that have met their spouses and married in SF as well. I think guys definitely have an advantage here for there are a lot of available, beautiful women in the Bay area waiting for right guy. Generally speaking, the bar is the wrong place to look for a mate, in any city. ;-)
no need to get yourself in a twist! i am happily married but i also happen to have been born and raised in California. there is no difference from SF to LA socially other than the weather and location …that is a myth and an excuse that transplants came up with…transplants with zero social skills. i think there have been enough badly made movies on the LifeTime network about meeting people in bars. just trying to share the positive aspects about the state as a whole.
Well, I’m a transplant from the east coast, am VERY social and friendly and had NO PROBLEM making friends in the Bay. Moved to LA for 6 months and made 1 meaningful friendship with my neighbor. Everyone else flaked out or was only interested in “making connections in the industry” (i’m a DJ/Producer). So I moved back to SF. That’s my experience, and I’ve heard others that have had similar experiences (including my other half)…maybe it depends on what neighborhood in LA you move to, I don’t know. Just found the general vibe there extremely superficial. All about image…
glad you found a happy place! Flying Lotus is from L.A…i dont know where you lived in L.A. but the downtown art scene has always been very cool.
the top ten view spots are those of one who has obviously not lived in SF for their entire lives and only focused on the touristy spots…some were on point but you should explore to find the more hidden gems of this fine city.
I lived in SF for 10 years; it’s a magical land. I’m moved to CO for nursing school and I’m counting the days until I return. :) Fantastic article; you completely captured the essence of this amazing city.
The San Francisco Giants sell out almost every game and have the best attendance in baseball. The niners have one of the best followings in sports, as do the Raiders. I wouldn’t say sports matter any less than elsewhere. Maybe in your circle.
This article could easily be describing Chicago. Although Chicago is a bit colder and surrounded by nothing cool, its 10x cheaper.
As a native San Franciscan born and raised and now having passed the half century mark my advise is….please prepare to fall in love forever! No other place like San Francisco.
A few things…
On the map of the Tenderloin…I would extend that dotted line south of Market street, and have it go from 7th st to 5th st, and down to Howard. That block of 6th between Market and Mission is NASTY.
Also…Oakland more than just gets a ‘bad rap’. People in SF are scared of Oakland and will not go there unless they have to. And if you live in Oakland like I do, and tell someone in SF you live there, they look at you with a since of pity. And it’s really too bad. Yes, there’s a lot of crime in Oakland, but most of it happens in areas you would never venture to in the first place. The rest of the city is no more dangerous than any other large city in the US.
Social life in SF is weird. It’s very clicqueish and very event oriented. It’s a tough place to make friends, and the ones you do make are centered around some event or activity you all participate in. You’ll only see these people at said event or activity, and when it’s over…you don’t see them again until the next event. It’s very different from back East.
Other than that…SF is a fabulous city.
I couldn’t agree with you more about the friends section of your post! The entire post is EXACTLY how I feel about this city.
You’re not a true San Franciscan because you smell human shit. You’re a true San Franciscan because you were born in SF. Period.
Anchor Steam and Fernet are the official beverages of SF.
And we don’t call it The Caltrain or The Muni. Just Caltrain or Muni.
I meant see the naked guy re: the true San Franciscan, not smell the dog shit. My mistake.
People who take Caltrain don’t live in the city remember. In my 50 years here I haven’t been on it once.
One other thing…if cultural and ethnic diversity is important you you, you will not like San Francisco. To see what true cultural diversity looks like you’ll have to come to…yes…Oakland.
I was wondering when someone was going to mention that…For all the blah blah blah touchy feel-good posts, the thing that a lot of skip over because they can, is that “diversity” doesn’t stop at having a larger than avg. Asian population…And I’ll take it a step further, I’ve experienced a LOT of that “secret bias” especially from the ones who go on and on and on and on about how “liberal” they are…I experienced more honesty on the matter living in Texas before I moved back here…
I lived in SF for eleven years before moving to Oakland, and when in Oaktown, I really missed Latinos. (I lived in the Mission while in the city.)
Oh, and you forgot to mention that if you call it Frisco or San Fran we will set you straight. And not in a polite way.
Jason, I love that this is getting so much traction around SF.. also glad to know you found Shanghai Kelly’s for Steeler Football.. I’m there (in the front) every Sunday, say hi!
Travelling 90-120 MINUTES TO SEE YOUR FRIENDS?!?! The humanity! Just kidding, that is my one way commute into NYC on the daily. Same coming home. Maybe what they say about becoming soft in the west is true <3 I jest though, no sane person goes out of their way for a 3 hour round trip.
Funny you mentioned the 3 hour time difference for sports broadcasts and not being able to adjust to it. As a lifetime west coaster from Seattle to San Francisco, I only know PST start times. And I always think how late the east coasters have to stay up to watch the game. And when it’s MNF, cold east coast weather and then your team loses and you have the long walk to the car and then the traffic getting home, well I am so grateful to be nice and cozy in my SF apartment.
Close, but no cigar. I was born and raised here 50 years ago and am living in the Sunset in the house I grew up in. My parents are gone and let’s just say I pay less than $1200/year for a 4 bedroom house in property tax. That’s the only way to live here is to stay in the same place for a long time.
1. I work from home so I see things others miss. When you leave for work there’s fog a lot of days, but by 9am it usually burns off and is sunny. Afternoons are cold and you’re spot on for that, but it depends on where in the city you live.
