Moving to SF.
March 31, 2005 8:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving from NYC to SF in June, to take a job at UCSF. I'm a little daunted by the prospect of yet another transcontinental move, so I thought I'd just ask for general advice, as I'm not even sure I know the right questions to ask. What do you know that you think I ought to know about moving cross-country to SF?

Some of the particular things I'm interested in include:

- Where should I live? I'd like it to be safe, comfortable, pleasant, and ideally easy to walk to the hospital, have a garage for my car, and get to the Park for biking. I can afford $1300-$1500/mo rent.

- How should I get my stuff across country? Especially my guitars, which are very valuable and rather fragile.

- I'd like to furnish my apartment with things I might want to keep for a few years, rather than disposable Ikea stuff. Should I hire a decorator? Are there good places to shop for furniture?

- Anything else I should know? I've never lived in SF before.
posted by ikkyu2 to Grab Bag (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
having moved from montreal to vancouver, I have one key piece of advice - get your stuff moved by a reputable, bonded, insured mover. don't try to save money by hiring a less-reliable mover, go for a company that does cross-country moving. get your stuff insured. yes, you will move some things yourself (guitars!) but make sure that your dishes, furniture and clothing arrive to their destination, and that they arrive in good condition, by hiring a major company instead of 'Bob and Moe and a Truck'
posted by seawallrunner at 8:53 AM on March 31, 2005

I just moved across the country a few months ago.

The best advice I can give is that a combination of kitty knockout drugs and the monotonous droning of a book on tape will stop the mewing and screaming. Toward the end of our 1,700 mile trip, the cats would pass out when the narrator started speaking and would remain asleep until the book stopped.

I realize this advice may be slightly less helpful if you don't have cats.
posted by Sheppagus at 9:23 AM on March 31, 2005

Hey, ikkyu2 - welcome to SF! Are you joining the faculty? or doing a post-doc? Whichever, you'll be busy!

To fulfill your walk to work plan, the neighborhoods you'll want are called Cole Valley, the Inner Sunset, and the western part of the Haight. They are highly desirable neighborhoods, populated by lots of students and faculty, so be prepared for rent sticker shock.

Also, keep in mind that SF has a bus system that can get you all over the place, so you could also look at places along the N-Judah streetcar line (runs by UCSF), that goes all the way out to the ocean (neighborhood called the Sunset - though it's often overcast). Craigslist is the best resource for finding housing. In the other direction, east, on the N line, you'll find the Castro, Duboce triangle. These can all be great areas to live in.

You might want to come early and get a temporary place and scope out the neighborhoods.
posted by jasper411 at 9:28 AM on March 31, 2005

Best answer: San Francisco is wonderful, you'll have a blast.

There are great furniture stores of many price ranges all over, especially in Hayes Valley (for trendier expensive stuff) and the Mission (for cheaper stuff, including used thrift-store stuff).

You should be able to find a 1BR in your price range without much problem (though I'm not so sure about the garage part). As Jasper said, Craigslist is probably your best bet for finding something, though I have had a co-worker say she had success with (They charge a fee for viewing some of their listings, though.)

When I moved out here from the East Coast, I was able to use Craigslist to find a two-month sublet (sight unseen, though I did ask a friend to check it out for me). From the sublet, I was then able to check out the neighborhoods a bit and get a better feel for the market. It was a pain to move twice, but it was better for me, I think, to have that bit of flexibility.

But above all, welcome!
posted by occhiblu at 9:39 AM on March 31, 2005

Welcome to San Francisco, ikkyu2. Jasper411 was right on the money about neighborhoods. I recently moved out of an apartment in Cole Valley which was re-rented out for $1500/month, so you price range is do-able but you may have to look around for a bit. A garage will be tougher, especially in Cole Valley. Craig's List is your friend. (trivial information: Craig Newmark, the Craig of the List, lives in Cole Valley himself.)

My ex-landlord has three buildings in Cole Valley/Inner Sunset, and as landlords go, is a pretty upstanding guy- cares a lot about maintaining his properties. I can get you his contact info to ask about upcoming vacancies if you'd like- email in profile.
posted by ambrosia at 10:02 AM on March 31, 2005

Best answer: If you're going to live in the Inner Sunset, the social hub of that area is probably the corner of 9th and Irving, just so you know. Great area with lots of restaurants, coffee shops etc.

One misconception about San Francisco that people have is that it is necessarily more desirable to live closer to the ocean. Not so! This makes sense in warm places like San Diego but SF is covered or partially covered by cold fog from the ocean for a big chunk of the year.

