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Unread 12-11-2010, 05:22 PM
 
8 posts, read 20,279 times
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Hi guys,

Well we haven't made a final decision yet as we have differing opinions, we are back in the UK to spend Christmas with family and then we will be deciding.

We have, however, travelled across the USA and stayed in many different places so I can tell you what I personally think of the places discussed in this thread as well as others.

I really loved San Francisco the nature is absolutely beautiful and it seems to be a more mixed population (international) than in some other places. We rented a place in the sunset area (I think that s what you call it) very nice area big detached houses and we really enjoyed it there and we spent sometime exploring the other areas of San Francisco in terms of playgrounds, schools amongst other things. Definitely San Francisco has got a great range of schools and playgrounds. There are also good places to shop, etc. I think I could easily live in San Francisco and whilst the weather wasn't warm all the time as winter was coming it WAS sunny everyday even when it rained ( better cold and sunny than cold and grey like here). The fog to me just gives character to the city, however, I suppose it can get annoying if you have to live with it too long. We also stayed a couple of weeks in the walnut creek/pleasant hill areas it was very nice - again lots of good shopping and lots of trees and playgrounds and again good range of schools (although we didn't visit them). If I lived there I would probably live somewhere like Walnut Creek because of the beauty of the nature surrounding it, everyday when I woke up it was sunny, and driving to San Francisco or somewhere else I just felt alive and happy I think it was the combination of the mountains (mount diablo) and the trees and then the sea - what more could one ask. I can see how someone who is used to city life could define these areas as boring suburban places, but that is because they don't understand that there is a whole different community of people living here. You need to be able to appreciate this kind of place. I have to say that another place I loved was Napa (old town) I could quite easily live there ( although I think they would not be too keen on foreigners there and it is probably very expensive to live there - I saw absolutely no diversity there just rich white people (I am white just in case you are wondering). Bear in mind that whilst it was sunny everyday it was quite cold (everybody kept telling us it was not normal to be that cold that early). We had our first thanksgiving in San Francisco and it was really lovely, we met some lovely people there and some friends that we hadn't seen for a while. We did not go to Marin County (which I really wanted to go to) but we didn't have time as we stayed in some places longer than others. We visited friends in most of the areas mentioned in the thread but really I definitely would not live in San Francisco- as I would feel kind of claustrophobic - I would live in it's suburbs. I passed a really nice area not too far from Berkeley (I think it may have been called claremont - not sure) and I really liked it don't know about the facilities though (schools, etc). I am going to continue my views on another post as this one is running out of space .
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Unread 12-11-2010, 05:52 PM
 
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Continuation of previous post- please accept my apologies for any misspellings or typos my Internet is not working so I am using my iPhone and it is not possible for me to recheck what I have written.

So I have told you what I thought about the places that were mostly discussed in this thread, I have not told you the negatives just the positives - so without further ado here come the negatives:
The big no-no for me was that unfortunately wherever we went be it San Francisco (anywhere even the nicest poshest areas) Walnut Creek or Napa there was always a smell of marijuana ( now I understand about people being liberal minded, I understand there maybe lots of retired hippies in San Francisco and surrounding areas ( but I saw young professional women in their mid twenties smoking it near a playground (where we were playing with our child and lots of other children) I also saw young black men. Smoking it and old retired hippies- it just seems everybody is doing it. I don't condemn these people for doing it but I definitely condemn that they were doing it in public places - I don't smoke and hate the smell of cigarettes and even more of marijuana it is a really annoying smell. So in the end I start associating San Francisco with this smell and this is something really bad because it can make me change my mind unfortunately. I don't know what you guys are going to say about this but this was my experience and I was there over a month and every we felt that smell ( it was really annoying especially when I am trying to convince my husband to move there). My husband likes the USA but he can't think of living there for the following reasons ( my husband's views not mine):
1. He absolutely hates the limited choice of healthy food available ( and yes we went to farmers markets with great quality produce, we also went to trader joes, safeway amongst other places - we fried to live like locals (what do you Brits out there do with regards the food issue?)
2. He doesn't think people are very efficient - to give an example there are two people in a line at a store one being served the other waiting- the cashier takes 30 minutes or more to serve the first person even though that person is only buying one item - he spends most of this time smiling and chit chatting to this person ( for me this is good customer service for my husband this is inefficiency and therefore he says I prefer someone with a grimy face who will serve me quickly). And that I think sums up the USA for him people are nice and friendly smiley but they are slow and inefficient (and do not care much for the environment) whereas in the Uk people are not as friendly but they're efficient and fast because they have no choice ( customer service is crap here though in my opinion).

