I moved there for my career, which did very well. I largely hated the valley as a place to live, simply because it's too crowded. I have a low tolerance for traffic. I couldn't stand to drive to the supermarket, let alone go to work every day. So I spent all my time either at work or at home, and went out as little as possible. Lived in a tiny house because it was all I could afford. Hated it.
OTOH, I did meet a lot of lifelong friends there, including my wife. It's the only place I've lived where my geekiness wasn't the least bit unusual and where I wasn't usually the smartest person in the room, and that was refreshing.
Now I live in the middle of nowhere in a 4,000 ft2 house on 50 acres of land, which in retrospect was overreaction to the valley's housing and crowding. It still takes 20 minutes to get to the supermarket, but now I travel 15 miles of country roads instead of seven blocks of six-lane parking lot.
When I go back (I telecommute), I'm struck by the wealth, the workaholism, and the aforementioned number of geeks. I also have the energy to deal with the traffic, get out and do fun things for athe week or two that I'm there.
So that's my advice for QoL. Work there, live someplace else, visit occasionally.
(I still can't think of SF as part of silicon valley. The valley, to me, starts in Palo Alto and extends south. That's less true today than when I lived there, of course.)
I've been fighting with clinical depression, but I was already having problems with that before I moved there. I can't tell if it's made things worse, though it certainly hasn't made things any better.
Portland appears to be a very nice place, strikes the right balance between sprawl and compactness. If only it had better weather....
There's something I don't like in this sentence.
This isn't the first time I hear something like this on HN.
My like list:
The weather. I guess this comes from experiencing temperatures as low as -11 and as high as 102, but my fantasy of finding consistent jacket weather has finally been realized. I actually hate it when the temperature (rarely) climbs above 80.
The outdoors. There's such a glut of hiking/camping opportunities even without bringing Yosemite or Sequoia into it. I can be at the beach with a basket of fish and chips in about half an hour. Mountains (or at least hills) are a constant. Flowers seem to be in perpetual bloom.
The food/farmer's markets. Can't say I'm part of the rampant burrito culture, but I do love the variety of food in SF. I only wish that there could be as much art/culture as there are designer cocktails.
The size. For a big city, San Francisco is incredibly small. I like that I can walk from my favorite fried chicken place in SOMA to my favorite ice cream place in the Mission in a matter of about 40 minutes. Luckily, there are plenty of pockets outside of the parking nightmares and pay-by-the-pound rent to seek refuge (in my case, San Mateo).
Sure, the traffic will make you wish you had a rocket launcher on the roof of your car. And parking is at least a two person job - one to circle the block while the other runs in for the donuts/pizza. It is especially dirty in some places and there are lots of homeless folks but compared to other big cities (NYC and LA, chiefly), I can't really have an issue because there's so much more good than bad.
My take on the South Bay: "A bunch of temporary buildings built for temporary employees who think they are living there temporarily." It might be the epitome of bad urban design in America -- and, mind you, it's up against some pretty stiff competition. There's a handful of blocks in Palo Alto which might actually be worth living in, but unfortunately the locals all understand that and prices are through the roof.
SF and Berkeley were like visions of heaven compared to the South Bay, and I tried to visit when I could, but tptacek is right: They are incredibly far away. You spend all your time driving in the Bay Area. One day I realized that just visiting my nearest friends was a thirty-five minute one-way car trip, even at 2am. The good news is that you acclimate to that; you become used to spending a quarter of your waking life in a car. The bad news is that you will never see those hours again.
Now, coming from NYC, I understand a thing or two about big city living and big city government. Yet, I have never felt as disturbed by overbearing government as I have in SF. There are a number of examples that I wont go into but the overall feeling is that of an overbearing, authoritarian state that tries to force you into doing things the SF way. Not only does there seem to be more of this in California in general but in SF in particular.
It is not entirely simple to describe but I absolutely feel it every time I'm there. There is no doubt that were I to live there it would be even worse.
Also NYC women > SF women. Period.
>>>Also NYC women > SF women. Period.
That is entirely debatable. The women in NYC are going to be much higher maintenance. I really like the women in SF, they are much more intelligent and down to earth. Not as much as Portland, but better than So Cal and NYC for sure.
Cities take time to get to know, and the most important thing is to get to know other people who know the city better than you.
If you had tried biking more in SF, you also would have found more things to do and less to complain about.
Almost all your hate points are worse in NYC IMO.
One last thing, San Francisco is NOT the Pennisula (San Mateo, Palo Alto, etc) and both places are extremely different. Most of the pennisula going down to San Jose is pretty much like Atlanta, Most of Texas or San Diego.
