San Francisco VS South Florida - Quality of City Life (San Diego: real estate, apartments)
Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
San Francisco VS South Florida - Quality of City Life
I am looking for some people who have lived, worked and played in both South Florida and San Francisco and your take on each. My fiancee and I are looking for a place to stick around for a while and want to make a good choice on location. Currently we are in South Florida near West Palm Beach and looking at San Francisco.
We are considering Fort Lauderdale or Miami if we stay here. Anybody have an opinion on the quality of everyday life in San Fran? Let's assume we live in the city and not on the outskirts. My complaints about South Florida are primarily around the lack of permanent culture. With the exception of South Beach, the people of Florida are a patchwork of non-residents and snowbirds. There is a feeling that no main culture presides.. if anything, there is an abundance of many cultures all crammed into one plain faced city. West Palm Beach is full of banks and old money.. there is a disgusting ratio of about 1% unbelievably wealthy people to 99% near poverty. The cities are very racially segregated and many parts of the city, especially Miami.. you do not want to drive through in broad daylight. There are 2 very depressing realities here, one of which are the old people. It is not the number of elderly here, but rather the number of angry, bitter old people. The running joke for locals is "Florida! Where people come to die!" It is really very unattractive attribute for a late 20s early 30s person. Albeit, I have met some wonderful and very happy (and successful) retirees here.. it does not outweigh the general public.
What I love about South Florida is the potential to feel like you live in another country. The farther south you go, it can really start to feel tropical. South Beach is like Vegas with beaches.. Scary, alive 24/7, trendy, beautiful.. certainly a great place to have at your disposal. I don't have much experience in the actual downtown of Miami, however it has a gorgeous skyline and is Biscayne Bay view is hard to beat. There is so much ethnic food, you don't know what to do with it and entertainment is around every corner.
While Miami has perks if you can afford the city life, it doesn't take long to literally be in 3rd world conditions.. Gangs, slums, language barriers make it a tough go, much like surrounding NYC.
Can anyone give some highs and lows of San Fran for me?
I actually grew up in Palm Beach County and have lived for the last 6 years in the Bay Area. I lived in San Francisco for 6 years and recently moved to Oakland. The Bay Area is definitely a lot more urban than South Florida although some of the more suburban areas feel like parts of South Florida because they're so sprawly and full of ugly strip malls.
Pros and Cons all mixed together:
- you can get by without a car in SF, which saves $$$. WAY better public transit, it's not perfect but it gets you around. Also it's way easier to get around on a bike in the Bay ARea because it's denser than FL, it's not brutally hot most of the time, and there are bike lanes in many places.
- SF is really expensive and it can be very hard to get an apartment at a decent price. The suburbs are a lot cheaper though. Oakland offers most of what SF does, and prices are like 30% less and the weather is warmer in summer.
- SF can be cold yearround which just gets annoying. In summer it can be 60F every day and very windy which just wears you down. You can't eat or read outside, you can't dress in shorts and sandals like you can in FL, and you'll rarely get enough sun to keep up a tan. In winter it rains a lot which is annoying because it's cold and rainy, which makes me miss the warm rain you get in Florida in the summer. No thunderstorms in California which is kind of nice though. Also it's cold all winter, like 40's and low 50's, which is kind of a drag but it's much better than places like NYC or Chicago where you don't feel like going outside. At least in SF you can go out and do stuff in winter, at least when it's not raining a ton.
- SF has way better job options than Florida. Florida's economy is centered around old people and tourism, which doesn't create a vibrant economy so there's not that many jobs that pay well, especially for young people. Miami might be better but wages are still pretty low. SF definitely has more opportunities, but the economy in the Bay Area has been bad the last 3 years so it's hard to get a job, but if you do it will almost definitely pay a lot better.
- SF is noisy and urban and definitely not laid back. The suburbs are more laid back and quieter but everything still feels kind of tense. Florida is way more laid back just because it's warmer, there's not much traffic in most places, people do things at a slower pace of life, but this brings me to my next point...
- there's really not much to do in FL if you're in your 20's and 30's. Going to the beach or boating are nice but that is about the only fun thing you can do. The Bay Area has a ton more stuff to do--music, restaurants, hiking, clubs, more young people to party with, etc.
- FL has hurricanes and tornados and thunderstorms. The Bay Area doesn't, but has earthquakes.
- The Bay Area is a LOT more diverse, and much younger than Palm Beach County, and there's a lot more ethnic restaurants of every stripe. Lots of good Mexican food--Florida doesn't have much good Mexican. But I like the variety and freshness of fish in Florida better, I just got back from Key West and ate a ton of great fish dishes I could never get in the Bay Area. Also FL has some neat stuff you don't see in the Bay Area like Cuban food and other Caribbean stuff.
Anyway that is about it, let me know if you have any other questions. Try and visit SF if you can and see what you think before moving there.
