Silicon Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – the Bay Area is known for many things and there are a lot of reasons to move here (besides being where Vocate is headquartered, of course). But it’s not entirely easy to navigate.
One thing is certain: The Bay Area has a ton of job opportunities and you should consider moving here if you get a job offer.
Moving to the Bay Area for a job may seem daunting but we’re here to help! We’ve put together this guide to make it easier for you to open your career path to SF and the Bay Area and not miss out on some of the most valuable jobs and connections around.
5 Quick Must-Knows
1. It’s not always sunny and warm in SF! That’s southern California. It’s all about layering here – one block you’re freezing, next you’re sweating. Expect fog and a year-round early Fall/late Spring climate. October brings a wave of summer heat, and inland areas (Oakland, San Jose, etc) are generally warmer.
2. Become a master of Bay Area traffic. Finding a good commute will save your daily happiness. Test different routes and transportation types to find out what works for you.
3. Don’t miss all of the incredible nature. Yosemite, Tahoe, the Redwoods, Sierra Mountains. You’re surrounded by the most beautiful nature in the world – enjoy it!
4. Best food options ever. Food options (including cheap food trucks) are arguably one of the best reasons to live in the Bay. From organic, local markets, to gourmet restaurants, quality is not hard to find. You also have every type of food you want – great Indian, Mexican, Thai, or Sushi – it’s all here.
5. Be who you are. SF has historically been the center of diversity and acceptance. There’s no better place to be to express your individuality.
It is difficult to generalize an entire region’s work culture, especially a region that attracts people from all over the globe. We can outline a few unsurprising expectations or norms you may encounter, notably in the infamous tech scene.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Now let’s give you an honest (ableit oversimplified) picture of Bay Area life. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.THE GOOD:
Where to live
Stay organized during the search! Create a Maps layer with your new workplace and the various housing options you’re looking at.It’s hard to sign a lease without being in town, but there’s plenty of prep work you can do! Start by looking through the following:
How to get here
SFO Airport: Although the airport is in South San Francisco and not super close to the city, the airport directly connects to the BART, which will take you to SF and most places in the East Bay. Take either the Red or Blue AirTrain line to the Garage G and BART stop in the International Terminal. You can then use the BART train going towards Pittsburg/Baypoint to get into the city. In my experience, SFO tickets also seem to be cheaper than Oakland tickets.
Oakland Airport: If you are planning on using BART afterwards, there is a special BART train that will take you to the Coliseum BART stop, where you can then transfer busses and go into SF or elsewhere in the East Bay. If you are driving a car, this is a lot easier to get into/out of than SFO.
AMTRAK: Drops you off in Emeryville, and then there is a free shuttle that takes you to the transbay terminal. This can be good for short rides, if you are only a couple hours away (I live in Sacramento and use Amtrak a lot to get to the Bay Area). However, if you are more than a couple hours away this is long and expensive.
– From the North, take the Coast Starlight from Seattle and Portland, or the Capital Corridor from Sacramento
– From the South, the Coast Starlight travels daily from Los Angeles, and the San Joaquin offers departures from Bakersfield and Fresno
– From the East, the California Zephyr travels from Chicago and Denver daily
*The transbay terminal is located right off the Bay Bridge in SOMA. This is the dropoff point for AC Transit Transbay Busses, AMTRAK, Greyhound, and Westcat transbay busses(Pinole bus system), and many Muni busses stop here
How to get around
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, regional subway / train system):
– Stops: Embarcadero is good for the Financial District. Montgomery and Powell are both close to SOMA.
– Inbound to SF: All lines will take you to San Francisco, except the Richmond-Fremont line. If you are coming from the East Bay, use lines that are going to SFO, Daly city, or Millbrae to go through the city. If you are coming from the peninsula, all lines will go through the city.
– Night hours: At night, only certain lines are open. BART closes after midnight
– Prices: Each stop has different prices depending on what stop you are planning on getting off at. There is a chart of prices on both the website and next to the pay stations at each stop. I recommend getting a clipper card so that you can reload online and not have to deal with the pay stations. You can find clipper cards at a lot of convenience/drug stores, or you can order one online to be sent to you.
CalTrain is good for commuting from the peninsula/Silicon Valley.. There is only one route, and it stops at every major city between SF and San Jose, including San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mtn View, Santa Clara, etc.
The end of the line is right by AT&T Park, in the SOMA area of SF.
