Should I move to San Francisco?
October 8, 2012 12:32 PM   Subscribe

Should I move to San Francisco? Every reason in the world to move, and one reason not to.

I’ve been living for about two and a half years in Los Angeles. I’m a Seattle native, and moved to LA for a job after a 3 year stint overseas. I’ve made some close, hard-won friends, but I still don’t feel very at home in the city. Part of me feels that it’s such a vast place that I just haven’t found my “niche”—another part feels like I’ve given it a fair shot.


Recently, I went through a breakup, detailed here.
Before I decided to start the relationship, I was looking for jobs in San Francisco, as I had friends in the city and the majority of my extended family in San Jose. I was flying up to visit every few months and taking job interviews as well. On one of these trips, I was staying with a friend, and I met my friend’s new roommate. We started dating, and he broke up with me at the end of July. It was difficult for me, and we’re no contact now. An additional factor is that my friend is no longer speaking to me because I began dating his roommate—we have not spoken for ten months.


Several months ago, I spoke to my boss about the possibility of transferring to the SF branch of my company, and recently I received permission to move whenever I am able to make this more of a reality. The company is located near Union Square. I don’t have a great sense of San Francisco’s neighborhoods, but friends have recommended Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Pac Heights, and the Mission. I’ve stayed with friends in the Mission before and loved it, but don’t have any experience with the other neighborhoods. A complicating factor is that the friend who no longer speaks to me lives in the Mission.


I have several thousand saved up, and am looking for a roommate situation for as high as 1200USD. I understand housing in SF is insane, and am preparing to show up with checkbook and credit report in hand when apartment hunting. It’s a bit early to look (but not too early to plan), as I’m vaguely aiming on moving after the new year because my lease goes month to month after the end of December.

I have a convenient setup in Los Angeles—a studio walking distance to work, gym, groceries, and doctor, for just under 900USD. Creating a walkable, convenient everyday life was a major priority for me, and is one of the reasons I’d rather not move, but I recognize that it’s a relatively small concern in the grand scheme of things.


If the ex wasn’t a factor, I would have moved up to San Francisco yesterday. As it was, when we were dating I was almost resistant about moving to San Francisco (since I didn’t have permission to move at the time or other job prospects) for fear of moving just for him.

Now, I’m doing all the right things to get over it—hitting the gym, seeing a therapist, taking language classes. I’m not over it, but it’s getting better. Hopefully I’ll be feeling much better by December—it’ll have been 5 months by then, and we had only dated 7 months, long distance. But if I don’t feel better, or feel skittish about the move, then it’s not a big deal to wait a few more months. The last thing I want is to screw myself by moving there too soon and then feel pain at possibly running into him with a girlfriend.

I loved SF every time I visited, but that was because I always stayed with friends—and the one I stayed with most frequently is no longer talking to me. I fear that the reason why I always had such a good time in SF was because he was always a good host, introducing me to friends and taking us out to bars and restaurants. I have other friends and acquaintances in the city, but this is still a fear.


San Francisco is a large city, and I feel like I shouldn’t let this bar me from moving there. At the same time, I fear that the startup world (I’m in online advertising) is pretty insular and my ex would run into each other. And yet—so what if we run into each other? People move on. And finally, there isn’t anything wrong with just staying in Los Angeles for a while. I feel like I’ve waited it out, and given in a fair chance, and want to be in a city that I feel connected to, sooner rather than later.

SUMMARY: Reasons to move to San Francisco: family, friends, career, city life, public transit. Reasons not to move to San Francisco: my recent ex and a former friend live there.

I appreciate any and all feedback—thank you!
posted by blue rare to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've stayed away from big cities and great opportunities because of fear of running into exes. Don't do that. You'll probably regret it for a very long time if you do.
posted by treblemaker at 12:37 PM on October 8, 2012 [7 favorites]

Do it. San Francisco is as awesome as you think it is. It isn't a huge city, but it's big enough that you shouldn't have too much trouble avoiding your ex. I mean, not saying you won't see him, but not something you should worry about. I moved out here a little over a year ago with no job and it has been amazing. You'll love it, I promise!

/startup world is small, but again, you should have no trouble avoiding him if you want to.
posted by alaijmw at 12:39 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

And yet—so what if we run into each other? People move on.

It sounds like you feel anxious about 2 people in a city of 800,000. That's understandable, but I think you answered your own question. There are thousands of cool places in San Fran, and those two people will, statistically, only be at two of them. You'll probably love it and make so many friends that a couple awkward exchanges won't seem like that big of a deal.

(Do it!)
posted by Turkey Glue at 12:41 PM on October 8, 2012

This is the easiest question I've ever answered on Ask MetaFilter. :)

Move to San Francisco.
posted by Dansaman at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

You sound like you're ready to move. Do it.

It sounds like you won't run into the ex unless you're at a business function minding your own business. He'll know (and you'll know) that you're not there for him. The more enthusiastically you go ahead with a new job and a new city and all that this brings, the less any individual that you may or may not encounter is going to matter.
posted by aimedwander at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2012

In your last question you noted that obsessively following him on facebook and twitter was one of the breaking points.

