The Difference Between Living in San Francisco Bay and New York City

blog title sf vs nyc

Welcome back!  This is part 2 of my mini series of 7 things I learned since moving out of home in NYC to San Francisco.  If you haven’t read my first post, please check it out because I wrote briefly about my background story of how I got to where I am. 🙂

Dun Dun Dun!  The question I get asked the most by my friends:

blog title

I don’t live in the San Francisco City, but I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Not everyone who moves to “SF” lives in San Francisco.  (you’ll see what I mean.)  Comparing that to New York City, that would be someone living in Brooklyn and not in “the City” of Manhattan.  (I grew up in Manhattan, btw.)

A lot of people are very confused by term “the Bay Area.”  They think “San Francisco” is all there is.  There’s actually East Bay, North Bay, Peninsula, SF the city, South Bay, all making up the San Francisco Bay Area.

When people visit San Francisco, they mostly stay only within SF the “City” and don’t venture to explore other parts of Bay Area, which is such a shame because the city is so small!  (Personally, I wouldn’t want to spend more than 2 days exploring the city of SF.)  The SF Bay Area is SO BEAUTIFUL you guys!

Let me explain SF Bay Area geography with this map:

San Francisco Bay
this entire screenshot is the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, San Francisco is just a small part of it.

(Ignore the stars, those are the places I have bookmarked, haha.)

Got it? Okay so here it goes:

The transportation system in NYC is hands down the greatest in the world. 

There’s no excuse or reason that you cannot make it to somewhere because it takes too much work to get there.  I miss this convenience the most.  You can literally meet anywhere in town because everywhere that’s cool and poppin’ is only a few train stops away from each other!

If you do not live in SF, you’re most likely getting into the city by car and you’ll have your whole day’s worth of activities planned ahead.  

Even if you do live in SF, you’re most likely going to bike, lyft or uber to get around.  I can’t imagine solely getting by with public transportation because nobody’s got that kind of energy to chase buses.  Unlike NYC, the trains do not take you everywhere within the city.  Meeting up with people and friends is more difficult and requires much more effort, but that’s pretty much true for everywhere outside of NYC.

You can totally have a life and a great time in the SF Bay Area without ever needing to get into SF city because there’s just so much to explore. 

There are so many downtown hubs and hiking trails throughout the entire Bay Area that you don’t need to go into SF to have a great time.

California’s nature, hiking trails, national parks, attractions, cannot be beaten.  

Right along the Pacific Ocean, we have Highway 1, the most scenic drive along the cliffs.  There’s little beach towns all along the coast line.  There’s also Napa, Yosemite, Santa Cruz,  all just a few hours away.

Napa (pc:, Santa Cruz, Yosemite, Pacific Hwy 1

You cannot find the same quality of adventures in New York within a few hour radius.  The NY equivalent would be going to the Hamptons, Maine or Boston to get outside of the “city”.  It’s just not the same.

The food scene in both cities will not disappoint.

I’m not a food snob.  I do not wait on brunch lines unless I have a friend who is dying to go.  I also believe you really can’t compare food because every chef is an artist.  There are chefs with a wide range of culinary skills everywhere that isn’t uniquely based on location.  There are passionate foodies in every major cities.  In my opinion, West Coast have better Asian and Mexican food.

As much as I hate to generalize people, what makes up a culture is essentially the common beliefs and value systems of the people occupying the same geographical space/ region.  Then again, we’re all Americans. 

Remember, there are good and bad people and criminals everywhere.  It is not that people in New York are especially mean or rude, however they are quick to judge others based on profession and how far up the corporate ladder you are.  People generally have more walls and act colder.  NYC can harden the nicest people and there are a lot of nice people in New York.

People trying to make it in NYC are more egotistic and money driven.

It is an exhilarating and exciting place to live in your early 20’s.  The art scene is always changing, it’s hard to keep up.  Nightlife in NYC is pretty much as good as it gets, until it’s winter time, haha!  (I cannot speak for the nightlife in SF because I’ve grown out of it by the time I relocated.)

It is much easier to live in a bubble in the SF Bay Area.

Everyone you meet is likely to live quite some distance from you along the Bay Area.  In NY, most of the jobs are in Manhattan, but in the Bay Area, jobs are pretty much spread out all long the Bay.  Traffic and commutes can get pretty crazy.  You’re in your own personal space in your car even when you’re sharing the roads with other people.  Unlike NYC, you are always surrounded by people.  You leave your apartment, you’re in the buzz of civilization immediately.

San Franciscans are more health conscious.  From their food to their work choices, San Franciscans value a more holistic, healthy, work/life balance.

Because of the drought, California in general is very eco-friendly.  You have to pay 25 cents for a shopping bag/ grocery bag in San Francisco.  We are conscious of taking shorter showers and some restaurants only serve water by request.

People in SF Bay tend to be happier.  

Most people are in the tech business or some kind of startup.  To hire and retain the best talent, it is common for companies to have catered lunches and a lot of cool incentives.  In SF, I feel that when people ask “what do you do,” it is fueled by a genuine curiosity of what kind of cool project you’re working on, not because they want to judge your worth.   Everyone’s got their own thing going on and don’t really judge you.

People are more laid back in SF.  Everyone is in a mother-effing rush in NY.  

In SF, you don’t feel rushed or need to “be busy” all time to prove anything, whereas New Yorkers are workaholics and some seem to be quite proud of it.  In NYC, if you’re not working your ass off in finance or fashion, or networking with the right people at the coolest parties, you’re pretty much considered an underachiever.  (Remember, only my opinion here.)  In the bay area, you can do whatever you like as long as you’re being a good neighbor and contributing to the greater good of your community.

Humans of New Yorkers are strong, like unfuckwitable, as if everyone’s got that fire in their souls. 

(There is no better word than unfuckwitable haha!)  And that I love and you can’t find it anywhere else.  New York is just full of life, energy and people with big dreams.  I love New York.  It’ll always be home.

Both cities are incredibly wealthy and the cost of rent is insane.  

However, one downside of San Francisco is the amount of homelessness exposed in plain view in the city.  While both have drastic gaps of income and wealth, you can definitely see more of it in the SF streets.

Both cities are incredibly diverse and welcomes pretty much anyone who wants to make it there.   

If you’ve ever been in NYC or SF, let me know what differences you notice!

3 thoughts on “The Difference Between Living in San Francisco Bay and New York City

  1. I have yet to visit any part of California, but would love to visit SF! NYC is a great place to visit, too. But not sure if I would live in either city. I am more about a quiet and slower-paced lifestyle.

feel free to share your thoughts :)