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6 Months In San Francisco | My Initial Thoughts + Your Questions Answered!

July 14, 2017

Confession, it’s actually been 8 months since we landed in San Francisco. We technically got here at the end of November (the 22nd to be exact), but there were a lot of unknowns when we first got here, including, will we stay? So I’m counting from when we moved into our apartment in the city in mid-January, which makes it about 6.5 months of living here so I’m not completely lying to you!

It's been 6 months in San Francisco so I thought I'd write down my initial thoughts about the city and answer your questions if you you're planning on moving to or visiting SF!

But whether it’s been 6 months or 8 months, I still feel like a newbie to the city, which also means I’m still in the honeymoon-phase as well. I’ve pretty much experienced every type of emotion under the sun since moving here and have learned A LOT about the culture. Some good, some bad but mostly very, very good.

So I’m writing this post for anyone who is curious about San Francisco, is planning a big move and also for me, because at the end of the day this space is my online diary and I want to chronicle these emotions. Of course, these reflections are entirely my own and I may be making some sweeping generalizations here, but this has been my experience so far.

THE CULTURE

When we told people we were moving to San Francisco, most people nodded their heads and said something along the lines of “mhmmmm sounds like your kind of place”. And yes, they were entirely right. This city is made up of entrepreneurs, foodies, health nuts, outdoorsy folks and I swear the median age here is 30. It is very much as tech-forward as it seems and oftentimes I have to check myself about the reality that most of the world does not live with an app that can pretty much do anything for you or casually see self-driving cars riding down the street.

It’s definitely not a late-night city, which is great because my stamina peaked at 23 and I can’t stay up past 11:00 PM. Consequently, most people spend their weekends looking for some outdoor activity or way to get out of the city. So yeah…totally my jam.

It’s also an incredibly expensive city. This was something I was aware of, though I didn’t anticipate how widespread it would be. I expected rent prices to be astronomical (they are), but everything from a burrito to a workout class is insanely pricey. Luckily, I’m thrifty and we were willing to live in a less cool neighborhood so it’s been an okay adjustment for us, but yeah, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. Not complaining, just adding my two cents.

Because of the influx of young people and specifically those in the tech scene, there are a lot of socioeconomic issues at play. I’m not going to get into these but want to acknowledge the fact that while this city is wonderfully thriving, there are also a lot of people struggling to live because the city has just simply become way too expensive for most. I also acknowledge that I am very much a part of the problem. But that’s all I’ll say about that for now.

Perhaps what I love most about San Francisco is the community feel. Even though it’s a city, it’s still a small one (less than a million in a 7 x 7 mile radius) and there’s definitely a culture of collaboration and team work. Maybe it was because I was coming from Toronto, which is HUGE, but I’ve felt a lot more supported personally and business-wise since moving here. Everyone is friendly and willing to help you out.

I’m definitely drinking the San Francisco koolaid.

It's been 6 months in San Francisco so I thought I'd write down my initial thoughts about the city and answer your questions if you you're planning on moving to or visiting SF!

THINGS I DIDN’T EXPECT

While there was a lot I was prepared for since we have family here and have visited several times over the last couple of years, there were a few things I was surprised to discover in our 6 months in San Francisco.

There are a million neighborhoodsdespite being small, I swear SF has more neighborhoods than any other city. Some neighborhoods feel like they’re only 4 blocks long! It’s made it tricky to get to learn the city, but I’m getting there.

You need a carI’ve only ever lived in cities where having a car isn’t necessary (Toronto, Montreal, NYC). We technically had a car, it just didn’t quite make it to San Francisco (whomp whomp), and while we’ve managed to survive without one, it’s certainly a nice perk. Because of Lyft and Uber, it isn’t nearly as challenging to get around the city, and we both take public transit, but it’s for adventures outside of the city that it gets tricky. Fortunately, our friends and family have been generous with us and we’ve made do until we decide to invest in our own.

The city is tinyI mean this both physically and population-wise. You could run across the city and have only done a quarter marathon. And besides actually being small, it feels small. I’m pretty new to the city but even I’m running into the few people I know on the street. Everyone feels like they’re one-degree of connection away from the next person.

People freak out if you say “San Fran” Yup, it’s a big faux-pas to call it San Fran. While I don’t personally care, it’s sort of this untold sign that you’re a foreigner and locals roll their eyes when people call it that. Call it San Francisco or SF or be prepared to be judged. God forbid you should call it “Frisco”…

Everyone here is newLiterally everyone I meet “just moved to San Francisco”. I felt like the new kid on the block for 2 weeks after which I was surprised by a whole slew of people. Suddenly I became a local. Of course, there are people who are born and raised here (they’ll let you know), but most people are new to the city.

