Should I live in San Francisco or Santa Monica/West LA?

doekeo202's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 25

Hi all,

I got a promotion at my management consulting gig, for which they want me to move to one of our California offices. I can choose between San Francisco and Santa Monica. |

I'm currently living in the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia. I like being around people who are smart, but also well rounded. I play the drums in a rock and jazz band, and music is my main passion. I also like playing baseball with friends and am an avid gamer, and love sports.

If you have suggestions, I appreciate it! Thanks :)

Comments (73)

Jun 13, 2018

Is your company offering the exact same pay for working out of both offices? West LA will give you a far better quality of life (dollar for dollar) than SF. The beach. The music scene. The nightlife. The climate.

Jun 13, 2018

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/san-francis...
Im partial to LA, I vote Santa Monica.

Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica. Not even a match.

Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica. It's not even close unless you enjoy swerving around piles of human feces on your walk to work.

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Jun 14, 2018
Pmc2ghy:

Santa Monica. It's not even close unless you enjoy swerving around piles of human feces on your walk to work.

this hurts it's so true

Jun 14, 2018

I live in SF and I do not encounter human feces. Do either of you actually live there?

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Jun 13, 2018

def Santa Monica. I myself will be moving from NYC to Newport Beach in a week.

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Jun 13, 2018

It's amazing how much sentiment toward SF has changed in the last five years. This used to be an easy call in favor of the Bay. Both areas have their merits, but given you have hobbies (and it sounds like no kids), I'd probably live on the Grand Theft Auto map as well.

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Jun 13, 2018

San Francisco has turned into a total shithole. I mean, have you actually stepped on one of its streets? You'd be hard-pressed not to find piss, shit, and homeless people in a 10 feet radius of you. I mean, I'm not even joking. Literally, go on any random street, and you will find this. You literally get to pay $4k/month to experience this.

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Jun 13, 2018

Curious how much this has to do with the remarkable change in sentiment @jankynoname" described. I've heard the homelessness has gotten out of control, but is it so pervasive that it impacts the everyday lives of the average Joe? Has this had nearly as big an impact as the outrageous COL and the notion that the culture is just way too impressed with itself?

Jun 14, 2018

Does SF have been ruined by liberals?

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Jun 14, 2018

To be fair to everyone commenting about the homeless in San Francisco, Santa Monica has one of the largest homeless populations in the greater Los Angeles area. Just don't want people to overlook this fact. I work in Santa Monica and live nearby. Also am happy to answer any questions about SM or LA in general.

Also, questions worth considering:

  1. What will your potential commute look like? In Los Angeles, if you live far from where you work, your commute can be hellish. I can't speak for San Francisco but they do have much better Public Transportation options.
  2. Are you single, dating, or married? If Single, the girls in Los Angeles are so far and above any place in america (except for Miami, which is a close second). A large number of guys in Los Angeles work non-professional jobs and receive non-professional wages. If you make decent money, dress well, and have a halfway decent personality - you will date very attractive girls. Can't speak for SF, but anecdotally, I don't know a single attractive girl in SF.
  3. Cost of Housing - Surprisingly, Santa Monica housing costs are almost as high as a lot of areas of SF, so this is somewhat of a wash. But, Los Angeles has a TON of different areas with uniquely distinct feels (Silver Lake vs West Hollywood vs Downtown vs Venice).
  4. Outdoor Activities - Somewhere in this thread, someone talked about all the outdoor activities around SF. There are equally as many outdoor activities in and around Los Angeles. I don't really enjoy outdoor activities (they just seem to be an inefficient use of time) so someone else chime in but Los Angeles is one of the few major cities where you can go Surfing and Skiing in the same day. Plus, you can take day trips to Santa Barbara, San Diego, Palm Springs, Baja California (Mexico), Ojai, etc.
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Jun 14, 2018

I have lived a very long time in NYC and currently live in SF. SF is definitely a cleaner and nicer city (there are areas where there are homeless everywhere), but those areas are under highways or throughout the Tenderloin. Most professionals have zero reason to ever be in those areas, so I don't see why this is such a relevant topic since I don't think the OP is planning on living or working in the Tenderloin. Also, to the poster that made the comment about hot/ugly girls, there are hot girls in every city in every country, sounds like you are probably someone that never gets the opportunity to interact with them so you choose to throw out such ridiculous generalizations.

P.S. I love NYC and everything about it, living and working there has been a very enjoyable part of my life, so I am in no way shape or form hating on NYC.

