Moving to San Francisco


Sunset over the city of San FranciscoThe Bay City has a long history of beckoning the boldest immigrants, so often at the creative cutting edge of their time. Expats moving to San Francisco join a rich tradition of pioneers, from the gold miners who started the first European settlements, to the counter cultural movements of the 20th century and the venture capitalists of the dot-com boom. The end of the long Westward push, the city’s prosperity, ingenuity and diversity symbolise the realisation of the American Dream.

There has always been movement towards San Francisco, whether settlers had a strong natural desire to explore or believed it was their Manifest Destiny to head for the West. As much as it is known for its history, migrants continue to be drawn to the city for its landmarks and the lifestyle it offers residents. 

Mention of San Francisco conjures images of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars that climb the rolling cityscape and the infamous Alcatraz prison lurking on the waters of the bay.  European expats will particularly find the Golden Gate city’s Victorian architecture and liberal outlook familiar and attractive. Its diversity is manifested in culturally distinct areas such as China Town, the Hispanic communities of Mission District, and North Beach – otherwise known as Little Italy.

This diversity and the city’s spirit of progress are likely to shape expats’ experiences of working in San Francisco. The largest contributors to the city’s economy are the financial services industry, tourism and high technology. A remnant of its role in the California Gold Rush, the city is still one of the largest centres of finance in the United States.

Expats will have access to a variety of accommodation in the neighbourhoods of San Francisco, from leafy suburbs to gentrified areas with loft apartments. New arrivals will have access to a variety of quality public, private and international schools, and the city also provides a wide selection of options for further education, including the University of California, San Francisco.

It is also a child-friendly city and kids in San Francisco will find it difficult to be bored, with all the destinations and activities for the young and the young at heart. Expat families will be able to spend time in a variety of museums, picnic in Golden Gate Park or enjoy weekend shopping at one of the city’s malls and shopping districts.

The healthcare system in San Francisco is one of the best in the country, and the city is one of the few places in the USA where uninsured residents have access to subsidised healthcare. It also has some of the best hospitals in California. Most expats will, however, require medical cover to access these.

San Francisco’s public transport system is comprehensive and efficient, helped by its compact grid layout. The city’s bus system reaches most areas, while residents can also make us of the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail service.

In some ways, the city is a victim of its own success and the pockets of residents bear the burden. The extremely high cost of living and renting are pushing many residents out of their neighbourhoods which are, in turn, gentrified by wealthier inhabitants. Families are increasingly moving towards San Jose and other parts of the Bay Area. 

San Francisco has much to offer those who can afford it or are willing to cut costs by commuting and living sustainably. It is a city that hums with cultural vibrancy, where industry meets imagination and people from all walks of life come together. 

Constantly reinventing itself, expats who move to San Francisco might find themselves a part of history in the making.

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