2. I lived in the Mission for 6 years and that was long before there was anything called a hipster around. The closest to PBR was a PBJ that you made at home with something called skippy. The cheap beer we drank was Budweiser otherwise we’d go with Anchor or to one of the local brew pubs that started to pop up in the late 90’s
3. Go GIANTS! We like our sports here even if you aren’t into sports.
4. Spot on about the neighborhoods. They define the people who live there because the people who moved there wanted to be around their own people. In MY day the Italians lived in the Marina and North Beach, the Chinese lived in and around Chinatown, but not moving into North Beach and the Sunset was Irish and the Richmond was Russians and Jews. You always had to go to the Mission to get Mexican food. Even if it came from farther south it was still “Mexican food”
5. Food, you missed something. The farther west you go the food gets cheaper, the people are hipper without dressing funny and only idiots shop at Whole Foods.
6. You don’t have to work in tech. The people that you give all your money to at Whole Foods don’t work in tech nor do the people at the cafes or restaurants. While we have lots of techies, they still need other stuff to live here than Tech.
7. Check out my blog about San Francisco, but don’t move here.
This article is a great start to getting to know SF. My favorite comment so far is from John Weatherman (43 years ought to buy you some knowledge). Obviously judging by the comments people feel pretty strongly about San Francisco one way or another.
My experience growing up in the Bay Area (Pleasanton, Petaluma, Walnut Creek) is one of sheer love for Northern California. Last year I lived in San Francisco for 6 months in the Castro….after spending 13 years in Dallas, TX. Wow – what a complete change of scenery and culture. Even though I spent my early years in California I wasn’t prepared for the coldness in both temperature and friendliness when I moved back.
After actually meeting people and getting my social circle I began to see the city open up for me. The Castro is a seriously cool place and was not mentioned much in the article. I have met some of the coolest people & started a friendship that will last a lifetime. The gay community is one of the top things that set San Francisco apart in my opinion. I’m a suburban housewife but have a true openness towards diversity (as do most Californians).
My fav things about San Francisco: The bridges….all of them. A city that is apx. 7 miles x 7 miles is so easy to get around in and become familiar with. Nightlife in the Castro, gay or not. The Ferry Building and the most delicious seafood ever besides Japan. But hey….just visit Japan-town and your there. The Presidio….awesome. The food and drinks at Absinthe. The diversity and culture. I could go on, and on, and on.
BTW – always have a jacket and learn to dress warm. Wool is your friend – and so are scarves. Appreciate those gorgeous sunny days when the fogs burns off and you get to run around the city without a jacket while walking your dog.
The best piece of advice I can give to new transplants is to chill out and develop a bit of aloofness. There is so much going on in this city that you have to make an effort not to let it become overwhelming.
And soon you realize. It’s North for the true adventure. Seattle. There’s much finer to find there.
my advice to people coming to SF? DON”T FUCKING COME HERE. Too many financial assholes from the East Coast and SoCal already.
As a native, remember when you move here where you come from. When someone asks you where you’re from, they know you’re a transplant, tell them there you spent most of you life before you came to the City. Being an SF native, hearing people say they are from San Francisco, with a thick Bostonian accent gets on out nerves. There are very few natives that still reside in The City, and when someone says they’re from here we immediately want to know where they went to high school to determine if we have friends in common.
Also, its The City or San Francisco. A good way to stand out as a transplant is to call it SF, San Fran, Frisco, etc. It’s The City, no matter where you are in the world or San Francisco, or if you’re into the hip-hop/rap scene its the YAY area. But that is it. End of story.
Great piece! Extremes section should include political extremes. Beyond SF should include going past the hills in the summer to escape the cold and sit pool side in comfort!!
That’s so true. People here take their liberal politics WAY too personally. I’ve learned that if my point of view is different from those whose company I’m in…I just keep my mouth shut.
Awesome. Except for one thing… I don’t know that I’d refer to the homeless community as “the uglier side of San Francisco”.
Love this post!! I completely agree with pretty much everything written here. Also important to note, BART shuts down at midnight. That blows and would be blasphemous in NY. Favorite tip: Half of the buses require you to step down into the steps to get the back door to open.
Of all places in the world, SF is the one place/story/people/culture/food/attitude/onand/onand/onand/on I miss the MOST. I spent 3 years across from Pac Bell and would move back in a heartbeat. Some of these opinions are accurate and make me smile, but who cares what this resident thinks? SF IS INCREDIBLE. Move there. Do it. Stop worrying. Boston is NOT nearly as expensive and SF is not as expensive as NY. Not. Even. Close.
I wish I had know about SF’s http://www.RonThat.com before I got here
This is great – agree, wish I had this when I moved here, although you really don’t “get it” till you get here. Two tips; we love sfcityguides.org – loads of history walking tours for free. We have learned so much and had a blast doing it. Also – don’t wait in line for blue bottle, there are a ton of cafes that serve it and serve it well.
Whoa, what an awesome post! Many thanks!
Reblogged this on Alexander's blog and commented:
Complete truth about SF
Dating here could use some work. As a guy, I found a lot of cool women, but way too many were stuck up for no good reason. Learn how to have a short conversation with a guy and learn how to end it in a way that is clear but polite if it’s not working out or if you just want to be left alone. And women, please stop dressing like boys! Jeans and sweatshirts are not hot, at all. Standards here for dressing and looking nice are loooowwwww,,, I think warmer weather would help, but one can still look good without a sundress.