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Jun 15, 2018

Liberals have utterly destroyed SF. Quite frankly, the entire state of California is turning into a shithole due to liberal policies and illegal aliens. But at least LA is cheaper, awesome weather, and gorgeous women. And although liberal, it's not as nearly as obnoxious as SF.

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Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica. Without a doubt.

Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica but I'd live in Venice or Playa.

Jun 13, 2018

If you want to live in a shithole with homeless people roaming the nearby streets, San Francisco.

If you want to be surrounded by beautiful girls and the beach 24/7, Santa Monica

Jun 13, 2018

As everyone else has said, Santa Monica. Good music scene, good rec leagues for baseball/softball (and other sports), and far superior sports scene with Lakers, Dodgers, Kings, Rams/Chargers, 2 MLS teams, and USC/UCLA. Plus better looking women.

Jun 13, 2018

First of all, congrats! Santa Monica, not even close.

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Jun 13, 2018

Santa Monica. To echo another, check out Venice. I've always said downtown SM is like a mini SF having lived in both. There is a problem with homelessness and tourism. and a few times a day you will nearly get killed by a city bus. There are so many of them it's like they're doing the elephant walk around the city. Check out Abbott Kinney area. Some of prettiest girls in LA.

Jun 13, 2018

I spend a considerably larger amount of time in both areas than I'd like to. That being said, if you enjoy one or more of- smug hipsters, overpriced overpriced lattes, racking up steps on your fit-bit while simultaneously taking PTO to attend various marches/protests, paying for beach prices yet getting little to no beach access/bad weather, 6's with the arrogance of an 11, and high blood pressure associated with terrible airport service, then the Bay is for you.

Jun 13, 2018

Sometimes when I feel like getting needled by a junkie or having a homeless man pleasure himself in front of me, SF provides no better opportunity. That being said, I'd go with Santa Monica

EDIT: I lived in the SF area for 21 years so I have seen the transition from what was already kind of a gross city to the hellish pile of excrement it is now

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Jun 13, 2018

I wonder if this thread so far has convinced OP to completely avoid San Francisco

Jun 14, 2018

Having frequented both Santa Monica and SF, I would as many people above have said choose Santa Monica, in my mind the beach is always superior to city.

I will caution you though, while there are far more homeless people in SF (it's a big ass city) there is still a pretty large contingent of homeless/vagabond living going on in Santa Monica, there is a reason one of the goals in Tony Hawk 2 or 3 was to Ollie the homeless bums in Venice Beach (which is next to Santa Monica).

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Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica, hot girls everywhere

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Jun 14, 2018

I'm a leftist and even I hate SF. Santa Monica is awesome. No contest.

Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica. If it wasn't for my GF going to med school in the Bay Area, my move back west would've been to SoCal. And this is coming from somebody who's spent the past 3 years working in the Midwest.

Jun 14, 2018

UCSF? I enjoyed walking around that hospital and area. My gf was considering it for residency.

Jun 14, 2018

Nah, out of the city, unfortunately.

Jun 14, 2018

I'm just gonna play devil's advocate here, as the majority of the posters above have suggested Santa Monica.

The type of person that enjoys SF is not a city slicker (I imagine many WSO members follow this persona). The nightlife is poor, the downtown core is relatively small, and there isn't a ton to do inside the city.

However, just outside of SF there are so many beautiful spots to do activities. Skiing in Tahoe is incredible. Marin county was the birthplace of mountain biking. Santa Cruz has incredible surfing. Road biking across the Golden Gate is gorgeous. Nappa is very scenic.

At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal preferences. If you're somebody who is very outdoorsy and has a car and some free time, then SF could be a good fit. If you consider yourself a city slicker, then Santa Monica is the much better choice.

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Jun 14, 2018

Tahoe is about 3-4 hours away, often 5-6 with traffic. Napa and Santa Cruz are both 2-3 hours away, again depending on traffic. City slickers will enjoy SF more given that SF itself is very much a real (disgusting) city.

And have you been to Santa Monica? It is a larger than average beach town (with equally if not better surfing) which bears no semblance to an actual city. If anything, I'd compare Santa Monica to Santa Cruz albeit much more inhabitable and less gross. I do concede that SM is closer to dtla if you're craving some city action but who actually goes and hangs out in downtown? Both are more for the outdoorsy type. Not sure if any "city slickers" would actually enjoy either as a place to live

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Jun 14, 2018

You're not wrong, but someone who lives in SF, I think that the "not a city slicker" sentiment is mostly true. People often go to Napa and Sonoma on weekends (the drive is really more like 1-2 hours though that depends on where you're going), and most people I know don't care that the nightlife sucks because they probably wouldn't go clubbing anyway. In terms of outdoor activities, Santa Monica beats SF for beach access easily, but you can still find decent beaches within an hour of driving (Muir and Stindon Beaches, mainly). In terms of other activities, SF beats Santa Monica IMO. Yes Tahoe can be a long drive, but it's shorter than driving to Mammoth from LA on any day (yes, Big Bear is closer to SM than Tahoe is to SF, but also not nearly the same quality of skiing, and only ~30 minutes closer). They both have lots of hiking, but I'd argue that SF has more nearby.