People complain about the fog, but there's really never any fog in the south bay area/Silicon Valley.
Fucking delicious, an I am albanian, so I know that kind of food really well.
It is not that expensive either.
And there are plenty of similar restaurants around there.
The one thing you just can't complain about in the bay area is food and restaurants.
Perhaps the city has changed alot since you lived here, but since I lived there between 2006-2009 I can tell that the "food is not good enough" complains are just plain ubased whining.
I challenge you find a place in the USA where the produce is better, or fresher than it is here.
But NYC makes up for that by being the most vibrant city in possibly the world. It can be very hard to take, but you're always aware of why you're putting up with it.
I'm a little concerned about the migration of tech hipsters to Portland though. Californian expats have this nasty habit of turning their refuges into exactly what they fled.
This isn't the city you're looking for. Move along ... move along.
Actually, the entire NW sucks. Rains all the time. Heck, it's even raining on me right now in the desert of Central Oregon where it's never suppose to rain.
But seriously, after living in the Bay Area for 10+ years -- I ain't movin' back after living in the Pacific NW.
Must have been an exciting week. (Anyway, you'd need to compare the whole tax burden, since there's no sales tax.)
Oh, and that goes for the people from the middle, too.
On the subject of horrific first impressions, though, Bangkok definitely fit the bill for me. Perhaps not as big as NYC, but dirtier, crazier, far less organized, everything in Thai (a problem for me, not for them), dogs everywhere, not just bums but homeless starving mothers with a little baby kneeling in the gutter, bugs... jesus, that was an experience.
*yes I realize that this is a completely personal experience and I'm not trying to extrapolate that into "People in New York are X because this one time this one guy was X to me"... just throwing out a little counter ballast to the "New Yorkers are Rude" chestnut.
What don't I like about SFBay? With the caveat that it's been almost 10 years since I lived there, let me make you a list:
* It's expensive. What that means is, you have fewer options on where to live, and the options aren't as nice.
* Apart from tacos, the casual food options are much worse. Concrete example: where do you go for late dinner after a show, besides a diner in the Castro and Mel's?
* There are very few decent music venues. Among my many complaints about SF, this is one that appears to have gotten much worse since I left; read JWZ's blog on SF's "war on fun".
* It is impossible to catch a cab.
* It is very difficult (and dangerous) to park. My car was towed in San Francisco and lost by the city for over a month.
* San Francisco is deceptively small. Deceptive, because SFBay is a major metro area that happens to sprawl from a small urban core. What this means is that many of your friends who ostensibly live in the same "place" as you are actually an hour's drive each way to get to.
* Similarly, many (technically, most) of the jobs in the "area" are actually a 1+ hour commute each way from your house. At the time, I didn't know anybody who took the train from San Francisco to South Bay; maybe that's changed, but my perception is everyone just drives and puts up with the horrible commute. 280 sure is pretty sometimes, though.
* It's filthy. I've been back recently and know this to still be true: San Francisco has a maintenance problem, and it's different and worse than Manhattan. Manhattan feels like you're always picking your way through someone's gigantic cluttered basement. This alters your expectations of the environment and makes bags of garbage on the street easier to take. San Francisco is flat and open and that makes the piles of human feces somehow harder to take.
* Public transportation in San Francisco, is a joke compared to NYC or Chicago or even Seattle. It achieves Houstonian levels of walkability despite a miniscule footprint.
* The Haight and the stretch of Golden Gate Park right off the Haight is disgusting. I'm in favor of legalization, but if we're going to do it with red light districts, we should at least cordon them off and make that clear.
* Too much of San Francisco is a tourist trap. Every big city has tourist areas, but it's more painful in San Francisco because the city is so small. In NYC and Chicago there are actual Italian restaurant neighborhoods and they aren't full of frat boys.
* San Francisco doesn't have neighborhoods like other cities do. People tend to counter this by saying "but the inner sunset is totally different from the outer sunset". When's the last time they had a block party? How many of their neighbors have they entertained in their houses in the last year?
* There are no seasons (ok, there's "grey" season and "yellow" season). It's about to be Autumn here in Chicago. Autumn in the midwest is amazing and I missed it, a lot.
* Everyone's in tech. This makes the social scene boring and incestuous. Also, unless you build products that serve the echo chamber, it makes it harder to sell to companies, because the industries in San Francisco aren't diverse.
