Things to Know Before Moving to San Francisco for School


Moving to a new city to attend school is one of the most exciting steps you can take in your young life. San Francisco, with it’s counter-culture reputation, mild weather, and proximity to the ocean, is an obvious favorite for many. If you’re interested in moving to SF, but you’re not a bay area native, here are a few tips that will make your adjustment period infinitely easier so you can focus on having fun and learning new things.

1. Taxi drivers can smell a newbie

This is true in any big city, but don’t let it scare you off. As time goes by you’ll learn the fastest routes, and be able to spot a swindling cabbie even when you’ve had four shots of fernet and can’t find your iPhone because it’s in your other hand. Until then, don’t take a cab to the airport, and don’t spend more than $20 to get anywhere within city limits, and you should be fine.

2. Don’t drive yourself anywhere, ever

Rush hour in San Francisco lasts from sun up, to sunset, and while it’s not as foreboding as other major metropolitan traffic jams (read: Los Angeles and Atlanta), it’s worth your peace of mind to simply take public transportation if you need to make it somewhere on time. If you absolutely insist on driving yourself, add at least 30 minutes to your eta.

3. Anywhere north of Berkeley is too far away

People who live in the East Bay don’t usually find themselves in the city unless they have a class or a job. It’s a fact that cuts both ways. Partly to blame are the unreasonable BART (the train that runs under the bay) hours of operation which are designed to make grown adults feel like they’ve got a middle school curfew.

As a result, it’s just easier to party close enough to home that you won’t get stuck sleeping in off in a station somewhere. So keep your school’s location in mind when you’re picking an apartment.

4. Learn to parallel park anything

Despite the fact that you will, if you’re wise, rarely drive, it is essential to hone your ability to parallel park. In the fog, with a line of bleating traffic behind you and another streaming towards you, on an incline so steep you feel you might slide off, in a space so small only a matchbox car would fit. Being able to perform this feat without breaking into tears will make you a hero amongst all your friends, and will keep you from panicking when you have to rent a Uhaul to move.


5. You will get robbed

Doing foolish things like carrying a purse over one shoulder, falling asleep on the train, leaving anything of even the remotest value in your car, or improperly securing your bike, bike seat, bike tires, or cute little wicker bike basket, wearing your wallet in your pocket, or leaving your computer unattended at the coffee shop, will only increase your chances of being robbed.

6. Silence can be deadly

People who drive in SF often drive electric cars, which are notoriously quiet. So, look before you cross any street.

7. Dress for all seasons

If you’re moving from the midwest or even the northeast, you probably think that weather ranging between 40 and 80 degrees sounds like a walk in the park, but what you don’t know yet are the city’s microclimates and how heavily reliant you will become on direct sunlight.

Thanks to the nearby ocean, the city is a windy place, and depending on where the sun is in the sky, you can wear a coat, hoodie, hat, gloves in one block, and need a t-shirt in the next. Also keep in mind, the buildings in the city aren’t insulated like the ones in more variable climates.

8. And don’t call it San Fran

This screams tourist. No one who lives in San Francisco calls it San Fran. Call it SF, the city, or any other number of cute nicknames, but avoid the San Fran trap. It screams, not from around here.