There’s a lot to love about San Francisco but it is not for everyone. San Francisco is a dense, busy, bustling city with the challenges and problems of many major cities. Much like New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco has all of the difficulties faced by urban areas today. High cost of living crime, parking, traffic problems and of course homelessness.
There’s also a lot to love about living here. When deciding whether or not to move to San Francisco, here are the top 10 reasons why you shouldn’t move to San Francisco.
Everyone has heard that San Francisco is full of crime and homelessness. Lately, when I’m traveling people ask where I’m from and when I say San Francisco, they say, “Oh my God. Is it as bad as they say?”
Okay, so let’s start with crime. You can’t open up a newspaper without hearing that San Francisco is a super dangerous place and you’d think that you’re going to get stabbed walking down the street. There is definitely crime in San Francisco.
Smash and grab crime is actually at an all time high. And one of the things that you learn very quickly living here is that you don’t leave anything visible sitting in your car. In fact, sometimes whenever we’re traveling out of town and we have stuff in the car, we wait to leave town before we stop and try to get something to eat.
Believe it or not, San Francisco actually has lower rates of violent crime than Houston, Seattle, Dallas and New Orleans.
Homelessness in San Francisco is a real thing. And a lot of it is tied to the drug crisis. Fentanyl is a real problem. There have been 845 deaths, which is the highest ever in San Francisco to date.
But what I will say is that the city is working hard to try to solve this crisis. And all of the residents are definitely rooting for the city to get this under control. Though homelessness is definitely a problem, it is concentrated to some specific parts of San Francisco.
So why does it cost so much to live here? One reason is the simple rule of supply and demand. San Francisco’s only seven by seven. That’s seven miles by seven miles. It’s a pretty small city that actually is really densely populated.
We also have politicians who want to have more housing, but at the same time, everybody wants the city to look a certain way. There are a lot of historically protected buildings. Everybody loves the Victorians and the Edwardians and they don’t want to mix a bunch of skyscrapers in between them. A lot of the city is actually capped in terms of how high you can build. In certain sections of San Francisco, you can build high rises, but most of San Francisco you cannot.
The other thing is that the housing stock is very different. If you go to a place where there are suburbs, let’s pick on Dallas for a minute. A lot of the homes are probably the same. Maybe you could show up to a place like that and see six or seven homes that are relatively the same and the choose one. Here if you were to see six or seven homes in a certain price point they would all be dramatically different and in very different neighborhoods.
Additionally, there is a lot of cash running around in San Francisco. San Francisco, including Silicon Valley, ranks number three for the wealthiest cities in the world. According to a report I read, there are about 62 billionaires (that’s with a B!) that live in San Francisco.
And there are about 600,000 people that are worth close to $100 million or more. When you’re competing with a lot of cash offers and people that really have the means to get whatever they want, that’s also going to raise the prices.
You’re probably hearing that everyone is leaving San Francisco. It’s true. San Francisco has lost about 7% of its population since the pandemic. A lot of people that moved out due to just being able to work from anywhere. There are some people who moved out based on taxes – especially very, very high income earners.
But 7% isn’t nearly as high as the headlines would make you believe is happening. Downtown is quieter than it’s ever been before. It’s emptier than it’s ever been before.
We’re starting to see some people come back to the office. Finance has been back for a long time. Tech is slower to come back, but it is happening. I do think it’s going to continue to improve. There are a lot of tech companies who are demanding that their people be in the office 3 to 4 days a week.
The other thing happening downtown is that with all of the vacancies come a lot of opportunity. A lot of the companies that were in these buildings built them out beautifully. They have great views of the bridge, the Bay and other buildings. It’s gorgeous down there and everything is on sale. It’s a great time to get a commercial space.
We’re starting to see some AI companies moving in downtown. I think it’s going to create space for some other businesses that could not afford to be down there before.
Be prepared to sit in traffic. It’s a normal part of city living. Parking in San Francisco can also be a nightmare in certain neighborhoods. If you’re lucky enough to have a driveway or a designated parking spot, it’s a total game changer.
