There’s just something about San Francisco. Even with its rapidly changing climate and ever-climbing rent prices, even with the housing crisis, issues of gentrification, and more, there’s something so beautiful, vibrant, and gloriously weird about the City by the Bay.
And I, for one, will always be a city girl at heart. Having been born in the Bay Area, I’ve lived here all my life. I went to college at SFSU (a unique undergrad experience), and am now attending grad school at the University of San Francisco. I live in the Outer Richmond, and have enjoyed this little corner of SF — nestled between Golden Gate Park on one side, and China Beach on the other — for the past 3 years. I like to think I know a few things about this shimmering, fog-laden city.
And the most important thing you should know if you just moved here? Just how crucial it is that you do your part in keeping the city’s spirit alive.
That means supporting the arts. Going to museums and art exhibits. Shopping local. Donating when and where you can to causes that are important to you. Doing your research on and supporting those who are striving to keep creative culture alive. There’s so much more, but voting with your dollar especially is a huge — and if you ask me, totally underrated — way to support what matters to you.
It’s up to all of us to keep San Francisco weird, and if you take nothing else away from this post, take that. (But also keep reading. Ha!)
Here are 10 things you should know if you just moved to San Francisco.
If you don’t work in tech…
First things first: If you don’t work in tech, you will 9 times out of 10 feel like the odd one out. Bay Area natives like myself also often feel this way.
In other words? I am adrift in a sea of transplants at all times. Don’t get me wrong, a good portion of my friends are techies and transplants. But if you’re not a techie, this will take some adjusting to. And hey, let’s be friends or something.
On any given sunny day, everyone and their mom will be day drinking at Dolores Park.
Or at the beach, regardless of whether or not it’s a random Wednesday in October. (Side note: September and October, i.e. what is deemed the decidedly non-PC “Indian Summer,” is the best time to live and thrive in San Francisco. Hands down. You’ll see.)
You will wonder, what do these people do for a living? Do they have jobs? How do they pay rent? I’m still waiting for an answer for this one, San Francisco.
You will be spoiled rotten by the sheer amount of glorious brunch places in EVERY neighborhood.
You will learn to make your peace with waiting in line. No, you cannot make reservations at most brunch places in SF. Don’t bother calling ahead, Karen. It’s already 2pm, let’s just effing wait.
If you have a car, you will undoubtedly resign yourself to getting a lot of parking tickets.
Although most of the people I know who live in San Francisco don’t have cars, I am not one of those people. If you’re like me, this means you’ll just have to learn to deal with the parking situation — either by purchasing a parking permit or waking up at ungodly hours to move your car before you get a street cleaning ticket.
While luckily, parking isn’t too bad where I live out in the Richmond District, I’ve certainly paid my dues in ridiculously overpriced parking tickets. If you ask me, there’s a special, special place in hell for meter maids.
At some point you will have to give in and use Uber Pool. or take the bus.
I have a love/hate relationship with the bus, but hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
If you are a heels girl, you will quickly realize just how futile they are.
There’s a reason I haven’t worn heels in years. Aside from towering platform shoes, but those don’t count, as they can be surprisingly comfortable, and are completely badass. What I’m referring to here are spindly stiletto heels, or even wedges, TBH.
Don’t bother putting yourself through a day of tottering up and down the crooked, winding hills of San Francisco in a pair of heels. May I suggest investing in a pair of Doc Martens instead? Just be sure to break 'em in properly first.
You will absolutely need extreme outerwear at Outside Lands.
Put that goddamn parka back on. Bring a scarf too, while you’re at it.
You will suddenly find yourself photographing flowers on every street corner.
Yes, there are vibrant green and burgundy and purple succulents — and if you’re lucky, hot pink shocks of bougainvillea — on just about every street corner. Yes, it is absolutely magical. And no, you will not ever get over it, no matter how long you live here.
Take some time getting to know the neighborhoods of the City.
Just bear in mind you will never fully know them all — especially with new micro neighborhoods seemingly popping up every other week. The most important things to note, however, are the microclimates.
Pro tip: It will almost always be foggy in the Outer Sunset and Richmond districts. This sounds easy to remember, but until you’ve almost frozen your tits off at an Ocean Beach bonfire in the summertime you’ll want to make a mental note. Always bring warm layers! Blankets don’t hurt either.
Or, invest in a Patagonia jacket. Although I personally find them hideous and really can not condone that kind of behavior. I will stand by this statement, nor am I at all sorry for it.
Don’t ever call the city San Fran.
Or Frisco, for that matter. *shudder* Don’t do it. Just. No.
Photos taken by Tibor Szabo.