San FranciscoCity Guide

Natives will tell you it’s hard to leave once you’ve fallen in love with the Bay Area lifestyle. From the music and arts scene to the techie network, San Francisco has many niche crowds ideal for recent graduates.

Local Perspectives

Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like living in San Francisco, as told by locals.

Local Perspectives

archetype Angie Chang

VP of Strategic Partnerships at Hackbright Academy

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Time spent in San Francisco

City guide: Moving to San Francisco - Angie ChangSeven years. I went to college at UC Berkeley and ended up living all over the Bay Area for my jobs. I lived in San Francisco before moving back to Berkeley, but I commute to the city for work every day.

Yes, it’s expensive

You have to get used to $5 cold-brew coffees. Everything is specialty, handmade, or artisan — and you will stand in a long line for it; that’s just what you do. But San Francisco has great markets, great parks, and great outdoor activities. There are lots of tech events to go to. And if you’re a foodie, this is heaven on earth.

Best neighborhoods, IMO

I’d skip the Mission — it’s over-gentrified, and the things we all used to love about it are going away. Hayes Valley is not as gentrified yet, and it’s a great place for bar- and restaurant-hopping. South of Market (SoMA) is very convenient for people who work in tech. I’d really recommend moving across the Bay to Oakland or Berkeley — they’re less expensive and still commutable. The scene there is more ethnically diverse and culturally interesting, and I think they actually have better food! They’re the Brooklyn of the Bay Area.

You’re not a local if …

You say “Frisco” or “San Fran.” You want to go to Union Square. You stand in line for the cable car at the beginning or end of the route when you can catch it two blocks up without any line at all. You go shopping at the Ferry Building Marketplace on a Saturday.

City guide: Moving to San Francisco - North Beach Trolley

The dating scene

I think it’s as hard to date in San Francisco as it is in New York City. There are a lot of ambitious entrepreneurs who are too busy working on their start-ups. Also, lots of socially awkward engineers — you have to move very slowly with them. Everyone is on apps trying the next hot dating thing — my current favorites are Coffee Meets Bagel and Hinge, but a lot of people are still on OK Cupid, because that’s the biggest pool. I think your best chance is still searching offline — going to parties and meeting friends of friends.

Favorite day trip

Point Reyes National Seashore, an hour north. My sister and I love to hike on the dog-friendly beach or do a nine-mile, round-trip hike to Tomales Point (the views are worth it) and have a picnic at the end there, or reward ourselves with oysters at the Marshall Store.

Local Perspectives

archetype Peter Zimmerman

Marketing Manager for the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and Head of Publicity for Toolshed, Inc., a digital marketing firm for musicians and record labels

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Time spent in San Francisco

City guide: Moving to San Francisco - Peter ZimmermanSix years. My then-boyfriend and I were looking for a place to settle down. I had majored in art history, and I was excited by the West Coast art scene. Also, I loved how LGBT-strong San Francisco was. All those qualities made it a great place for me.

What are some unique local customs living in San Francisco?

One of my favorite events is the Bay to Breakers 12K race, where it feels like the entire city’s population of young adults attends, and in the craziest costumes and outfits. Last year, my friends went as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Another only-in-San Francisco event is Opera in the Park, where the San Francisco Opera live-casts a performance for free at AT&T Park, home to the Giants. It’s a great way to enjoy both opera and a ballpark hot dog.

After work to-do list

I really love music and concerts, so I try and catch shows at my favorite venues: The Independent, The Fillmore, Verdi Club, Hemlock Tavern, Swedish American Music Hall, and Hotel Utah. My favorite nonmusic activities are shopping on Valencia Street, catching a movie at the Castro Theatre, enjoying brunch at St. Francis Fountain, and exploring Golden Gate Park.

The job scene

Obviously tech is a big employer here, but a bunch of my friends are finding success with jobs in human resources and nonprofits. And there are always tons of new restaurants and cafés opening, which are constantly looking for quality servers, bartenders, and baristas.

City guide: Moving to San Francisco - Delores Park

The dating scene

San Francisco is tough for straight girls, but straight guys have good success. Those in the LGBT community complain how flaky potential partners are and how many of them are in open relationships, but that’s part of San Francisco’s charm — we’re very much an “anything goes” city. Be adventurous, or you risk missing out on some potentially great experiences and dates.

The political scene

San Francisco prides itself on being quite progressive when it comes to social and urban issues, and generally folks try to out-liberal each other on those. Sometimes it makes it feel a bit like a political bubble, but I’d take progressive over conservative any day.