San Francisco

7 Reasons I (Kind of) Hate San Francisco

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me San Francisco was his or her favorite city in the United States, I could retire comfortably, like, yesterday. The backdrop to ubiquitous 90’s sitcom Full House, San Francisco’s image in popular culture is just as overwhelmingly positive as its reputation among travelers.

I took my fifth trip to the fabled “City by the Bay” a few weeks ago, and I was shocked, upon arriving to the boarding gate for my flight back to Austin, how relieved I felt to be leaving, the personal circumstances of said trip notwithstanding: I kind of hate San Francisco.

Here’s why!

1. The novelty wears off quickly

Hills, row houses and the Golden Gate Bridge, oh my! Part of why I loved San Francisco so much the first time I visited, back in 2004, is because I felt so excited to see iconic sights such as these in flesh after years of having only experienced them via the ether. After a few trips, however, the charm I feel upon hopping onto a street car is no match for the shade the driver throws on me when I ask him to make change for a $5.

2. San Franciscans are rude and snobby

And in San Francisco, bad attitudes among public employees are just the beginning. Nearly everyone I’ve encountered in San Francisco has had some kind of chip on his or her shoulder, from waitresses, to Airbnb hosts, to random people I’ve met on the streets and asked for information. Remember that South Park episode RE: Prius-driving San Franciscans getting high on their own farts? It basically sums up my feelings on the matter.

3. It’s too cold!

With an average yearly temperature of just 59ºF (15ºC), San Francisco is just too fucking cold for me, which says nothing of the perpetual fog, lack of sunshine and cool breezes that tend to blow through. Yes, I know that San Francisco has “micro-climates,” that Oakland and Berkeley are warmer and that the cold is part of the experience. Whatever. Bite me.

4. It’s too expensive!

Pricing data for San Francisco isn’t as readily available as climate data, so in this instance I’m going to have to rely on anecdote, rather than hard facts. But whether you’re being sassed by a spiky-haired waitress at a pretentious breakfast joint, taking a scummy public bus across town or being levied a surcharge for an extra person in your Airbnb apartment, you’re going to pay significantly more than you would anywhere else in the U.S., a premium that may or may not actually be worth it.

5. San Francisco has a major homeless problem

I am not a classist person, and I don’t have an inherent problem with the homeless. But in many areas of San Francisco (I would actually argue most areas) there are more homeless than non-homeless. Now, I’m not sure if that’s to do with San Francisco’s consistent (if cold) climate, freeloader-catering public policy or some other factor of which I’m not aware. But if I’m going to pay $16 for a half-assed eggs benedict, I don’t wanna watch someone shit in public while eating it.

6. The rest of Northern California is much more pleasant

Whether you cross the Golden Gate to Sausalito, head south to bohemian Santa Cruz or drive inland to the Napa Valley, Northern California is a veritable paradise for travelers, which says nothing for the rest of the Golden State. If San Francisco were located in, say, Oklahoma, or South Carolina, I would probably like it more, because it would be the best thing around by a long shot. But part of why I find myself hating San Francisco, the more I travel there, is that it’s really not all that RE: California.

7. The personal circumstances of my last trip to San Francisco

Remember how I shrugged off the circumstances of my recent trip to San Francisco in the intro to this article? Well yeah, I can’t really shrug them off – San Francisco is where I said goodbye to the Australian boy I fell madly in love with when he was passing through Austin, a relationship whose cosmically-tragic unraveling I lamented in a recent blog post. I will forever associate the cold, expensive, homeless-infested streets of San Francisco with the fact that I may never see him again.

About The Author

is the author of 505 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    I know your comment comes from a place of dissatisfaction, but your writing is so humorous!

  • CJ in Texas

    I’m moving to San Francisco next year. I’m a gay dad of an autistic son, and California has awesome services, and the bay area seems to have the best services of them all. So in that respect, I’m glad to be moving.

    However, I’ve been trying to just make conversation with people online who live in the area. My experience with all but one of them (more on that in a bit) is summed up by the following conversation:

    Me: hey dude. I’m movin your way next year. I saw the pics of your dogs in your profile and was wondering if you know if there’s any dog parks in the area that welcome big dogs.

    Him: You have nice pictures, but we’re not a match.

    Me: I wasn’t hitting on you, man. I truly wanted to know if you know anything about the dog parks there.

    Him: I’m not interested, I said.

    And as alluded to before, there was ONE person who was willing to talk with me: but he wanted me to do a 3way with him and his boyfriend.

