20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to San Francisco

San Francisco, CA, reigns as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., so a lot of Americans think they know everything there is to know about the City by the Bay. That’s not the case, though. If you’re planning a move to San Francisco, be sure to check out these 20 things you need to know.

1. Bring your checkbook.

No, really, bring lots and lots of money. While the act of writing checks is passé, spending money in San Francisco is not. San Francisco is the second most expensive city in the U.S.

2. Your neighborhood describes you.

Mission District
The Mission is among San Francisco’s distinct neighborhoods.

Certain neighborhoods are known for certain types of dwellers. You gotta up your cool quotient if you live in certain neighborhoods. The Mission is for hipsters and Generation Xers, SOMA is startup central, the Marina is for post-college frat boys and Noe Valley houses a lot of families.

3. The rent is high.

According to Priceonomics, the median rental price of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was $3,120 as of June 2014. But you’re likely to find lower rents west of the city’s fog line; in that section of the city, fog is heavier.

4. It’s getting more crowded.

San Francisco traffic
The population of San Francisco continues to grow.

With the city’s population close to 840,000, San Francisco greeted nearly 16,000 people who moved from other states and nearly 12,000 who moved from abroad between 2008 and 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

5. It’s foodie heaven.

We’re a city full of foodies. San Francisco boasts 39 restaurants per 10,000 households (2012). That number can’t be beat by any other large metro area in the U.S.

6. Eat out early.

San Francisco restaurant
Many San Francisco restaurants close by 10 p.m.

Unlike New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco isn’t an all-night town. Even the most popular restaurants close around 10 p.m.

7. Get out of your tiny apartment.

From music festivals to outdoor activities to cultural events, there’s no shortage of things to do in San Francisco, and many of the activities are free.

8. We’re a haven for the homeless.

homeless man
Mild weather draws homeless people to San Francisco.

This is an obvious statement for anyone who knows even a little bit about San Francisco. The city’s mild weather attracts a lot of homeless people, as the climate is conducive to living outside all year long.

9. Layer, layer, layer.

Come on, this isn’t Southern California. Always have a light jacket or sweater within arm’s reach, since it can be chilly in one spot in San Francisco and warm in another spot.

10. Costumes are pervasive.

woman in costume
Costumes are in abundance in San Francisco.

San Franciscans don’t need to use the annual Bay to Breakers race or any other of its multitude of events as an excuse to wear a costume. Walking around in the buff also used to be considered a “costume” until the city banned public nudity two years ago.

11. We’re groomed for dogs.

It’s commonly known that there are more dogs than children in San Francisco. Some dog owners take their canine pals with them everywhere.

12. Step down.

Other passengers will yell at MUNI-riding rookies if they don’t step down on the back steps to allow the bus doors to open.

13. It’s a young population.

The massive tech incubator influx has attracted younger workers, with residents ages 25 to 44 making up the highest percentage.

14. Lombard Street isn’t the steepest street.

Lombard Street
The grade of Lombard Street is 27 percent.

Lombard Street is at a mere 27 percent grade, while other steep San Francisco streets range from 41 percent (Bradford above Tompkins) to 31 percent (Broadway above Taylor). Driving down one of these streets is a sure way to get your heart racing.

15. Bring your comfortable shoes.

San Francisco has more than 50 hills, meaning you and your feet will get a workout.

16. Ditch the umbrella.

Rainy San Francisco
San Franciscans equip themselves with umbrellas to brave the elements.

Unlike folks in Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA, locals do use umbrellas when it rains. Watch out for those newbies, though, who think it’s OK to carry huge golf-style umbrellas downtown. They’ll poke your eye out.

17. San Francisco is made up transplants.

The more you get to know people, the more you find out about how they migrated to the city.

18. There are three cable car lines.

San Francisco cable car
Locals typically don’t ride the cable cars.

Mainly tourists use San Francisco’s cable car system. However, everyone who lives in the city should ride the cable cars at least once.

19. It’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

Locals pronounce it Fishermen’s Wharf, though.

20. There’s no “h” in Crissy Field, people.

When you’re updating your online dating profile, drop that “h” in Crissy Field. Dotted with rehabbed airplane hangers and beautiful shoreline, the popular former airfield is named after Maj. Dana Crissy.

Janet Haney