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14 Pros and Cons of Living in San Francisco

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The motto of San Francisco is a metaphor – Gold in Peace, Iron in War. This sums up the essence of this contrasted and eclectic city in Northern California. 

Roadway Moving truck in the California Street in San Francisco
Roadway Moving truck in the California Street in San Francisco

Imagine walking down the hillside street on a sunny day, drinking your first-morning coffee.  You sit in Golden Gate park, and the only clue that you are in a metropolis is a top of a skyscraper peaking through the trees.

Young people enjoy lunch breaks, yet the street is home to many people. 

Welcome to San Francisco!

The place for all the ends of a spectrum, a fast-growing city that will not leave you indifferent.

Once you make San Francisco your home, you will not be able to leave. You will fall in love with its virtues and flaws forever.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Golden gate bridge in the afternoon in San Francisco

Quick city facts:

We are talking big numbers here. 

  • With 842,754 people living there, San Francisco is the 17th most populous city in the United States. With its big inward flood, it promises to keep growing.
  • The average annual income in San Francisco in 2022 is $39,700 higher than the average yearly income in the States.
  • San Francisco represents Northern California’s financial, commercial, and cultural center.
  • San Francisco has a significant employment number in the service economy- including tourism and high technology.
  • The climate is a mixture of Californian Mediterranean climate, moist and much fog.

PROS of living in San Francisco

1. Good quality education is promised

In San Francisco, investing starts early; it starts in college!

San Francisco can be proud of the way it raises its children.

  • Golden city has the second-highest percentage of citizens with a college degree, losing only to Seattle.
  • The University of California is ranked among the top 5 medical schools in the U.S.

The ambitious and competitive environment keeps you motivated, and it pays off afterward because, in San Francisco, there are many doors to knock on.

Girl reading a book on a sunny day in Alamo Square Park, San Francisco
Girl reading a book on a sunny day in Alamo Square Park, San Francisco

2. Big range of transportation 

We recommend everything except driving your car.

You can walk almost everywhere. You can also bike or use a public scooter to get by.

San Fran is the birthplace of Uber and Lyft, so you can always take a ride when you are in a rush.

The cable car system in San Francisco is the world’s last cable car system. It is nostalgic yet bizarre because of its contrasting surroundings—a valid symbol of San Francisco’s spirit. 

It does sound touristy, but people do commune by cable cars!

It saves you money, and you spend time in the fresh air while driving to work.

San Francisco cable cars
Classic panorama view of historic San Francisco Cable Cars on famous California Street

3. A melting pot of cultures 

San Francisco is a sanctuary city, filled with diversity and impossible to keep track of.

Right next to an Italian pizzeria, you can find the second-biggest Chinatown in the world!

On the next street, you will bump into the biggest Japantown in the country.

On just one walk through the city, you will feel like you had a short world tour. With its authentic cultural details, a diverse community in San Francisco makes it a one-of-a-kind place in the world. 

Chinatown San Francisco
Downtown city life in a busy street of Chinatown San Francisco – lookout to the Oakland Bay Bridge.

4. Contemporary American dream 

The Tech industry has its throne here in San Fran. 

Silicon Valley is home to companies such as Google, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Apple, Tesla, Airbnb, Uber, and many more.

White-collar workers are the majority in the city. Of course, there are other jobs too, but either way, be prepared to listen a lot about the tech industry!

The Tech industry is a big reason that San Francisco is a transient city. Many people have trial periods with it, bringing never-ending change and fluidity to the city’s energy. 

San Francisco Silicon Valley
Apple new campus building, San Francisco Silicon Valley

5. Robust food scene

The bakery game is strong here, and that is only the beginning.

With an extensive range of food chains and restaurants- from fantastic burritos in the streets to Michelin-star restaurants, you will never be hungry.

Even in the middle of the night, you can warm yourself up with Korean ramen noodles in the streets or a Turkish kebab on the corner.

