Moving to San Francisco, CA

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The Paris of the West, the Baghdad of the Bay, the Weirdest Place on Earth… San Francisco.  It is the West Coast’s financial center, but it is so much more than an economic powerhouse.  The City has it all — stunning architecture, a bustling social scene, and countless boutiques, museums and worldly neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Japantown and the Mission.

While San Francisco is home to many viewpoints and cultures, it is known for being an ultra-liberal area, where intellectuals and politicians alike hold similar, leftist ideals.  It was home to the Summer of Love in ’68, and it elected the first openly gay politician in the 1970’s. It remains America’s most progressive city.

San Francisco’s Layout

San Francisco is located on a peninsula that separates the Pacific Ocean from the San Francisco Bay.  It is a thin piece of land, only about six miles wide.  This means the surrounding water greatly affects the city’s weather, keeping it very temperate (and cool). The greater area is very mountainous, and the land ranges from rolling hills of tall grass to forests of the tallest trees on Earth (the redwoods).

There are a number of nearby cities — Marin County (Sausalito, San Rafael) to the North, Oakland and Berkeley to the East, and San Mateo and San Jose to the South, all of which comprise the Bay Area metropolitan area, which is home to 7.46 million people.  San Francisco is connected to the surrounding areas by bridge, boat, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit train system) and freeway.

The city itself has a number of unique neighborhoods.  The Marina and North Beach hug the waterfront; the Mission, Castro and Haight provide colorful, inland homes and avenues; and the Financial District and SOMA (South Of MArket St.) are the downtown, business centers.

Positives of Moving to San Francisco

Web 2.0 – If you are hoping to take advantage of the San Francisco job market, consider looking at the many social media and tech startups in the area.  Tech giants, like Google, Facebook and Twitter, also have offices in San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley (about 45 minutes south).

Public Transit – Driving in San Francisco is a bad idea.  The bridges carry tolls and traffic, and even land-anchored highways get clogged at peak hours.  However, San Francisco has great public transit options, including BART, Caltrain, ferries and buses.  Plus, it’s a dense city, making it easy to walk through.

Architecture – San Francisco’s architecture is on a level of its own.  It has skyscrapers, grandiose halls, colorful homes with bay windows, awe-striking bridges, and adobe building from the days of Spanish settlement.  Some of the more-famous landmarks include the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, City Hall, and the Transamerica Pyramid.

Arts – San Francisco has a thriving arts scene, from its Museum of Modern Art and the famous Fillmore and Mezzanine, to its countless grass-roots art galleries, music venues and boutiques.  Many neighborhoods support the arts, notably the Haight and Mission.

Climate – Surrounded by water on three sides of the city, San Francisco is known for being cool during both the winter and summer. Temperatures do not deviate by much—San Francisco weather is generally quite comfortable and easy to predict. A typical day is usually in the mid-60s, with winters dipping regularly into the mid-50s and summers into the mid-70’s. There is little seasonal variation, which makes San Francisco a very desirable place to live for anyone who’s experienced the excruciatingly hot summers and excruciatingly cold winters of, say, Washington DC.

Negatives of Moving to San Francisco

Fog – “The coldest winter I’ve ever felt is a summer in San Francisco.” – Anonymous.  This old saying is actually quite true.  San Francisco gets inundated by fog during summer evenings, which often drops the temperature from sunny and 70’s to gray, windy and 50’s.  July and August are the worst months for fog.

Cost of Living – San Francisco has a notoriously high cost of living. It would be in your best interest to have a job lined up before you uproot yourself and move to San Francisco. Along with the high cost of living comes the sky-high rent. I’m talking $2,000/mo for a tiny studio. Check websites like Craigslist for a ballpark range of what to expect.  Also, on top of national and state taxes, every purchase that you make in San Francisco comes with its own city tax. Right now, it’s at a whopping 8.5%.

Competition – Not only is San Francisco expensive to live in, there are thousands of people trying to do it.  If you find an affordable apartment, expect to be competing with at least a hundred people for it.  Same goes for jobs.  Same goes for parking.

Earthquakes – San Francisco is located right by a couple major fault lines and has been subject to a number of devastating earthquakes in the past. However, never fear! Although moving to San Francisco can be out of your comfort zone because of the earthquakes, all you need to do is educate yourself on earthquake safety procedures and you’ll be prepared.

Ready to move to San Francisco? You should be. You should also check out some San Francisco moving companies right here, for free: San Francisco movers.