I elaborated about getting from Georgia to San Francisco (“SF”) late last summer in a recent post. Although the journey provided as much reward as the destination, I omitted to write about the process that unfolded during the months after I got there. It was chalked full of trial and error and taught me more than I expected. Below is a list of what I would emphasize if I decided to move there again.
Consider comfort when picking an apartment–Before arriving in SF, I brainstormed about the factors that would determine where I would live. An overpowering aversion to long commutes led me to make proximity to work a much greater factor than it should have been. I set out to find an apartment within my price range that allowed me to walk to the office. My southern charm served me well in my Craigslist search for an apartment and landed me a room on a known and busy street in Nob Hill. I was living in the middle of the city’s action within a mile from work, so I jumped right in.
Unbeknownst to me was my inability to sleep in a room, which overhung the sidewalk next to a street of a 24-hour bus line. Public buses in SF, while electrically powered, still make enough noise starting and stopping to jar me from slumber. On top of that, weeknight partiers frequented the streets until the wee hours of every morning. No judgment, but I awoke to the hooting and hollering of Tuesday night drunkards on multiple occasions. I remember waking up to someone asking, “Do you know what time it is?” to which another someone replied, “2:40.” I happily realized that I still had a few more hours before I needed to get up for work.
Lastly, the room was infested with bed bugs. They are far more awful than I can express in a blog. I will refrain from grossing you out or reliving it (my feet still itch when I think about it), but, trust me, you never want to experience them if you haven’t already. A room far away from work without bedbugs is far better than one next to work with them. Having had this realization, I happily moved to a quieter place that was a greater distance from the office and did not have bedbugs.
Put any real dating on hold–Dating is a necessary pleasure and evil at this juncture of my life. SF was, in this regard, full of more exciting options than in my previous town. I came from a place made up of the same age demographic as the Price is Right’s viewing audience. I was ready to meet new people in my new town.
In spite of my readiness, I would have been better served by putting my energy into settling in before going on any real dates. I am not talking about avoiding making new friends or connections. I’m talking about setting up a mutually agreed upon meeting place days in advance, meeting there and spending$75 on someone you don’t know.
In my defense, I deleted Bumble and Tinder before moving to SF, but ended up spending more time, effort and money on a few dates than was necessary before I had my bearings there. Speaking to myself, you will find better partners / dating options / mates when you are comfortable with yourself and your situation no matter where you are. To try and find them before you are is not only wasteful, but may end up hindering your ability to settle in at all.
I am always looking to be who the person I am looking for is looking for, which is someone who has their shit together. So, it follows that I was not going to find a person with their shit together until I had the same. Lesson learned.
Give Friends Space–Speaking in second person again, more solitude than normal is unavoidable in a place that is not your hometown. This is obvious, but important to keep in mind when you move. You may have friends in your new town, but keep in mind that they didn’t wait until you moved there to build lives and develop routines. Be mindful of the fact that they may still want to welcome you to their circle of friends even if they cannot get together on a weekly basis. It doesn’t mean they are avoiding you, it just means they have other shit going on. Give them space by creating your own original life that does not have to include them every week. After a while, you have new friends of your own, which you can introduce them to giving everyone a larger friend base!
Adulthood is full of people in different life phases at different times. Growing up, everyone is generally on the same schedule through college. Then, people get married, have kids, and do things on different timelines. This is as true in a new city as anywhere else. Don’t assume malice when busyness can explain everything.
I can continue on this subject and double the length of this post, but, in closing, SF is a magical place that should be tried for any amount of time. I am home now, but more fully understand that returning home is not the same as never leaving. I left some, not all, of my heart in San Francisco.