Are you worried about running into him or trying to run into him?

The first is not a reasonable fear at all, the second one you can work on and control.
posted by French Fry at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Move. Mission is pretty dense, but there's no reason to just not worry about it. Nod and keep walking, pop into a coffee shop or bookstore to regather your wits if startled, and move on.
posted by tilde at 12:45 PM on October 8, 2012

I can say from firsthand experience the best way to exorcise the mental demon of the ex-boyfriend is to have that awkward encounter and realize that the sky has not fallen in.

Move to San Francisco. Have a fabulous life. It's the best revenge.
posted by ambrosia at 12:46 PM on October 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you stay in LA, and breakup with a different guy, will you move out of LA to avoid seeing him? If that sounds as ludicrous to you as it does to me, then you should move to SF.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:48 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Honestly, I don't know about others, but when I lived in San Francisco the only way I ran into people was by planning it in advance, even people who worked on the same block as me.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:54 PM on October 8, 2012

You are obviously still in the post-breakup reality distortion field. In just a few months, the notion that you would have stayed in L.A. because of this will seem absurd.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:58 PM on October 8, 2012 [6 favorites]

I live in an area with a much smaller population than San Francisco. I have an ex that I broke up with just prior to meeting my wife. In the 30 or so years since I've run into her only three times. In a city the size of San Francisco, the odds that you'll come into contact with your ex is going to be much, much lower. Go for it.
posted by tommasz at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

At the same time, I fear that the startup world (I’m in online advertising) is pretty insular and my ex would run into each other.

If you don't move to SF, you might run into him anyway at a conference in Atlanta or something.

Move to SF.
posted by rtha at 1:11 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Move to SF if that's what you want to do. Don't let the potential of running into an ex stop you on that account. I like Nob Hill and Russian Hill, I'm afraid that your $1,200 won't be enough for a two bedroom, two roommate situation. You might be able to find a room in a flat though.

One of my favorite neighborhoods is near Polk and Pacific. Lots of neat little restaurants, super-dog-friendly, on the route of the 45, so straight into Union Square, via Chinatown.

Expect to run into your ex, especially if you're in the same industry. Plan ahead how you'll handle that.

You seem to be a very dramatic person, with a rich inner dialog. I think that your reality is 5 times more intense than the average person's reality. You might want to explore why you take everything so personally and why you're prone to dwelling on things that can't be helped. I also wonder about why your friend stopped being your friend merely because you dated his roommate. Another post for another time I suppose.

Before you commit to moving to SF, secure housing as this will be the most difficult part of the move.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:26 PM on October 8, 2012

If your ex-boyfriend and ex-friend are the only reasons you are not in SF, then every day you wake up in LA and ask yourself, "Why am I not living in SF already?" you will end up thinking about your ex-boyfriend and ex-friend. Is that what you want to be thinking about when you wake up every day?

And if your friend in the Mission is no longer speaking to you, then any random street encounter won't amount to much, will it? You see your ex-friend, you try to avoid eye contact, and you keep walking. Afterwards, you get a beer and congratulate yourself for literally moving past the toxic parts of your life.
posted by hhc5 at 1:33 PM on October 8, 2012

I also wonder about why your friend stopped being your friend merely because you dated his roommate. Another post for another time I suppose.

Most probably. Did the friend want to date you or is the friend being protective of his roommate (and friend) because one or both of them feel you wronged him?

Move to San Francisco. Either extend an olive branch to your old friend or just check that little box in your mind that says "moved on." Then do it! Sounds like a great opportunity!
posted by amanda at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2012

Go for it.
posted by ead at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2012

The last thing I want is to screw myself by moving there too soon and then feel pain at possibly running into him with a girlfriend.

Don't fear this. If it happens, it'll hurt for two hours or at most two days, then you'll feel 100 million times better.

Not that it will probably even happen. 2nding the notion that in a city like SF, where everyone is busy-busy-busy, you don't even see friends who live on your block unless you make plans 1 month in advance.

Another vote for: go for it!
posted by kellybird at 1:47 PM on October 8, 2012

You can always move back to Los Angeles if it doesn't work out for you. It's not a one way trip.

I'm with everyone else who is telling you to do it, though. Moving got me out of post-breakup headspace faster than anything else I tried. It also was the catalyst for me dating my current boyfriend, who makes me so fiercely happy that I have no idea how I could have been attracted to my ex. Go forward with your life, stop looking back.
posted by rhythm and booze at 2:04 PM on October 8, 2012

Carpe Diem - Move.

You can always move back home if it does not work out -
but if you don't go, you will have this regret hanging over you for years.
posted by Flood at 2:18 PM on October 8, 2012

Have you been back after the break up? How did it feel to walk around the Mission?
posted by infini at 2:24 PM on October 8, 2012

Amanda: My former friend and my ex are not friends; they did not know each other when my ex moved in. In June, my friend asked my ex to move out of the apartment, saying that he could not trust my ex because my ex had not let my friend know that we were continuing to date.