I'm trying hard with this list not to ding San Francisco for things that other cities excel at. It's not reasonable to hate a city for not meeting the highest bars set by other cities. For instance, fine dining in San Francisco is, if you properly exclude Yountville from your definition of "San Francisco", simply not as good as NYC or even Chicago. San Francisco doesn't have world-class museums. It doesn't have a noteworthy theater scene, or (to my knowledge) excellence in any of the performing arts. But then, Chicago doesn't have redwood forests or beaches you can set bonfires on with no notice.
* SF is super, super cheap. My apartment was the same size for half the price and in a much better area.
* Food is so plentiful and cheap, it is EVERYWHERE. The portion of my budget devoted to food fell by 75%, even though I eat out all the time. The range of cuisines and the quality compares well, too, even though London is 10x the size.
* I don't go out to gigs much, so no claims here.
* Cabs are about 20% of the price, and you can summon them with an iPhone app. Amazing.
* Parking: I've never driven in either city.
* Size: no question that people who live down-peninsula might as well be in another country. See: public transit.
* Commute: this does indeed suck. My solution was to quit and get a job in the city itself.
* Dirty: no question, it's dirty. And very poorly governed in a number of ways. London has much more adult supervision.
* Public transit: hoo-boy is it terrible. Ameliorated somewhat by cabs being cheap. But if you want to get down-peninsula caltrain is ridiculous for somebody used to London-style commuter rail.
* Haight: ...then don't live in the Haight? Every city has bad areas.
* Tourist traps: similarly, every city has these. In San Francisco they are usefully separate from the areas I actually like to visit, so I can ignore them, while Leicester Square/Oxford Circus are both working districts AND tourist traps.
* Neighbourhoods: London is a dense core with hundreds of miles of pointless, characterless suburbs in zones 3 through 5. San Francisco has distinct, self-sufficient neighbourhoods with totally different characters. This was one of the biggest differences I found when I moved. As for block parties... well, we had one two weeks ago, but I don't really see the point of them anyway. I don't hang out with people primarily based on their geographical proximity to me.
* Seasons: it's always spring! I grew up in the tropics, so I always hated winter, and San Francisco doesn't have one, so that's fine with me.
* Tech: the city is full of nerds. But there's also an incredibly vibrant and mostly unpretentious tech-arts scene, which I love.
Finally, as one of The Gays, there's no city more inclusive and open-minded of everyone -- sometimes hilariously so.
Of course, in London you literally can't catch a black cab outside of the center (they're not even allowed to do so past a certain radius) so you have to call a minicab. So SF still wins.
I've heard San Francisco called a lot of things, but "flat" is not one of them. Am I misunderstanding you here?
* [...] fine dining in San Francisco is, if you properly exclude Yountville from your definition of "San Francisco", simply not as good as NYC or even Chicago.
Let's revisit this one after Michelin hands out stars for Chicago in November. I am betting that just the south bay will have more than the entirety of Chicago. (Seriously, other than Alinea you really don't have fine dining in Chicago :)
* San Francisco doesn't have world-class museums.
The SF bay area has a lot of good museums and several world-class ones for specific niches -- the Monterey Bay aquarium is easily the equal of the Shedd and The Tech in San Jose and Computer History Museum in Mountain View are some of the best technology museums in the world. For art we have fewer impressionists, but much better asian art.
* It doesn't have a noteworthy theater scene, or (to my knowledge) excellence in any of the performing arts.
This is one of those odd things where I would have said the same thing about Chicago in comparison to San Francisco. SF Opera is not the Met, but more than a few people would put it above the Lyric Opera in most rankings. SF tends to fall down a bit when it comes to plays (ACT being the local exception to this general rule) but does better than most places when you add musical theatre into the mix. Comedy is really the only performing art that Chicago seems to do better than the bay area...
Those are just off the top of my head.
btw, since I know your tastes lie close to mine, are you coming to Lincoln soon or what?
OTOH, I could easily put together a similar list of great restaurants in the bay area if you happen to visit. Let's wait until a reputable third party provides a basis for comparison before we continue poking each other with the trolling stick.
You also can't say "SF tends to fall down when it comes to plays" and then in the same sentence say "comedy is the only performing art that Chicago does better in"; Chicago has a vibrant theater scene, and while it isn't NYC, nothing is.
So, where does that leave us?
Opera: SF > Chicago
Theater: Chicago > SF
Comedy: Chicago > SF
Symphony: Chicago > SF
Look, I get that we're trolling each other here, though. San Francisco is a bad place to see new comedy, but it clearly has credible opera and symphony. It's not a ding on San Francisco that "you can't hear good classical music".