That being said, if you don't care much about outdoor activities and don't want to work in tech, LA probably has a better lifestyle for you.

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Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica unless your OK with a cap of a 5-6 when it comes to women. Oh yea and the city is overrun with feminists too.

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Jun 14, 2018

Judging by your ID, I'd say that you may be biased?

Funniest
Jun 14, 2018

Let's call it boots on the ground feedback

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Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica 1,000000% you will never regret it

Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica is awesome but if you want the best career opportunities, SF is where its at. If you don't know what I mean by this... its because you're not in SF!

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Jun 14, 2018

Coming from someone who is in SF and has never been to Santa Monica. Santa Monica.

EDIT: Ok, now that I am out of the mindset of SF being shitty I will try and offer up some positives to the city that others have mentioned.

Proximity to other locations - You have the North Bay which offers a lot of outdoor activities and of course Napa and Sonoma. Lots of trails to hike or places to bike whether it be a mountain bike or a road bike (be careful).
The East Bay has Oakland and Berkeley which offer a lot of culture and can be completely different from San Francisco while only being ~20 minute travel to and from SF. I always like to think of Oakland as the Brooklyn of SF. You can also venture further into the East Bay to areas like Walnut Creek which is an upscale suburban area. There are plenty of golf course around if you're into that.
South Bay has San Jose and all the surrounding areas and again, the South Bay has a different vibe than SF. I personally am a big fan of San Jose/Campbell as there is a lot to do. (Will fit anyone's taste)
Tahoe/Sierras - If you're into skiing or the mountains etc. this is the place to go, no explanation needed here imo.
The Bay and Delta - The Bay is right there, countless things to do on the water on a nice day!

Things to do in the City - I am always getting emails or seeing events being posted on FB that look awesome and I try and go to as many as I can. There are multiple events going on around the city all the time from Brewfest, Outsidelands, random ass themed bar crawls you name it! SF has 220 public parks, Dolores, The Presidio, GGP and many others are great to spend the day at and they are usually full of people on nice days which leaves plenty of opportunity to meet new people. If bar hopping is your thing you can hit up the Marina, Polk St., The Mission, North Beach etc. and each area has it's own vibe to it as well. You can go surfing at Ocean Beach or just hang out. If you're into sports we have the Giants, A's (across the bridge), Warriors (soon to be in SF), 49ers down in Santa Clara, Sharks in downtown San Jose.

So I am tired of typing now and don't want to format this but you get the picture.

Remember, if you work in the city that does not mean you have to live there. As long as you live within a reasonable distance to a ferry or BART your commute won't be that bad. So as much as everyone is bashing on SF, understand that isn't your only option and depending on what you like to do you may find that living in SF isn't the right choice for you but maybe Oakland fits your style.

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Jun 14, 2018

Thankfully both places are much better than Nova.

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Jun 14, 2018

California-nyah! Supercool to the homeless!

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Jun 14, 2018

I lived in Westwood until 2009, been in the bay area since then, working in SF for the last four years. I still regularly visit family in the greater LA area. Homelessness in SF is a real problem. It's everywhere. I've definitely seen shit on the street and junkies shooting up on the sidewalk. That said, everyone here is exaggerating. There are about 6500 homeless people in SF, and 20k in LA. LA is bigger so it seems more spread out, but trust me a lot of them are in Santa Monica, and I've bet they've got a lot of the same drug problems the ones in SF do. I've never seen higher density of homeless people than those sleeping on third street promenade after I came out of a midnight movie.

The two places are pretty different. If it were me, I would go back to LA if I had the opportunity to keep my career. Really I think you should take a weekend to visit each one. See if you can get your company to send you to see the offices and talk to the people working there, that would be ideal. Even if you have to pay, though, I'd still go on my own dime. You'll be able to quickly deduce which option is right for you, and I don't think a bunch of dorks arguing on the internet will help much.

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Jun 14, 2018

Agreed. Homelessness is really a whole CA problem, though SF does have it relatively bad. Truth be told, you don't see all that many homeless people outside of Union square, the Tenderloin, SOMA, the Mission, and the Haight, and the Mission is really the only one of those neighborhoods worth spending time in (there are homeless people in FiDi, but not as many).

