I took off on an adventure this weekend to San Francisco.The trip was impromptu, being that I flew out to meet with a company about potential post-graduate employment (ahhhh real life is just around the corner!)
This was my first visit to the West Coast. I was lucky enough have company from my parents who were also vacationing in the area. I stayed an extra day to take advantage of my visit, making the trip three days in total, Thursday night to Sunday morning.
I have lots to say about the city.
What I Liked
Several factors make me see myself living in San Francisco post-graduation.
From what I experienced and what I’ve learned, the yearly temperatures in SF range between 40 and 70 degrees. Living on the East Coast where the summers are smoldering and the winters are frigid, I’m swayed by the idea of moving somewhere with light-jacket-weather year-round. Plus, I’ve never looked that great in a parka.
2. The Coast.
If you couldn’t tell by all the places listed on my Bucket List, I’m obsessed with waterfront cities. The San Francisco Bay or Pacific Ocean is visible from almost any hill in SF. That’s something I could definitely get used to.
3. Awesome (free) attractions.
The city is known for its high cost of living, but SF is home to plenty of free attractions. There are too many photos to post, so I’ll list only my favorites.
Probably my favorite part of the city, the colorful, Victorian row homes were life-size gingerbread houses. The Painted Ladies were the best mix of cute and stoic, and of course I couldn’t stop thinking about Full House when I looked at them.
This set of hills provided a 360-degree view of SF, the bay and the surrounding areas. Driving up the hill was hassle-free, parking was free, and walking around was easy and safe. The view was…incredible.
From the sea lions on the docks to the live street performers on the side walks, this boardwalk-like area gave tourists plenty to see and do.
When I Googled “things to see in San Francisco,” this windy patch of road on Lombard Street first caught my attention. I had to go.
Though rain was falling when my parents and I went to see it, the artfully designed pathway and surrounding foliage was just as beautiful in person as it was on Google.
SF streets = acute angles. I’d argue that some approached 90 degrees. While I can see why some people would view the hills as insufferable and dangerous, I actually loved them. The ups and downs gave the landscape charisma. Plus, I’d be in hella good shape living there.
You know the running joke that the East Coast is rude and up-tight and the West Coast is friendly and laid-back? I now see where that stereotype comes from. I’ve never encountered a space more condensed with genuine, kind-hearted Americans. From hotel staff and cab drivers to strangers we sat next to on the bus, everyone was sincerely interested in helping each other. Even friendly “Hello”s from strangers blew me away because that phenom is not so common in D.C. and New England.
Beyond the warmth, water and free sights, it was really the San Franciscans who made the trip so wonderful. The thought of being surrounded by wonderful, friendly people is what, more than anything, would drive me to relocate to San Francisco.
What I Didn’t Like So Much
While sooooooooooooo many aspects of SF are wonderful, some of the town’s characteristics ain’t so grand.
1. SF is kind of dirty.
Being such an expensive area to live in, SF surprised me with its uncleanliness. The roads and sidewalks had cracks and damage, and many reeked of urine. A layer of grime covered most of the buildings, and the cars lining the streets probably hadn’t seen a car wash in months (probably to conserve water, though).
2. SF is the most expensive U.S. city to live in.
SF’s high property values didn’t affect this short trip particularly, but cost of living is a huge factor in considering to move to SF. Consider this: a studio apartment costs around $2,500/month to rent. The tiniest of row homes sits between $2 and $6 million, and waterfront properties were pretty much unattainable for anyone who’s not a billionaire. (Still working on that…)
3. Karl the Fog
Sorry, Karl, but no hair products in the world could have prepared me for our date. By the time I arrived at the office where I met with the company, my hair (which took two hours to straighten) looked like a ‘fro straight from the 70s.
Yet it wasn’t the curly hair + humidity fracas that was the problem. It was the lack of sunlight that put a literal dark cloud over the trip. I’m one of those emotional people who gets easily affected by the weather, so living in a town that receives regular visits from Karl the Fog puts me off a bit.
4. Too laid back?
I didn’t mind that homeless people were everywhere. But what did bother me was that the people who had homes dressed homeless-chic.
Growing up on the East Coast and visiting many European cities, I’ve grown accustomed to people dressing up to go to work, out to dinner, or even to the store. But SF reminded me more of a college campus, where jeans, sweatshirts and slip-on shoes were the norm for all occasions, and professional wear and hair cuts were for the try-hards.
I love the care-free atmosphere, but I also love fashion and regular grooming; so this puts me at a standstill.
When it comes down to it, I can say that I really, really like San Francisco. But not love. SF is beautiful in terms of landmarks, history and people, but the town does have a few ticks that would make me hesitate to move there right away.
All that really matters, though, is if I get a job there. Then, and only then, will I tolerate wearing jeans and comfortable shoes to work…
Have you been to or lived in San Francisco? What were your thoughts?