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Old 11-03-2012, 03:57 PM
7 posts, read 16,844 times
Reputation: 28


My partner and I are considering a move to the Bay Area in the summer of 2013 from Seattle. My internet company has an office in the Financial District that I can work out of, its about a 10 minute walk from the Powell or Embarcadero Bart stops. We live in downtown Seattle, and I love it, but I just can't keep doing the long dark winters up here. There will be a week or more at a time when I may not even see the sun once, and this goes on from October until June sometimes. I don't mind the chilly, grey weather for the first day or two, I just feel like I can't do it for weeks on end without even seeing the sun.

My partner drives and tends to work more retail type jobs, so I'd like to live somewhere he can get around in his car without too much hassle and get to the local mall or shopping centers for work. I prefer public transit and walking, so I'd like to at least live within walking distance of a supermarket or something, and somewhere I can get to a Bart stop.

We like the idea of living near the ocean, though all I hear is that it is foggy all the time in the Sunset, Daly City, and Pacifica. I've been to all of those areas several times, though I guess I got lucky, as there have always at least been sun breaks every day I've been through there, and never terrible fog.

We're considering areas from SF (Noe Valley, SOMA, South Beach, Sunset district), Pacifica (north areas, Manor Plaza or Fairmont), or down the Peninsula a bit (San Bruno, Millbrae, San Mateo). My partner is more conscious of things feeling run down, dirty, or unsafe than I am, so that probably rules out some neighborhoods (like most parts of the neighborhoods right on Mission for example, or anything very near the Tenderloin).

Budget: up to $3000, though obvious it would be nice to stay under $2000. Studio is fine, as long as its not tiny, though larger studio or 1 bedroom is obviously nicer. And we would like assigned parking (unless its a neighborhood with super easy street parking).

We are a gay couple, so let me know if any of these areas would be considered hostile toward a gay couple (though I've never noticed that when I've been exploring down in that area). We aren't really into the scene, so we don't really care if there are gay bars or anything nearby. We're more into going to sporting events (NFL, MLB, etc), sports bars, that kind of thing. Maybe going to the occasional movie.

I have some questions:

1) Fog: how bad are the Pacifica/Daly City/Sunset areas really? Especially compared to Seattle? I don't mind some cloudiness/fog and cool weather (especially coming from Seattle), I just need to know that most days we will at least get some sun breaks. Are there weeks at a time in the worst part of the year in Pacifica when there is really no sun at all? Or does it typically make an appearance every day, if only for an hour or two? I've looked for fog statistics for Pacifca, but I can't find anything concrete, like average number of sunny hours per day or anything. Does the fog make it terrible to drive at night very often, say if we wanted to drive over from Pacifica over to Colma to the shopping area at night? Obviously we can always go over the hill for sun in Pacifica (which sadly there are no sunny places at all near Seattle), so that is one plus.

2) Pacifica: I like the idea of an apartment near Manor Plaza or in Fairmont, so I can at least walk out for groceries or to grab a bite. I also like the idea of being near the ocean, and something a little more scenic and less congested, which my partner would like. In Fairmont it looks like I can take Sam Trans right to the Colma Bart (like a 10 minute bus ride or something short), which is convenient. It looks like from Manor Plaza I'd probably want to drive and park at the Colma Bart station (or is there a quick way to get to a Bart station from there)? How is getting in and parking at the Colma Bart station for commuting? Is that going to be a nightmare, or could I expect to get a spot there every day quickly coming from Manor Plaza? We did stay over in Pacifica for a night, and found the area charming.

3) San Mateo: This area seems perfect in most ways, I love that the downtown area is walkable and has all you need right there, and it has driving type things for my partner. I'm just afraid that the commute into downtown SF is going to start to suck after a while. It looks like the best bet is to take Cal Train to Millbrae and transfer to Bart, or to take Cal Train all the way to SOMA, and transfer to the Muni Street Car there. Has anyone on here done this commute long term, and did it become a drag?

4) Millbrae / San Bruno: These areas are more convenient with the Bart stops right there, though they do not seem nearly as walkable as San Mateo. I was especially interested in Millbrae 1 block west of El Camino Real on Broadway, seems like there are a handful of nice little places to walk to, along with groceries and drug stores. I have walked from the Millbrae Bart station over to the shopping center near there to Starbucks, and it didn't seem like a place people walked very much, but is it somewhere you could live comfortably and do most things on foot if you wanted?

5) Noe Valley: This was one of my favorite areas, it felt like a safer, cleaner version of the Mission District, with more families. Plenty of walking/transit options, so it would probably be super convenient for me (though pricey, obviously), but would it really suck to try to drive out of there and down toward the Shopping Mall area (like around Colma) every day, or is that an easy drive? I wasn't sure how congested the streets get going south from there.

