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.
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.