Jun 14, 2018

Yeah, it is a sate-wide problem. There's no easy fix. If your goal was purely to avoid it completely you could live in the Marina or North Beach, for example and commute to work on the north end of FiDi, you might see like 1-2 homeless people a day.

Check out the LA times /Orange County Register coverage of the homelessness crises in Venice and Santa Ana. It's every bit as a bad SoMa or Berkeley.

Jun 14, 2018

Santa Monica for sure. I've lived in SF for a few years now. It's a great city, but its crowded and expensive.

I was down in LA a few weeks ago and when I came back a bunch of my friends at one point or another would ask me how my trip was. My go to response was "idk why we're living in SF, we should all move to LA". It was somewhat facetious, but if I could transport my friends/job down to the LA area I would do so in a heartbeat.

In my opinion the only reasons to live in SF are if you love tech and due to job circumstances that requires that you be here. As a consultant, the COL will be better in LA. Also idk what the music scene is like in LA, but in my opinion it's pretty weak here in the Bay Area. Seems like all the artsy types of have been forced out(which is probably what has happened). Go to Santa Monica and don't look back.

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Jun 14, 2018

Can't speak to Santa Monica but went to school in the Bay Area and frequented SF often. Its a unique town that has its merits (proximity to awesome outdoor activities, unique cultural neighborhoods in a relatively confined space, fantastic day drinking atmosphere) but also has well-publicized cons (tepid weather, disappointing women, city streets treated halfway between a dumpster and a toilet, real estate, and awkward techies). I didn't find it as terrible as others have made it out to be but it's nowhere near as nice as east coasters who've never been think it would be

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Jun 14, 2018

Again if you're young and single this isn't going to matter, but the other thing to consider longer term is if you have kids I think you're much better off in the Bay. Outside of SF proper, you have some pretty incredible schools on the Peninsula, Marin Co and even some east bay towns. When I lived in L.A. basically nobody was sending their kids to public schools outside of La Canada / San Gabriel Valley.

Other SF strengths: the food scene is unabiguously better up here. Again, this is more of a mid/late career consideration for most ppl but if you like eating amazing meals, there is no shortage of Michelin stars up here.

The bar scene is also pretty good although maybe parts of Santa Monica / Manhattan Beach are even better...

The tech scene is obviously incredible if you're into that. As a finance person I view that as more of a liability than an asset given if you dress up for work you're viewed as some sort of second class citizen up here. That said, there is no shortage of opportunity if you ever have interest in taking a higher variance career path.

All that being said, I still think you'll have more fun in Santa Monica, but just tired of all the poop/needles/homeless trash talk itt.

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Jun 15, 2018

I agree that if you are married and have enough money, SF Bay Area is better than LA. The quality of the public schools is exceptional, although they are insanely competitive.

The upper end of SF food is better than LA. As someone who is very partial to Japanese, Korean, and Mexican food, I prefer LA.

SF is too tech heavy for my tastes: bunch of coding geeks running around. LA is more well-rounded.

For single men, this is not even a close call. It's like asking whether one should join Goldman TMT or Robert Baird in Milwaukee.

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Jun 15, 2018
doekeo202:

Hi all,

I got a promotion at my management consulting gig, for which they want me to move to one of our California offices. I can choose between San Francisco and Santa Monica. |

I'm currently living in the D.C. suburbs in Northern Virginia. I like being around people who are smart, but also well rounded. I play the drums in a rock and jazz band, and music is my main passion. I also like playing baseball with friends and am an avid gamer, and love sports.

If you have suggestions, I appreciate it! Thanks :)

How long do you have to decide? Take a couple of days off to go check the it each office and see what you like better.

Jun 15, 2018

You probably should visit the cities and decide for yourself. A lot of what I have read on here does NOT sound like first hand experience.

I have lived in both cities, both have positives & negatives. But what REALLY matters is where your office is located & where you will live.

Jun 15, 2018

I've lived in both Santa Monica and San Francisco. I started a notorious San Francisco sucks thread awhile ago but after living in SaMo for awhile now I definitely miss SF. It's a happy medium between NY and LA and I don't need a car to go every where.

I think it boils down to how much you're getting paid, where you live, where your office is, and how many friends you have in the city.

(interned in San Francisco x2, NYC, and working FT in LA)

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Jun 15, 2018

West LA.

Without a doubt. But I actually prefer the SF weather more.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Jun 15, 2018

Hey guys, thanks for all the answers. I visited the two cities the past few days.

