So it’s been over a year that I’ve been living in California now and I’m really loving it. San Francisco is definitely a nice change of pace from Canada, and I feel the city is much more alive and there’s much more to do and see. Here is a summary of what I think.
Things that San Francisco has that Toronto doesn’t
-Beautiful sunny, sometimes foggy weather all year round
-Slightly cheaper gas (yes even in Cali)
-Mild temperature (15-25 degrees C) all year round
-Rarely rains here
-No snow, no snow shoveling, no freezing in the cold
-MUNI/BART system is vastly superior to TTC, including telling you when the next bus / train arrives, and speaking in multiple languages, all at a lower price (TTC doesn’t have any of that and charges $3.50 per adult). It also takes you around the metro area (Toronto’s TTC doesn’t take you to Richmond Hill or Vaughan or Brampton, etc).
-10% sales tax (Toronto’s is at 13%)
-A bigger Chinatown
-Surrounded by the Ocean
-A park as big as Golden Gate Park
-Wide variety of fauna, including palm trees
-Availability of stores such as Quicksilver and J.Crew, restaurants such as In and Out and Carl Jr’s, and faster availability of items such as the Macbook and iPhone (which often get released months later in Canada)
-A top marginal tax rate of 35% as of the Bush tax cuts (Toronto has 47% top MTR)
-Cheaper fast food (a dollar menu item in SF is $1.40 in Canada, chicken nuggets are 8 for $10 there too)
-Generally cheaper everything, clothing, electronics, cars, etc (Canadians get hit with import taxes and duties on everything)
-Free shipping on a lot of items (a lot of merchants don’t ship to Canada at all)
-Generally a higher salary for Software Engineers and IT people
-Houses that reside on mountains
-Booze gets sold in grocery stores (this may be a shock to Canadians, who have to deal with LCBO all the time).
-Numerous scenic views of mountains, lakes, beaches, forests, bridges, sloping hills, and the drives are never boring because of this. (Toronto has flat land around it)
-Lots of tourist destinations within a few hours away like Napa Valley, Marin County, Monterey, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Silicon Valley, etc (Toronto doesn’t have such a variety of scenic places around it).
-Everywhere is walkable by foot (You have to drive everywhere in Toronto)
-Numerous online services you can get in the US but not in Canada, such as Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, LivingSocial, + many startup apps.
-LOTS of job / networking / conference opportunities for tech people.
Things I miss about Toronto
-My Friends and Family (obviously)
-Less homeless/crazy people (SF has too many of those)
-Poutine and Sausage snacks
-Free walk in clinics and generally simpler healthcare system (Americans have a very complex healthcare system)
-Cheaper rent (getting closer to SF’s rate tho)
– ketchup potato chips
-A higher minimum wage (Sf’s is around $10/hr)
-Driving (it’s much easier in Toronto than SF)
-Places close later ( Starbucks closes at 6pm in SF which is crazy)
And that’s about it. In general I find SF to be a much better place to live, despite not having a green card here. If my family and friends were in the Bay Area then it would be perfect. I hope my family/friends can come visit me around Christmas!
Here are some pictures expressing the beauty of SF and California:
I think these pictures highlight why I’m not keen on going back to Canada anytime soon :).