I've been living in SF since October 2014 which makes it about 8 months. Including my time in Mountain View it's now 13 months total. Interesting considering I thought I would only be here for 1 month before heading back to Sydney.
It's interesting to me because the cover photo for this blog is of San Francisco. But when I chose it using Artisteer (back when I was living in Sydney) I didn't know what city it was. Strange coincidence.
It's been an interesting time to live in SF. More so than any other city in the world your experience of it depends on the time in which you lived here. That's mostly because of the impact technology and a tech industry has on lifestyle and cities. SF before the early 2000s dotcom crash is very different to SF in 2002 after the crash. And right now SF is in the middle of a tech boom the likes of which have not been seen before.
For a city with only 840,000 people and massive housing constraints it's having a warped effect on the city and it's demographics. And this housings situation filters down into everything about this city. From young startup founders paying $5k per month rents on SOMA lofts to blue collar workers being forced out of their communities to the owner-occupiers and investors blocking progress to the tenants clinging to their rent control for dear life to the massive homeless population that's estimated between 7,000 - 14,000.
So people move elsewhere in the Bay Area and because of this, geography and how things get funded here you end up with a transportation system that can't keep up and is bursting at the seams.
The homelessness is the thing anyone moving to the area from Australia and other places will find the most noticeable. Walking to work recently I looked up to see a woman squatting on the street to relive herself. And I'm not talking about urinating. Human feces on the main streets of the city are a common sight. It's hard to reconcile this with the tremendous wealth and optimism of the tech community that occupies the city.
I used to think Sydney's housing situation was tough but it's nothing compared to the challenges of San Francisco.
The things I love about living in SF are going to the baseball at AT&T park. The ease of transport thanks to Lyft and Uber. Given their competitiveness with each other the past year has meant that living in this city is very different to any other time. It's also, despite the hills, a very walkable and compact city. Just 7 by 7 miles as the city is fond of saying. When it does shine it's gorgeous and the access to beautiful hiking areas is worth savouring.
I enjoy living here and for what I do it's the place to be but I don't see it as a long term replacement for Sydney, not just yet.