It seems that in most of these performing arts rankings you have NYC at the top, LA a long way down the scale for a lot of things (mostly as remnants and/or supporting players for the movie biz) and below that places like Chicago, SF, and Boston fighting it out for third place in various categories.
Yes, you will see a better comedy show in Chicago, catch a better opera or weird performance art piece in SF, and probably hear a better symphony in Boston. Either way, I would say that SF is far from the performing arts wasteland you originally suggested...
Tenderloin is much scarier. My friend got punched in the face by a random guy walking down the street.
The worst aspect of the Haight is the gauntlet of gutter punks between Cole and Clayton. It's actually a very nice, dare I say, "gentrified" area, aside from that particular stretch.
The drugs don't bother me; it's the people sitting on the curbs, pissing on the sidewalks, accosting strangers for change, offering drugs, asking for drugs, hiding in the bushes, howling at the moon that bother me.
Ironically, I've never had a problem in the Tenderloin. I lived in SOMA for a year and walked from there through the Tenderloin to my office.
[Expensive] -> Rent control and Private property restrictions. Housing supply is limited w/ endless permits and restrictions on building additions or subdividing space. And rent controls not only create artificial scarcity by not allowing price to rise w/ demand, but they also encourage people to stay in large places long after they need them. Imagine what the web would look like if you had to wait for months for a zoning board to approve your server expansion.
[Casual Food] -> Wait staff must be given minimum wage and health insurance whereas the wait staff in most other cities live off tips. What happens is restaurants become EXTREMELY expensive to run and they usually fire the wait staff at lower end places. You'll notice the order at register and take a number tag game played a lot to get around it. I know a few high end chefs who had to move their restaurants to Oakland b/c their waiters made more than them.
[Music] -> Don't have anything for you on this one.
[Cabs] -> Government set prices are too low. Demand exceeds supply at that price and there is an artificial shortage.
[Parking] -> Tickets are one of the most reliable ways to pay for all the hair-brained social experiments that take place here.
[Small] -> Fixed housing supply. See rent control / private property restrictions.
[Commute] -> I don't have an easy explanation.
[Filthy] -> Amen. We don't have a homeless problem we have a zombie problem. Your run of the mill drug addict is seen as a victim rather than a scourge. He is given food, money and shelter by the government to continue his habit. My friend worked for a non-profit in the Tenderloin that offered shelter, clothes, showers, haircuts and job help to anyone indefinitely as long as they submitted to drug tests. Their beds in 3 buildings were always empty and they shut down.
[Public Transpo] -> Make a bus driver too expensive by catering too much to the unions and busses have to get bigger. It's the opposite effect of the long tail. Instead of many small vans and more custom routes, you have few huge routes that serve nobody very well. Also the homeless ride the bus for free.
[Haight] -> In the late 60's the Grateful Dead and their followers began to get sketched out living there. Heroin and crime have been the norm there for years. It's foul and there is no police presence.
All of these policies had very good intentions. But the intention of a policy does not determine it's outcome. Furthermore, almost none of their side effects are ever measured by the government. It's fine if you want to experiment, but at least measure the result.
http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/iteam&id=6... -- "The city of San Francisco limits the number of cabs on the streets by handing out 1,500 permits or 'taxi medallions.' Drivers on the list wait up to 10 years to get one."
an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition : the Colombian drug cartels.
• chiefly historical a coalition or cooperative arrangement between political parties intended to promote a mutual interest.
"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public." - Adam Smith
San Francisco isn't expensive because of rent control. San Francisco is expensive because the entire SF Bay Area is expensive. Rent control doesn't help, but there are plenty of places in the Bay Area that have never had rent control, and yet are expensive (and indeed were expensive long before San Francisco was).
I live in Chicago and I still miss it, because I keep blinking every year. I feel like I have to go back to Minnesota to see a real autumn.
This is golden. Thanks for taking the time!
* Beach bonfires on weeknights.
* The drive to Monterey. Also, the drive to Half Moon Bay for Halloween pumpkins in a very nice car. There is no better city in the US to own a nice car in.
* Dim sum.
* Freshwater aquarium supplies.
* I used to really like Zeitgeist, although I hear it's gone downhill. The last time I was in town, SF seemed to have a decent cocktail scene going.
* SFBay in general has unusually good access to produce and local protein, if you go out of your way to get it; no, you can't go to Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl and get something better than you can in Chicago --- but if you want (say) 20 duck legs for confit, there's no cheaper place to get them than in San Francisco.
