Is San Francisco THAT bad??

I'm looking at a job out in SF which seems like a great fit, but I'm hesitant to move across the country (currently in the Northeast) only to end up hating where I live. I've only visited a handful of times and I generally liked it, but is it really as bad as people say in terms of homelessness, prices, people, dating, etc.?

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Comments (51)

  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Feb 2, 2021 - 10:50am

My advice (if this is an option, and I realize it just seems like common sense) would be to talk with people you know and trust who have lived out there. Just like you see stories about many other cities with strong views on either side, you'll see that with SF. People have different tastes, preferences, budgets, etc. I would also recommend doing some research on the things that are more straightforward (I.e. housing costs and what you get for your money), as with point 1, people have different expectations. 

With that said, I'll give my view as a "random stranger online" (have spent a lot of time there, family lived there for a bit, and have a close friend who lives there). I think the comments on this board around the homelessness and how terrible the city is are overblown. If you live or have lived in nyc, SF will feel like a smaller city, that's all. Things I've noticed:

1) housing prices are high for desirable areas: don't plan on saving on rent if moving from nyc or similar. Again, depends on where you want to be

2) culture is different: a lot more centered around tech, less of the high strung finance crowd

3) great access to outdoor activities: tons of hiking, skiing, beaches, etc all close by, additionally you have napa a close drive 

Overall I like it there, but again it depends on the type of person you are. I would struggle a bit with parts of the overall culture (huge generalization on my part here). My friend who lives out there enjoys it but also lives a bit outside the city and wanted a quieter place. 

  • Analyst 3+ in AM - Other
Feb 2, 2021 - 11:47am

Prob not the answer you're looking for - but I travel a decent amount and find SF extremely overrated. People are always raving about the weather there... like what? It's cold and gloomy most of the year. 

ill take LA or San Diego all day every day. Better weather, beaches, less tech-y, hotter girls, cooler people in general 

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  • Prospect in IB - CB
Feb 9, 2021 - 1:37am

There aren't opportunities in San Diego right?

Feb 2, 2021 - 11:55am

SF is good for visiting. It's a different story living there. Visitors only see a small part of the city when they visit.

  • Homeless: Yes, it's a big and ever present issue. SF provides a lot of resources to the homeless. They are predominately clustered in certain areas (tenderloin, south of market, downtown) with access to services so if you live close to those areas, you will be around them. Tenderloin is close to Union Square where tons of tourists gather so people come away with the impression that SF has homeless everywhere; it's only part true. In other parts of the city, you might not come across even one. The majority are nonviolent and won't interact with you
  • Prices: It's expensive. Home prices are through the roof so you won't be able to buy unless you're rolling in the dough. Rent prices are down a lot compared to 2019. SF rental market is expensive and similar to NYC. Cost of living is similar to NYC
  • Dating: Not good. You have thousands of well paid single men competing with you. If you want quality, you're going to have something exceptional (e.g. looks, money, talent) to do well. Different story if you like men.
  • Job opportunities: Lots of good finance firms out there. SF has money managers like ValueAct, Orbis, Dodge & Cox, Farallon, etc. to name a few. Where there are rich people there are finance opportunities
  • Other: SF is a citadel for rich people. Lots of people hustling under the guise of their startup changing da world and disrupting old industries. People worship money and wealth out there. If you are wealthy you can enjoy yourself and do tons of stuff. By wealthy I mean at least $300k+ for one person. Go buy a porsche and drive up to Napa Valley wine country with someone special and have a good time.
  • Investment Manager in HF - Other
Feb 2, 2021 - 12:29pm

This isn't true, again depends on areas you choose, lifestyle, etc but using any publicly available information it is a toss up at best (and most will show nyc is more expensive). 

EDIT: unsure why the MS, just use any online calculator, or gather the data yourself. Again, it is very location dependent but it isn't a wide margin in either direction (and you want to look at manhattan and probably areas within that, similarly you probably exclude tenderloin or similar)

Feb 2, 2021 - 11:58am

Its a disgusting cesspool where you'll spend $3500 a month on a 1 bedroom to wake up to hep-c infected homeless feces sprayed on your front doorstep every morning. But they have cool parks. 

- Experience of a friend of mine in banking who moved out after the above happened for months on end. 

Feb 2, 2021 - 12:01pm

I moved out to SF before COVID and really enjoyed my stay. It's absolutely a unique culture and it's not NYC, but if you understand that going in that you will enjoy it for what it is. I lived in the Marina and never had issues with homeless people or the bar/dating scene. there are plenty of places you can live where this is the case (just don't live in the Tenderloin and you should be fine). 

All of that being said, I chose to leave due to the reaction the city continues to have to COVID-19. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I personally have no desire to live in a place that's still as shut down as SF, and almost everyone in my office feels the same way as we have all left and not returned. 