    And it would be different if it was just a few people. But it was EVERYONE I talked to. And more than one site. And just two of them were “dating” type sites, the rest were just social networks. Half responded: rudely, with “i’m not interested” and the like (I wasn’t even REMOTELY flirting with these dudes), and the other half just ignored me altogether like one would a beggar asking for spare change.

    After moving it’s obvious I’m going to go dateless, as it’s been expressed to me in various forms that I’m some kind of unsophisticated rube. And I can go through life dateless. But it’s becoming more and more obvious that I probably won’t have any friends there either unless I go to speech therapy to lose the accent and get a makeover by the Queer Eye guys.

    My fave comment of all was the guy who told me I was lying when I told him I was a Michigan grad.

    I have a feeling my social life is going to revolve around my computer talking with people WAY far away, my dog, and HBO. If this is what guys are like there I’m not too keen on hangin out with them, either.

  • CJ in Texas

    Hey Nina! AMEN. And this is sort of a “P.S.” to the comment I wrote above, and yeah, I’m WAY late to this post.

    Here in Texas people think I’m pretty much a communist because of my political views. But in San Francisco they act like I’m Sarah Palin’s speech writer. It’s almost like they try to “out left wing” you.

    I was once berated for being a fan of Rachel Maddow because she’s a “sell out.”

  • http://leaveyourdailyhell.com Robert Schrader

    Good luck with your move! Eek.

  • KurtU

    So grateful for this comment! I have lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1988. Always in Marin. It was never a place where I wanted or intended to live but came for grad school and my partner started working for a tech company that he still works for today. Finally after all these years, we are moving to So Florida in Jan. Of course, all our friends and acquaintances here look at us like we are crazy when we tell them the news. How could we possibly leave the Bay Area!?! Well, for all the reasons in this post and in the comments and more!! The Bay Area has THE most pretentious, entitled people I have ever met and we have lived all over!! It is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive on every level and the really wonderful thing about the Bay Area, the Nature, is way over shadowed by all the negatives. Northern Californians will tell you that if you don’t like it, you should get the hell out as lots of people want to live here. Happy to make the room!!

    Also, very happy to hear that you are liking Florida. The state gets such a bad rap, especially here in CA. Northern Californians would love to see it flooded by the rising waters of Global Warming, a perennially popular topic in a city/area that never lacks for popular causes, fights and soapboxes to preach from.

  • dbansal

    Glad to hear you’re getting out! Yeah like they say misery loves company and deep down they are jealous. Best of luck with your move, your life will definitely be a lot better soon.

  • KurtU

    Robert, I haven’t had any romantic breakups to sour me on the Bay Area. Only 20+ years of living here. Let me say your post is spot on. I have never lived in the city and wouldn’t consider it. Have always lived in Marin and while there are many good things about Marin, like the Nature and even the weather where I live, the negatives far outweigh those factors. For anyone that finds your blog post while researching a possible move to the Bay Area, let me just offer an alternative perspective of a long time resident for them to ponder.

    The summer weather and the geography here (Marin County, north of the city) are beautiful and temperate. There is no disputing that. Even as I write the late Summer here in the little town of Fairfax sheltered by the coastal mountains is incredible, about 80 degrees, sunny and clear. However it is cold and windy by sundown throughout the year. Outdoor living is not really part of Summer here. And winter is cold, damp and miserable. By this time next month, it will be getting dark, cold and hopefully rainy due to the fact that we haven’t seen rainfall since March. More on the drought below.

    While other parts of the US have tornadoes and hurricanes, we have earthquakes. Californians pretend like they don’t exist, a necessity for peace of mind. However, unlike storms where there is at least some warning if nothing else a darkening sky, earthquakes come when you least expect it and are scary as hell. And they may be more infrequent than hurricanes but when the big one comes you don’t want to be within 100 miles of SF because you will be stuck here with thousands of panicking, hysterical, entitled, pampered people that will drive over your dead body to get out of the city. If you are in the city during an 8.0 earthquake, forget it. If the falling glass and rumble don’t kill you the mob surely will. The normal traffic on a Friday afternoon out of the city is horrendous. If everyone was trying to flee the city… I don’t even like to think about it.

    The cost of living here is outrageous, at least until one of the 8.0 earthquakes. The state taxes and sales taxes are
    outrageous. To do business here is outrageous. For example, you buy something at Best Buy for
    what you think is a good price and it’s $25 more at the cash register and you look at your receipt and it’s the sales tax! All this sales tax being collected and still the roads are crappy, bridge tolls are crazy, like $7 to cross the Golden Gate now and the State is constantly crying about no money in the coffers even though some of the wealthiest people in the nation reside here!

