San Francisco Life Thoughts from a Former New Yorker

March 21, 2017

Finally starting to feel settled, I’m sharing what this San Francisco life is really like (while my New Yorker mentality still hangs on).

San Francisco Life

San Francisco in a nutshell: always a little cold, often with a pretty view.

Woah, I’ve been living in San Francisco for nine months. Sometimes it feels like we just finished our cross-country road trip, and other times I feel like I know the city and I’m a local. I’ll admit that I let the first few months in SF fly by without adjusting to life here. Between my bachelorette party, wedding and honeymoon, I had plenty to distract myself with. But once the honeymoon was over (*tear), I made a more conscious effort to explore SF, make friends and find my way here.

When MM and I initially spoke about moving to SF, I thought I’d arrive and immediately be obsessed with the city. Most people love it, it’s super outdoorsy, the weather is pretty good, there’s unbelievable hiking nearby, and so on. But I didn’t immediately fall head over heels in love. Whether you love or hate NYC, there are a lot of emotions when you leave. I definitely had a love-hate relationship with NYC (which I believe is the standard). While I still love NYC and of course my friends who live there, I was ready for a change of pace and scenery. There are a lot of things I miss about NYC. Do I want to be living there though? No, I’m happy with our choice to move, even if I didn’t immediately become smitten with SF.

When I moved to NYC after college, I already loved the city. I had spent weekends and summers in the city and moved there with a huge network of friends. I didn’t need to fall in love with the city, I was already madly in love with it. But you can love a city and not want to live there, and then it’s time to try something new.

And now here we are in SF, a pretty common next step after NYC. I’ll try not to make the below a complete comparison to NYC, but it’s hard not to when assessing my feelings on SF. As a former New Yorker, living in NYC for nine years, here are my thoughts on SF after nine months in the bay area

San Francisco Life So Far

The Weather is Bizarre

I think we can agree that NYC’s extreme weather isn’t ideal, but the weather in San Francisco isn’t the best either. Pretty much since we’ve arrived, it’s been fall. We left NYC in June when it starts to get steamy, humid and hot. SF summers are chilly and overcast. When in NYC you’d break a sweat in July just walking out your door, here I wore a fleece all summer, and sometimes another layer on top of that. We’ve had a few 70 degree+ days and two days that it hit 90, but other than that, fall all year round. I guess I’m not complaining (too much) about it; Fall is arguably one of the best seasons, right?

The Cali Pace is Slower

This shouldn’t come as a shock, but things are calmer and slower here. NYC is go-go-go and even though SF is very success-focused and a city full of smarty pants, it seems to be done with a better work-life balance. People aren’t rushing around quite as much and us New Yorkers need to re-train our brains to stop and smell the roses.

Where Are All The People?

SF is a big city with millions hundreds of thousands of people living here, but where is everyone? The city isn’t geographically that large, so I’d expect to always be surrounded by people, much like I was in NYC. Sometimes it will be 7:45pm and I’ll be walking home from the gym and I’ll be the only person on the street. It really creeps me out and makes me feel super unsafe, even though it’s not late. NYC isn’t the safest city in the world, but there are always so many people around that you feel relatively safe, even at 2am. It’s been a very big adjustment not being surrounded by tons of people all the time. I know this should be a positive for SF, but I wish I felt safer when walking around.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t’ have a line…need I say more?

I recently tried to explain to an SF native what shopping at Trader Joe’s in NYC is like. It’s hard to convey the experience, honestly who would believe that people line up outside the grocery story just to get in, to then wait in another line that wraps around the entire store? It’s insane. Whenever I got to TJs in SF there is a line of maybe 3 people at most. It’s really a treat. Silly, but true. Only my New Yorkers will understand this one!

Less City, More Nature

San Francisco is definitely a bustling city, but within the city, there are hikes and beaches. Heck, there are trees and grass! But really, there are lots of places to explore and connect with nature without leaving the city limits. In NYC, there was Central Park, but beyond that, it was mostly a concrete jungle vibe. I’ve explored some of the SF hikes and view points and have much more on my to-do list to check out.

San Francisco Life

View from Land’s End in the city.

Surrounding Areas are Beyond Beautiful

While I thought I’d immediately fall in love with SF and didn’t, I did immediately fall in love with all the areas surrounding SF. Hop in your car and the travel options are endless. You can drive 30 minutes to Marin County and explore amazing hikes, drive an hour for wine country, drive under 3 hours to Big Sur and Carmel or drive just under 4 hours and be skiing top notch mountains in Tahoe (shout out to you Northstar!). After nine years in NYC, I was super excited to explore a new part of the country and I truly cannot get enough of the gorgeous places near SF. I’d hate to say leaving the city is my favorite part of living here, but it is.

San Francisco Life

These two photos were only taken one week apart, above in Bodega Bay, below in Tahoe.

Tahoe

It’s Expensive, Duh

Before we moved, everyone said the rent was more expensive than NYC and I refused to believe them. No way, I’ll find a good deal! Ok, I was wrong. Our rent is more expensive here, but the silver lining is we’re getting a lot more bang for our buck. I’d say rent prices are relatively similar to NYC but things are newer and nicer here. While we’re paying more, we have a washer/dryer in unit, a dishwasher, a gym, pool and hot tub. We didn’t have anything close to that in NYC. We did have a permanent hole in our ceiling and a wall that always leaked! Rent is costly, but I thnk in terms of food, drink and activities, there are slightly more affordable options here.

It’s Full of Transplants

As I make an effort to be friendly and meet new people, it’s been a pleasant surprise that many people are in the same boat as us, transplants from other cities, often times from NYC. While it seems like most people move to NYC immediately after college, people tend to move to SF a bit later in life, late 20s or early 30s. Afterall, who in their right mind would move to NYC when settling down and starting a family? While not cheap, I can see it being easier and more pleasant raising a family in the Bay Area. I think breaking into a new friend group would be much more challenging in NYC in your 30s than it is here. I say that having not really put in enough effort into making new friends, but I’m working on it!

We Have a Car

In your 30s, having a car shouldn’t be such a novelty, but it is. When I first moved to NYC, my favorite thing was not having a car or needing to drive anywhere. As I got older and wanted to travel further, I really wanted a car. We actually had one in NYC but it was for weekend trips, never for in-city transportation, oh and it was conveniently parked 30 blocks from our apartment. Now we’ve got a car (parked in the garage in our building, what a concept!) and yes, city traffic kind of sucks, but we can drive to dinner if we want, to the grocery store, to do errands and so on. But also thanks to Lyft and being in a fairly compact city, we can avoid driving if we prefer.

Muir Woods

A quick drive away to Muir Woods.

So all that being said, do I like living here? Yes! The adjustment has been more intense than I expected and sometimes I’ll watch a TV show set in NYC or read an NYC blogger’s latest post and a tear will come to my eye, but I’m still happy we made the move. I’ll always love NYC, but that doesn’t mean I want to live there.

Does the San Francisco life agree with me? Yes. Am I a west coast lifer? Too soon to tell. I do believe that if it wasn’t for family living far away, why wouldn’t everyone want to live in California? It’s an amazing state with so much to offer. We’re still new here and I’m sure my opinions will evolve, but for now, I’m happy with life here and I’m looking forward to making this city feel more like home.

Napa

Cali life agrees with this little one.

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2 COMMENTS

  • Woo- fellow SF blogger here!! Totally agree with your points. It’s EXPENSIVE, but I do love how there are a lot of spots to get away to nearby— go up north and you get ac completely different experience to going south or to the East Bay.

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