It’s coldThis coming from a Canadian, I should add.  While, it isn’t actually cold, it is not the typical California weather that people picture. The weather fluctuates between 50-65 all year long. The summer is actually the coldest because the fog rolls in. I had only ever visited in the Spring and Fall so I never realized what fog actually meant. Needless-to-say, we now have to warn all friends and family visiting to not bother bringing shorts.

There’s no such thing as air-conditioningNo homes come with A/C (unless you’re living the lux life) and it takes one hell of a cold spell for people to turn on their heat. When we first moved here I was shivering for 2 months straight and then we moved into our apartment and I cranked the heat to 72. No shame.

The fog has a namehis name is Karl and he has a hilarious twitter account that I’m pretty sure is the funniest on the internet. You get to know him pretty well when you live here.

It's been 6 months in San Francisco so I thought I'd write down my initial thoughts about the city and answer your questions if you you're planning on moving to or visiting SF!

YOUR QUESTIONS

Since moving here, a lot of you guys had questions so I thought I would answer them all in one place. If you have any others, feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll respond to them!

1. What visa are you on? I am not on a visa. I have dual citizenship (as does C…I know, not fair!) from my American Mom so I didn’t have to deal with visa issues. Taxes on the other hand…nightmare.

2. How do you feel about the weather? March through May and September through November I am obsessed with the weather. It’s sunny, cool and perfect for any outdoor adventure. The rainy season (Winter) is pretty brutal but not nearly as bad as snow IMO. I think I’ll miss the Fall changing of leaves, but I can always visit somewhere in the midwest or east coast if I want to see foliage 🙂

3. How’d you handle the anxiety/stress of change and the unknown? Well, the truth is that I didn’t handle it very well. To be honest, I was not focused at all on the anxiety and stress that moving inevitably induces and instead got wrapped up in what life would look like when it was finally settled. When the shock of it all hit me, I was so unprepared them I ended up feeling extreme anxiety and stress. I learned a lot from the process, which you watch here.

4. Have you noticed any small signs of it being the right move for you? I love this question (thanks Kelsey!). TBH I can’t remember if there were any small signs (I was in a very emotional state when we moved and I can’t say I was paying attention), but I do think that all of the stressful situations we went through all happened for a reason. Things like totalling the car, having credit issues (two Canadians who had zero credit in the US) and struggles with finding a home actually made us more resilient and tested mine and C’s relationship in a big way. It’s not that we became closer, but we did discover our capacity for working together through stressful situations, which I am forever grateful for and definitely made us feel ready to take the next step. I also think we have so much more appreciation for the life we’ve created because we REALLY had to work for it.

5. How has it been making friends in a new city? Easy! Like I said, so many people here are new so everyone is really open to making friends. We came into our move knowing a lot of people but have made lots of new friends and it was wayyyy easier than I’d imagined so long as you’re willing to put yourself out there.

6. How have you handled being away from family and friends? I miss my friends and family back home in Toronto, but when you move to a desirable city, you can expect they’ll come visit. Since April it’s pretty much been a non-stop series of visitors so we certainly haven’t felt lonely. I’m also back in Toronto every couple of months so even though we miss our people on a daily basis, we still get to see them often.

7. What are your favorite healthy restaurants and brunch places in San Francisco? I’m planning on writing a post similar to this one that I did for Toronto once we’ve spent a bit more time here and have been able to explore more. But for now, here are so favorites:

Seed and Salt: a bit overpriced – everything is here – but their chocolate chip cookies and turmeric latte is amazing
Marla Bakery: We loveeee the sourdough and the farmer’s cheese on an everything bagel
Blue Barn: Best place to get salads twice the size of your head
Jane on Fillmore: Love everything about this place but especially their fast wifi and plenty of seats to bunk-up and work for a couple of hours
Nourish Cafe: Their green acai bowl is bomb
The Richfield: My favorite Matcha Latte in the city
Burma Superstar: Not exactly the healthiest but I love their Fiery Tofu with Veggies and Tea Leaf Salad.
Zazie: Go for brunch. Thank me later.

There are soooooo many others that I didn’t include or haven’t explored, but stay tuned!

8. How has the blogging scene been in San Francisco? I had no idea what to expect when it came to meeting other bloggers. It’s actually ended up being super awesome! This is all my own experience, but I felt like the Toronto scene could be very cliquey at times. I met some amazing people through it, but other times it felt like bloggers were more like socialites who were creating content for brands, rather than something that might be valuable to their readers.

I’ve had the complete opposite experience here. First off, I’m surprised at how few bloggers are doing this full-time. I expected it to be much higher, since it’s such a tech/entrepreneurial scene, but for most people this is a side-hustle. It’s been hard meeting other bloggers who get what it means to have this be your business, but everyone here has been so kind, inviting and willing to help me out as I get to know the Bay.