So our arguments about going there are normally centred on the above views, basically me arguing that I feel happier there and him arguing all the above time and time again. So basically it is very difficult to make a decision.

It is going to be a big fight and let's see who wins !
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Unread 12-11-2010, 06:20 PM
 
8 posts, read 20,279 times
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Hi guys,

I also wanted to let you know what I think of some of the other places I visited I don't know if this is the correct thread but it may be useful for someone else so I am posting it.

I really really loved Santa Monica (please bear in mind that when I went there it was very quiet and that is probably why I loved it ). The atmosphere in third street reminded me a lot of bromley where I live with the added bonus of a beautiful big beach . I think it would be easy to live there too (although really expensive), my husband would never live here because of the levels of pollution coming from L.A. So that is definitely off our list. Santa Barbara is a beautiful place indeed probably a perfect place to raise a child but it felt really secluded to me I need to be near a city centre (walnut creek to San Francisco if you know what I mean). We didn't get a very good impression of L.A I'm afraid it just seemed congested all the time and we believed we could see the high pollution levels in the air (this is a joint opinion). We ended up not going to San Diego but lots of people told us it is very nice there but my husband was not keen as it is too close with the border with Mexico.

I really liked Flagstaff Arizona (small rustic town with a 24 hour noisy train) but really nice friendly people and again lots of trees and mountains - I keep telling my husband this is a sign it clearly means I don't want to live in big built up areas any more . I loved the grand canyon and recommend it HIGHLY to everyone! I thought Las Vegas was much cleaner than L.A and to a certain extent nicer. In Texas, I loved the Forth Worth Area and Dallas as well ( probably could live here without problems - people are really really nice) I also liked San Antonio (again small town but nice place to live I'm sure). I think Austin is a great place for single people (lots of attractive young men and women - not so many families- college town feel). Did not like Houston at all.

The following places match my personality and so could live in any of them: Florida- St. Petersburg (might get a bit bored but Tampa and Miami are not that far away so it is a possibility); Miami area and the Florida Keys Islands ( problems to hot in the summer and lightning storms- saw A lightening strike the ground in front of my car - was really scared ) Texas- Dallas/Forth Worth area. Arizona- Flagstaff
California- Santa Monica, San Francisco bay area ( Walnut Creek and maybe somewhere close to Berkeley) and Napa old town.

I know these are very different places but I have learnt to get a feel for a place and I just know that pretty much I could live in any of these places.

So that is it really. I love the USA and I really want to live there so now I just have to convince my husband that it is the right place to move to.

Somebody said something about British transplant, I am not British by birth I am from a city which is very similar to San Francisco in terms of weather (Lisbon) so maybe I should just head back home ( good weather good food - just different language altogether for my husband ) but maybe it's a good thing for me to call him .

I think that is it, if you have any questions or comments in relation to my posts just let me know and I'll try and reply as soon as I can provided I have faster Internet than what I do at the moment.

Have a great Christmas everybody and may 2011 be a better year Than 2010 !

xxxMonicaxxx
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Unread 12-11-2010, 08:46 PM
 
1,236 posts, read 2,003,632 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smonica4 View Post
1. He absolutely hates the limited choice of healthy food available ( and yes we went to farmers markets with great quality produce, we also went to trader joes, safeway amongst other places - we fried to live like locals (what do you Brits out there do with regards the food issue?)
What healthy foods were not available here that you can find in Britain? For health food shopping in SF I go to Rainbow Grocery,a large independent health food store. There are also 4 Whole Foods in SF. Small independent markets like the Bi-Rite Market or Noriega Produce are also good for for healthy options.