My ex no longer lives in the Mission.

French Fry: the second fear, of seeking my ex out, is one I've verbalized a few times. I can see myself trying to run into him, and it's something that I want to avoid for myself. I'm trying to address this by waiting and going to therapy.

Infini: I haven't been back to SF yet, but I'm planning to go back at the end of this month for an industry meetup. I might be staying with another friend near Dolores Park, so I'll see how I feel.
posted by blue rare at 2:31 PM on October 8, 2012

Here's some anecdata: I live and work in San Francisco. I have a friend I lost contact with that I would actually like to run into, and haven't in, um, 4 years I think? If you work in the same field obviously it'll be somewhat more likely, but STILL.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:06 PM on October 8, 2012

What's going to happen if you run into one of those people? Are they likely to do you some kind of harm? Is it a security risk for you to be in the same part of the state?

If not, are you really considering not moving to the place you want to move because you or someone else might have a momentarily unpleasant sensation? What's the absolute worst thing that might happen? A dirty look?
posted by Lyn Never at 3:17 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since no one's brought it up yet, this fog-hater wants you to consider: How's your SAD-o-meter? I see you're from Seattle, but if you like weather in LA, SF might not be your best Cali place. Fog most of the year, frequently lasting all day. There's a few weeks in the fall when everything is gorgeous all the time, but if you want summer to behave like summer, that won't happen in the city. I'd be far more concerned about the weather and the cost of living than running into an ex.
posted by sageleaf at 3:21 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, the Mission rarely sees the kind of day-long fog that is more common in other neighborhoods (including Pac Heights and not infrequently Nob Hill and the TL; if you hate fog do not move to the Sunset or the Richmond).
posted by rtha at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Move to San Francisco! I have very very rarely accidentally run into people I WANT to run into, much less people I'm avoiding. For point of reference, I have literally never run into an ex by accident in SF (and I have more than a few due to a period of quick-fire serial monogamy in my mid-twenties).

However, I do not think your budget is realistic. I think you should move to the East Bay if your work will be anywhere near BART. Way easier to find housing, and you'll get something a lot nicer for your money, while still having easy city access.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:38 PM on October 8, 2012

The what? I think your friend might like you.

That said, I have two exes of varying acrimony who live within, say, 5 blocks of me here in SF. I have seen one maybe twice on the street in the last 8 years and the other never. Unless you all are a part of a scene such that would congregate at certain bars or live venues, I don't think you have much to worry about. Besides, fuck 'em if they're uptight about what happened.
posted by rhizome at 3:39 PM on October 8, 2012

Hah, and orthogonal to rainbowbrite, I have been on OKCupid for several years and I have rarely, like a handful of times, ever seen any of the hundreds of faces I've looked at there.
posted by rhizome at 3:41 PM on October 8, 2012

The past is the past. Come to San Francisco and start your future!
posted by trip and a half at 4:15 PM on October 8, 2012

Think about it this way: if your ex lived in your current city, would you feel the need to leave the city to get away from him?


Then where he lives shouldn't affect where you live.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:04 PM on October 8, 2012

Why are you letting your ex have more control over your life than you do? You want to move, do it. If you run into him, it might be awkward or painful or ... nothing. But letting that keep you from doing what you want and putting your life on hold because things might have a teeny tiny chance of being sucky doesn't seem like fun either.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:44 PM on October 8, 2012

I can see being worried about trying to run in to him, but I think the way you get over that is - you don't try to run in to him, and you don't do things that you suspect you're doing just to run in to him, and instead start spending time with your other local friends and meeting new folks and finding your OWN favorite little coffee shop and restaurants and bookstore.

Right now, when you think "Should I go to the cute little street fair?" you'll be thinking about seeing your ex, because you just don't have that many other anchor points in the city. But soon you'll be thinking about whether your other friends would like to go, and whether that creepy art salesman will be there, and whether you should stop at that neighborhood bar on your way... and your ex will barely cross your mind.
posted by Lady Li at 8:48 PM on October 8, 2012

Eh, I think it will be okay. I moved from one city to another to an apartment that was less than a mile from my boyfriend. Then he broke up with me a few weeks before I moved. And he was sleeping with a girl who lived in the same neighborhood. Every once and awhile I'd see him on the bus, but within a few weeks of moving I had a whole new life (new friends, a full load of classes) and I was surprised at how quickly I stopped caring. So as long ad you have a plan for having a whole new life independent of the ex, I think it will be fine.
posted by bananafish at 10:26 PM on October 8, 2012

At the same time, I fear that the startup world (I’m in online advertising) is pretty insular and my ex would run into each other.

I work in online advertising in New York and yes, you run into the same people all the time. Even in NYC. So yeah pretty likely you'd run into each other.

And yet—so what if we run into each other?

posted by sweetkid at 8:43 AM on October 9, 2012

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