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.

Sandra Aziz
Senior Writer || Pharmacist || ESFJ || Awkward turtle who loves to read, eat, travel and talk incessantly about tv and music.

About The Author

Sandra Aziz

Senior Writer || Pharmacist || ESFJ || Awkward turtle who loves to read, eat, travel and talk incessantly about tv and music.

17 Responses

  1. Blondeelk

    This article encapsulates all the feelings I have had about living in the city for the last year. I, too, moved here for a job, and I thought that I would settle in and begin to enjoy it. As time has passed, I’ve liked it even less. People are transient, ideas are transient, people’s jobs are transient, and if you’re not a transient person, or you’re looking for community roots, you will be hard pressed to find it. It’s crazy making and starts to get depressing.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      Sandra

      Yes, I couldn’t agree more! I hate to hear that others feel the same way because we move here with so much expectation but there’s comfort to it. You aren’t alone in it. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
    • Sandra
      Sandra

      Also, we are going to start a VF Book Club for all our ladies who want to connect. Keep your eyes peeled for it in the new year and we hope you come!

      Reply
  2. Nicole Hammonds

    I agree with everything here and actually had this subject on the list of things to write about in my new blog that will be coming soon. I have an absurd landlord and wish there was a way to warn the whole world! Though also agree that it is a fun place to temporarily be…

    Reply
    • Sandra
      Sandra

      Nicole, definitely send us your piece once you write it for your blog! We would love to read it!

      Reply
  3. shiva

    Bay Area native here, living in SF for the third stretch in 10 years (since college). All the women I know who live in SF who are my age or younger are either being subsidized by parents/partners or bust their asses just to end up flat broke every month. I was literally living in a closet and now I live with my boyfriend.

    Rent control ruined this city and anyone who tells you otherwise is ancient and has been here forever and will never move and probably subleases to other people and makes a profit just off being the master lease.

    Reply
    • Annoyed-by-whiny-blog-posts

      That’s why you go to the SF Rent Board. Your master tenant is not allowed to be charging you more than a certain amount based on their original master lease. You have a lot of rights in Rent Control compared to people not in rent control. So man up and go to the SF Rent Board. That’s where your tax dollars are going to so use it goddamnit.

      Reply
      • Annoyed-by-whiny-blog-posts

        http://sfrb.org. You can visit them in person at 25 Van Ness Ave #320. That huge ass building above Van Ness Station & next to the conservatory.

        You can also go to smalls claim court and sue them.

    • Damned

      Sorry rent control did not ruin the city, greed did. And it’s been doing it since Mayor Brown’s pathetic reign(having city hall’s roof painted in gold while hoards of homeless surrounded it…..phhh-foolish man!) Rampant greed since(= effing dot.com, tech boom and real estate booms) blechh…. Check it out. Yeah I guess I’m one of those ancient ones but can’t even afford to own a garage door in SF and no longer live there. Too freaking stressful just being there. I feel for people struggling there.
      But if we look with honest eyes, SF has always, as I’ve known it to be since the 1970’s+, amidst it’s beauty and diversity, also a dirty, rough, violent, morally bankrupt city that had a strong but now waning streak of radical progressiveness, social equality movements and a great artsy/music community that somehow thrived despite all that other gunk. But you could still afford to be here as a working class person, now it’s gone down the crapper of greed and opportunism. The greedy hedonistic past has always run through it and weakens it.

      I’m sorry to the OP and others that your experiences were so rough. That sucks!! I think people get wooed by the allure of SF but the reality of it can really bite. I grew up in it so I didn’t know any different until I moved away and realized looking back on all the crapola I put up with growing up there. There are SUCH beautiful calmer places in the country, in the world to enjoy…just gotta get a job that can take you there 🙂 Peace. (no I’m not a hippie-aging punk rocker)

      Reply
  4. Josh

    Entitled millennial get out of my city. People like you are ruining SF. You need to leave and go back to your country or origin.

    Reply
    • J

      Wow, harsh Christmas comment. No wait, harsh any day comment. Not cool, man. I’m born and raised here (maybe you are too). I am not saddened by your frustration, but I am super saddened by your words. And not that you get to decide (like, at all), that someone should go, “back to their country of origin,” but you’re also assuming the US isn’t her country of origin. You complain about entilted millenials and yet you just called it “my city”– you see how that’s weird, right?

      Reply
  5. Native Bay area girl

    I have lived in San Francisco Bay area for a long time. The problem is all these tech. Startups ruined San Francisco. It’s no longer what is was before. Yes, it’s always been an expensive city but now it’s gone overboard. I can’t wait til all these new ppl get out once everything crashes down.

    Reply
    • Sandra
      Sandra

      It seems like your type is rare! Not many people I’ve met have lived here for a long time. Hopefully the cost of living will go down!