I would agree on almost all of these points, with just a couple of notes:
-You CAN get some Cuban and Caribbean food, but you have to look far and wide, and it may or may not be the authentic hole in the wall stuff you're used to. A very popular but rather trendy Caribbean restaurant is Miss Pearl's Jam House at Jack London Square in Oakland. It's been around (not at this location though) for about 15 years. Popular brunch spot, but again, more yuppie. Nice outdoor patio on the harbor underneath a grove of palm trees, which might be a nice way to feel like you're back in S. FL if you miss it! There is also a place called "Havana" in Alameda and Walnut Creek, which serves Cuban food, but I also think it's a bit yuppified. I'm sure there are a few Cuban places in SF, somewhere random.
-If you don't live IN the City proper, then I would definitely have a car. Oakland public transit isn't bad either, but it can be a bit scary, it still takes forever, and outside of OAK or SF, you'd be stuck, and the Bay Area has so much to explore. Also, most of the Bay Area is suburban and car-oriented outside of those denser cities.
-If you DO live in the City proper, then by all means avoid the Sunset and Richmond districts. This is where the fog sits all summer and never lifts. You'll hate it. East of Twin Peaks, at least the fog goes away by noon pretty much every day, and you'll have clear, sunny afternoons during the dry season (May-October). Also, although SF is cool in the winter, it's not quite as bad as noted above -- the Bay Area actually ranges from 55F in the North Bay to 60F in the South Bay in January, with SF and OAK averaging 57F (daytime temps; nights are around the low 40s). That's still 20 degrees colder than Miami, but 20 degrees warmer than NYC or DC, i.e. bearable but not delightful. If you do want hotter weather during the summer, when SF doesn't warm up all that much, you just drive across the bridge to Marin and enjoy the 80-degree sunshine there. SF has a chilly, foggy microclimate that most of the region fortunately does not share. But there's the trade off of excitement and urban life vs. climate...
-In addition to the activities listed, there are also museums, tons of beautiful art deco movie theaters that play independent films, farmers' markets all the time and all over the place, kayaking, sailing, biking and mountain biking, and beach activities like surfing and paddleboarding if you drive down to Santa Cruz for the day. There also seem to be festivals all the time, all over the region, on weekends. All in all, SF offers lots of great indoor activities, and the Bay Area offers lots of great outdoor activities.
I've posted on the pros and cons about San Francisco numerous times. I used to live in the Fort Lauderdale area and also lived in San Francisco. If you like city life and culture, San Francisco wins hands down. I won't go into details though because I've answered this question so many times already. Do a search. Good luck!
Why are you limiting yourself to these 2 areas? You sound very perceptive, and I seriously doubt you'll like San Francisco. Your focus on culture and people makes me think SF just isn't going to cut it. Do you really want to move to an area overrun with flaming liberal fascists who actually banned the Happy Meal and tried to ban PETS (Yes, dogs...), plastic shopping bags, and circumcision ? Really ? Trust me, finding someone like me who actually is born and raised in the Bay Area is rare nowadays as everyone who can leaves. The only place in California I'd recommend is San Diego. Try going on Zillow and seeing how much a decent house costs around here. It's insane.
If you don't live IN the City proper, then I would definitely have a car.
If you live in most parts of Berkeley, Oakland, and other inner East Bay cities, I think you could get by using a car share service. Of course, this assumes you won't need a car to get to work, in which case, a car share service can get expensive and be inconvenient.
I've lived in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for a number of years and have visited San Francisco many times for work over the past couple of years. If jobs are your main concern, you would do much better in the Bay Area if you work in tech, business, law, or medicine. Those high caliber jobs just doen't exist anywhere in south Florida. (maybe with the exception of Motorola and all those international law firms in Brickell).
Taxes are much higher in the California. It's tough to rap your head around paying about 10% state income tax after getting use to paying none. But, from my understanding, CA residents can attend top UC schools for practically nothing. That might be something to look at when you have kids..
The housing stock is much older in the Bay Area. I've grown accustomed to living in all new construction condos. I couldn't imagine living in a building that doesn't have a modern gym, rooftop pool, sauna, steam room, valet, etc. Maybe I've just been spoiled after living here. Most of my colleagues that work in SF rent very expensive, very old, no frills apartments. However, those old apartments are in upscale, walkable locations. Overall, rents and real estate prices are much high in the Bay Area.
As an experienced foodie, I can honestly say I've never had a bad meal in the City of San Francisco. South Florida cousine is very diverse and it's easy to get a nice, cheap meal for lunch. However, south Florida lacks decent high end restaurants, whereas they're abundant in San Francisco. So, for quick lunch places, I'd give south Florida the edge, but for high end dining (4 and 5 star stuff) I would favor SF.
Public schools are HORRIBLE all throughout south Florida, but the private schools rival those in the notheast. My coworker sends her daughter to a private school in the Design District in Miami, most of her classmates are sons and daughters of Latin American politicians, she is friends with Hugo Chavez niece (not sure if this is a good or bad thing. LOL). I imagine overall that public schools are much better in the Bay Area though.
All in all, it comes down to money. If I had an income in around 200k, I would rather live in the Bay Area. Anything less, I think I would stay in Miami/Fort Lauderdale.
This is no competition, if you want to die and get shot, stay in San Francisco. If you want to live in a tropical paradise with great beaches, go to Miami. It's really quite simple.
LOL. Miami has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. The number of murders per capita rivals Detroit. Miami is also notorious for white collar crime and scam artists of all kind.
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $53,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.
Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.