Moving to San Francisco
Welcome to San Francisco, the city where a little bit of everything is beautifully crammed into just 49 square miles! Under the golden fog-kissed sun, San Francisco, fondly referred to as SF, is a land of variety and contrast, dotted with iconic landmarks and serpentine streets that end in breathtaking vistas. Our comprehensive San Francisco relocation guide is ready to take you on a journey, narrating a detailed, engaging tale of life in this vibrant city. Whether you're attracted by the tech boom, the cultural richness, or the enthralling natural beauty, SF could be your next dream destination. Stay tuned!
What to Know Before Moving to San Francisco
1. It's Not Always Sunny in San Francisco
You're moving to California, so get ready for year-round sunshine and beach vibes, right? Not so fast! San Francisco is known for its bountiful fog, courtesy of the coastal marine layer, leading to some surprisingly chilly and grey days. In fact, the local residents have so affectionately named the fog that rolls in, "Karl". So, pack a jacket along with your sunglasses. You're going to need it!
2. Embrace the Street Culture
San Francisco is a city that thrives on its vibrant street culture. From a breathtaking array of graffiti murals in Mission District to streetside jazz performances, there is always something happening. Plus, spots like Clarion Alley are a testament to the city's deep-rooted art culture. Make sure to check out the street fairs like Folsom Street Fair or Haight Street Fair - they're a world unto themselves!
3. Transportation Will be a Roller-Coaster Ride
The city's public transportation system, known as MUNI, is not always the most reliable, but it sure adds color to your daily commute. And when we say Roller-Coaster, we mean it literally. The city's iconic cable cars offer a thrill ride up and down the city's notoriously steep hills. Not to mention, you'll likely find yourself dodging an array of skateboarders, cyclists, and even the occasional unicyclist. Welcome to the ride!
4. Burritos are Big here
You might think you've had a great burrito before, but San Francisco is here to redefine that. Especially in the Mission District, where the 'Mission-style burrito' reigns supreme - a massive, foil-wrapped bundle of joy brimming with rice, beans, cheese, guacamole, and your choice of meat (or keep it veggie, this city won't judge!). Plus, the late-night taqueria scene is a whole adventure within itself.
5. San Francisco is Home to the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Surprise! Who knew a flock of wild, squawking parrots was part of the package when you decided to move to San Francisco? This charming and somewhat mysterious population of Red-masked Parakeets have made Telegraph Hill their home, and you can regularly hear their distinct chirping around the city. So, listen closely, it's not just the seagulls you're hearing.
6. Prepare for Sticker Shock
Last but definitely not least, it's no secret that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. Be prepared for a major case of sticker shock when it comes to renting or buying a home. A small studio apartment here can rent for what a large, two-bedroom apartment costs in other cities. The good news? The breathtaking views, robust job market, and the unique culture could just make it all worth it.
Pros and Cons of Living in San Francisco
Pros of Living in San Francisco
Diverse Food Scene
San Francisco is known for its rich and diverse food culture. From world-class dining establishments to diverse food markets and food trucks, you will find a wide variety of cuisines from every corner of the globe. This allows residents to enjoy anything from authentic Mexican delicacies to classic Italian dishes and Asian fusion specials.
Amazing Scenery and Outdoor Activities
With its iconic landmarks, parks, beaches, and hiking trails, San Francisco provides an array of activities for outdoor lovers. Residents can take a stroll along the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy a picnic in Golden Gate Park, or explore the many beaches and hiking trails for breathtaking views of the city and the Pacific Ocean.
Cultural Diversity and Rich History
The city's cultural diversity and rich history make it a fascinating place to live. The influence of different cultures is evident in San Francisco's architecture, arts scene, festivals, and food. Living in San Francisco gives you the opportunity to immerse in and learn about different cultures and histories.
Strong Job Market
As a hub for many technology companies, San Francisco offers a vibrant job market for professionals in various fields. Whether you work in tech, finance, healthcare, or the arts, there are plenty of opportunities for career growth in the city.
Excellent Public Transportation System
San Francisco boasts an excellent public transportation system that makes commuting around the city convenient. From buses, trains, cable cars to ferries, there are multiple modes of public transportation available to residents, reducing the need for personal vehicles.