Feb 2, 2021 - 2:16pm

Pre-covid, how was the commute from the Marina? Considering settling there when I start FT

Feb 2, 2021 - 2:45pm

Assuming the Marina Express (bus route 30x) is up and running the commute is very quick, easy, and cheap. The walk will take you about 45 minutes or so if you wanted to do it, but you will more than likely have to end up walking through the Broadway Tunnel unless you want to hike all the way up Russian Hill.

It really is a great place to be though in regards to proximity to FiDi, good bars, best dating scene, close to Fort Mason.

Feb 2, 2021 - 12:36pm

Great city. Good food. I love the access to beaches, mountains, wine country, etc. My only issue was the culture was way toooooo liberal. I'm not a political person, far from it, so I don't like it when people beliefs encompass your daily life. Also I went in June and it was crazy windy. So weather is a big minus point it seems.


Feb 2, 2021 - 12:41pm

The data is from 2018, but SF was 8th in the nation in homelessn people per 100,000 residents, LESS than LA, NYC, Seattle. Hard to believe given the endless shit SF gets for its homeless. I've only read spent time in SF, NYC, and Portland as well. Didn't feel like there was more or less homeless people in each city.

NYC data is also hard to look at since most of us usually mean just Manhattan and not the sorrounding boroughs.

Feb 2, 2021 - 1:49pm

Yes thats hard to believe. I went to SF the first time last year. We went out at night and my god I thought I was looking at refugee camps. Tents everywhere. We went to the pier, for every 1 tourist, we saw like 4 homeless people. Really eye opening to see.


Feb 2, 2021 - 12:45pm

San Francisco is pretty bad but the peninsula right below it is very nice... If you are planning starting family long-term, there are some excellent neighborhoods and schools if you go 20 minutes south. What can't be overstated about SF is how small it is compared to most major cities. Like there are 700,000 people or something, and proportionally much less people in finance than NYC

There are decent finance-bro neighborhoods but the nightlife is poor pretty much everywhere. And homelessness is rampant.... but honestly not that bad in the financial district. You just have to know where to not go at night. The weather is shit. Peninsula weather is some of the best in the world but san Francisco is covered in fog 100% of the time from April- October, and asides from that its like 45 and freezing. 

That being said, if you are looking at going in tech finance, there is no better place to start 

  • VP in IB - Ind
Feb 2, 2021 - 1:25pm

I have family in the SF suburbs, their tiny unassuming house is $3 mil. The house prices seem crazy compared to Westchester/Nassau

Feb 2, 2021 - 1:20pm

Yes it's a shithole nowadays. It used to be amazing, clean, thriving. Ask anyone who's seen the progression of the city. Democratic leaders have destroyed San Francisco and that's not a hyperbole. I know so many people who used to live there, came back to visit, and said they're never coming back.

Feb 2, 2021 - 1:20pm

Yes it's a shithole nowadays. It used to be amazing, clean, thriving. Ask anyone who's seen the progression of the city. Democratic leaders have destroyed San Francisco and that's not a hyperbole. I know so many people who used to live there, came back to visit, and said there never coming back.

Feb 13, 2021 - 1:01pm

Boston is a very Democrat-leaning city and far better kept than SF. Most of Europe is left-leaning too, but has far cleaner cities/subways than SF. It's just that many folks in SF/Berkeley are too focused on SJW nonsense or "disrupting the world" instead of actually fixing their city. They don't care that downtown SF feels worse than downtown Mumbai.

  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Feb 2, 2021 - 3:47pm

I think for the most part SF can be fine, not great. If you're willing to try it out for 2 years, I think you're experience will be fine. You can steer clear of most of the bad aspects of SF over the course of 2 years, but after that it might be harder to not get distracted by it. So if you're looking at it as a potential place to settle more permanently in the future, I don't recommend it. I've lived in the SF Bay Area for almost 20 years and am already leaving for pretty much the same reasons people constantly mention. I'll admit one of the big ones for me is the arrogance of tech culture and how much it actually ruined a lot of the bay area and didn't fix standing issues despite how expensive housing is and how big the salaries are.

Feb 2, 2021 - 6:56pm

Most of it isn't great but there's a few spots that are really fun (e.g. the Marina) that have a lot of young people and it's clean with good bars. Venture out of those few areas and it's dirty and not great. Just my experience

  • Analyst 1 in AM - Equities
Feb 2, 2021 - 11:31pm

omg if your from the north east and are looking to move to SF than your in for a rude awakening

SF is disgusting, like total shithole.... ridcolous amounts of homeless people that have been cast away by the local government ~ which is why you see them do mad stuff like go to the bathroom in public and take drugs in public 

what happens when you have a extremely radical progressive government run your city..... oh wait that's whats currently going on in our federal government lol 

all in all, there are so many other cities to live in - Chicago is amazing, dallas is so dope, new york city is the all time best etc...

boston and D.C. are also dope 

Feb 3, 2021 - 12:03am

This place mints millionaires faster than the dumbass kids in this thread can count to ten. Whether it's ent software sales to engineering itself the equity is still flowing in the valley.