Santa Cruz has better independent health food stores than San Francisco with the fabulous New Leaf Markets and Staff of Life.
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Unread 12-11-2010, 08:51 PM
 
Location: Bay Area
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I'm sorry but I was only able to skim through your posts. I'll address a few of your general observations/comments you've made!

As someone that grew up in San Francisco, I've NEVER witnessed people smoking marijuana in the open (perhaps in nightclubs on occasion). I suspect you may have been near Golden Gate Park playground though where there are a LOT of homeless camps around the area? Sure, everyone knows responsible and employed people that use it (as do I) but they are normally discreet and not doing it in open air. It's not that big of a deal to a a lot of people, but we don't smoke it in front of people! I think you were in the wrong place at the wrong time!? That specific area is known for that--even with little kids around.

I think your husband has the absolutely wrong impression on the healthy food front. The Bay Area is probably the most food focused culture in the country. My own children have never stepped foot in a fast food establishment and we have FAR more choice than you'd ever see in Britain. I actually lived in one of the most hippie/liberal leaning areas in Ireland (West Cork) and the choice was horrific compared to what I can get here in the Bay Area. We have farmer's markets in just about every city and I'd say all of them sell organic locally produced pastured meats, eggs etc AND locally grown veg. So husband's got that part completely wrong, imo. The Bay Area is well known for our food snobbery! I don't quite understand this since all I ever found in the UK/Ireland was spuds, veg, meat, and lovely cheeses. Okay- Indian food/meat and chips are definitely superior there!

As for Walnut Creek being strictly white and rich...hmmm...I can understand how you'd think that I suppose. I actually used to think that too when I lived in the City! It's always been known for being somewhat affluent/upper middle class, but you'll find this in any city/or even neighborhoods in the region where the public schools are good and where "safety" is a concern (it's sadly, just the way it is around here--affluence generally means more safety and sadly, white people.

As for your husband's assessment that the efficiency is a problem...NO WAY! Britain's customer service is terrible. I know this because my husband runs an organization just outside London. You know what what we tell him to bring back for us when he's away? Walker's crisps, Geeta's mango chutney and Tesco's black olives! That's all we can think of that we miss from the British Isles. Even my Irish husband gets back to the States craving healthy food- desperate for more interesting fare! Everything else, from Bisto to Coleman's to we can actually get here! The basics are definitely good in Britain--but that's it. There's nothing more exciting. Can't get Mexican, Thai, Sushi, dim sum, tapas or Pizza! (Okay- you're much closer to the real tapas in Spain- I'll give you that!)

I know first impressions are seemingly the way it is. It's not to dismiss your feelings at all. But actually living here day to day (particularly in the Walnut Creek area) is probably far more interesting and beautiful than you'd seen on your visit. I cannot comment on the other areas of the country--I'm a native Californian that's only lived in Northern California and several regions in Ireland.

Alright- that's all I've got to say! Glad you got to experience the area first hand! Sounds pretty cool that you were able to travel around and see the various cities in the US!
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Unread 12-12-2010, 08:00 AM
Status: "Can I pack away my winter coat now?" (set 2 days ago)
 
Location: Western Massachusetts
22,325 posts, read 9,560,239 times
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I'm amused you found the sunset district sunny. I've noticed a lot of posters in the forum call San Francisco very cloudy, because they are from other parts of California or the US Southwest which are one of the sunniest places in the world. For worldwide standards, San Francisco is fairly sunny and much sunnier than London. Keep in mind that while that the fog will be worse in the summer and the summer temperatures won't break much above 60 while the eastern part of the might warm and sunny. You could always go somewhere else to escape the fog...Perhaps you should try renting in a neighborhood of San Francisco and then go to a different area if it doesn't suit you. I met someone who grew up in San Francisco and she seemed to love it there, and she went hiking lots of times to nearby places in the Bay Area.
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Unread 12-12-2010, 11:04 AM
rah
 
Location: San Francisco
3,047 posts, read 4,502,330 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clongirl View Post
I'm sorry but I was only able to skim through your posts. I'll address a few of your general observations/comments you've made!

