San Francisco vs NYC

I'm in final rounds w/ two REPE firms (acquisitions). One is in NYC and the other is in SF. Nothing is set in stone yet. I'm hoping to hear from people who have worked in one or both cities - why did you decide to move there, and why did you stay/leave? Both seem like good career moves but wanting some more color aside from the typical rent, weather and stereotype stuff that we all know of. Not really attached to any particular region at the moment. Really appreciate any advice you guys have.

Comments (27)

Aug 10, 2016

Preface: I was born and raised in Florida, and moved to NYC about two years ago. I've been to San Fran several times.

  1. Where are you from now? I know you said "other than the weather", but that's a big factor. Do you golf? Like to hike? Go to the beach? Those things are virtually impossible in NYC, and are all FANTASTIC in San Fran.
  2. I moved to NYC for a few reasons: 1) the grad school I wanted to go to is here, 2) I plan on living on the east coast, so I'd prefer if my network were on the east coast, 3) I need to go home a lot, and going back and forth is relatively cheap and easy, and 4) I do generally like living in NYC (though I'd never want to have a family here).
  3. In spite of no. 2, if San Fran were not as far as it is, I would much prefer to live there. There are similar opportunities (depending on exactly what you want to do, obviously one is better than the other), and similar costs - but for the same effort, for me, the quality of life is much better. NYC, though very much a beautiful city that's full of life and opportunity, can get pretty depressing during the months of November - March.

Feel free to ask any NYC-specific questions, and I'll do my best to answer.

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Aug 10, 2016

Sorry no intelligent input other than I've been to NY and realized I could not live there and I've been to SF a few times and I enjoyed it much better. But they are two very, very, different cities for a whole number of reasons. Honestly, you can't go wrong with either, it just depends on what type of life you want to lead. I would do some research and maybe even visit both cities if you can afford to.

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Aug 10, 2016

As someone who lives in SF but doesn't work in real estate, here's my $0.02:

  1. SF and the Bay Area in general has better weather. Downtown SF is basically 60-70 and sunny for the summer and 50 and cloudy in the winter. The weather will be fairly similar for any neighborhood East of all the hills. If you get closer to the ocean, the weather generally is a bit colder and much foggier. In most of the rest of the bay area, temps are much warmer in the summer and closer to 40 in the winter. In some inland towns, the temps can reach 100 in the summer.
  2. SF is better for outdoor activities. We have a national recreation area that is partially located within city limits, and the counties around the area maintain large swaths of open space/parkland by policy, so there are plenty of places to hike/bike/run/etc. There's also Yosemite, Tahoe, and the northern half of the Sierra Nevada within 3-4.5 hours driving, depending on traffic. Wine country (Napa and Sonoma counties) is also part of the bay area and are about an hour from the city by car. if you like beaches, there are some within city limits, though the better ones are 30-45 minutes away by car.
  3. SF has tons of culture (especially if you like Asian, Hispanic, hippy, or tech culture), though some of it is getting squeezed out by high rents. I'd say that NYC probably has the edge here, especially if we're talking about nightlife. SF's nightlife tends to be more about small bars and lounges, and there aren't as many clubs. Additionally, people tend to stay out later in NYC and things like restaurants stay open later than they do in SF.
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Aug 10, 2016

If you go to SF, don't call it San Fran

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Aug 10, 2016

The sports in the Bay Area is fantastic right now, lol.

I grew up 30min from the the Bay. It's ok. I moved to San Diego at 19 and never looked back. I could live in SF though, but geesh, everyone I know that lives there is always complaining about something. Nobody seems to happy there for whatever reason.

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Aug 10, 2016

I live here and second that. Some good common ones I hear are that Traffic sucks, public transport sucks, tech bros everywhere, no hope of buying a home till you save like $300k unless you commute 2 hours, its cold, its hot, oh and PC people everywhere

Aug 10, 2016

Do you think the finance and real estate scene in SF is similar to what it is in LA (it's overcasted by another industry)? The few times I've been to SF was for work - so I only interacted with other RE people and didn't get a full sense of what it's like.

Aug 13, 2016

Can confirm that public transport sucks ass. Muni is constantly delayed. But the traffic isn't that horrendous when compared to NY. It's only a 25 minute commute downtown from Twin peaks during traffic. Housing is expensive, but you can get a solid house for 3 million. If you're a baller, you're looking at 6 mil + for Pac Heights and Sea Cliff. Fog is overhyped, and there's more conservatives here than you'd think, but they're mainly Rockefeller Republicans.

