My first four weeks in San Francisco have gone very quickly. So far, it’s been a happy and exciting time, and I’ve already gained some west coast wisdom that I felt compelled to share with my readers, most of whom are back east.
Real estate moves at the speed of light
In my first weekend here, I was seeing four apartments a day–or rather, I was supposed to be seeing four apartments a day. If I had planned to attend the latter half of an open house, I often got a phone call from a polite but obviously relieved agent hours before I was supposed to arrive, telling me the apartment had just been taken. One such call came in twenty minutes after the open house had started.
The competition for housing in San Francisco is fierce, despite the prices being steeper than some of the city’s famous hills. My new home–coincidentally, the first apartment I saw on my search– is at the top of my budget, but for this town, it was a great deal: close to buses and busy streets, perfectly proportioned for the furniture I brought with me, and in a nice neighborhood that feels stereotypically San Francisco. Plus, the owner came down from the original asking price!
San Franciscans are cold-blooded
I don’t mean this socially. I mean this biologically. San Franciscans, like modern reptiles, are ectothermic. How else can I explain the fact that, despite temperatures daily climbing into the 60s, all of my new neighbors walk around wearing knit hats and North Face jackets and scarves pulled tight around their necks? Maybe its my continued elation at escaping the record-breaking east coast winter, or maybe it’s because I regularly break into a sweat scaling those aforementioned hills, but I have yet to be cold here. I will always celebrate that the mercury rarely dips below 40 here, and steadfastly refuse to ever become one of the Lizard People.
Treasure the subway
When I visited the upper midwest a few years ago, I came up with a theory that there were two kinds of American cities: those that were developed before the invention of the automobile and those that were developed after. The key difference: public transportation. On the Northeast Corridor, we take our mass transit for granted. Four weeks on the west coast, and I am not ashamed to say that I already miss the New York City subway.
Yes, it was more expensive than public transit here. Yes, it could be filthy and frightening. Yes, it is statistically proven to be getting worse. But it made the five boroughs so convenient. Here, unless you’re traveling out of the city, the bus is your only option–which goes a long way toward explaining why SF is the birthplace of Uber.
I’m not saying the bus is bad. It’s just not that great. We’ll see what happens once I have a regular commute to deal with. I might not feel so generous when I’m late to work.
There’s a little bit of Jersey in everyone
I’ve learned that San Franciscans work hard and party harder. This was never more apparent than on March 14, when San Francisco celebrated St. Patrick’s Day. An evening wander down Union Street suddenly had me feeling like I was back on Washington Boulevard in Hoboken, as hordes of bros and their female companions (lady bros?) spilled out of crowded bars and into tiny pizzerias, all while trying not to spill their guts on the sidewalk.
I’ve come to understand that the Marina neighborhood is more or less the San Francisco equivalent of Hoboken, a distinction the community seems to have embraced. In an odd way, that just makes this city feel even more like home to me. Much the same way I could stroll across the canal from Jersey City into the post-collegiate fantasyland that was Ho-bro-ken, I can now just walk down the hill into San Francisco’s local den of popped colors and pastel shorts whenever I’m feeling homesick.
It’s just goddamned beautiful
One thing that has not gotten old–and I hope never does–is the sheer beauty of this place. When I walk to either end of my block, I can round the corner and come face to face with a wide view of San Francisco Bay. Most buildings in my neighborhood, at the top of a hill, are less than six stories high, which means there’s always a tremendous amount of sky to see. I’m two blocks from a park that has outrageous southern views of the city. Some of the most outrageous homes I’ve ever seen are scattered throughout my neighborhood. There’s even something strangely pleasant about the occasional fog horn I can hear at night from a ship in the bay.
When I’m not looking for work, begrudgingly shopping for furniture, or trying to make some friends, I just walk around the city, admiring it all. I’ve taken some pictures, like the one above of San Francisco’s Palace of the Fine Arts. You can see more on my Instagram. Just click the icon on the left margin.
It’s been a good first month. I hope the next four weeks lead to a more solid routine. I’ll be sure to update you about all of it–the expected and the spontaneous–so stay tuned!