I moved to the West Coast a little over a month ago and so far I’m loving it. It was a pretty big change for me, from starting a new job in a new industry to leaving my family and close friends behind on the East Coast. Before moving here, I had some expectations and assumptions on what it would be like, and now a month in I’m able to compare the reality of living in the Bay Area against my expectations.
Backtrack a little, I’ve always wanted to move to California. It started in high school when my dream school was Berkeley mainly because of the location and not because of the school itself. But I ended up going somewhere even colder than New York City for school, and coming out I was hoping to find a job in California. Again, that didn’t happen and I spent two and a half years in DC before finally moving west.
Until then, my perception of California was from what I had heard from friends and seen through photos. I’ve visited both LA and SF a few times, but it was too brief to understand what it’s like living here. So the images I had in my mind of California were sunny skies and hanging out at a beach. And I imagined the lifestyle to be a few notches slower than New York where people are more laid back and chill about everything.
I’d say some of my expectations hold true while others surprised me.
First, San Francisco weather is definitely not what I had imagined California to be. I knew SF is much colder before even moving here, but it always surprises me by being colder than I expect. The weather in the city is 10-20 degrees colder than the Peninsula and much windier and more overcast. It’s not all sunny skies afterall, and temperature aren’t really warm enough for beach activities. However, the weather outside of SF is more or less what I had imagined – sun and clear skies and pretty warm during the day. But the Pacific Ocean water is still not beach-friendly.
Secondly, people here are indeed more chill. At work, everyone is very driven and hardworking, but they’re still super laid back when you hang out with them. This is partially because of the tech bubble and the open culture it promotes. A big difference from NY and DC culture is that here, there’s not really a ‘work me’ versus a ‘personal me,’ it’s just ‘me.’ Asides from work, the people I’ve met and hung out with are all very friendly and generally enjoy life. They’re not as bougie or pretentious as the East Coast and I appreciate how welcoming everyone is. It’s awesome to be in a group who all just met through mutual friends and click well.
Third, people here tend to have a IDGAF attitude, in a good way! It’s much more liberal here and a lot of things that would be frowned upon or criminalized on the East Coast are seen as normal here. People respect others’ behaviors and don’t seem to judge as much. The culture encourages innovation and creativity as opposed to New York where people judge others for everything.
Other random details I observed:
Regardless if SF meets my expectations of California, I’m really glad I made the move. I’m enjoying the new job and new city more, and am generally happy about life. :) The West Coast feels like its own area that’s very different from the rest of the US. I like it.