Cons of Living in San Francisco
High Cost of Living
San Francisco is known to have one of the highest costs of living in the United States. This can be mainly attributed to high housing costs. Grocery prices, dining out, and other day-to-day expenses are also generally higher compared to other cities in the U.S.
Despite the excellent public transportation system, San Francisco often experiences heavy traffic. Commuting during peak hours can be frustrating due to long delays. The city is also often crowded with tourists which can contribute to the traffic problem.
San Francisco is located on several major fault lines, making it prone to periodic seismic activities. While most of these earthquakes are small, the risk can still be a concern for many people considering moving to the city.
Limited Parking Space
Finding parking in San Francisco can be a huge challenge due to limited space. Many residential and commercial areas have strict parking rules and regulations. Even if you find a space, parking fees can be quite expensive.
Climate and Fog
The city is known for its cool and foggy climate. Though some people may enjoy the moderate temperatures, others who prefer a warmer climate might find it uncomfortable. The fog can sometimes limit visibility, affecting outdoor plans and daily commute.
Is San Francisco a Good Place to Live?
San Francisco, CA is a great place to live because of its vibrant culture, excellent food scene, and stunning natural beauty. Whether you're a tech enthusiast drawn to Silicon Valley, an art lover intrigued by its many galleries, or an outdoor enthusiast itching to explore its coastal trails, the city has something for everyone. Plus, the city boasts a perfect blend of historic charm with its iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, and a forward-thinking spirit, making it a unique, exciting place to call home.
What Is San Francisco Famous For?
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks of San Francisco. Completed in 1937, this internationally recognized symbol of the city spans over the San Francisco Bay and offers breathtaking views of the area. Walking across the 1.7-mile long bridge is a popular tourist activity.
Boasting a chilling history and an eerie atmosphere, Alcatraz Island once served as a federal prison housing notorious criminals like Al Capone. Today, the island is a popular tourist attraction where visitors can tour the old cells and learn about its intriguing past. Remember, the boat ride to the island offers unique views of the city and the bay.
San Francisco's historic cable cars add a touch of nostalgia to the bustling streets of the city. These manually operated vehicles are the world's last permanently operational manually operated cable car system. Riding one of these cars up and down the city's steep hills is a truly San Franciscan experience. Learn more about the history and current operation of the system on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's website.
For foodies and sea lovers, Fisherman's Wharf is the place to be. This lively waterfront marketplace is famous for its fresh seafood, particularly clam chowder served in sourdough bread bowls. For entertainment, you can visit numerous shops, restaurants, and attractions such as Madame Tussauds and the Aquarium of the Bay.
Overview of Tax Rates
As of 2023, the property tax rate in San Francisco, CA is around 1.16%, which is higher than the national average of 1.07%. This represents a substantial expense for homeowners, especially given the high value of property in the city.
In San Francisco, the sales tax rate is 8.5% as of 2023. This is relatively high when compared to the national median sales tax rate of 7.12%.
California has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 1% to 13.3%. This means that San Francisco residents are subject to some of the highest income tax rates in the country, with the highest earners paying 13.3% on income above $1,000,000.
San Francisco's housing market is one of the most expensive in the US, significantly outpacing national averages. Median home prices hover around $1.4 million, starkly contrasting the national median of below $350,000. Renters face one of the highest median monthly rents, nearing $3,700. Housing values have steadily increased over the last decade due to high demand and limited supply. Potential buyers and renters should anticipate competitive markets and be prepared for costs significantly above averages in other parts of the country.
Cost of Living
San Francisco, CA continually ranks among the most expensive cities in the U.S. with a cost of living almost three times the national average. High housing, transportation, and living expenses weigh significantly on individuals and families. A comparable quality of life would require lower incomes in other metro areas, like Seattle, WA and Austin, TX. While San Francisco offers high salaries, particularly in the tech industry, the steep living costs present unique financial challenges. Despite this, the city's cultural richness, dynamic market, and natural beauty continue to attract residents.
Weather & Natural Disasters
San Francisco, located in California, benefits from a pleasantly mild Mediterranean climate. Summers are dry and cool, with average high temperatures hovering around 70degF, while winters are wet and mild with temperatures rarely dropping below 44degF. Fog might roll in morning and evening, creating dramatic landscapes and changing weather reasonably quickly. Rain is frequent from October through April, with annual precipitation totaling approximately 23 inches. Despite the occurrence of earthquakes due to its position along the infamous San Andreas Fault, San Francisco engineers have responded by constructing buildings capable of withstanding these seismic activities. The city has also experienced wildfires, although they are less frequent than in other parts of California. Nevertheless, San Francisco's appealing climate, beautiful foggy landscapes, and the resilience of its infrastructure create a unique, enduring appeal for both residents and visitors.