Fares depend on how far you are traveling, day passes range from $7-20
Muni (SF bus system)
Muni is San Francisco’s bus and metro system that runs throughout the city, operating buses, trains, cable cars and the F-line heritage streetcar. Muni buses remain above ground and on streets while Muni Metro runs on rails and sometimes go underground.
You can use Google Trip Planner or 511 Trip Planner to find the right bus for each route. Inbound is going towards Embarcadero, and outbound is going towards the ocean/Golden Gate Park.
Clipper cards are accepted. One way fares are $2.75
I strongly recommend using the NextBus app for arrival times!! It gives every stop for every line, and how long it will take the bus to get there.
Bus stops come in many forms: small bus shelters, yellow paint on street poles, and white paint on streets. Metro stops can be found on an island in the middle of the street and in underground stations.
- 38-Geary: Goes from the Richmond District to the Financial District, goes in a straight line down Geary
- E: Goes from Fisherman’s Wharf to SOMA via Embarcadero, ends at the CalTrain station
- F: Goes from Fisherman’s Wharf to The Castro via Embarcadero and Market
- KT: This is both the K and the T line, it switches names midway through the route. Goes down Market and Embarcadero, good for getting to the Financial District or SOMA
- 14-Mission: Goes from Daly City to downtown, goes right through the mission district and travels down Market
- 10-Townsend: Goes between Pacific Heights and Potrero Hill, great for going between FiDi and SOMA – it travels right through both
AC Transit (East Bay bus system):
I recommend using this if you have no car- it’s fast, reliable, and safe. The easiest way to find the right bus route is through google maps. Value on clipper cards can be used to pay the fare, it’s normally $1-3 (you can also use change, but that’s a hassle)
AC Transit also has transbay busses that take you between SF and cities in the East Bay. The time it takes to get to SF varies depending on the lines, but they are cheaper than bart and are good if you aren’t close to a bart stop. They drop you off at the Transbay Terminal in SF, which is right off the Bay Bridge and super close to the financial district
Ferry: The ferry can take you from multiple locations around San Francisco (AT&T Park, Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Wharf, South SF) to different locations in the Bay Area, including Marin, Vallejo, Alameda, and Oakland. Fares depend on the route, but typically range from $5-10 one way. This can be used for commutes. There’s also a cafe in the morning and a bar in the evening on-board; throw in the wifi, space for bikes and as well as a seat for everyone, it’s arguably the best commute option out there.
Chariot: A commuter app. Kind of similar to Uber, but specifically for commuters and for women only. Worth looking into if you are living in SF but are too far away to walk to work
Lyft Line/Shuttle: Carpool options, tend to be $3-4 rather than general, $6-10. Comparable to public transport in a pinch.
East Bay vs. SF
Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, and El Cerritos all have a lot of younger people, and aren’t overwhelmingly suburban. Apartments will be cheaper than SF, usually around $800/month. You can easily find apartments being subleased for a semester around UC Berkeley if you join student housing facebook groups.
If you are relocating for over the summer only, Berkeley usually has discounted summer sublets, as students go home for the summer and are more eager to sublet.
Commute: BART and the AC Transit transbay busses are both faster than driving during rush hour. Depends on where you are coming from, but it typically takes 30 mins-1 hr to get into the city. If using the transbay busses, always choose the option with the fewest stops (ex. FS or E instead of F if coming from Berkeley).
Fun stuff to do with time off
- AT&T Park (SF Giants)
- Levi’s Stadium ( SF 49ers)
- SAP Center (San Jose Sharks)
- Avaya Stadium (San Jose Earthquakes)
- The Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Raiders and A’s)
- Dollar Days at Golden Gate Park
Live Entertainment Venues
- The Fillmore
- Bill Graham Auditorium
- Greek Theatre
- The Fox
- The Parish
- SF Broadway
- Cal Academy of Sciences
- Palace of Fine Arts
- The Exploratorium
- Musee Mechanique
Special Yearly Events
- Bay To Breakers
- PRIDE parade
- Simply Bluegrass Festival
- Outside Lands
- Chinese New Year (SF Chinatown)
- The Ferry Building
- The Golden Gate Bridge
- Pier 39
- Ghirardelli Square
- Dolores Park and Painted Ladies (Full House Victorian Houses)
- Coit Tower
- Ocean Beach / Baker Beach (local)
- Stinson beach + amazing surrounding hikes (1.5 hr drive)
- Redwood Forests in Marin
- Land’s End
- Twin Peaks
- Golden Gate Park
- Wine tasting in Napa