This means that while those ocean-side people are shivering and wearing parkas (in summer even!) people on the East side of the city are walking around in sunshine. Keep this in mind when looking for housing. Also, the Outer Sunset (closer to the ocean) is quieter and has an almost suburban feel to it vs. the more happenin' Inner Sunset.
posted by vacapinta at 10:08 AM on March 31, 2005

Craigslist started here - and as such we seem to have the most active geography. It does seem to be the definitive source for apartment finding. A quick check shows a lot in your price range. There is even a neighborhood selection on C/L for UCSF/Inner Sunset. I can't think of a single neighborhood within a reasonable distance from the hospital that isn't safe.

Where do you live in New York - and are you looking for a similar kind of neighborhood? San Francisco is a city of a bunch of little neighborhoods all with their own character.

Re: decorating. Again - depends on what you like - but if modern/contemporary is your thing I love me some Design Within Reach. They have a couple of show rooms around town and a good catalog business. They carry a whole line of mid century repro's - like eames chairs and noguchi tables - but also a bunch of modern furniture. Along the same lines there is ligne roset and Limn
We also have a fairly active "design center" with show rooms if you find you need professional help. I've never worked with a designer - so I can't really help you with recommendations there.

Welcome to San Francisco! It's no New York - but I really like it here.
posted by Wolfie at 10:21 AM on March 31, 2005

You've gotten lots of good suggestions so far. I moved cross-country from DC to San Francisco, and my advice is to make the move itself a trip to remember. My best friend flew out and we drove across the country, and it was a great trip. You could take the northern route and see Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Devil's Tower, and the Corn Palace.

The San Francisco housing section of Craigslist has a great search feature.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:31 AM on March 31, 2005

I went to UCSF and lived in the neighborhood up until a year ago. I lived in Ashbury Heights (just up the hill from Cole Valley), which was a 12 minute walk to campus (5 minute bike ride- uphill) and had an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge (and of Craig Newmark sipping coffee at the local cafe!). I loved living there. Living near the N-Judah was very convenient. Everything in that neighborhood around UCSF is very convenient-- local grocery store, hardware store, dry cleaner, cafe, bars. Walk to Haight for many more food options, bars, the Red Vic Movie House, thrift stores, etc. And very close to Golden Gate Park.

I found many apartments and roommates through Craigslist. I don't know what I would have done without it.

I also recently moved across country (away from SF unfortunately) and I second the need for good, reputable movers. Also, if you plan to fly rather than drive, you will be without your things for a few days before the movers come. I mailed myself a package ahead of time that included an air mattress, sheets, a towel, pillow, a pan, and a set of silverware. It was very helpful!

Have fun in SF; I am sure that you will.
posted by picklebird at 11:28 AM on March 31, 2005

I left SF five years ago, but for the twelve years before that, I loved Busvan's, in the Inner Richmond, for furniture. You can clean up there, especially if you check out the basement.

9th and Irving is the hub of the UCSF district (it's not really a district, but it should be called so) and the N Judah will be your friend. You can really bring your housing costs down if you ditch your car.

UCSF has or had a community bulletin board in the main building, down a floor, but Craigslist started in SF, and it's all I ever used for roommates and housing from 1995 on.
posted by goofyfoot at 1:14 AM on April 1, 2005

Welcome to my hometown, and to UCSF. It's a great neighborhood around the hospital, and if you find housing within walking distance you will be quite happy. However, $1300 is not going to terribly far in the Inner Sunset/Cole Valley area unless you are happy living in small or badly broken spaces. A grand and a half puts you into the "adorable but tiny one bedroom" market, and there is no chance whatsoever you'll score a garage at that price. There are people paying nearly as much just for garages without apartments. Parking is at an absolute premium in that area of town.

Familiarize yourself with the N Judah, as it will likely be your primary means of transportation in the area around the campus, and you should plan to live within walking distance of it.

vacapinta is very right about the outer Sunset (or the outer Richmond to some degree): it's a cold, lonely, and miserable place to live. I've lived out that way, and it sucks. You're an hour from anywhere interesting besides Ocean Beach, it's often as much as ten degrees colder than other parts of the city, and block after block of the monotonously bad architecture -- with driveways painted like lawns -- is depressing beyond belief.

There are a couple of furniture stores in the neighborhood that may very well suit your tastes and durability needs. Go for a walk and see what turns up before you start browsing "Design Priced Out Of Reach," which I've never found to be either particularly appealing (despite my tastes running in that direction) nor within reach.

You've made a wonderful choice. I can't imagine anywhere I'd rather live.
posted by majick at 1:29 AM on April 1, 2005

Oh, and to save you the wild goose chase: Busvans For Bargains has gone out of business, both at the Clement Street and Van Ness locations. Good riddance! Their product quality was awful.
posted by majick at 1:32 AM on April 1, 2005

Busvans is gone? I'm so sorry to hear that. My pretty cedar chest is from there. It was easy to buy old, sturdy pieces there, along with big cheap stuff that looked good and lasted forever. Plus they were a good friendly business. And it was always fun to climb thru there.
What's taken up all that space on Clement?
posted by goofyfoot at 5:16 AM on April 1, 2005

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