Your Tips: the Best Advice for Bay Area Newcomers

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We asked you for your top tips for Bay Area newcomers — and you delivered. (Belle Co/Pexels)

While rising costs may make the Bay Area seem like an increasingly difficult place to live, our region's population has actually grown by over 600,000 people since 2011 — and it shows no signs of stopping.

Among other things, that means that at any given time there are a lot of newcomers who could use some good old Bay Area wisdom.

To impart some of that knowledge we asked you, our resident experts, to share your advice for people who have recently moved to the Bay.

From navigating BART and bumper-to-bumper traffic to the proper ways to deal with Karl the Fog, here are your top tips for newbies suggested across RedditFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.


San Francisco is great... but remember, there's way more to the Bay.
San Francisco is great ... but remember, there's way more to the Bay Area. (Craig Miller/KQED)

“Go everywhere early. Always be the early bird and you’re usually okay. Show up to a park, DMV, or Costco late and you’re going to wait.” (@brentshinn, via Twitter)

More KQED Guides

“The best thing about the Bay is proximity to cities that feel thousands of miles away but aren’t. Don’t compare them and instead appreciate them all. Took me a while to get that and it’s made a huge difference.” (lotsofsara, via Instagram)

“If you live and work in SF, leave sometimes. Don't be afraid to take Caltrain or BART to some random part of the Bay and scope it out. The greater Bay Area is a beautiful place with incredibly varied landscapes and climate, some great towns, restaurants, bars, music venues, etc. Especially in tech it's very easy for people to move out here, soak up the benefits and just cocoon into their little world. Come on out, most of us are pretty chill.” (Marmoticon, via Reddit)

“Buy good walking shoes.” (Stephanie Barraza, via Facebook)

A hiker in Sonoma Coast State Park in March 2018. (Miranda Leitsinger/KQED)

“The East Bay Regional Park District is one of the greatest public resources — take full advantage of it. ” (Joel Goldsmith, via Facebook)

KQED Tip: New to The Bay? Congratulations, you now live near some of the best nature parks and trails in the state. Check out our hiking guide for some favorite spots curated by locals.

Getting Around

Get to know your local transit system: day and night. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“Get a Clipper card & learn to plan & use public transit as much as possible. Traffic here is insane!” (Matthew Shiroma, via Facebook)

“If you ever lose your Clipper card or don't have the correct amount of cash for the bus, buy a pass on the MUNI app and just show it to the bus driver. TRULY A LIFESAVER” (gcheung28, via Reddit — she's actually KQED's Food Editor)

“When you are riding the escalator at the BART stations or anywhere. STAY ON THE RIGHT so that people who are in a hurry can zoom past you on the left. I learned this the hard way. You will get yelled at.” (B52Bombsell, via Reddit)


San Francisco had more than 30,000 car break-ins during 2017. (Gabriele Barni/Flickr)

“If you have a car and need to park anywhere on the street in any neighborhood, always leave absolutely nothing in the car. This still isn’t guaranteed that the window will not be broken, but it’s best practice. "

"If you have a bike, and need to lock it up, always use 3 locks (2 U Locks and 1 chain lock for the seat). This will deter bike theft. The thieves look for the easiest quickest bike to steal.” (both from loves_cereal, via Reddit)

KQED Tip: Car break-ins really are a Bay Area epidemic. San Francisco alone saw 30,000 reported break-ins in 2017, nearly triple the amount in 2010. Read/listen to our Bay Curious story on how car break-ins happen — and how you can minimize your risk.

The Weather

Nothing says "San Francisco beach day" like a blanket of fog. (Anne Wernikoff/KQED)

“Bring a jacket. Always. Just do it.” (Virgoinwonderland, via Instagram)

“Microclimates! It can be different temperature/weather every few blocks in SF. And even greater differences across the Bay. It could be 60 in SF and 90+ once you cross the bridge to Marin 10 minutes drive north.” (TheJadedSF, via Reddit)

“Summertime is in September and October.” (@MonetizedSpace, via Twitter)

Sunrise through the San Francisco fog. (@Moaz on Twitter)

“Nothing like an early morning sunrise run (Specially in @KarlTheFog days). The fresh misty air will give you the energy and the peace of mind for an incredible day, and the exercise will keep you warm in cold days!” (@moaz, via Twitter)

KQED Tip: "Karl" is the Bay Area’s moniker for the perennial fog that frequents our chilly mornings. The name originated with a Twitter account that turned "Karl the Fog" into a local icon, but many still don’t know what his name is actually in reference to. Find out here.


The Bay Area's rental market is notoriously expensive -- not to mention competitive. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“If you can make it happen at all, live close to where you work. It's a huge quality of life issue.” (@martinigroove, via Twitter)

“If you are planning to buy a house because the designated school’s rating is high, first talk to the district. Some areas are so full, they overflow the students. You might end up buying a super expensive house and a different school than you anticipated.” (KremKaramela, via Reddit)

“Housing is not a renter’s market. Try to contact potential roommates/landlords within an hour of their original post or your inquiry will probably get lost in the shuffle and you won’t hear back.” (elijhawk, via Instagram)

A street in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“Look around for more reasonable housing than you see at first glance; look beyond the narrow geo boundaries you THOUGHT you'd consider.” (@Best4CommonGood, via Twitter)

Learning About Your New Home

Pride: It's a big deal here. (Anne Wernikoff/KQED)

“Appreciate our diversity. If your neighbors look or love differently than you, develop an intellectual curiosity to want to know more, to connect with those different than you. You and the Bay Area will be better for it.” (Katherine Avila, Facebook)

“Pride in identity is strong here. Do not think [someone is] shutting down your identity. Be humble and take it as an invite to explore and share yours ... opening up with each other is what we do here.” (@MsMirandaMayes, via Twitter)

“Be a part of our community, don’t just use it. Realize that your presence affects the fabric of SF culture. Affording to live in San Francisco is a privilege so respect the history, learn and engage with the people that make San Francisco so great.” (Nilobatle, via Instagram)

“Listen to podcasts. (Helps with the commute and podcasts like The Bay and Bay Curious help introduce you to the region)” (@slolee, via Twitter)

The sun sets over the Pacific, seen from high up on Mt. Tam, in Marin County.
The sun sets over the Pacific, seen from high up on Mount Tam, in Marin County. (Olivia Allen-Price/KQED)

“You are a guest on Ohlone land. Act like it.” (@sam_wspcc, via Twitter)

KQED Tip: While much of the San Francisco Bay Area has transformed into giant high-rises and commercial hubs, the land used to be dotted with Ohlone shellmounds, or man-made mounds of earth and organic matter with great significance. Learn more about what it means to live in Ohlone territory with this Bay Curious story.

Comments have been slightly edited for length and clarity.