Moving To San Francisco?

July 30, 2019

It’s been a good few months since I’ve moved here from the sunny shores of London, UK. Working for a global software tech consultancy, I’ve had a choice as to where to go for my long term assignment (doing the same work as I would do in my home office, but in one of our other offices around the world). As many others before me, and so many more to follow and to much of the locals dismay, I moved here to work in tech.

But that should not come as a surprise. Working in tech is the norm here, not the exception. If not finance, then tech are the two largest industries in the City by The Bay. Or recently I started to believe that actually the (endless) construction may beat it all. Did you know that the (in)famous California’s bullet train is now not only 13 years behind schedule, but also the high speed rail project is currently about $44bn over budget. Shocker!

One of the primary reasons I chose this city was its close proximity to Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley includes the cities and towns south of San Francisco. It originated in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park/Stanford University area. It was originally the nickname for the Santa Clara Valley

Image of where it all started

However, some believe in the move of SV towards San Francisco’s SoMA (South of Market St) district. And I am keen to believe in that too. Just a quick stroll around that neighborhood gives you a rough idea what I am talking about. You will spot so many familiar and less familiar names next to each other. I have not counted, but the number of startups in that area must be in hundreds. Nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Around Embarcadero and on my way to work I pass by all the big names. From the most well-known Silicon Valley companies like Google, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook through Twitter, Netflix, Salesforce.com, Adobe to Okta or Pinterest. Suddenly you get this feeling of being in the centre of the universe. At least, the technological universe.

I love coffee. Coffee is loved here

You catch the drift. As hipster as it may be, I really do not mind it here. Try and pay a visit to one of my two favourite coffee neighbourhoods Haight-Ashbury and the Mission (I know you like it for its burritos!). Specifically around Valencia St. look for the names like Four Barrel Coffee and Ritual Coffee Roasters, and if round and about the Haight, check out Flywheel Coffee. When at work I like to pop into Paramo Coffee, Blue Bottle, SightGlass or frankly any independent coffee shop in one of the hip districts. The news you will hear from that pair sitting at the table next to you are far more exciting than reading HackerNews.

Amazing nature

Whether you are the city dweller type with the preference for the mesmarising city sky line, or if spending time in the nature is your thing instead, you won’t be disappointed either way.

There’s incredible nature all in and around the city. Go for an urban hike at Lands’s End trail with the most picturesque views of the coast. See the waves crashing against the cliffs and stop at the old Sutro Bath ruins for extra romantic feeling. Whilst out there pay a visit to the Labyrinth and Mile Rock Beach. Speaking of the beaches, SF’s got you covered in this department too. From the dunes of Ocean Beach through the outside-the-Gate views of the Bridge at Baker Beach to the sunsets on the Embarcadero.

goldengate

Did you know that one of the friendly San Franciscan neighborhoods is a home to the squawking green parrots? Visit Telegrapgh Hill to see it with your own eyes. If you have energy to climb some more whilst out there, be on the lookout for the 210-foot (64 m) Coit Tower built

“for the purpose of adding beauty to the city which I have always loved” to catch the panoramic views of the north and east bay.

Stunning views

Finally time to mention the San Francisco’s architectural wonders. Make your way to Presidio and observe the Golden Gate Bridge in its full majesty. On an extra clear day, when Karl the Fog isn’t here, do cross the Bridge to either Sausalito or Hawk Hill for the unforgettable views of the city (see the featuring photo for this blog post).

When it comes to the architecture, one of my all time favourites is the Palace of Fine Arts. One of only a few surviving structures from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition. I find it the most stunning around the sunset.

If climbing the stairs is your thing, do make sure to visit one of the most famous staircases in the country at 16th Avenue. Climb up 163 tiled steps from the bottom and enjoy the city view at the top.

golden gate

And if you are local to Castro and the Mission neighborhoods, you have already found the crowds during summer days at Mission Dolores park.

Want to feel challenged? Grab your bike and cycle to the top of Twin Peaks. It is the 280m high, and the busiest of SF’s hills. And once you’ve done so, you will be pleased to learn that now you are at the geographical center of San Francisco with the perfect lookout in all directions. Pro Tip: cycle up the hill from the south and cycle down from the North for much more enjoyable ride. In this way, you will avoid climbing up the highest elevation point.

Progressive culture

Summer of Love, Beat Generation, the dot-com revolution, tech boom, America’s first gay neighborhood..

castro

San Francisco welcomes differences. Nobody seems to care here where you are from. Everyone fits in. Probably that is the reason why I found it such a welcoming change from the moods in the Brexit England.

“We have this incredible mix of faiths, languages and international cultures in San Francisco. It gives you that sense, if you >are developing or designing products, that you’re part of the world and having an impact,” Lee said in an interview at the Salesforce event. “There’s a vibrancy here with different cultures that attracts people. That’s why younger workers spend so much money to live here — they’re attracted to the city and our values.”

Healthy lifestyle

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived to San Francisco was how everyone is doing some kind of sport. And the dogs. Running on the Crissy field on a sunny Sunday morning, cycling through the bridge, outdoors yoga, surfing, rock climbing, skating, team sports, Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle, the gyms and the jogging parents with their toddlers everywhere. I challenge you not to catch this bug once you’ve moved here!

I wondered why that is the case, but if you look around, you will notice the population is fairly young, mostly professionals spending their lives behind desk, so they are looking for ways to balance it all out. Then, the mild climate invites you to be active outside.

Another contributor is the access to healthy food here. Yes, it is gonna cost you money, but what is not expensive here? San Francisco has some great farmers markets, such as the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in one of the city’s most scenic locations. You can catch Alice Waters herself shopping for the organic produce here. Even restaurant menus always include healthy options as well.

Did I mention the means of transportation? If on holidays, do get up early to walk down Embarcadero to catch the commuters on their electric-powered everything… hoverboards, unicycles, longboards, scooters, skateboards. And then do not be surprised to find the self driving cars beautiful Teslas everywhere!

I am not saying that all is rosy here, one day in this city and you will quickly spot its extremes and contradictions. Tents right next to the multimillion dollar mansions. Strong economy but not shared by everyone, because San Francisco ranks third in income inequality in the United States.

To spot the contrast at its highest visit Portero Hill or Marina and the Tenderloin on the same day…