Moving to a new city is a major life event, and that’s especially true if you’re moving to San Francisco with its very specific climate, culture and infrastructure. Being prepared and informed will spare you tons of hassle and save many hours which you can then use to enjoy your new home by the Bay!

Here is a quick guide for newcomers to San Francisco with advice to get you settled in.

You should learn the local lingo

Who is this Bart guy everyone keeps talking about? San Francisco has a strong identity and that is reflected in its language. While terms like “slaps” and “let’s bail” have now become popular in other places across the country, you might still find yourself feeling out of the loop when talking to a native of The City. Or maybe you’re wondering why everyone can tell right away that you’re new here (hint: did you say you came in on the 101? Drop the “the” next time.) Here’s a basic taste of San Francisco’s local lingo:

  • Hella – “A lot, very,” and you’ll hear this one hella often
  • Muni – San Francisco Municipal Railway, one of the city’s two major public transport systems
  • BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit, the other major public transport system, serving the wider Bay Area
  • For The F – “For Free,” keep an ear out for this one, there might be something in it for you
  • Karl – Karl the Fog, a staple of SF weather that is loved by some, loathed by others
  • The City –San Francisco itself, not to be confused with…
  • The Town – Oakland, the neighboring city across the Bay
  • Yadadamean – “You know what I mean?” said really fast

It’s electric heaven…

San Francisco ranks as the second-most EV-friendly metro in the United States according to a study by StorageCafe, and with over 2,500 charging stations spread across the city, it’s not hard to see why! San Francisco has been making great strides to encourage its citizens to go green, through programs like Clean Cars for All where you can scrap your old gas-guzzler and receive up to $9,500 towards your shiny new electric car. Furthermore, over a third of the San Francisco public transportation system itself runs on clean energy according to the aforementioned study.

…But you might be better off biking

You’ll become a master in traffic awareness too! While biking may not sound like a good idea in a city made famous by its steep inclines, not every street is Filbert Street, and biking is gaining a lot of popularity. The City’s government page claims that 16% of San Franciscans are frequent bicyclists, and that pedaling around on two wheels can save you up to $8,000 per year! That’s not even including the priceless time you save by not being stuck in traffic.

Some of the best bike routes in San Francisco include The Wiggle to Golden Gate Park, or the Golden Gate Bridge itself with its jaw dropping views. Remember to always wear protective gear and to only cross Muni rails at an angle!
Two bicycles parked on grass in front of Golden Gate Bridge

Exploration pays off big time!

Telegraph Street is teaming with parrots, the Wave Organ past the Marina District Lighthouse sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard before and there’s a herd of buffalo living in the city’s largest park. If any of this is making you curious, then you’re coming to the right place.

Not only that, but exploration is the best way to score some amazing treats and unique items as well as to really experience the life of your new city. It’s San Francisco after all! Go shopping in Haight, try the food around Mission and definitely go for the Alcatraz night tour!

If you’re not that into cityscapes then there’s something special for you too. Being able to reach Big Sur, Yosemite National Park or even Redwood National Park within less than a day’s drive from San Francisco has something uniquely liberating to it.

Learn to live big in small places

At about 47 square miles in total, space is at a premium in San Francisco in every sense of the word. While the national average size for a home is at around 2,480 square feet, San Franciscans must use space wisely, as The City averages only 1,350 square feet per home. One of the best ways to combat lack of space in your new house is to use self storage for the items you use less frequently. In the age of work-from-home this is more important than ever before – you probably need that extra space for your home office or studio.

Did you know that you can easily store the contents of an entire one-bedroom apartment in a standard 10×10 storage unit? It’s much cheaper too! In San Francisco, such a unit now goes for $274 per month on average. Smaller self storage options can even go below the $20 mark if you only need to store some seasonal gear like skis or mountain bikes. Choose the best storage space for your needs and avoid the clutter.

The weather is… something else!

“If you don’t like the weather in San Francisco, just wait a few minutes or walk a few blocks” is something you might hear often over here. The City’s oceanic surroundings coupled with its varied elevation virtually guarantee meteorological shenanigans, so it’s important to be adaptable. One of the best things you can do to prepare for San Francisco weather is to dress in layers so you can adjust on the fly. Bring a backpack to keep all your extra layers in… you’ll need them later. Also, a good thing to remember is that the seasons are somewhat staggered in San Francisco – summer only comes in around September!
Famous Lombard Street, San Francisco, California, USA
Like with many cities, living in San Francisco is most challenging right at the start. It can seem daunting at first but remember that many people have done it before – you can too! By the time you’ve figured out how San Franciscans talk, get around and live their lives, you’ll have already become one yourself. Yadadamean?


George is a Real Estate Writer and Lifestyle Editor for Yardi, with a background in languages, marketing and YouTube content creation. He is now seeking to bring his love of detail and storytelling to the world of real estate. You can find him browsing Age of Sail books at your local bookstore, probably...

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