1. Pack costumes.
Forget the yearly Halloween costume. Between Bay to Breakers, PRIDE, Folsom Street Fair, Burning Man decompressions, and so so many theme parties there’s always a reason to wear a costume. San Franciscans spend lots of time at Goodwill and on Haight Street, trying to score sequined leggings, rainbow wigs, tutus, and fairy wings. Most SF homes have a closet, or at least a few bins, dedicated to costume storage.
2. Some of the best parties happen at 7 AM.
Day Breaker and Morning Gloryville are monthly morning dance parties that happen before work. Rotating venues include dance clubs, malls, and even boats in the summer time. Instead of cocktails, coffee and breakfast is served and the dancing starts right after yoga. Expect people in costumes (of course) and bumping music, and bring a change of clothes so you can head to work when the party ends around 9 am.
3. Most SF offices are kind of like summer camp.
Startups seem to spend a significant amount of money to make sure their employees are having fun. So don’t be surprised when you meet a friend at her office and her desk is next to the office sliding pond, ball pit, rock wall, or open bar. Daily happy hours, three meals provided a day, ping-pong tournaments, and on-site massages are the makings of an all-inclusive resort… or a San Francisco office.
4. You’re going to see a lot of naked men.
SF’s free love history ensures that you’ll see many naked men during your time in the city. Nudity is totally accepted with nonchalance in San Francisco and it’s likely you’ll see many men roaming around the city wearing just a sock… or often nothing at all. The first time might be a shock, but as a local you’ll get as used to the nudity as you do to the fog.
5. The summer is COLD.
Yes, the oft-repeated Mark Twain quote about summer in San Francisco essentially being winter is true. Summer is the coldest time in the city, and the foggiest. You’ll be able to spot tourists in shorts and tee-shirts who expected a Californian summer and were shocked by temperatures in the 50’s. You’ll be able to spot locals by their Patagonia jackets, long pants, and smug looks.
6. Dating apps rule.
In a city of so many young people, it’s easy to expect to meet people to date. But in a city dominated by tech, it makes sense that most people resort to tech to find love. Expect all of your new friends and colleagues to be on a smorgasboard of dating apps. And if they aren’t using one, they’re probably writing code for a new one.
7. SF is not Southern California.
Yes, we have our own surfing scene on Ocean Beach, but forget the tan, blonde, shirtless men of the movies. Ocean Beach is cold and surfers are fully covered in wetsuits. Other people sit on the beach for sunsets and bonfires and dog walks, but are usually bundled up in fleece. Don’t expect the top-down convertible scene of Los Angeles — this is a whole different world where tech is valued above television and local “celebrities” include Mark Zuckerberg, not Brad Pitt.
8. Expect Neverland.
Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner famously said, “San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.” If you’re moving from a place where everyone in their mid 20’s is engaged and owns a home, you’re in for a surprise. The “grownups” of San Francisco aren’t totally grown up. Expect both married and single people in their 30’s and 40’s to be living with roommates and going to adult summer camp. It makes for a fun city, but if you’re looking to get married, buy a home, and settle down, expect that you won’t find much commonality within the city limits.