As someone that grew up in San Francisco, I've NEVER witnessed people smoking marijuana in the open (perhaps in nightclubs on occasion). I suspect you may have been near Golden Gate Park playground though where there are a LOT of homeless camps around the area? Sure, everyone knows responsible and employed people that use it (as do I) but they are normally discreet and not doing it in open air. It's not that big of a deal to a a lot of people, but we don't smoke it in front of people! I think you were in the wrong place at the wrong time!? That specific area is known for that--even with little kids around.
uhh...i also grew up in SF and i have seen many, many people smoking weed in public, and not just in Golden Gate park.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smonica4 View Post
Continuation of previous post- please accept my apologies for any misspellings or typos my Internet is not working so I am using my iPhone and it is not possible for me to recheck what I have written.

So I have told you what I thought about the places that were mostly discussed in this thread, I have not told you the negatives just the positives - so without further ado here come the negatives:
The big no-no for me was that unfortunately wherever we went be it San Francisco (anywhere even the nicest poshest areas) Walnut Creek or Napa there was always a smell of marijuana ( now I understand about people being liberal minded, I understand there maybe lots of retired hippies in San Francisco and surrounding areas ( but I saw young professional women in their mid twenties smoking it near a playground (where we were playing with our child and lots of other children) I also saw young black men. Smoking it and old retired hippies- it just seems everybody is doing it. I don't condemn these people for doing it but I definitely condemn that they were doing it in public places - I don't smoke and hate the smell of cigarettes and even more of marijuana it is a really annoying smell. So in the end I start associating San Francisco with this smell and this is something really bad because it can make me change my mind unfortunately. I don't know what you guys are going to say about this but this was my experience and I was there over a month and every we felt that smell ( it was really annoying especially when I am trying to convince my husband to move there). My husband likes the USA but he can't think of living there for the following reasons ( my husband's views not mine):
Your level of public weed-smoking exposure depends on where you live. You'll see it more near parks, nightlife areas, and high crime areas...downtown too, because EVERYONE goes there. It's not like you're guaranteed to see it everyday, or whenever you leave your house...it's just very widely accepted here, thus most people don't see it as much of a big deal or they don't care at all (police included in cities like SF, Berkeley, and Oakland), or they know that if they do complain there's a small chance anything will actually be done, so they don't bother complaining....and people's use reflects all of that. It's not on the same level as cigarette smoking, but people from all walks of life smoke, and many do smoke in public. You only get in real trouble in SF if you're selling very large amounts. The SFPD has actually classified marijuana use as their lowest enforcement priority. Illegal Grow ops are still busted pretty regularly though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smonica4
2. He doesn't think people are very efficient - to give an example there are two people in a line at a store one being served the other waiting- the cashier takes 30 minutes or more to serve the first person even though that person is only buying one item - he spends most of this time smiling and chit chatting to this person ( for me this is good customer service for my husband this is inefficiency and therefore he says I prefer someone with a grimy face who will serve me quickly).
This is not normal, at all. Most Americans who would find themselves waiting in that situation would also see it as inefficient...not to mention rude and a bad display of customer service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smonica4 View Post
We ended up not going to San Diego but lots of people told us it is very nice there but my husband was not keen as it is too close with the border with Mexico.
x
I know there's been lots of news about the horribly violent drug war in Mexico--especially mexico's border regions--but the US has been very shielded from it in comparison. San Diego may be just miles from the border, but overall it's actually one of the safest large cities in the United States. Take El Paso, Texas for example as well: It's right across the border from Cuidad Juarez (in an aerial photo they basically look like the same city), which is widely regarded these days as the most violent city in the world. El Paso however is very safe overall...even more so than San Diego.
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Unread 12-12-2010, 12:58 PM
 