Aug 10, 2016

I grew up in the Bay and work in SF now so pretty biased. But on the other hand I've travelled to NYC 15-20 times over the past four years so pretty familiar with what it has to offer as well. Both are really great cities obviously. I do think there's still some meaningful cultural differences between the two. My impression is that hours are still a bit higher in NY for an identical job / pay profile etc. I'm not totally sure why that is. More likely to find old school conservative investors/MDs out there I guess so face time is still important, but I do think you see a lot less of this in SF. The Bay in general is a really exciting place to be right now. We are clearly right in the midst of a second wave (3rd?) tech renaissance out here so there are some pretty cool start-ups that you will be surrounded by in SF. No doubt you get this in NY also, but it is just absolutely ubiquitous out here.

The flip-side of this is I think finance professionals are seen as sort of an oddity out here whereas that cohort is well understood in Manhattan. People who work in finance are seen as somehow out of place amidst this techie revolution. We stick out because we have to actually wear something other than skinny jeans and flannel shirts to work. Sometimes you will feel like the douche in the room if you're hanging out with a group that is usually overwhelmingly involved in tech. At least that's been my experience. My guess is house parties or at bars in NYC you would not feel like an outsider as a finance guy.

Aug 11, 2016

San Francisco is one of the few cities that a New Yorker could feel comfortable in within the US borders. People who say there are no beaches or golf courses near NYC clearly have no idea what they're talking about. Further, people who care about stupid shit like that shouldn't live in New York either.

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Best Response
Aug 11, 2016

First things first: 1. They're both slutty towns.

That being said

I've lived in both cities so I'm going to tell you how it is. Anyone who hasn't is just blowing smoke up your ass rooting for their home team.

Socially

San Francisco is a huge sausage fest (sorry to you guys who live there but it's true, don't try to deny it). That doesn't mean you can't find a girl. I dated a few nice girls while living there. I have friends who have found wives there. They exist, it just means more work, as they won't be raining on you like manna from heaven. Also, your line of work will bear you very little social currency. Maybe you don't care about either of those things. Fine

Ex-Chelsea, Manhattan empirically does not suffer from that first issue - there are some parallels to the second but there remains such a large mass of industry people that you can effectively keep most holier-than-though millennial hipster dialogue out of your life if you don't want it. It's the last bastion (single tear)

Daily Pace of Life

This one is simple. If getting stuck behind a slow-walker before 9am makes you have an angry freak-out, New York may be for you. If you're happy to be slow-cruising while getting cursed at by homeless people, San Francisco is the place to be. Sidenote, SF is a bum metropolis - never seen two guys shooting H into each other's dicks on your walk to work? now you can

Peace of Mind

Guy Spier in his "Education of a Value Investor" aptly calls it "the New York vortex," where if you're an investor, being constantly surrounded by other investors, by sell side, going to sell side conferences, having friends pitching their picks to you, hearing people brag about this trade or that trade (people rarely volunteer conversation about their losers) while dropping your kids off at school... it's easy to get caught up in the noise and lose mental clarity. We can take this one step further and apply it to career/personal/social goals. New York is not a bashful city. It's a city of extremes, and when you constantly have others advertising their own success, whether it be monetary, social achievement, sexual conquests, whatever, it becomes easy to lose sight of your own personal goals, desires, sense of self worth, etc. Some people deal with this better than others.

SF is a little quieter as far as the finance scrum is concerned. You won't deal with this issue as much, unless you have tech envy. I wonder if being in tech in the valley feels how New York does for finance?

Anyway

These are just a few considerations. Obviously there are other pros and cons. Go with the city that feels right to you. Trust your gut. And congrats on getting to choose between the two greatest cities in this whole god damn country

Aug 11, 2016

I liked this read. the "i have friends who found wives there" made me laugh out loud lol. "IT CAN BE DONE!"

Aug 11, 2016

"They're both slutty towns"

Nice, lol

Aug 11, 2016

Daily Pace of Life made me chuckle. I've lived in New York City and when I visited SF, I did notice the abundance of bums everywhere. Some homeless chick called me a fag and told me she'd rip my face off because I was walking home with my buddy. Scarring..

Aug 11, 2016

Next time, spit directly in her mouth

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Aug 13, 2016

I'd pick NY over SF any day but I think Menlo Park/Palo Alto area would be a hard decision vs NY.

Aug 13, 2016

Just move to San Diego (really, it's better here than, well, almost everywhere) and do deals all over the US if that's what you got at your disposal. CRE doesn't require you to be in any home town. I know ballers in the middle of the deserts of CA doing deals in major markets and calling their own shots.

