It somewhat pains me to link to 25 Things I wish I knew before moving to San Francisco because of the link bait title. How would knowing that SF is dog friendly, people like costumes or that you can easily find great views help you at all before moving here?!
But I digress, it has some stuff I want to respond to.
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.
In my experience the danger of the Tenderloin and other “bad” areas has been hugely overstated. The main streets at night are totally safe. MUNI through the Tenderloin is safe. I wouldn’t choose to walk down a dark alley alone at night but the whole neighborhood shouldn’t be written off.
Palo Alto and Mountain View are farther away than you think.
Yep. It’s over an hour each way and many companies put on fancy shuttles. I know a bunch of people who are satisfied making the commute but I wouldn’t be here if I had to spend over 10 hours a week on a bus or train.
The MUNI is the bus system in San Francisco that most San Franciscans have a Love-Hate relationship with.
I hate MUNI. It’s slow and unpleasant. There’s a bus route that goes directly from my apartment to work. My bike ride is 15 minutes, the MUNI ride is 40 minutes. The maddeningly frequency of MUNI stops (almost every block) is what makes it so slow. It also makes for a jolty and uncomfortable ride.
I haven’t ridden a MUNI train but they look much better. BART (a different kind of train…) is faster and more comfortable but I often hear reports of BART trains breaking down with long delays.
My advice would be to not make any decisions based on heavy use of public transport, especially MUNI buses. Much, much better is getting around by bike. Which brings me to my next point.
The hilliness of San Francisco is vastly overstated.
There are certainly areas with the famous extremely steep hills: Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Buena Vista, Twin Peaks, some areas of Pacific Heights but they are localised and easily avoidable. The majority of the 7x7 mile city grid is flat and getting around by bike is easy.
SF is a super fit city.
It’s rare to see hugely overweight people who were common back home. Consistently great weather and incredible natural environments in and around the city plus readily available, cheap and healthy food everywhere make it easy. Without consciously trying I’ve lost weight since getting here.
If you tried apps like Foursquare and Yelp in other places and weren’t impressed, they’re worth another shot here.
This is amplified for me coming from Australia to the US. Google Maps here is incredible: public transit directions with times and schedules, indoor maps, super high res satellite images and blazing speed. Amazon Prime has totally changed my life. Zipcar, Uber, Netflix, Rdio. All that great stuff I’d read a lot about but never got to use before getting here.
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.
I ride my bike in Marin County at least a few times a week but I’ve met people who’ve lived here for years and have never been there. It’s so close and so beautiful. The same goes for the area around La Honda south of the city. I’ve had many literally breath-taking moments less than an hour ride out of the city.
PBR is pervasive in San Francisco.
PBR is terrible beer-flavoured water and it’s a complete mystery to me why anyone drinks it. It’s especially perplexing in a city stacked to the brim with tiny bars with huge beer selections on tap. Many of them local and delicious. But for each PBR-drinker I’ve met a beer aficionado who appreciates an SF micro brew. San Franciscans are big beer drinkers. Big drinkers in general.
San Francisco is a city with something for everyone.
And further to that the people in this city are exceptionally non-judgmental. Maybe it’s the liberal politics or the regular sightings of things like roller-skating men in underwear but you need not be ashamed of your passions or your idiosyncrasies here. There’s a huge amount of tolerance and acceptance for who people are. It’s a hard thing to articulate but no one talks behind people’s backs about something that would be considered weird back home.
The one piece of advice I’d give to people moving to San Francisco would be to lose any hint of self-consciousness. It’ll help you find like minded people, people who aren’t like minded won’t think you’re weird and it’s just plain liberating.
I can’t overstate how positive this is. I still catch myself voicing thoughts about the weirdness of something only to be met by a San Franciscan’s non-judgmental indifference. With each day I find myself becoming more accepting too.