Location: South Korea
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a) in terms of marijuana--I lived in SF for 6 years until moving recently to Oakland and I very rarely smell it on the street. I think you're exaggerating, either that or you ran into every weed smoker in the city on one day. And you'll see it a lot less in the suburbs. And my guess is people in the Bay Area are more likely to smoke outside compared to other areas because a lot of landlords don't allow indoors smoking of any kind, or they live in a small apartment with roommates, etc. In any case getting aggravated about it is silly, it's not hurting you, and you're not going to run into it as often as you seem to think you would. My guess is you'd see the same amount of public weed smoking in North London.

b) Not sure what you mean by there not being any "healthy" food in the Bay Area. People in the UK eat a lot of garbage and fast food too, and their grocery stores are not any different from US ones. You should have gone to a Whole Foods while you were here, they are massive and full of organic stuff of all kinds. I think in general there is more local produce available in the UK but that is only because the UK is so small compared to the US, and the produce and dairy quality in a Safeway in the UK is better than a Safeway in the US. But there are a ton of farms around the Bay Area and as people have said there are farmer's markets everywhere where you can get good fresh local food for not much money. Combine that with shopping at Whole Foods and I think you'd get fresher stuff than what you'd get in the UK.

c) Checkout lines in the US generally move pretty quickly. It depends on the store and the workers though, some will move you through pretty fast and others will take forever. The Trader Joe's near me in Oakland moves pretty fast but the CVS takes forever even for really simple stuff because the workers are all so slow. Americans get annoyed with slow lines and bad customer service very quickly, whereas the stereotype of Britons is that they will queue up in lines for ages which never move.
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Unread 12-12-2010, 03:19 PM
 
Location: Bay Area
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Rah, I used to frequent many of the local playgrounds daily with my kids and have not once seen anyone smoking it nearby. I suppose you might get a waft of it in certain areas on occasion (like in GG park/Dolores Park, perhaps) but not behind the slides, swings, and jungle gyms at the local playgrounds where there's a bunch of toddlers running around with their moms milling about. I have certainly known plenty of smokers, but I have never know any of them just light one up walking on their way to work.
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Unread 12-12-2010, 05:40 PM
rah
 
Location: San Francisco
3,047 posts, read 4,502,330 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clongirl View Post
Rah, I used to frequent many of the local playgrounds daily with my kids and have not once seen anyone smoking it nearby. I suppose you might get a waft of it in certain areas on occasion (like in GG park/Dolores Park, perhaps) but not behind the slides, swings, and jungle gyms at the local playgrounds where there's a bunch of toddlers running around with their moms milling about. I have certainly known plenty of smokers, but I have never know any of them just light one up walking on their way to work.
Yeah most playgrounds probably aren't going to have many people smoking weed near them. Thats obviously a good way to get angry parents and/or the cops on you.

As for lighting up on the walk to work...i never said anything about that, but there are people who do it, even if you don't personally know any. Why not? Whatever floats your boat right?

...really now, its not too uncommon to smell weed smoke in public around here (why would it be uncommon, when you have such a low chance of getting in trouble for it?). That's not to say its THAT common, because not nearly everyone smokes, not everyone who does smoke is a complete stoner, and many people who do smoke in public don't seem to be that comfortable when its not in a park or something. We obviously don't live in a perpetual weed smoke haze in SF...but public smoking is probably more common than anywhere else in the united states (along with Berkeley and Oakland). Just look at the news reports from the world series with texas news reporters getting all googly eyed and shocked when they witnessed giants fans smoking in broad daylight outside AT&T park. Like i said, not that uncommon, especially compared to most other parts of the US where people actually have to watch themselves if they don't want a fine/jail time/record. That would have been a huge non-story to any Bay Area news outlet.
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