6. Parks, parks, and more parks

Locals always talk about one thing: the park scene in San Fran!

  • There are more than 220 parks in the city.
  • Golden Gate park is the biggest one; it is bigger than New York Central park!

With the city being the most dog-friendly city in the U.S., these parks are always full of pets too! Your dog would enjoy it here…

San Francisco Golden Gate Park
Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

7. There’s a whole generation with a new explanation.

With 460,890 millennials living in the city, young people are ruling it.

Their start-up companies, with an exciting team-building spirit, new business ways, and fresh ideas, are game changers for the global industry. 

Everyone shares the same goal- making the world a better place.

When people are not burnt out from their jobs, there is an extensive range of bars and rooftop parties for them to attend.

If you are at the beginning of your career, you must give San Francisco a chance!

CONS of living in San Francisco

1. Gentrification problem

San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away- Rudyard Kipling.

Not everyone can get to live their dream lives. 

Because of the city’s fast growth and corporate-centric architecture, many families are being moved from their homes every day. 

People are on the streets, and the growth seems not to be stopping anytime soon.

2. Finding parking is out of the question

An average citizen in San Francisco spends 79 hours a year stuck in traffic. It is ranked 3rd city with the most traffic in the country.

Imagine not finding the parking spot even after all the hours spent in the traffic jam.

If a miracle happens and you do find it, be ready to spend your savings on parking.

San Francisco Traffic
Zoom of heavy traffic on Golden Gate Bridge

3. Foggy king of the North

Don’t mistake Californian golden tan and beaches for San Francisco weather. 

Even though you will be sunbathed in some parts of the city, be prepared for a fog that eats everything up.

The Ocean is cold, and the beaches are often unsafe to swim and spend time on. 

Luckily micro-climates are a drive away. If you lust a quality sandy beach time, you can drive 2 hours to Santa Cruz beach.

Gate bridge in a fogg
Golden Gate bridge in a foggy day, San Francisco

4. The standards are high and almost untouchable

San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in America.

  • The cost of living in San Francisco is 38% higher than the state average and 94% higher than the national average.
  • In San Francisco, CA, housing is 238% more expensive than the U.S. average, while utilities are about 34% pricier.

Yes, If you make $70 000 a year or less, you are considered poor here.

The big question is, ‘Do you want to feel relatively tight even if you are making over $100 000 a year?’

5. Wildfires and earthquakes

If you are not ready for a possible wildfire or an earthquake in the future, you better not consider San Francisco for your home.

Wildfire is a common occurrence in the Bay Area, and in the past 60 years, there have been around 500 wildfires.

  • San Francisco and the surrounding area live through around 5000 earthquakes yearly. Not all of them are life-threatening, but it is not a pleasant experience to live through each one.

6. City of many, many hills 

San Francisco is the second most hill-infested city in the world!

  • With over 50 ridges in its topography, it promises you physical activity, whether you like it or not. Be prepared to be sweaty and out of breath.
San Francisco hills
Low angle twilight view of an empty road with cable car tracks leading up a steep hill at famous California Street at dawn, San Francisco

7. Non-family-friendly city

Not only is it costly to raise kids here, but the question is, ‘why would you do that?’

Crime rates are high, and a corporate-centric mentality is dominating. It is not precisely a family-oriented environment. 

Try a village or town life for a while until it is time for kids to go to college.

Roadway Moving's truck in front of "The Painted Ladies" in San Francisco, near the Alamo Square Park
Roadway Moving’s truck in front of “The Painted Ladies” in San Francisco, near the Alamo Square Park

Moving to San Francisco?

On average, a typical American moves 11 times a year. Why not make San Francisco one out of eleven places to spend part of your life in?

There is no better place for brave and optimistic people seeking a challenge than The Golden city! With chances of growing professionally and meeting inspiring people, we can hear it calling your name. 

Pack your bags spontaneously, and don’t worry about the details! We got your back in this experience!

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