So, my life has been flipped upside down. I am now kinda, sorta, living in Northern California.
A month prior to my Asia trip, my boyfriend told me he wanted to take a job offer in Northern California. Although I’m kind of itching to get out of California, we both knew that taking this job was the right thing to do.
So when you get back from Japan and China, boyfriend said, we’re moving up North.
And… here I am. North of San Francisco in a place I never, ever expected to find myself in.
While I have only been here a few days and I don’t exactly live in the heart of the bay area per se (let’s just say I’m north of San Francisco), the stark contrast between north and south is alredy very apparent.
Weather Rocks in Norcal
When I left Southern California, the temperature was 105 F (or 40 C for the rest of the world) and it was simply not safe to be outdoors between the hours of 12 – 6 PM in fear of heat stroke.
Seven hours up north in the bay area, however, I opened my car door and flinched in anticipation of the summer heat–only to be welcomed to a cool, refreshing breeze.
Northern California is a comfortable 70-80 F (21-25 C) almost all year round. I haven’t had to use my air conditioner once since moving in. At night, it almost feels downright cold (which is crazy for July), with evening temperatures dropping to an average of 50 F (10 C) in the evening and morning.
The weather here is simply perfect. I now know why people pay ungodly amounts of money to live here.
It’s Super Green and Pretty Up Here
Here is a picture of a typical hike in Southern California, near the Los Angeles area.
Northern California, on the other hand, looks like this…
With vineyards and trees everywhere, the surrounding scenery pretty much is this:
Yeah. Pretty green, eh?
The morning fog and intermittent rains make Northern California green, moist and beautiful. The landscape reminds me of Oregon, but with more sunshine. Definitely a stark contrast to the deserts of Southern California.
Traffic and Driving
When I lived in the suburbs of Southern California, I faced an ungodly amount of traffic on both highways and local roads.
In Northern California, however, it actually feels like the suburbs. I’m surrounded by empty and quaint local roads with little to no traffic on the highways. I know that San Francisco is a totally different ball game, but at least they have the option of public transit there (the BART railway system) to avoid the nastiness of traffic.
So basically, driving (and commuting) here is much, much more relaxed than the Los Angeles area.
Hot Damn, It’s Expensive Up Here
Great weather, beautiful scenery, tons of amazing destinations nearby and it’s easy to drive around–what’s not to love?
Well, the main reason the whole country doesn’t flock here can be summed in two words: stupid expensive.
I nearly screamed in the aisle when I saw that a head of broccoli was 4 dollars. A handful of cilantro 2 dollars. A regular bag of potato chips, 4 dollars.
Rent is also insane. My friend lives in an Airbnb in north San Francisco and she pays 2,000 dollars per month. For one room. In a shared house. Not counting utilities. The boyfriend and I live in the suburbs in a very average apartment and the rent is close to 2,200 per month.
That’s not expensive. That’s insane.
Basically, the only way you can live in northern California is to be filthy, stinking rich. Or suffer in poverty. Or win the lottery. It’s hard.
My Final Say
The bay area is extremely nice. Although I’m not a huge fan of San Francisco, the north bay (where we live now) is amazing. I was sold on day two. The weather, the nature, the people, the sights, the scenery–everyone is happy here, and it’s hard not to be. There are vineyards everywhere, the beaches are only 40 minutes away, redwood trees are in my backyard and it’s sunny and 70 degrees everyday. Seriously, it’s hard to complain.
But I have to ask myself… is it worth the cost?
San Francisco, in my opinion, is definitely NOT worth the cost. Unless you’re a techie looking to make it big, I say stay away. Inequality in San Francisco is extremely apparent with homelessness on the rise and the middle class being squeezed out of the city as we speak. Compared to other world cities (Tokyo, Berlin, even Paris), I think San Francisco isn’t all that interesting. I would much rather pay 800 dollars per month to have my own bedroom in Tokyo than to shell out 2,000 dollars per month and live in a closet in San Francisco. No. Thanks.
As I’ve been saying to the boyfriend for years, the bay area is nice…. but is it pouring-most-of-my-salary-to-rent level nice?
My answer is no, it’s not worth it. I do not think the bay area will become my new home, even though it is a damn nice place. It’s just not worth it, and boyfriend agrees.
But Wait, I’m Moving Again…?
Ironically, I will not be living here (just a frequent visitor). Believe it or not, Mary will soon return to Southern California and live in another unlikely location: San Diego! Details to come later.
After 7 weeks of travel and a move across California, it is time for Mary to rest….and write more. Hopefully. Expect more posts soon!
Have you been to the bay area? Do you think it’s worth the price tag and are you a fan? What do you think about the rising cost of living in big cities?