      Reply
  6. Demicci Dior-Britt

    Believe you me I do try and understand your position in being transient, however that is not the case with most of the people I deal with. I am native and love my city to death. Moreover, I am able to say that I have lived abroad and have the experiance making me a credible critic do to my exposure to other cities such as Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Las Angelas, CA, Chicago, IL. I have yet to have lived out of the USA but give me some time. Thhat is in the makings. Non the less is my desire to finally be back home in my beautiful Bay Area.
    Let me say this; The Tech Boom, Dot Com and pretty much all of the advances in digital tech arenas has RUINED the living experiance here in the Bay Area. It has granted access to our SF free spirited society to a bunch of stuck up, republican, judgemental and arrogant snobs. Thesesnobs arrived wanting to access our culture for entertainment but then move in only to become active supporters of gentrification and the dismantleling of many of our most celebrated events and lifestyles as a whole.
    For example; Thee was a time that you could go to the Tenderloin and walk the streets at night and be completely entertained and fulfilled just in observing the sex scene that it had to offer. I mean there were Hookers, both male and female but most celebrated were the Trannys. I tell you me and my girlfriends woulsd just cruise around in our auto and see some of the most fabulous Divas ever. Then there were even the most beautiful feale workers and stunning male entetainers all over the place. Now you can’t find them anywhere and in just a short time this culture which I recall being in existance since I was a small toddler has disappeared.
    I here it when one of the commenters says they can’t wait for this techy culture to go away because I too want my city back. So if you are just passing through, i feel that is just using us to advance to your own desired position in society without any real commitment to our city and its advancement. And if that is the case, I wish you would not have come here in the first place. Taking the jobs and adding to the rental hikings due to your becoming another player in that struggle. Before all of this bull crap SF was affordable and more family oriented. But do trust us familys are still here and have learned to surbive all of this lobbying and cultural vetting. And we will be here to see the demise of this crap.

    Reply
  7. Annoyed-by-whiny-blog-posts

    The history of the Bay Area has been boom and bust since the Gold Rush. As a native and a millennial, yes its hard. But every major city in the US is hard at the moment. It just so happens that SF is currently as expensive as Manhattan. If you didn’t know that, you clearly didn’t do your homework before you arrived. Its only been the last 5 years that we’ve been Manhattan-level expensive. Do some homework: figure out the dynamics why we’re so expensive recently. No one likes it.

    Also SF has changed drastically in the past 5 years with the number of n00bs moving into the city. Long-time businesses are disappearing. Much of the original character of SF is gone; it is incredibly depressing. Instead of complaining about SF, you should make an effort to make your mark on the city, improve it, and give it character.

    Instead of complaining about the homeless; figure out why there’s a large homeless population in SF. And know your terminology between the homeless vs. the actual transient population (not transients like yourself). There’s a reason why there are way more homeless people living in the streets in SF, California, Hawaii instead of the streets of the East Coast (hint: you enjoy our weather just as much as a homeless person.). Volunteer for one of the shelters and get involved in local politics. For every native that is priced out of SF and has to move to the suburbs, SF is losing its voice.

    Read and understand the history of California. The history of California was built on transients. That’s what makes our state & city amazing. Also, if you drive out of the Bay Area, it isn’t as expensive and things are completely different. There’s a reason why a lot of people move to California. Most natives move out of California because its increasingly expensive (but figure out why it’s increasingly expensive).

    I assume you work in Tech, startups, or finance in downtown in San Francisco. Those are where the jobs are. Jobs bring people to a new place. Of course you’re not going to encounter a native San Franciscan as often. We also work there too. We also work around the city too. No offense, but you act like everyone is a transient because you live in a bubble. Get out of your bubble and go out of your way to find a native.

    If you really want to survive like us Natives, you hold on for the ride. It’s a ride every 10 years. And when it busts, everyone moves back to their sad depressing little towns back east and the Bay Area becomes a ghost town with cheap rent. You’ll come back, and realize how unpretentious we are compared to the East Coast, spoiled by the amazing weather, or decide to grit your teeth hold on and do something amazing and become one of us.

    And yes, Rent control is retarded. You can thank the idiots in the 1970s in SF and curse all of the voters in Richmond, Mountain View, Alameda and the other bay area cities who recently passed it this year. But then, I assume you didn’t because you’re not a Native and didn’t voice your opinion when it came to politics. Landlords AND tenants hate Rent Control. But you have to look at it from every perspective and figure out why it is being approved on the ballot. Why? And what can you do to voice your opinion on it?

    Native Bay Area Girl: that’s what earthquakes are for and tech busts. Just hold on and wait for the crash. Patience my friend. We’re the ones who always hang on tight on for the ride.

    Reply

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