If you're a rainmaker you'll find your way.

P.S. Southern Orange County is awesome too. NY, LA and SF are oversold.

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Aug 15, 2016

SD is probably the best CA experience. I am there all the time. Next firm HAS to be down there!

Aug 14, 2016

I'll second Lizard Brain's opinion.
I've lived, worked, studied and basically grew up in both, so I am completely biased...

It really depends on how old you are, and the timing of the local economy. SF and the Bay Area are very susceptible to tech cycles. I mean it is like Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde strange how the entire Bay Area transforms itself during these cycles. Everything from housing, to traffic to social life, to practically everything is tied to tech. And I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but there is another downer coming fast - too many bullshit companies (unicorns) chasing too much stupid money that only just got wise. No more IPO market for these over-funded, over priced, market plays (read up on pets.com, if you are under thirty). And yes, the homeless, politically correct, and +60 year old ex-hippie "love the world, but F* you, rich mommy's boy" attitude will get to you eventually. SF is considered a "foodie" city with all the variety and fusion.... Crap..., it gets old fast, and the best is primarily Asian. If you fit in here, you can live a long time in SF and the Bay Area. It gets better when you are over forty.

New York, on the other hand, is far more economically diverse, IMHO. While finance is everywhere, it is tied into so many other markets-and they are more global. So, you will experience less dramatic ups and downs. The social scene in NYC is far more heterogeneous, so there is something for everyone. It's harder to find that diversity in SF-Bay Area. Ever since Giuliani, NYC is a gem. I find it cleaner, friendlier, faster and more forgiving than SF. San Francisco was cool when Harry Callahan worked the mean streets, now you can't go for a walk with your gal after the show because the bums and late night slimy beings will rape you you and kill her. San Franciscans will accost you for smoking, chewing gum, picking your nose, or just being cleanly shaved. New Yorkers have better things to do. New York remains the last bastion of decent eating in the Americas, if you can afford it. That said, I know very few people who have lived more than 10 years in New York before moving out. It's great if you're under forty.

Again, I am totally biased. I live in Italy now, and love going back to both every time. I'd choose San Diego next...

Aug 15, 2016

As someone who used to live in SF -- and maybe suffers from a little bit of nostalgia -- it is an amazing city to live in. The food is fantastic, the culture is vibrant, and the city always has great weather. I really miss living there even though I live in the Los Angeles area now. I have only been to NYC a handful of times, so I cannot speak on the comparison. However, if you choose San Francisco, you won't regret it. Best of luck.

Aug 15, 2016

If you are interested in working in San Francisco, would taking a job in San Francisco be better? umm... yes?

I know that sounds like a crazy answer, but hear me out:
- You will probably get the opportunity to meet and network with people that are working in San Francisco as they will be your "boss" your "co-workers" and your office neighbors (and yourself).
- Later on when you are looking for a role in SF it will be easy to get to the interviews since you are already there!
- In future interviews you will be able to say, "I understand the work-life culture here because I am already in the job I am looking for"
- When looking for a SF job you can always look at the job you are currently in and apply for that one. Maybe even set up a mock interview with yourself to see if you will give yourself your job!

Good luck!

Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot

Either you sling crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot

Aug 15, 2016

Are you gay? If so, then start in San Francisco. There will be plenty of raw buttholes for you to plunge on the weekends.

http://www.drmarkklein.blogspot.com/

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Aug 15, 2016
mark klein MD:

Are you gay? If so, then start in San Francisco. There will be plenty of raw buttholes for you to plunge on the weekends.

Your posts are so insightful and illuminating. Thank you for adding so much value to the discussions that happen here.

Aug 15, 2016
MadBanker:

Any thoughts?

Mad, my perspective is colered by a bulge bracket focus, and so it suffers from an unabashed bias. For what it's worth, my view is that unless you are going to work for a west coast based boutique, you are actually better off starting in NY.

The reason is that the center of gravity is, and always will be NY for the large firms. There simply is no substitute for getting integrated into a firm in New York. You'll get to know the personalities that matter, and they'll get to know you. You'll figure out who to call when you have a question on an obscure topic far better than you ever will out in a satellite office. When decisions come on promotions or workforce reductions, you won't be a name without a face.

It is reasonably easy to go from starting in New York to HK, SF, London or other offices. People rarely make the transition the other way.

One last thing: my experience is that for junior bankers, New York is a better training ground. You get more diverse experience, and usually end up more technically sound. Tech and west coast bankers (rightfully so in my opinion) have a reputation for being smart about industry but short on texhnical skills and experience with complex issues.

Aug 15, 2016