Truth be told, I get asked this question quite a bit. “Which area do you like more? San Diego or San Francisco.” Seems like this should be a really easy one to answer, but reality is, there are a lot of benefits to each of these areas, and I like them both… a lot. Here are some of the pros and cons I have for each of my beloved cities.
San Francisco – I love San Francisco. I have loved it ever since I was a kid, and had always had dreams of moving to the city for as long as I can remember. So when opportunity presented itself, I was all for it!! You might ask, “What do you like about SF?” Well I am glad you asked!! First and foremost, the food! I don’t mean only the fancy shmancy places that charge an arm and a leg! Reality is San Francisco actually has a number of places that don’t cost a testicle (or ovary) to eat at, you just need to venture out a little bit.
I lived in both Pacific Heights and the Richmond district while I lived in the city, and though it is harder to find a deal in Pacific Heights, there are a number of places within a stone’s throw that are fantastic. Looking for a great, cheap, mom & pop bakery? Try out Lung Fung in Richmond district for $1.10 pork buns. There are a number of pastries here worth their while as well. Try the one out with the egg, or the one with a hotdog! All good!!
If you’re in the area, pop into Izakaya Sozai over in the Sunset district. This is probably one of the best ramens I have ever had (especially when is dressed with a fried egg, extra pork belly, and crispy garlic). Not to mentioned their Izakya here is legit as well. I am big fan of the grilled pork cheek J
Another great aspect of living San Francisco is the job market! If you are in the tech industry, this is the place to be! Whether it is a startup, a well-established tech company, or even a large bank, there are a number of jobs in the city, and a number of really high paying jobs. Unfortunately, you’ll need the high paying job to counter one of my number one cons in the area… Extremely high cost of living!
Apartment shopping in San Francisco is a total bitch! No other way to describe that one! When my wife and I decided to make the move, we thought finding an apartment would be tough, so we decided to make it even harder with our two small dogs. Granted, we had pretty tough search criteria. We were looking for a 2 bedroom (or one bedroom with a den), we needed a garage, and preferred to have a washer and dryer in the unit due to our active lifestyle. We felt lucky to find our first apartment there with the nice low price tag of $4500 a month, and felt evenly luckier when we found our second place with a low price tag of $4250. Perhaps you can knock you rent down a bit by looking in places like the Tenderloin, or even Lower Pac Heights, but you’ll have to contend with the occasional naked homeless guy cruising the streets, and an uptick in the total number of turds and syringes on the ground.
Are you non-confrontational? Maybe SF isn’t the best place for you. There were a number of times where I would have to chase pot smoking homeless guys off of our patio, have shielded elderly women from another homeless practicing ninjitsu on a newspaper stands, and have fed a number of folks living under the post office awning. The homeless population is a growing issue in SF, and you should be prepared for any encounter as it relates to them.
There is a certain amount of filth you will have to put up with in the city. Don’t like playing “Dog or Human” when you see a turd on the sidewalk? Don’t like sweeping up syringes from time to time? Don’t like trash tornadoes sweeping down your street? Well… then you might want to rethink your desire to move into the city.
My last gripe about the city relates to its loss of identity. There was a time when there were kids in San Fran, where there were a ton of artists, activists, and people rights advocates. Unfortunately, it feels like a number of the things that made San Francisco what it is are quickly moving out of the city to make way for all of the tech giants that are moving in. You can still find your random artists’ spots here and there, but they fewer and farther between these days.
(Image borrowed from visit California)
San Diego. This is actually my second time living in San Diego. I lived here when I went to college, and moved back once we were ready to leave SF. So, what do I like about San Diego? Easy! Beaches, beaches, and beaches. San Diego has some of the best coast line in the world, and for an avid outdoors person, it works out really well for me. Want to ride your bike on the coastline while staring at girls (and guys for that matter) in their swim suits? Bike San Diego’s coastline. Want to hike on the cliffs at a beach? Check out the trails by the Torrey Pines glider port. The water can be a little cold in the winter months, but rest assured those warm months, and the crowds at the beaches, will be back as soon as the warmer months come around.
Now, I know the food scene in San Diego is not as good as San Francisco, but there is one thing San Diego definitely does better than San Francisco, and that’s Mexican food! I am serious! SF may have invented the burrito, but I would stack a Luche Libre California Surf and Turf burrito against any burrito in SF any day of the week. And as far as the food scene goes, San Diego’s is coming around. There are bunch of new restaurants through all of Little Italy, North Park, and South Park, that are really great. A personal favorite of mine is Juniper and Ivy in Italy by Richard Blais. It’s not every day you can walk into a restaurant and have sweetbreads, carne cruda tartare, or braised beef rib, and this place really does it right. Want something a little more relaxed? Head next door to his other restaurant the Crack Shack and get some fried chicken, carne asada fries, and a cold draft beer.
San Diego is also a more relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps this has to do with there being more space, more coastline, or even just warmer weather, San Diego has a far more relaxed atmosphere than San Francisco. Being in SF can be tense! With all the tech industry booming, bus/BART rides into the city, and crowds of tourists downtown, SF can feel far more crowded, and far more tense than San Diego.
Now on to my cons for San Diego. Unfortunately, the job market in San Diego just isn’t as strong as San Francisco. If you have made your way in your career with a San Francisco wage, and have moved to San Diego, don’t expect to find that same wage in the south land. Generally, large tech jobs in San Diego, and OC for that matter, and few and far between. Where SF people will jump from job to job within a few months, San Diego’s job market just simply won’t allow for this type of movement between companies.
Also, though the trolley in San Diego is growing, public transit in the area is woefully short of that in San Francisco. Want to take a bus from Mission Valley to La Jolla? Good luck with that!! I certainly miss taking the bus into the city in San Francisco, even though it does come with its fair share of craziness from time to time.
From an outdoors perspective… Both cities offer a good amount of outdoor activities. Want to go for a long hike in San Francisco? Head over to Marin and hike through the headlands. Want to do the same thing in San Diego? Head east to Mt Laguna and hike through part of the PCT. Want something closer to the coast in San Francisco, head to the Land’s End trail and hike the coast with picturesque views of the Golden Gate bridge. Want the same type of hike in San Diego, head to Torrey Pines and watch people leap off of the cliff at the glider port.
I would however give San Diego the slight edge when it comes to outdoors, simply because the weather is so nice that you can almost always make your way outside without the fear of rain, sideways rain, crazy fog, or 50 degree weather in the summer time.
So… what’s my final choice… Well… I’d pick San Diego J