* SFBay has two amazing campuses to bum around (Stanford and Berkeley) and Chicago only has one.
Unfortunately, I just spent 4 minutes trying to add something to that list and couldn't. I could go on, and on, and on, and on about Chicago. Or NYC. I think --- I can't promise, but I think --- that I could put Ann Arbor head to head with San Francisco and run it to a draw.
Apparently the marine aquarium wholesalers have the whole of the continental U.S. divided into five "zones". The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the zones. :-)
I actually went to UIC, and went to St. Ignatius for high school, just blocks away from UIC campus. I can't imagine going there for fun.
The University of Chicago campus is a destination campus. It's actually pretty amazing. It has every bit as much character as Stanford; you could totally go there just to hang out and read a book.
Evanston is new to me, but the campus of NU seems very pleasant -- I really like the piece of lakefront path that seems integrated into campus. Of course, the undergraduates are just starting to return, so it might be very different in a few days.
As for UIC, my friends and I would always bowl there as undergraduates, and some of the restaurants on Taylor street were much better than you could get in Hyde Park for similar prices. In other words, at least one group of undergraduates at UC would go to that area for fun.
Hyde Park is part of Chicago, but it's an isolated part; it barely has train connectivity (unlike NWU), and it's walled off from the Loop by housing and light industry that is only now started to be gentrified away.
(I grew up on the south side, lived in Evanston, and had friends in Hyde Park in high school, but I didn't actually go to UofC).
1. Cabs advertise could computing instead of strip clubs.
2. It was tough to find cabs in the Mission district.
3. The city never seemed like much of a walking city. The neighborhoods are far apart and everyone has cars.
4. There are lots of cafes and on average they serve better coffee than nyc.
5. The food is a little bit cheaper than nyc.
6. The architecture seems much for uniform and nicer than nyc buildings. Sure nyc has its brownstones, but there are not that many of them.
7. Some of the highest yelp rated bars in the Union Square area were closed on Sunday nights. This would never happen in nyc.
8. I couldn't imagine how people go out to bars if they have to drive.
9. The weather gets a little too cold in the evenings/nights.
10. Restaurants serve more generous portions of wine and the average restaurant has a pretty good wine list.
11. I heard the tenderloin area was sketchy, but at least in the area just around Union Square, I never saw anything like that.
Disadvantages include having an older population, being small compared to New York, having less of a startup culture than SF, being very expensive, having many hurdles to get a residency permit for an American, and various innocuous cultural differences that simply take getting used to.
That said, I love it there and am heading back.
Good luck with your startup!
It really depends on the bus line how frequent they come. The 9 and 47 come right by my house and come every 10-15 minutes if not less. They are both heavily travelled lines. The 12 also comes by and it's less travelled and probably averages one bus every 25-30 minutes or so.
There is also a bus schedule that they "try" to adhere too. That's true for almost every city, so you can just look at the lines that run by where you are going to be and see how often they come.
Finally, all of the SF MUNI Buses and trains are gps equipped so you can check a pretty accurate estimate of when they will be at your stop online or through various smartphone apps. Very handy for preventing you from having to wait at a bus stop for more than a few minutes.
But nowhere else in the world is better, at least to get started. Worked 3 startups remotely by now, using connections made during those 10 years.
San Francisco parking and traffic and present start-up culture aside, I do think it's a really nice place to live.
I did this in Boston for a while and it was quite great. The bike went away for the winter, of course.
Public transit isn't as good as NYC or Chicago, but it's decent.
You clearly haven't been to Chicago recently. CTA has cut frequency drastically AND raised fares.
Or if you're fortunate enough to work somewhere that has a shuttle that's another option. Many of the big tech companies do now, thanks to Google's lead. Off the top of my head: Google, Facebook, Apple, Genentech (I actually knew someone who would take the Genentech bus to work even though they didn't work there. Guess they don't check)
Of the people I know who live in SF and work in the valley, I'd say roughly half drive, and half take the train or a shuttle.
I usually take Caltrain but sometimes drive.
For starters, the weather in the city simply sucks. Its cold, windy and foggy most of the times - on the contrary, south bay remains clear, sunny and quite warm.
Even bigger gripe against bay area is the cost of living. Everything from housing to everday stuff to gas is insanely expensive. Paying 1600$ + for a crappy apartment built in the 60's without any washer dryer was a huge shock as compared to raleigh, where i moved from.
Still, you might want to look around for another place to live.