Now if you're talking quality of life relative to cost. SF itself obviously isn't the best. But if you're here to make some fucking money and then move out, this is where it's at. Cannot count the number of berkeley / stanford friends I have that are going to clear 500K pre-tax 4 years out of college in equity + base.

Feb 8, 2021 - 2:17pm

Do the homeless in SF wear double-masks?

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

  • 1
Feb 8, 2021 - 4:47pm

As someone who lives in SF, it's pretty nice if you have money and live in certain neighborhoods like the Marina or Hayes Valley. Food here is decent (particularly mexican and sushi) but generally tier 2 vs NYC. I've never had issues with homeless people and they're not that prevalent unless you go to certain neighborhoods like Tenderloin (it's like saying NYC is a shithole because of Harlem). Nightlife isn't that great but at least pre-COVID, it was really easy / cheap to fly to LA or Vegas for a weekend trip. Also having easy access to napa for wine tasting / tahoe for winter skiing / summer boating is a great perk. Dating scene is significantly worse than NYC or LA as a guy, but not that difficult if you can hold a conversation. Agree with other posts that city is too liberal and horribly run, but I think it's B- city but A+ access to cool things nearby.

  • Intern in HF - Other
Feb 8, 2021 - 11:21pm

My cousin lived in SF for 6 years near Larry Ellison's place. He said that a few times a year the homeless would just walk up and shit in front of his home. That solidified my decision to never live in SF. If a multi billionaire can't get rid of the homeless shitting on his doorstep everybody else doesn't stand a chance. 

Feb 13, 2021 - 12:56pm

Lots of companies relocating from SF to TX/AZ/FL. Also, many big tech names are considering/moving to permanent WFH; techies fleeing the place left and right bc no point paying exorbitant rent to live in a toilet. Many people talk about NYC dying but it won't because of infrastructure and the critical mass of people to interact in finance. The new towers going up around Grand Central support this. Finance is a people-oriented job; tech is not. It's honestly sad what SF has become; I went back as a kid and it was actually not too bad. But went again 3 years ago to catch up with a friend an boy, that place has changed for the worse.

People even on WSO talk about NYC dying, but if there is any city in NA that is truly in freefall, it is SF.

Feb 13, 2021 - 3:27pm

ahaha listen this is gonna sound nasty but im sure all the guys are wondering about this 

the girls are gross in SF and are ridoculsy stuck up and their not firendly at all and their not attractive

its the total opposite from NYC in terms of levels of attractivness 

again i know their are some people out their that are going to get offended but you should be prepared if your gonna go there 

Feb 13, 2021 - 5:48pm

It is one of the wealthiest cities in North America and still feels dirty and run down, with some areas looking like actual slums. It's a very bizarre dynamic. When a city has as much wealth as SF and still has massive QOL issues it's due to the choices of the residents. That has always been a major red to me. 

Feb 13, 2021 - 6:07pm

I've lived in CA basically my whole life so I can shed some light. San Francisco as a city, is not very nice. There are a lot of homeless and you get a very "hippy" (dirty) vibe from the city. I'm not sure what your political affiliation is, but expect it to be ultra liberal (don't even think about being openly conservative because the people will literally harm you). Berkeley/Oakland is worse though, so San Francisco isn't the worst part of the bay. 

With that being said, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton etc are absolutely beautiful. Not sure if you could afford a place there (or want to make the long drive) but those suburbs are probably some of the nicest in the country, if not the whole world. 

I personally wouldn't want to work in CA because the taxes and cost of living will make you feel a lot more poor, but if you value the social life and weather over your income, then San Fran is better than NYC/Chicago. 

Feb 13, 2021 - 7:54pm


Berkeley/Oakland is worse though, so San Francisco isn't the worst part of the bay.

This. Alameda County is a hellstew of SJWs and Marxists. It is up there with the Alabama Bible Belt in the least tolerant places in America category. At least SF proper has its fair share of capitalists and old money moderates.

It's funny - I was about to apply to Cal only to see the deadline passed (this was back in 2015). Looking at what that place has become, I'm so glad I didn't.

Apr 29, 2021 - 10:51pm

there is no better city than san francisco. every time i land at sfo i start to cry of happiness and do the same every time i wake up in the morning. just live in the right place and know the areas to avoid and you're gucci 

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