Monday, January 7, 2013
Where should a couple of newlywed yupsters live in the BAY AREA?
It seems you (and your readers) are infinitely wise when it comes to many things, so here's my current dilemma.
FH and I are moving to the Bay Area after we get married in Chicago this summer. We've both lived in Chicago since we were 18 and came here for college. We'll both be working in the Valley; let's call our companies "Dapple" and "Schmoogle." We both abhor long commutes, but we're on the hipster side of yuppie so also enjoy bars and restaurants with plenty of handlebar mustaches to be seen.
Bottom line: where should we live? It seems like a nearly impossible question. We're used to living in the city (currently we live in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago) but the thought of commuting 2 hours a day sounds more than a little bit nauseating.
I'm lost and need help!
Thanks ever so,
For fun, I asked two different Bay Area ladies to offer their opinions. Here's J, who lives in San Francisco proper:
The kids who were cool before they started working for Google live in the Mission. And that's where you go for moustaches, best restaurants, finest cocktails, plus the occasional rock show, art opening, cool boutique. There are Google buses, and probably an Apple bus, so you don't have to commute; you just get on, log in and ride. Since you're from Chicago you probably won't be turned off by occasional gang violence or multiculturalism. I'm sure there are **some** hip things happening in Palo Alto, San Jose, Cupertino or Sunnyvale but I bet you'll feel like you're living in an 80's suburb after being in Chicago.
I don't know where the actual cool kids live, probably in the Tenderloin or the Outer Sunset.
And here's Celia, who just bought a condo in Oakland:
Hello, SF Stupid, and welcome to the Bay Area... where buying produce that isn't grown locally is almost worse than being a Republican, pedestrians take the right of way to whole new heights, and everyone's go-to fashion accessory is their favorite winter coat. If you do it right, the Bay is one of the best places to live in the world. Yes, THE WORLD.
The simple answer to your question is, unfortunately, you will HAVE TO commute. We're talking CALIFORNIA real estate here, and you simply can't have your cake and eat it too. The plain truth about the South Bay is that there just isn't a lot of CITY going on down there. The closest thing you're going to get to any sort of bustling city environment would be downtown San Jose. I happen to have lots of family in SJ, so I'm fairly familiar, and it just doesn't cut it for me. Though it's a big city, in many ways SJ has a "sleepy town" vibe to it. And the only handlebar mustaches you'll come across are rocked by Mexican men wearing big, fat, bronze belt buckles (the original hipsters, IMHO).
The good news is that you have options when it comes to your commute. You're not the only people working for "Dapple" and "Schmoogle" that are attracted to city life, so getting to work doesn't have to be horrendous. I'm assuming you've looked into the shuttle system that has a wide variety of stops in the city and will drop you off right at the front doors of Dapple and Schmoogle? I have personally not had the privilege of riding one of these fancy buses, but I've only heard great things. Cush seats for napping, free wifi, and I'm pretty sure I remember a friend of mine telling me the shuttle he takes to that dreaded valley even provides coffee and snacks. Lady, if you ask me, that commute sounds like a DREAM.
You can also look into riding Caltrain. All I know about those trains is that their scheduling tends to be off. I'm a Bart rider myself (and no, Bart doesn't make the magic trip to SV), and since Bart trains are rarely more than a minute off, an unreliable train would drive me to insanity. That being said, if punctuality ain't really your thing, then it might be worth it to you.
Since all of that is out of the way, let's talk neighborhoods that would be good for you. Now, if you were on the hipster side of hipster, I'd send you straight to The Mission... but let's not tell the Mission hipsters I said that, because the last thing we want is for them to get their sensitive sally hipster panties all in a bunch, mkay? Being on the hipster side of yuppie (and you should know that I'm not entirely sure I know what that means... do you flip through J Crew catalogues while enjoying some PBR?), I have a feeling that your best two options will be Noe Valley and Bernal Heights. I spoke to a good friend of mine who is a Chicago native, and from what I gather, Logan Square is probably closer to Bernal Heights. AND seeing as you don't have kids, I think that would also make Bernal Heights a better fit, but those SV geeks (ahem, hipster yuppies) do love them some Noe Valley, so it would definitely be worth a look into. Both of those neighborhoods will offer you nearby restaurants complete with the occasional handlebar mustache. What's not to love?
And lastly, I will give you the other side of the spectrum, San Francisco's super scary stepsister, Oakland. Probably didn't even consider Oakland, did you? That's ok... most people wouldn't.
[Incidentally, J lives in Noe Valley, the neighborhood we grew up in. When I told her I'd also asked a friend from Oakland to weigh in on this, she said "Hilarious 'cause I forgot all about Oakland. SF snob!"]
Ok, so Oakland isn't exactly closer to the dreaded SV. If anything, it's a touch farther. BUT, if you take into account the traffic you will sit in getting in and out of San Francisco, your commute from Oakland shouldn't be much longer. Oh, and those fancy shuttles I was talking about earlier? They also make stops in the East Bay. As for Oakland being super scary, it is. I live in Oakland, and I'm not going to lie to you. HOWEVER, in no way shape or form is it scarier than San Francisco. These are big cities we're talking about, and since you live in Chicago, I'm sure that you're well aware that big cities have super scary crime attached to them. It's just part of it. That being said, Oakland has some insanely rad neighborhoods that are also worth checking out. So if Oakland is, or does become an option, try looking into the Rockridge and Piedmont Ave. neighborhoods. I have a feeling they'll be the right glass slipper for you.
Congratulations on your upcoming marriage, and tons of luck to you on the big move.
Photo by Todd Hido of my favorite Noe Valley Victorian, occupied (natch) by an interior designer and a professional skater