17 Things We Wish We'd Known Before Moving To San Francisco

Moving to a new city is exciting — new things to see, do, and eat — but it also comes with an exhausting array of new details to figure out, from what’s worth seeing to how to dress.

And San Francisco is no exception. Anyone planning to move here should be ready for hills, chilly nights, and an amazing local culture. From visiting Alcatraz at night, exploring the city’s many parks, and finding the best extra-large burritos, there’s plenty to experience.

For anyone ready to move West, we’ve surveyed our editors and friends about what they wish they’d known before moving to San Fran, and gleaned the best insider tips.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. “Between all the parks and beaches, there is so much nature to explore right here in the city.” — Ron Radu

2. “The Giants rule: I haven’t seen a single person wearing an Oakland A’s hat.” — Eugene Kim

3. “Watch out for hills. If you Google Maps something and it says it’s only a few blocks away, you might end up walking up a cliff face to get there. Uber it instead.” — Paul Szoldra

4. “The best Alcatraz tour is the night tour, which not many tourists know about.” — Michael Jacobs

5. “When your heart sinks walking by the many homeless people and addicts, DO SOMETHING about it. Some great places to volunteer are Glide, SF Food Bank, Hamilton Family Center.” — Katherine Krug

6. “Never, ever leave home without a jacket — 90 degrees at 10 a.m. is not an indicator of the weather at 5 p.m.” — Edward Aten

7. “Fog is a mainstay — can’t think of a morning that I woke up without there being fog. It even has a name — Karl — and an Instagram .” — Corey Brand

8. “Never get rid of any costumes because there are plenty of opportunities to dress up: Bay to Breakers and Halloween being just two of them.” — Suzanne Galvin

9. “They always check your clipper card right when you run out of money on it.” — Graham Gaylor

10. “Everyone should know what a Mission-style burrito is.” — Karyne Levy

Mission Style Burrito

Ross Bruniges/Flickr
Mission-style burritos, also known as San Francisco burritos, are larger than typical ones.

11. “Oakland counts. Before I moved to SF, living in the city was all I thought about, and we fought super hard to find an apartment in SF proper. But now that we live in Oakland we’re just as happy, don’t feel disconnected from the city, and pay cheaper rent.” — Zach Verdin

Oakland skyline

Daniel Ramirez/Flickr
Oakland as seen from Lake Merritt.

12. “Shoes: make sure they’re comfortable to walk in. SF is a pretty casually dressing city, so you can worry about your shoe game less and the comfort of your feet more. That’s important because walking up the city’s hills is tough on your feet.” — Joey Cosco

13. “Trash cans in offices are almost non-existent: Recycling and compost are a way of life.” — Carolyn Bartlett

14. “I wish I knew that being surrounded by people trying to create the ‘next Facebook,’ would heavily influence me to try and do the same, although I don’t particularly enjoy using Facebook.” — Victor Mathieux

Mark zuckerberg facebookREUTERS/Robert GalbraithEveryone wants to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.

15. “It’s always rush hour.” — Ron Radu

16. “People will judge you based on your neighbourhood, so choose wisely or offer up your cross streets when people ask where you live.” — Suzanne Galvin

17. “Some tourist spots (Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, The Buena Vista Cafe) are truly amazing and frequented by locals as well.” — Edward Aten

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