6) SOMA / Mission Bay / South Beach: I like this area a bit, especially closer toward Mission Bay near AT&T Park, because it reminds me more of the new shiny high-rises in downtown Seattle with more modern amenities (which my partner definitely prefers over the older victorian type style), and would be more like the building we live in now (which we love). Its also quite pricey, though it seems we could find a decently large studio with parking for $3000 or a little less. However, the time or two we walked around SOMA it was just a tad souless, with fewer pedestrians than I had expected. There seemed to be more chain type places around there, though neither of us really mind that one way or the other. I was worried about my partner trying to drive out of there during the day every day, it looks like it may really suck having a car there, or am I wrong? And is it a reasonably walkable area (and maybe I just didn't explore the right streets)?

7) Sunset District: Seemed quieter and safer, but it seemed a little too quiet, not much to walk to, and the public transit options were somewhat slim and slow it seemed. We have considered it though, as it would be perhaps nice to live near the ocean in SF proper.

Any other areas I should consider that would work well for both my partner and I? I've looked at a couple places in the East Bay, but given that my partner is more conscious of things feeling unsafe, and since my work places will most likely always be either in downtown SF or down through the peninsula toward Mountain View, I'd really prefer to stay on the SF side of the bay. We've also been to San Jose a number of times (and some of the other downtowns down the south part of the peninsula), and while it does have both a walkable downtown and is plenty drivable, the commute to SF everyday from there would be too brutal for me I'm guessing.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by tolvak; 11-03-2012 at 04:17 PM..
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:30 PM
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 12,241,056 times
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I would look more at the East Bay, BART is way more convenient for getting to your office than Caltrain, and the East Bay is cheaper for what you get compared to the Peninsula and especially compared to SF. If you are used to a big city like Seattle and like SF then you will fit in just fine in the East Bay, in terms of feeling safe. The nice parts of Oakland feel way less dangerous than anywhere in SF, and are quieter and way cleaner too. I'd mainly recommend looking at the Rockridge section of Oakland because it's very nice and has a BART station (20 minute ride to Embarcadero station), but the drawback is that it doesn't have a lot of apartments so prices tend to be a bit high there. Honestly if you don't feel safe in an upscale neighborhood like Rockridge then you'd hate living in SF. Parts of Berkeley and anywhere in Albany would work for you too. Millbrae is also probably good to look at since it has BART but you'll pay more for what you get compared to Berkeley or Oakland.

Caltrain is a nice ride but the terminal station is nearly a mile from your office. You could walk but that takes a while, and transferring to BART or Muni adds time and is a pain, and will especially be a pain in the rainy winter months. At least if you ride BART from Millbrae or the East Bay you just get on your train and it delivers you right under Market real close to your office.

As for the fog in areas near the coast like the Outer Sunset and Pacifica, it is pretty relentless and keeps it cold and windy even in the middle of summer--a high of 60 degrees is pretty common. If you want more sun then look at Millbrae and anywhere further south on the eastern side of the Peninsula, or anywhere in the East Bay.
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:53 PM
7 posts, read 16,844 times
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Yeah, I have heard a lot of good things about Rockridge, I'll investigate it a bit more. I had looked for apartment listings there, and like you mentioned, there weren't too many. But I'll definitely take some time to look into Rockridge, in addition to the other areas. Thanks!
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:17 PM
7 posts, read 16,844 times
Reputation: 28
Just to update this with info I found about Pacifica (just in case someone else reads this later with the same questions):

I was doing more research on the Pacifica area, and it turns out that SamTrans (San Mateo Country Transit, I believe) actually has buses to either Daly City or Colma bart stations from pretty much all the main spots in Pacifica. And some of them are only a 10 minute ride or so to the Bart stop.

The most interesting routes I found were: 110, 112, 118

Route 118 was particularly interesting because it goes straight to the Colma Bart station from Pacifica Manor in only 7 minutes (or 20 minutes if you're out as far as Linda Mar). This is making Pacifica particularly interesting, and I'm wondering if the fog won't be too much of an issues since I can be in a more sunny neighborhood within 20 minutes or so easily, if it starts to get to me.
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Old 11-04-2012, 05:37 PM
Location: Santa Monica
147 posts, read 185,149 times
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The Manor district in Pacifica is the foggiest part of the city. Vallemar and Linda Mar are much sunnier.
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Old 11-04-2012, 06:40 PM
Location: San Francisco, CA
506 posts, read 1,076,128 times
Reputation: 316
I don't think there's any place in the Bay area that would be hostile toward a gay couple.

For modern apartment buildings I like Emeryville. It is definitely a bit more sterile and has more chains than SF, but it might be worth investigating. They have nice free buses that run all through town and to and from and the BART station.

Hayes Valley might be interesting too, if you like Noe Valley. Little bit closer to downtown, not quite as stroller oriented.
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