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Moving to the Bay Area

While every city is sure to have its own specific charms, there’s no place quite like San Francisco. From cable cars to the Golden Gate Bridge to stunning views around every corner, San Francisco is well known throughout the world. The city (or “The City,” if you’re a local) has a mood, a spirit, and a beat that can’t be had anywhere else.

Moving to any new place can be overwhelming, but especially so in a city that’s renowned for having a touch of the dramatic. But don’t despair — once you’ve acclimated, you won’t ever want to leave. To help ease your transition, we’ve prepared this little guide to some of the dos and don’ts – the secrets, shortcuts, and mispronunciations — that you’ll find in San Francisco.

Let’s start with the obvious one:

Don’t Call It “Frisco”

…Or you’ll look like a tourist from 40 years ago. It’s “San Francisco.” Beyond that, just specify which side of the bay you’re referring to, and you’ll fit right in.

We’re glad you’re moving to the Bay Area, and we’re sure it won’t be long before it feels like home! Welcome!

“Why Isn’t It Golden?”

The bridge is officially “International Orange”, and it always has been. It’s neither gold, nor a gate. A golden bridge would look weird in the fog (oh yes, we’ll talk about the fog) and would be downright dangerous in the sunlight. In fact, it gets its name because it spans the Golden Gate Strait, translated from the Greek Chrysopylae, which was given its name in the 1840s. If you’re interested, it has nothing to do with the California gold rush — it was a tasteful reference to the harbour at Byzantium, now Istanbul, originally called the “golden horn”.

The Fog

The fog rolls in frequently, without warning, and is such a fixture that he’s taken on a persona. His name is Karl, and you can follow him on Twitter @KarlTheFog.

Fog or not, all the locals dress in layers, and carry a light jacket, and you’ll soon see why. The weather can change in minutes, either between microclimates (yep — we sure got ’em) or even just in a single place. The temperature can drop ten or twenty degrees without warning, and your warm, sunny, summery day can turn to cold and damp at the drop of a hat. We don’t just dress for the weather, we dress for all the weather.

Allow 2-3 days for Parking

Alright — that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it can still be a hassle if you don’t leave some extra time for it. Sometimes it seems like there are more cars than can actually fit in the city, and everyone is playing an eternal game of musical parking spots. There’s a reason why Lyft and Uber are so popular here. That might be part of the reason that…

“Appointments”

…are interpreted a little more loosely here than in, say, New York. We don’t mean any disrespect, it’s just generally understood that we add an “-ish” to every clock-time. We’re no strangers to waiting around for things, you see…

Lining Up For Things

…Is one of our civic pastimes. If you want to hit a food truck, say, or get brunch, you might be waiting in line for an hour or more, with dozens of patrons for whom the delays are perfectly normal and border on social occasions in and of themselves. It’s all worth it though, because

The Food

…Is amazing. There’s a huge farm-to-table movement, emphasizing local, fresh produce. There’s more to our cuisine than burritos and sushi, so we hope you’ll take the time to explore all that we have to offer.

And on the subject of burritos…

Don’t eat burritos with a knife and fork.

Just don’t. Seriously. But definitely do add the guac; you won’t regret it.

Avocados

Yes, they’re everywhere, and no, you haven’t tried them before, at least not like this. They’re ubiquitous and delicious, and you’ll seem completely out of place if you ever decline one. They’re great on everything, so prepare to experiment.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The city is pricy. In fact, it has the most expensive cost of living in North America. The rent is outrageous, everything costs more than you think it will, and that’s led to some problems. There’s a large homeless population, because of the high cost of living and the hospitable climate, and there are some areas that aren’t as clean as they could be.

But, we persevere. We have a communal spirit, we share with our neighbours, we volunteer and work to make our city a little bit better. We celebrate anything and everything with an endless parade of festivals and cheer, and we welcome everyone. We preserve our nature trails, and we sneak green spaces into nooks and crannies and rooftop gardens. The beauty of San Francisco, like so many cities, is that there is always something new to discover..

We’re glad you’re moving to the Bay Area, and we’re sure it won’t be long before it feels like home. Welcome!