Here's what I noticed spending the last week working in SF, staying in outer richmond.:
* Transit - Compared to Austin, any transit system that is used by more than just students or poor people is good. My one complaint is that I still can't figure out if the bus system lets you buy a week or month pass (tried going to the "clipper card" website too).
* Outdoors - see comments below, but I'm basically happy with the variety. Austin is great for outdoors, but I feel like I reach a hard wall where I need to own a motorboat or be willing to drive a ways to do things beyond running around townlake/greenbelt. I also like how certain pockets of golden gate park seemed to hide you from the city (used to be the same in Austin, not so much now that we have more of a skyline). I liked walking to land's end in the evening - you can escape in the greenbelt/twin falls in Austin, but only when there's water flowing.
* Cost of living - I'd like to hear from more HNer's about this. I'm still afraid of the cost of living out in SF, along with the economic situation. I did feel like many of the small grocery stores were fairly expensive (I'm assuming safeway is cheaper though).
* Everything is beautiful, and everyone else wants to see it too - Crowds can be pretty long during labor day when driving out to the beach. We managed to avoid it, but still realized I'd have to get used to living with lots of people
* Hope you like hoodies - I came to SF after dealing with 100+ degree heat in Austin earlier this month, then was wearing a sweater/hoodie almost every day. I don't think this will bother me much.
* The mexican food sucks - Only tried Gordo's and Baja Fresh (which I used to love), but the food just isn't as greasy, spicy, or cheap as in austin. Maybe there's a gem like torchy's tacos out there?
* possible solution - try to drive less in austin. I'm considering staying in town, but move back to hyde park (north of ut) or barton springs (south of downtown). Downtown Austin is fairly recently built, and thus many of the nearby restaurants and establishments are new, but upper-class (read: expensive)
As for mexican food...you tried two chain restaurants. People here (generally) don't eat at chains. I don't know where you were when you tried them, but if it's the outer richmond then you aren't likely finding good mexican. The mission is (oddly enough) packed full of very yummy taquerias. It's where the latino population lives and all.
Cost of living. It depends on what you want I guess. I had a place in the inner richmond that was $1675 for a 700ish sq foot place. It was perfect for a single guy. It was cramped for me, my girlfriend, and 3 cats. It was in a great location too. Now I pay $2200 to live in a huge loft in SoMA with a parking spot in the garage. Love the location. Check craigslist to see how housing prices are in the city (and surrounding area actually).
Coming from DC, food is the thing that I notice as being more expensive. Not necessarily at safeway...it's about the same, but restaurants are more expensive. Lunch out for me in the DC burbs was $6.50 or so (Potbelly, Baja Fresh, etc.). Here it's $10, but there aren't any chains around. Similar pricing happens for dinner. In DC (again at chains in the burbs mostly) I'd spend around $20 a meal. Here the average is probably $30. Not huge, but noticeable.
On the plus side, my gas and electric bill is super cheap. We pay $35-$45 a month for electricity and gas. Part of that is having huge west facing windows so we don't ever have to turn on the heat even in the winter. The other part is obviously not having A/C. My condo in virginia averages $161 a month for the year...I save a ton on electricity/gas here.
Cable cost the same. Renter's insurance is about the same. Car insurance is higher, but not unbelievably so (at least for me), gas is in the $3.15ish range right now per gallon.
If you have specific questions let us know and I'm sure someone will chime in.
Perhaps not a very helpful answer, sorry. =] But I think it really is hard to like or dislike the Bay Area as a whole for the same reasons.
* I think the food options in SF are actually pretty excellent. I'm going to agree that "late dinner" options are limited - I guess I just see that as a relevant but not defining criteria. Options at the low and medium price range tend to fall at various ethnic eateries or small, neighborhood restaurants, and the remarkable diversity of SF does make for a lot of good options (see below). The 15-20 seat restaurant where dinner for two + wine ranges from $80-120 is probably where SF excels the most.
* Astounding diversity. I read a while back a list of cities with languages spoken by 1000 or more households. SF actually came in first, with 6. This shows in the number of different ways you can eat for under $7.
* It's truly beautiful in many ways. There's no way to list all the views, but here are a few of my favorites: twin peaks, coit tower, the library at UCSF, the legion of honor museum (the golden gate bridge and marin headlands), the tower at the de young (outer sunset, golden gate park to ocean beach)... well, this is where SF gets an A+.