    Then there’s housing! If you don’t own something forget getting into our HUGELY over inflated real estate game. I am from Kansas City originally and what would sell for under $100k there is literally a million here. Yes it is in Ca and not Kansas but there is point where the lack of space, quality of construction and design for such outrageous prices would be laughable if people weren’t scrabbling over one another to snap the places up. If you have real estate to sell it’s a fun game. If not, you are screwed. And with the latest wave of instant millionaires from the South Bay, are changing the face of the city displacing lower income and middle income families who are at a loss as to where to move and remain employed in their jobs. The only reasonable real estate is hours away in any direction. A 900 sq ft 1 bedroom apt in the city could be a million dollars. Rents are just as outrageous.

    Now let’s turn to the denizens of this wonderful Bay Area. I’ve lived all over the country, in Europe and Hawaii. I’ve lived in Northern Cal off and on since 88. So I think I have the experience to say this, the people, in general, in the Bay Area and especially Marin and the South Bay are the MOST entitled, rude people I have ever been around. There are certainly, honest, kind, delightful, intelligent people here. No doubt about it. Bust as a whole, the gentry that live in the bubble that is the Bay Area are snobbish and so entitled. It is nothing for a woman to breeze past you when you open a door for her, no “thank you”, no acknowledgement whatsoever. You could be a doorman at a hotel downtown. There was this woman who physically interjected herself at the health food store. When we opened the freezer section door to get something she stepped right into the open space and stood there perusing the products while we were left holding the door open. We stood there incredulous and she finally looked at us like, “Where did you come from?! Crazy”!! Californians, esp those here in the North, LOVE that the pedestrian has the right of way. They take every opportunity to saunter slowly across the street or walk quickly into oncoming traffic. If you don’t stop they are only to ready to berate you! One time as I quickly crossed a street with my partner, a 20 something woman crossing from the other side actually said, “Don’t hurry! Make them wait!” I couldn’t believe it! Then there are the HOARDS of lycra clad bikers that swarm the streets on weekends and afternoons. They feel no compulsion to allow traffic to flow, zip through intersections and generally feel entitled to the right of way. If you cut one off, the whole gang will scream and yell. It’s ridiculous! And even though the cities have tried to create bike routes to lessen the friction, half the bikers still insist on taking the route for cars! It makes you not want to leave your house. Forget going to all that “beautiful Nature” that surrounds you. It is overrun with bikers, hikers, etc. And when you do venture out, your neighbors are no better. I live in a very small, quaint town in the suburbs. It’s a place you would think that maybe the citizens would still be friendly. I wave to people on my narrow winding road on the way to my house all the time. One in fifty waves back. Most just scowl at you. I could go on and on with examples. The people are just plain rude and entitled. The life here is so easy, they have so much money and everything they want so that they end up living in their own world. Ask any service person or employee in Marin and they will roll their eyes in affirmation. They have all had to endure Marinites bad behavior. It is no different in the South Bay or the city for that matter. Worse probably.

    Then there is the perennial drought which will make life here miserable if it gets worse. It never rains, it’s dry as hell and your eyes stick together in the morning, allergies are a part of life as there is never rain to clear the air and you live with toilet bowls full of urine and people trying to guilt trip you for watering a bush or washing your car. When you visit other parts of the US you realize how long it has been since you “smelt” things like, earth before a rain, grass, flowers etc. For most of the year, the dryness dulls your nose and you smell nothing. It is subtle but at the same time it creates a distinct disconnect to the physical realm. On the rare occasion that I smell cut grass or flowers I am overwhelmed with nostalgia.

    Finally, Northern Californians love to turn everything into a cause or a socio-political battle. Even Los Angelenos know how to enjoy life more than their northern counterparts. The Bay Area is filled with dour activists that always have an ax to grind. It can get very tiresome. This is the land of political correctness and save the “whatever” movements. I love it when you see people that are going to save the planet as they drive their huge luxury SUV to the rally!! That’s Northern California in a nutshell.

    As u can see, I have had my fill of CA. In January, my partner and I are moving to South Florida. News that horrifies our friends and acquaintances here. We might as well be moving to the bowels of hell. I know there will be parts of living in FL I won’t
    love. And I accept that. In the end, there are always good and bad sides to every situation, every place. I also think that people vibrate to some localities and not to others. I have never felt at home in the Bay Area, even when things weren’t as awful as they are now. So, I am giving the perspective of a person that never l resonated to this city in the first place. Some people may move here and LOVE it. I just wanted to offer a different view for potential citizens to ponder.

    Ok getting off my soapbox now.

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