Let me know if you guys like these updates and I’ll keep em’ coming! Stay tuned for an apartment tour and my favorite places in San Francisco coming soon.

All the behind-the-scene details on The Healthy Maven Engagement. From how he asked to how we celebrated, here's how C proposed to D!

Have you ever been to San Francisco? Is this what you expected it to be like?

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  • Reply
    Carrie this fit chick
    July 14, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I love this post! I moved to SF a year and a half ago and agree with a lot your points. I definitely didn’t expect it to be as cold and windy as it is! I’m still trying to meet more people and find more friends, but I know that takes time. So nice to hear you’ve had a great transition!
    Carrie this fit chick recently posted…What’s the Difference between Macronutrients and Calories?

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:24 am

      Yes it does! Luckily it’s such a transient city that I feel like most people are open to making new friends. But man is it cold and windy – especially right now. That summer fog is getting to me!

  • Reply
    Juliette | Namastay Traveling
    July 14, 2017 at 8:00 am

    This was so great to read. San Francisco is my FAVORITE city in the US, and I’ve dreamed of living there for yers. However, being from the east coast, it was always a bit too far from family and friends. I’m glad I can live vicariously through you. Hope to hear more about your adventures here!
    Juliette | Namastay Traveling recently posted…The Absolute Best Carry-On Luggage For Long Trips

  • Reply
    Kaitlyn @ Powered by Sass
    July 14, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Loved this post, and I LOVE San Francisco! I’ve only been once, but I have my eye on it for my next move. 😉 Maybe we’ll become blog buddies and neighbors in the future! It’s also really nice to hear that it’s easy to make friends in San Francisco! I currently live in DC, and making friends here is kind of difficult with it being politically-centered and slightly on the older side, IMO. Coming from my hometown of New Orleans where EVERYONE is your friend, it’s been an adjustment!
    Kaitlyn @ Powered by Sass recently posted…A Weekend in Annapolis, Maryland

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:27 am

      Yes! We felt that way when we visited NOLA. Everyone was so nice and welcoming! That must be a hard adjustment. I think you’d like SF though so definitely keep it on your radar 😉

  • Reply
    Michelle
    July 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Ex pat Canuck here living in CA for 16 years! Welcome! As you may have discovered, there are a lot of Canadians living here, which is great! When I first moved here I went through a brief period of culture shock and depression but I got over it pretty quickly once I discovered all the wonderful things to do here.
    My husband is from here and I wanted to slug him every time he said microclimates and layering. But it’s so true!! I don’t get into SF as much anymore since we moved to Napa from Marin but we still get the morning fog. I’ll take that over snow!
    Michelle recently posted…The New New Kitchen

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:26 am

      Agreed! Still getting used to the fog, but it’s way better than snow! We absolutely love both Marin and Napa and try to get there often. It’s so nice to be surrounded by such beauty!

  • Reply
    Toni
    July 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    I love this post! It’s fun to hear about your experiences.
    Thank you!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:23 am

      Thanks so much, Toni! Will definitely try to keep you updated about more of our adventures out here!

      • Reply
        Toni
        September 5, 2017 at 5:19 am

        I’ll be in San Francisco in October. Do you have recommendations on places to stay?

  • Reply
    Amanda
    July 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Loved reading this post and basically agree with 100% of your thoughts. Couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…Staying Motivated: 5 Ways to Switch Up Your Race Training

  • Reply
    Lauren Shaber
    July 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    Or come right up the coast for the changing of the leaves! I just moved to Portland and the fall is beautiful here. We definitely have a little of all four seasons, and there’s always something in air, no matter what time of year. Glad you’re loving SF, though. I’m from Carmel with family in SF, so it felt like (and still does) a second home to me!

  • Reply
    Ashley | Fit Mitten Kitchen
    July 14, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Loved reading this! I keep telling Drew I want to visit SF. As long as there are not tons of crowds and we can get out into the wilderness/nature (at least somewhat) I think I can convince him 😉 My bestie lives up in the Tacoma area and it’s always interesting to see what kind of weather they get. She loves it though because she hates the heat.
    Ashley | Fit Mitten Kitchen recently posted…Creamy Citrus Ginger Smoothie

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:21 am

      Well you always know you have a place here in SF if you ever get Drew to leave the country 😉

  • Reply
    Nancy
    July 14, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Oh gosh we’ll have to definitely meet up sometime. I’m also Canadian here in the bay area. Just commented on your IG feed not knowing you were from Toronto (me, Newfoundland but lived in Kitchener Waterloo for ten years prior to our CA move!).

  • Reply
    Carmy @ carmyy.com
    July 14, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    I feel like Toronto has lost an amazing person when you left but I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying San Francisco! I’ve been loving keeping up on social media!
    Carmy @ carmyy.com recently posted…Five Things Friday #5

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:20 am

      aw you’re too sweet! Fortunately my family and many friends are still there so we’re back often!