* On a smaller level, SF is both beautiful and horrible. I avoid the really touristy spots (including, sadly, north beach, though I do like it in small doses). I like walking the neighborhoods: cole valley, fillmore, hayes valley, chestnut, cortland, noe... even if some of them are a bit yuppy and others are a little blighted. That said, the OP is absolutely correct that once you move your gaze from the beautiful views and (at times overly quaint) neighborhoods, the city is blighted and filthy in many ways, and the local populace seems far less willing than NY or Chicago to do something about it.
* Local outdoors: crissy fields, golden gate park, land's end, the presidio... and if you want a short drive, you can be in the middle of a quiet redwood forest in about half an hour. The Olympic peninsula is, ultimately, a more impressive sight than Point Reyes, but I do think you can pass through more different ecosystems in Sonoma County (thick forests, sand dune beaches, marshes, etc...) In Golden Gate park, the blight is unfortunately part of the experience as well. Recently, a couple of pit bulls ran wild and bit a few people before the police shot them. Maybe some day, if the city does turn this around, this will be a story we tell about our low points (like the stories you hear about Central Park in the 70s). Maybe dirty harry can come out of retirement, heh.
* Do you surf? (or other ocean sports). It's cold, but the quality to crowd ratio remains pretty good.
* Public transportation - not great, I don't think it's quite as bad as the OP states. If it goes where you're going, it's ok. BART and Muni are reasonably fast and direct provided you are underground. Express buses are also pretty quick and good. But if you aren't on a direct like, yeah, you're hosed. Add in the fact that SF is (I believe) the most densely populated city west of the mississippi, and you have to drive and park... u, talk about the worst of both worlds. If there's one thing that makes me wish I didn't live here, this is it. I set my life up so that I am one one of those direct bart/muni lines.
* Rockin' baseball park. One of the best. I don't miss candlestick at all. Actually, the embarcadero has emerged as a pretty fun stroll from the ferry building to the ballpark (it was just a big freeway when I was a kid).
* Neat other stuff: San Francisco is preservation minded to a fault, and this has at times hurt the city. But still, we do run those cable cars, and while they are overpriced, they're neat. More amusingly, SF has restored it's own old (1930s) trolly cars, and, having run out of old cute stuff to restore, went around the world to find other cities' old trolly cars and got them running too (1890s - 1940s). Want to see what street cars used to look like in London, Tokyo, or Milan? Come on out to SF, we'll restore your old junk for you. And unlike the cable cars, we don't charge tourist prices to ride them, it's just like any other bus or train.
* UCSF's mission bay campus is going to make a serious impact on this world. Any time someone tells you SF is only preservation minded, ask them if innovation comes in the form of skyscrapers or cutting edge biotech research. Ok, the answer is both, but don't mistake SF's hostility (which I admit is excessive) to changing the physical environment with a parochial backwoodsyness. This is probably the most common accusation, and it's at least 60% untrue.
I actually tried to leave SF. I missed my family, but it was more than that. But what can I say, I guess I just have to stay here. As a final note, there isn't much local snobbery in SF, other than a few bozos who like to start sentences with "as a 3rd generation san franciscan" (as if this somehow increases the relevance of their opinion?) San Franciscans like newcomers. However, they will want you to stay, especially if you have kids, and they can get peevish if you plan to leave ;)
(Hey, can you hit me up about the surf on my email? Was gonna contact you, but no email on your profile.)
The rest of the Mission is pretty freaking white, especially since Bernal tends to be grouped into the same "Mission" umbrella.
Well, guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one.
Red dots are white, green asian, orange hispanic, blue african-american
The data is from 10 years ago, but honestly it's very apparent that the mission is mostly latino.
Sure...the areas around mission, valencia, guerrero and 16th are the trendy white hipster hangouts. Everything else, especially the 24th street corridor, is very latino.
What I like:
* There is always something going on. As many tech meetups/lectures/etc as you can stomach. Hell, there's an incredible amount of art/history/science/etc things going on every single day. This is probably true in places like NYC, but I didn't have the same experience in DC.
* The weather is awesome. Coming from DC I couldn't stand the hot and humid summers and the winters that were cold but without anything to show for it. Plus every time it was going to snow a 1/4" the entire town freaked out. Sure, it's foggy sometimes...but the eastern half of the city sees sun for long periods on most days. When the sun is out the weather is perfect.
* The topography of the area makes for some absolutely beautiful views. If you don't like the outdoors you probably don't care, but there are so many amazing places to go hiking/biking/camping that are absolutely stunning. It helps coming from the east coast since most of the plant life is totally different than what you find there.
* Traffic in the city proper is pretty damn good. There are a few places that are congested every day, but once you figure those out getting around the city itself in a car is a breeze.
