Every time there is a discussion started about San Francisco and I express my opinion about that city, I feel like people were really expecting something else. I cannot blame them, we all try to inflate our expectations about something even if it’s not something we initially thought.
I’ve moved two times in San Francisco (lived 2+ years overall) and both times I’ve realized that I’ve made a mistake, it was either not matching my expectations or changed so much recently and not in a good way. So, what reasons are the main ones that make me think this way?
San Francisco is not affordable
Houses nearby Ocean beach, San Francisco. Rundown, but still costly.
Yes, this is one of the main reasons, but it’s not the reason I moved out. With a good paying IT job you can afford it, however, why would you do that? Seriously, your hard earned money could be spent elsewhere in the Bay Area or even better - outside of Bay Area. San Francisco is like a trashcan (it ’s actually a kingdom of feces) where you throw your hard earned money and get limited experience out of it.
As of January 2019, according to Numbeo.com an average price for 1 bedroom apartment is $3370. Are you ready to shell that much for rent? And guess what happens if you lose your job? It would be a stressful experience, for sure.
Unless you are making $200K+ I hardly see any reason to move there. It would be a minimum to live there with your family. If you are a single person, at least $110K to rent an apartment and live comfortable. If you are desperate, you can live with roommates, but I honestly don‘t see much point in coming to SF in that case.
Rundown public transportation
If you compare the transportation system of San Francisco to transit system of any major city in the world, you will laugh because it is hard to call it transportation system in the first place for several reasons:
- Slow buses
- Cleaning standards leave much to be desired
- Inefficient routes and timing
- Bad connection to other major cities of the Bay Area
- A cable car is only good as a tourist attraction, if you look at the map of it it’s really short and you are better biking or walking that distance
- There are always delays. They never built BART (which is a name for “Bay Area Rapid Transit”) with such a high number of daily users in mind. Because of that, it breaks almost every day creating delays.
- BART expansion is slow. Silicon Valley BART extension was scheduled for completion in 2016 (North San Jose Station) and it’s still not ready in 2019.
San Francisco is overrated
Views from the platform nearby Cliff House
I know that at this point some of my readers might say “How could you say that?”. I’m sorry, but let me explain. Look, there are many beautiful things like Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge and look from the Cliff House. But please realize that all those places have a view outside of the city, not inside.
If you want a look of real San Francisco, come to Mission, Tenderloin, Richmond, Dogpatch and Hunters Point. Especially Hunters Point, guess who will be a hunter and who will be a point?
Again, there are nice views in the city, but you will experience much more than just nice views during your daily routine. Examples could be homeless people outside of your window, feces and sidewalk smell and people smoking something and injecting something. It all proves it is beautiful, isn‘t it?
There are much more interesting places in the world and in the USA so that beauty is subjective.
Traffic and road infrastructure
Traffic and gridlock are typical problems of San Francisco
Apart from affordability and other factors we discussed above, there is one systematic problem which is traffic. It is getting worse every single. There are actually two problems hiding in one:
Poor coordination and work from government agencies, that do not focus on building better public transportation across the Bay Area and lack of actions to resolve the congestion problem.
Geographical explanation. Peninsula is narrow and there is an ocean at each side - so even if you escape San Francisco you don‘t have many options to escape Bay Area traffic.
Overall, if you are going to San Francisco be sure to check out all those roads for yourself. You’ll be quite shocked, I’m sure. Oh, and parking is easy to find if you are ready to pay $60/day for it. Otherwise, good luck!
Climate and weather
A typical weather in San Francisco
San Francisco climate is strange. There is no summer, there is no winter. There is just always fog and wind and even if the sun shines, it doesn’t feel warm most of the time. If you like that kind of climate this is for you, otherwise for those who like warm weather - look elsewhere.
Monotonic and dull
Typical houses of San Francisco
Diversity? Not really, forget about it in San Francisco. It’s only about IT and technology there. Even though I’m from that area of expertise, I disliked all that. And pardon for my view but this place is way too liberal for me. I don‘t want to go deep into the political aspect, but I think you get the idea.
Most of the places close down very early, so it is not a New York by any means. Nor it‘s a big city, it feels more like a suburb rather than a city. Plus, most of the people I met there were not thrilled about their life. Those are all hard-working people, but it feels they live in their own illusional bubble of beliefs.
Dirty and rundown
Houses in San Francisco not too far from downtown
Last, but not least the fact is that the city is not going in the right direction in terms of cleanliness. It’s common to see a human feces on a sidewalk, needles lying everywhere. Many homeless people also think it is a good place to set up a camp and have their tent there. Sometimes when you walk down the streets of San Francisco, you feel you are not even in America and rather in a very poor country.
Homeless person camping in San Francisco
Don‘t get me wrong, there are many reasons to move there if you are involved in launching startups, investment or anything else in between.
But if you are looking for a place to live because everyone says it‘s a great place, I recommend you come to the city first and then make your decision about moving there.
A video on my YouTube channel why San Francisco is not exactly a place to be
You can always rent a room or apartment using Airbnb to see and experience any city for yourself.