  • Reply
    DNN
    July 15, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    California is soooo beautiful. I’m originally from Flatbush Brooklyn born and raised in New York City. When I came to northern California to Santa Barbara back in 2006 for the CJ affiliate marketing meetup at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, I felt like I was virtually in paradise. I love love LOVE the west coast. Being in Santa Barbara, California made me forget all of my problems. I ate so good. I had a nice hotel room near the highway. Picked up my nice rental truck in Los Angeles a little after midnight after discovering I accidentally missed the midnight small plane connecting flight to Santa Barbara and my bags were already up in the air. So I drove all the way yonder from Los Angeles by myself to Santa Barbara and somehow, miraculously made it safe and sound.

    Someday, I want to return to California and visit San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and drive through the mountains and Orange patches again to Santa Barbara. Would be nice if I owned a house there so i could have a legitimate reason to be in Cali often. 🙂
    DNN recently posted…#YoastSEO: This #WordPress Plugin Should Be Installed in Your #WPPlugins

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:19 am

      Wow that’s an amazing story! It’s so true that life out here is very laid back and yes, incredibly beautiful! I love the east coast but I feel like I’ve found my home in the west!

      • Reply
        DNN
        August 21, 2017 at 6:51 pm

        When I visited Santa Barbara, California in 2006, it made me forget all of my problems. And being that I’m originally from Flatbush Brooklyn and was my 1st time in Santa Barbara, it was a breaktaking experience I’ll never forget. I was there alone for an entire week at an internet marketing event hosted by CJ.com at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort on East Cabrillo Blvd. I didn’t want to leave. Next time I go I hope to be in Cali all by myself again possibly for 1 month. 🙂
        DNN recently posted…5 Simple Ways to Overcome #Rejection and Move On

  • Reply
    Nicole
    July 16, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Love this post! It sounds like you’re really happy in San Fran (oops I mean San Francisco :p ), and I think it’s good that you’re acknowledging both the positives and negatives. I think when we make some big step, it’s easy to freak out if something is not exactly perfect, but with huge life-changing decisions, there are supposed to be things that challenge you and make you see the world a little differently. Those are the things that at the end of the day will make everything worth it because you will have worked through all the challenges and come out on the other side stronger and more “Frisco” (hehe I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself. WHO CALLS IT THAT?” ) than ever before. I think with loving anything, it’s not about loving everything about it. It’s about loving what it is at its very core, really connecting with it, and accepting all the more annoying or negative aspects because they are what make up the core as well. Can’t wait for the restaurant guide! I def need to revisit SF since last time I was there I was about 15, and the itinerary was created by my non-planner mother 😉
    Nicole recently posted…Weekly Recipe Roundup + Some Thoughts

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:18 am

      Oh man you totally nailed it on the head! It was such a learning experience remembering that you don’t have to love everything to love something. Fortunately it all worked out for the best and I’m so grateful for the moving experience and now to be able to call this beautiful city home!

  • Reply
    Hilary
    July 16, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    I loved this kind of post. It is so nice to get an idea of what a real person thinks of living in a city, rather than just statistics.

    Not to mention I think this is great for a travel guide as well!
    Hilary recently posted…Watermelon Lemonade Popsicles

  • Reply
    Carol
    July 18, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Welcome to the Bay and to California! I’m a California girl through and through. Grew up in the Central Valley, went to college in San Diego, and have lived in the Bay Area (including various parts of SF) for 15+ years now. Wow! I hadn’t realized how long it’s been. Love seeing how you’re adjusting and its fascinating to me to see what your impressions are as you’re part of the wave of people coming during this “tech rush” period of SF’s history.

    Sorry your first winter was rough with all the rain! You probably already know this but it was a record breaking year for rainfall after many years of a very stressful drought. I still can’t get over the fact that I can take a bath again and not feel guilty! It was just super quickie showers for many years to conserve water.

    Fun fact! My husband lived in SF for 11 years without owning a car. It’s doable for sure! He would just rent a car for the weekends he wanted to get out of the city. Now you can just grab a zipcar. It definitely WAY cheaper than car payments, insurance, and paying for a parking spot. Have fun no matter what you decide. 😊

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      August 2, 2017 at 12:16 am

      Hey Carol! You’re so right about everything. The tech rush, the rain (oh man it was rough!) and the car. We’ve managed to make due without one but we’re starting to get eager to be able to pick up and leave whenever we want. Though we are lucky and have a parking spot 😉 Such an incredible city and I’m so excited for what the future has to hold now that we’re here and settled!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ The Naked Food Life
    July 22, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    These are seriously the most amazingly delicious menus I have ever seen! I will move to SF just for the food!

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