I'm really torn. I vastly prefer the vibe I got from Santa Monica/West LA to San Fran. But everyone is telling me I should suck it up and stay in SF for the superior career opportunities and prospects, and that working SF carries an aura of "prestige" compared to SM.

What are your guyses thoughts? I see myself happier in SM. Thanks

Jun 15, 2018
  1. For management consulting, I don't think location matters too much.
  2. As someone who lives in one of Seattle/SF to work at a prestigious tech firm, I deeply regret it. For single men, location MATTERS A LOT. If you are unhappy with where you live, trust me, it will affect your work performance and make you less productive in all areas. I'm struggling with chronic depression due to my location and am doing everything I can to GTFO.
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Most Helpful
Jun 15, 2018
doekeo202:

Hey guys, thanks for all the answers. I visited the two cities the past few days.

I'm really torn. I vastly prefer the vibe I got from Santa Monica/West LA to San Fran. But everyone is telling me I should suck it up and stay in SF for the superior career opportunities and prospects, and that working SF carries an aura of "prestige" compared to SM.

What are your guyses thoughts? I see myself happier in SM. Thanks

Okay, so:

  • you've visited both places
  • you have a clear and identifiable preference based on your own firsthand experience ("vastly prefer")
  • you're in the most location-agnostic profession of the big white-collar service industries (banking, law, consulting)
  • you're young (meaning you have all kinds of calendar runway to make a change if you're unhappy after a year)

... and yet somehow the input of a whole bunch of people in your social circle who will never be living in your exact shoes outweighs all this?

At some point in your life you have to exert some agency. You need to be self-deterministic. Ignore what people are saying and focus on identifying the factors that comprise a rubric you can grade your options with.

  • Are you okay with a driving-based city that also includes heavy traffic? Yes; LA works for you. No; SF is your best bet given its density and public transit options.
  • Are you single and heterosexual? Yes; LA wins by a mile because SF has a lopsided gender ratio (since it's so dominated by the technology industry) and the few girls there would in no world ever qualify for a calendar shoot.
  • Does weather matter to you, does it affect your mood? Yes; LA is your choice, it has beaches and consistently great weather. No; you can pick either city.

You can go on and on and make your own scorecard. Once you have a clear answer, make it and stick with it. It sounds like you've already done the boot-on-the-ground tour and come up with an answer. I encourage you to be happy with a decision you've effectively come to.

SF has "superior career opportunities" only in the sense that there's an incredible concentration of the tech industry. The banking, law, and investing opportunities there are all centered on the same thing.

One odd facet of the city is how the culture there elevates the entrepreneur to mythical status. This means that a whole bunch of actually as-of-yet-unaccomplished entrepreneurs think they're in a caste higher than all else, like the best private equity investor is somehow subservient to them because they're a founder.

Some people have no problem with this, they plan to only stay a few years so they gladly take the two-year associate stint before b-school. Others find it difficult to be happy in a place that is more or less single-minded in how it thinks.

Objectively, I encourage you to follow your instinct and take the place you found more appealing.

Subjectively, I would recommend LA since it is a more diverse place with a broader set of people, industries, restaurants, entertainment, and housing. This translates to a wide menu of options for dating, working, living, eating, blowing off steam, discovering hobbies, you name it.

Worst case, you can change in a year. If you're a high performer (it sounds like you are; you were promoted and given optionality in your next geographical placement), your employer is going to be amenable to reasonable requests you make. Putting your hand up after 12 months of solid work and saying "Hey, I was happy to make the move when you asked. This isn't for me; can I switch again?" is very reasonable.

Good luck either way. You're clearly not in a bad position: you were recently promoted, and you're about to face a period of growth which presents the opportunity to completely reinvent yourself. You get to meet new friends, live without any baggage from prior interactions, and act however you like. It's basically a chance to be an entirely new person.

I'd pick the place that better fits the person I want to be.

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Jun 21, 2018

Sound advice as usual.

I think living in a city where one industry is so dominant make it a less interesting place to live. An amazing facet of NYC life is that you get to meet and date people from all types of industries, companies, and backgrounds. In SF and Seattle, it's all tech. The latter is worse because pretty much everyone you meet works at Amazon or Microsoft. Although entertainment is obviously an important part of LA, you'll be surprised at how many different types of industries there are.

Jun 15, 2018

San Francisco, I love most. If I get a chance to go to America I will surely visit that place and live for few months.

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Jun 20, 2018

Maybe go with SF. Santa Monica has a good weather but with high rent.

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Jun 21, 2018
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