Economy & Job Market
* Retail & Manufacturing
San Francisco's economy has always been as dynamic and diverse as its famous rolling hills and iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Historically, the City by the Bay was a pivotal point during the Gold Rush, leading to a boom in finance and banking. This legacy continues today with a strong finance sector that includes headquarters of major banks and venture capital firms. However, in recent years, technology has taken the lead, with the city becoming globally recognized as the heart of the tech industry and the home of countless startups who dream of becoming the next Uber or Airbnb. Nevertheless, life sciences and healthcare, retail & manufacturing, and the ever-popular tourism industry, fuelled by the city's iconic landmarks and vibrant culture, also remain key players in San Francisco's economic portfolio.
For anyone planning a move to San Francisco in search of work, there are some important considerations to be aware of. First, San Francisco boasts a low unemployment rate, regularly below the national average, and job opportunities are abundant across diverse sectors. Whether you're an engineer dreaming of joining a tech giant like Google or Facebook, a creative hoping to make it big in the city's burgeoning arts scene, a finance professional looking for opportunities in banking or venture capital, or a scientist keen on joining the city's thriving life sciences sector, there's a place for you in this city. However, be prepared for high living costs -- San Francisco's cost of living is among the highest in the United States. If you're looking to join the tech sector, South of Market (SoMA) is the hotspot, boasting numerous tech companies and startups. For finance, the downtown Financial District is your best bet. And research centers for life sciences and healthcare are largely based in the vibrant Mission Bay area.
Traffic and Transportation
Zip, zoom, soar! San Francisco, CA has you covered on every mode of transportation. The average commute time for those in the City by the Bay is about 32 minutes. And oh, the options you have for public transportation! The iconic cable cars have been climbing hills since 1873, ferries ride the waves of the San Francisco Bay, and the BART trains whizz through tunnels under the city. Of course, we can't forget the buses crisscrossing town, too! And for those with the need for a bit longer journey, the San Francisco International Airport waits on the city's edge, ready to jet you off to your next adventure. So, whether you're hanging onto a cable car, catching the BART, or flying high above the clouds - getting around San Francisco is always a thrilling ride!
Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco
1. Pacific Heights
A choice neighborhood for those seeking a mix of exclusivity and charm, Pacific Heights offers grand mansions, classic Victorian homes, and breathtaking views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. After admiring the gorgeous architecture, stroll along the boutique-lined streets of Fillmore, featuring chic dining and shopping options. Moreover, enjoy a lazy afternoon at Lafayette Park, boasting lush greenery and a fun playground. The overall vibe? Upper-crust sophistication meets laid-back San Francisco cool.
2. The Mission District
If you're into vibrant street art, eclectic vintage boutiques, and a foodie culture that could give Michelin-starred restaurants a run for their money, then The Mission District may be your ideal destination. Known for its Latinx roots, this neighborhood celebrates its rich culture daily, with the intoxicating scent of freshly made tortillas filling the air and colorful murals narrating its history. The neighborhood also hosts popular attractions like Dolores Park, where locals gather to sunbathe, picnic, and enjoy stunning city views.
3. Hayes Valley
Hayes Valley hits that sweet spot between city life and neighborhood feel. This uber-trendy hood is home to cutting-edge fashion stores, sleek wine bars and top-rated eateries like Petit Crenn. Another area highlight is Patricia's Green, a park that regularly features rotating art installations, making it an ideal spot for relaxing and people-watching. Despite its fashionable framing, Hayes Valley maintains a whimsical, friendly atmosphere that offers a charming respite from the bustling city spotlight.
4. Noe Valley
We welcome you to Noe Valley, a sunny neighborhood perfect for those seeking a family-friendly atmosphere. Lined with inviting Victorian and Edwardian homes, its 24th street is best known for its organic markets, cozy cafes, and unique shops. The neighborhood is also graced with two scenic parks: Douglass Playground, with its panoramic city views, and Noe Valley Recreation Center, an ideal spot for family gatherings. Noe Valley offers a reassuring blend of city living with a touch of suburban tranquility.