There is definitely a reason that Lyft and Uber are readily available here. Not to mention the increasingly popular self-driving taxis. We also have many options for public transportation, and that allows people to move throughout the city with relative ease. We have bike lanes and car free streets where many people enjoy using their bikes to get around town.
Let’s talk about weather. San Francisco is not hot. If you’re looking for hot beaches, all of that then you’re in the wrong spot. You need to go to Southern California.
The average temperature in San Francisco year round is right around 67 degrees. There’s definitely some fog. There’s a quote by, well people say it’s Mark Twain, but nobody really knows if it was Mark Twain, that says “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It was probably a resident.
Our best months are September and October. I don’t know why, but those are always the sunniest and warmest months. Winter can be sometimes wet, but really, this is California. We have droughts all the time. If we’re going to get a lot of rain, it’s usually going to be in January.
But if you do want to have a hot summer day, you can jump in the car and drive 30 minutes in any direction and it’ll be really pretty nice and warm. And you can jump in a pool!
Clearly, we have a reputation for having a lot of earthquakes here. We’ve had two major earthquakes, the 1906 earthquake and then in 1989, there was the Loma Prieta earthquake. We’ve learned a lot about earthquakes and a lot of our housing stock was actually built prior to 1906 and is still standing.
I’ll be honest. I don’t think a lot of residents spend a whole lot of time thinking about earthquakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there’s a 63% chance that we will experience a quake 6.7 or higher over the next 30 years.
Certainly we do have buyers who really want to talk about the structural integrity of homes. And there are varying degrees of structural integrity in homes. We can walk you through that.
Also, the land underneath the homes in San Francisco is different. Some of the land is in liquefaction, which tends to move a little bit more. Some of it is on bedrock. Depending on what kind of land that the home is sitting on, you may or may not want to buy that house.
Sometimes living in San Francisco can feel a little bit more about work than it does about play or just unscheduled do nothing time. Many people here work really long hours, and that can be ingrained in the culture. I think most people I know have jobs that they really love and they do their best to integrate their work rather than balance that.
This intensity is part of what actually initially attracted me to moving here and has certainly propelled me ahead and a very rewarding career. But I have to admit sometimes it’s nice to get away from it all and decompress. and of course, you can decompress right here in the city.
The Bay Area is more active than many places in the world. According to an article published in USA Today, San Francisco ranks 13 for the lowest obesity rate in the country. This is a super active place to live.
Growing up in the mid-west, I thought if someone ran a marathon, they were superhuman or something. Here in the Bay Area, the kinds of physical activities that your everyday Joe does is honestly, super mind blowing.
Lauren on my team, ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. I just let that sink in for a minute. Crazy, crazy, crazy. I know so many ultra marathoners. I didn’t even know what that was prior to living here. I think it’s like 150 miles or something.
San Francisco’s really hilly. Whether you’re driving or walking, you’re going to find yourself on some really steep hills.
It can take a while to get used to this. Which means that practicing, if you have a stick, driving your car or building up those calf muscles is a must.
I love hills. I walk up a mountain every single morning, but it’s not for everyone with steep hills come. It’s not for everyone. With steep hills come extraordinary views. There’s no shortage of breathtaking views in the city, and they’re usually on top of a hill.
Many people find our private and public schools difficult to navigate. Our public school admissions are determined by a lottery. Some people think that’s awesome because they have a lot of choices, and other people find it a little disconcerting.
Private schools require you to go through an application process. Both of these processes are really time consuming. And there are no guarantees that you’ll end up in the right place or in your favorite place.
However, there are a ton of different kinds of schools here. There are a lot of options. Some people really appreciate being able to find a school that’s very tailored to their child and their needs.
I came to San Francisco right out of college. I was looking for a city with diversity, with people who are open minded, active, have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit. And I have to say, I found all of that. I made it my home. I started my family. I’m raising my two boys here.
It can be challenging to live in a city like San Francisco, but if you’re looking for a rich cultural experience, plenty of parks and the opportunity to live in a world class technology hub, it may just be the right place for you.