I moved here about a year and a half ago and… just like half of the SF population, my story starts with “I moved here from the east coast for a job.” However –since pretty much the day I moved here– I’ve had no shame in telling people that I, quite frankly, don’t like it. Before you dismiss me or start calling me Judas or throwing tomatoes at me if you catch me on the streets, hear me out.
I’ve lived in Paris, Boston, Toronto and now San Francisco. I’ve also done a fair share of traveling, so trust me when I say that I am not unaccustomed to making myself a new life in an unfamiliar city.
Perhaps I didn’t start off on the right foot: On the day I landed and moved here, I went to my friend’s apartment to shower after my cross-country flight. The plan was that I shower and she meet me back at her apartment and we go celebrate my moving to SF over dinner. However, as I finished showering, her glass shower door shattered onto my body leaving me with shards of glass all over my skin… sunken in! What transpired after that? Her landlord, two paramedics, and three fire fighters walking in on my bloody, naked body trying to get me out of the tub and covered… and then to the ER. Not quite the welcoming committee I was expecting. That MORE than sucked.
Additionally (and I have heard dozens of similar stories from other transplants), the moving company we hired, basically arrived several weeks late and wouldn’t give me my things until I gave them thousands of dollars more than we had initially planned.
So at this point, I’m left broke… thank you moving company. And I’m also in physical pain… thank you floor that I slept on for weeks.
My last heart breaking story is that I initially found roommates on Craigslist who I thought were awesome! Wrong. So wrong. We ended up getting evicted because our master tenant was pocketing our rent money instead of passing it along to the landlord.
Needless to say, this city started off kicking my butt. Regardless, I stuck around because these are pretty extenuating circumstances and I try to think to myself: you can’t let a couple of different incidences decide your fate.
So I fought and I tried. I got an amazing apartment, I started to network more and go out and started to do things I was passionate about (like writing for the VF).
But I’ll be honest: this city does not make it easy and still, I am looking for a way out. Let me tell you why.
You hear this all the time: SF is a transient city, SF is super transient, everything about the Bay is transient. Over and over again and it’s TRUE. People generally move here for school, work, an internship or a short term gig and once that wraps up, they move away to a more permanent place.
Certainly the cost of living has something to do with it but I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that because there are very few natives remaining in San Francisco. We’re basically surrounded by others who are also here temporarily and it sort of becomes the culture. You come to San Francisco… temporarily.
Because of the nature of this, I find that it makes it incredibly difficult to cultivate real relationships—whether it be with a significant other or with friends. (Let me add a disclaimer here and say that this may not be the norm but it is my experience.)
When we date, I’m finding that people don’t really take it seriously because they know that they or the people they’re dating aren’t here for the long term. Sort of like when you’re in college and you think, “I’m just going to fool around and after college, I’ll find someone and settle down.” But this is the more grown up version. There is no “settling down” mentality because most people don’t settle down in SF. Again, my experience …may not be the norm.
Same applies to friendships: you can try really hard to make friends but people don’t follow through because there is no real sense of needing to be dedicated when you know you won’t be here longterm. I can’t tell you how many great/friendly people I’ve met here (and this city is crawling with the friendliest of people) who I’ve exchanged numbers with but who just aren’t interested in taking a step forward and actually hanging out/grabbing a drink/being real, TRUE friends. There’s two folds to this: it has certainly taught me to be incredibly independent and I am thankful for that… but we all need friends; and I don’t mean acquaintances, I mean real friends who got your back and are there for you.
[[By the way– we are launching a Violet Fog Book Club in Jan/February 2017! A way to meet other cool VF readers and make friends]]
Another layer to this is the cost of everything. SF definitely gets points for offering SO MANY FREE THINGS! But if I want to take a class and learn something or really dive into learning a new hobby, I am spending my (very minimal) savings. For example: I have been wanting to take a pottery class since I’ve moved here. But if I sign up, I would have to forfeit eating for a few weeks and probably not pay bills and that’s just not an option right now. How can people afford to have hobbies (that isn’t hiking/surfing/biking) here? Share your secrets!
Lastly, one of the things that breaks my heart about living here is the wealth discrepancy. This city has so many resources and so many companies that believe in their philanthropy and are doing wonderful things for the community. But there are SO SO SO many people who live on the streets. How have we not figured out a way to pool resources in and provide help? I know there are shelters and food banks and so many things in the city being offered and partly due to my ignorance, why is there such a gap? What are we as [temporary] citizens and the city doing to help our fellow San Franciscans get back on their feet, get jobs and housing? If you know more about the issue, please reach out to me because I would love to learn more! But for me to see women, children, adolescents, men building homes on sidewalks when the apartment they are in front of is worth 2 million, that’s so hard to bear. What’s up with that, SF?
In my 1.5 years here, I’ve also experienced so many wonderful things so I am not at all taking away from the great things SF has to offer. However frankly, I don’t love it and not for lack of trying, but I don’t see myself loving it anytime soon and I’m ok with that! I’m still in search of my forever home and in the meantime, San Francisco is providing me with a great/expensive in between.