* I love the biking/public transportation culture. I own a car and use it to get around on the weekends mostly, but I prefer the idea of using other forms of transportation. I quite frankly can't figure out why people hate on MUNI so much. Sure, it isn't up to NYC standards, but I've very rarely had any trouble on MUNI in the 2 years I've been here. Back in DC I was lucky to have a bus come by my place once and hour. Here there is a bus coming at least every 10 minutes. I can go from western SOMA to most places in the city in under 45 minutes. Sure...I could drive there in 20, but I'd have to find and pay for parking once I got there and risk parking tickets. 45 minutes on a bus with an iPhone is nothing.
* The tech/startup scene. I'm only an observer, but I've never felt so inspired to do cool things as I am now that I'm here. DC just didn't inspire me to try to use my skills as a developer to make fun things. I was caught in the fed.gov contracting scene (still my day job) and it doesn't really push you to excel...especially outside of work. Here I can't help but want to try my hand at new things.
There's more...but that will do for now.
Things I don't like...
* Parking enforcement. A necessary evil, but seemingly arbitrary in the rules.
* My place is near a bunch of clubs and people have no problem using it as a bathroom. Definitely on the gross side of things.
* Traffic outside of the city. The Bay Bridge always seems to be backed up. Same with 101. I wouldn't want to commute by car in or out of the city proper. Caltrain would have to be available to me if I were to work or live outside the city.
* The lack of green space around my house. We chose to live in this particular location, and generally it's a great place to be, but would it kill the city to toss some planters or something nearby? I haven't asked them too, but man a little green on the streets around here is seriously needed.
There's probably a few more things I don't like, but they aren't coming to mind.
Basically this place is far superior to where I came from and I love it.
For science stuff in the bay area the best resource is probably http://www.bayareascience.org/ Follow the twitter feed and you'll see there are generally 4 or 5 things a day going on just in science related fields.
For art/social things I generally check out squidlist.com, but many other sites like sfist.com have a ton of things to do listings daily.
Plus there's just a ton of orgs in and around the city that have ongoing lecture series type of events. Asian Art Museum, Cal Academy of Science, Grey Area Foundation For the Arts, Friday's at the DeYoung, etc.
Tons of stuff...and a lot of it goes on outside of SF proper too with Berkeley and Stanford being so close.
I concede that there are museums. I question whether they're in the same league as their DC equivalents.
DC's museums are world class. SF can't compare very well in most instances (The asian art museum is really nice...the shanghai exhibit was great...but now gone). Also, DC museums are free which is really nice.
In the OP I wasn't really talking about the museums themselves though. More about lectures, book clubs, science/art/literature cafe's, etc.
I grew up in Alexandria and lived in Reston for 6 years. Yes, reston is far out...but that's where work was. 5 minute drive to work in the DC area? Sign me up!
Enough to spoil a person. Thank you taxpayers!
3 hours to Tahoe and no train or any form of public transportation that goes there? That put the nail in the coffin, Vancouver is on the top of my list now sadly tech jobs are harder to come by over there on top of the whole immigrating issue.
The place is choc full of bums....
Other than that, it's really a cool place, with a nice climate and history. Not to mention, the Mecca of Tech.
You mentioned two groups that are fairly specific in genre/taste. The OP says "There are very few decent music venues..." How does what you mention invalidate what he said? "Two" is a "a few" in my book.
I was assuming by "decent music venues" the OP was more referring to a rock/jazz/alt type scene, because of the "war on fun" reference. I get that they're not mutually exclusive terms, but I would put symphony/opera in different categories than, say, a blues club. Sorry. I'm a conservatory-trained professional classical musician, and I'd say that most of my peers would read this the same way.
I also see that this has been commented about above, and it's true that Chicago's symphony is equally outstanding. My point was that SF _does_ have a "noteworthy" and "excellent" performing arts scene, found, for example, in its excellent opera and symphony seasons. Michael Tilson Thomas, additionally, is a "noteworthy" and "excellent" conductor.
Cost of living, surroundings, easier/cheaper access to delicious foods. (mmmm salmon)
#1 New York
#5 San Francisco
NYC is great but has its own set of headaches. I've found the tech scene pretty close to being on-par with SF if you're doing web or mobile, or even "BIG DATA". SV has a strong advantage if you're building things like routers, robots or electric cars. I miss TechShop.
Any decent cafe in SF is full of startup folks, for better or for worse -- I've only overheard similar convo at the Ace Hotel.
That was probably me, if you were there last fall...