The Other San Francisco

It seems that we can’t get through a single week without seeing another article or infographic about how expensive San Francisco is becoming. And if people aren’t complaining about the housing prices, they’re complaining about the influx of technology workers who are making the prices so high to begin with.

Okay, so we get it. San Francisco is expensive. But shouldn’t it be? I mean after all, San Francisco is the happiest city in America, and the only U.S. city to crack the top ten happiest cities in the world. San Francisco AND Oakland (it’s nicer than you think) both made this top 5 most exciting cities to live in list (albeit by some strange criteria). Oh, and San Francisco was named the most romantic city in North America.

In case it wasn’t obvious enough yet, we pay a lot of money to live in San Francisco, because living in San Francisco is worth a lot of money. Simply, the quality of life here is better.¬†

So why do people still complain?

James Temple from SF Gate recently hypothesized:

The truth is that a lot of this debate isn’t actually about rent, gentrification or economics, or anything rooted in a real class struggle. Some of it is just hipster-on-hipster hatred. Middle-class humanities majors grumbling about middle-class computer science¬†majors.

He might be onto something there. But I have another theory. I think that many of the people complaining simply don’t quite know what they’re missing out on.

I’ve heard a number of friends living in the Nob Hill, Russian Hill, North Beach quadrant of the city complain that they’re “kind of bored with San Francisco.” Guess what? These same people rarely ever leave that northeast quadrant of the city. They couldn’t find Mount Davidson on a map. They couldn’t tell you where either of the waterfalls are in Golden Gate Park. They probably have no idea that there are hidden rope swings and slides in the hills of Glen Park and Bernal Heights. Quite simply they’ve passed up opportunities over the years to discover how jawdroppingly stunning this city is.

A call to action

I’d like to remind people who live here (and visitors too) that there’s more to San Francisco than what you’ve seen in Ms. Doubtfire and Full House. Much more. San Francisco is small, but it’s densely packed with surprises and delights at every turn. If you never take the time to fully get to know the city just because “The Sunset is too cold” or because “I don’t know how to get to Fort Funston” then you’re never going to know why you pay so much to live here in the first place.

And a final, friendly reminder: Don’t call it Frisco.


  • Anonymous

    Good analogy! Tricky thing to master is letting the “dishes pile up” when need be to dig in and focus on something that needs to get done though. If that means leaving emails alone for an hour to work on a blog post or write an ebook, you have to leave it alone. It’s called timeboxing.

    • Zach Cole

      Agreed. There definitely comes a point when the necessary tasks get done. But it’s when those dishes pile up too much to the point that they are interfering with the completion of the other, more important tasks that it becomes a real problem. Thanks for the comment, Janet!

  • Gedi Dabakaeri

    Good write-up. I dig the analogy. I tend to get those work reports done quicker simply because I hate tedious. The more I spend time on tedious the quicker I lose motivation. In terms of dishes I do them asap or while I’m cooking. I figure if I get them done sooner that leaves me more time to be productive with other things which will hopefully help in being successful.

    Proper time-management is critical to success. If you can’t prioritize the small/menial tasks it effects your ability to deal with the bigger tasks.

    • Zach Cole

      I can’t agree more with your last two sentences. Task management and prioritization are outrageously important.

  • Anonymous

    Great post, Zach.

    It’s funny you mention that “quadrant” where people say they’re bored. I live there but spend virtually no time there outside my apartment. There’s so much more to see if you just hop on a bus or your bike or in a Lyft and check out what you describe and much more. Most of the best food and most interesting sights are not in that quadrant, which is fine; I like living there specifically because it’s a break from much of the sensory overload that is SF.

    Thanks for organizing the Startup Hikes for over a year now. They’re a great way to make it easier to explore a lot of the great things you mention. I would have had no idea the breathtaking views of Bernal and Corona Heights or those slides yesterday if it weren’t for them.


    • Zach Cole

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Jason. Completely agreed with you – it’s easy enough to get around this city, that no one in any neighborhood really has much of an excuse for not getting to know this city. I actually think there’s lots of great things to do, see and eat in the aforementioned quadrant, but much like any other neighborhoods in this city, it’ll get boring after a while if that’s all you ever see. Glad you’re digging the hikes! :)

  • Anonymous

    This almost makes me want to move across the country. Almost.

    • Zach Cole

      @DavidReyneke:disqus And you can have all the craft beer you can stomach.

  • livedinsffortenyears

    Every see that episode of South Park where the San Franciscans smells their own farts using wine glasses? I gotta say, it’s getting more pertinent.

    • Zach Cole

      Because we’re proud to live in this city?

  • 00films

    This was indeed a great article and indeed do not call this city Frisco!
    I enjoyed the article. I appreciate folks like you. Yay!

    a native San Franciscan