5. North Beach
Looking for that quintessential San Francisco experience? Then North Beach, the city's beloved 'Little Italy,' is for you. This neighborhood breathes an intoxicating mix of history, culture, and delectable fares. Renowned for its poetry cafes, cabaret nightspots, and vintage shops, North Beach retains a unique bohemian charm. Let's not forget the Italian eateries to die for, offering some of the best pizzas, pastas, and espresso in the city, and the beautiful Washington Square Park, perfect for both relaxation and people-watching.
In conclusion, San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, each with its unique charm and appeal. Whether you're drawn to the grandeur of Pacific Heights, the cultural vibrancy of The Mission District, the chic allure of Hayes Valley, the family-friendly ambiance of Noe Valley, or the vibrant bohemian atmosphere of North Beach, there's a little corner of 'The City by the Bay' just waiting for you to call it home. Your perfect 'hood' awaits!
Things to Do
Golden streets, paint-stroked skies, and a kaleidoscope of flavorsome cuisines! Welcome to the City on the Bay - San Francisco. This vibrant city is bursting with adventures at every corner, just waiting to be explored. Whether you love the thrill of the outdoors, or your soul seeks art and culture, San Francisco never ceases to amaze. Here are seven must-do activities to get you started on your escapade.
1. Visit Alcatraz Island
Packed with a paradox of beauty and history, visiting Alcatraz Island should top your list. The intriguing tale of once being a formidable prison that housed notorious criminals is sure to give you goosebumps. But it's not all eerie; the spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline from the island are stunning and worth a visit.
2. Stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge
With its iconic orange arches set against the azure backdrop of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is a sight to behold. Walking across the 1.7-mile bridge serves you with breathtaking vistas of the city. A sunset stroll paints the sky in warm hues, turning the view into a true paradise for photography enthusiasts.
3. Taste the best at Ferry Building Marketplace
Cheese, wine, chocolates, bread, fruits...you name it, and the Ferry Building Marketplace has it all! Nestled along the Embarcadero, this market is a foodie's mecca presenting a blend of local produce and gourmet foods. Every Tuesday and Saturday, it turns into a lively farmers' market, allowing you to feast on mouth-watering delicacies.
4. Unravel the Secret Mosaic Staircase
Yes, you heard it right! San Francisco has a secret hidden gem, the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps - a staircase transformed into a beautiful piece of mosaic art. With every step telling a vibrant story, this stairway ascends to offer panoramic views of the ocean, making the climb absolutely worth it.
5. Explore the less-traveled Lands End Labyrinth
Tucked away near the Sea Cliff neighborhood, the Lands End Labyrinth gives solitude-seekers a run for their dollar. Cradled by rugged shorelines and wildflowers, it's a quiet, meditative circle built with stones. The trek to the labyrinth, coupled with mesmerizing views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate, is an experience in itself.
6. Discover magic at The Exploratorium
With a harmonious blend of arts and science, The Exploratorium, located on Pier 15, is an interactive museum that promises fun for all ages. Featuring hundreds of hands-on exhibits spanning topics from biology to physics, this locale instigates curiosity and encourages exploration beyond the boundaries of usual science.
7. Drench in the colors of the Mission Murals
If you have an eye for art, you can't miss the Mission District, known for its vibrant murals. The murals, spread over alleys and walls, are a canvas expressing powerful stories of social change, culture, history, and local life. Do visit Balmy and Clarion Alley, where walls practically sing and dance with colors and emotions.
So, pack your bags, strap on your shoes, and get ready to discover the charm of San Francisco. From secret stairways to bustling markets, immersive museums to contemplative labyrinths, you're sure to fall in love with this city's distinct spirit. Remember that every day is a celebration in this City by the Bay, so dive right in and enjoy every single moment of it!
Find Movers for Your San Francisco Relocation
As you contemplate your exciting move to San Francisco, let us simplify the process by connecting you with top-tier moving companies at affordable prices. Great Guys Moving has an established network of insured and licensed movers known for outstanding service. By submitting basic details about your move, we can swiftly link you with the best movers for your specific needs. Getting a free moving quote has never been easier or quicker. Venture forth into this beautiful city with confidence, knowing Great Guys Moving is with you every step of the way!
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