(Closed) Life in the San Francisco Bay Area vs. life in Boston?

posted 6 years ago in Boston
Post # 3
Member
10366 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

SO I lived in Boston for almost 7 years before moving to the Bay Area last month (live in Berkeley at the moment.

It sounds like you would LOVE Boston. Especially compared to San Raphael. It’s dense, urban, diverse, has a killer art/music scene, caters to vegetarians but has a gazillion non-veggie options, and most importantly for you: over 60 colleges/universities within the metro area, so the student population is amazing.

Boston is also cheaper than San Fran – we make the same now that we’ve moved as we did in Boston and are definitely feeling the pinch. Housing stock in Boston is way better, public transit is WAY cheaper, you can legitimately get by without a car (we did!) and it’s really beautiful. There is amazing hiking within 30 mins of Boston, and mountains/hiking/skiing/great beaches within an hour!

We left because winter is too cold, and i’m not sure if it’s just that we aren’t settled yet or not….but I really miss Boston.

Also, I went to college in Galveston TX and grew up in Dallas Ft Worth, and would never under any circumstances live in TX again, except maybe Austin. Blech.

Post # 4
Member
3580 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@ras:  You basically described Seattle.  πŸ˜‰

Post # 5
Member
10366 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

PM me if you want to chat more. We’re basically lifestyle goal twins ;-).

Post # 7
Member
33 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2012

I think the reputation that Boston has for being rude comes from people not going out of their way to be friendly.  It’s not like people are hostile, but if you are walking down the street and there is only one other person on the street passing you they are not going to smile and say hi.  But if you meet someone and engage them in conversation, often times they will be friendly. 

I had a similar experience of sometimes feeling alienated for not smoking weed when I was living in Colorado, but I haven’t found that to be the case at all here.  Honestly it’s not something I really encounter, but that’s probably partially who I hang out with.

From the what you say your looking for it sounds like Boston could fit the bill.  Maybe a reconnaissance trip would be helpful (you mentioned you have friends in the area)!

 

Post # 8
Member
437 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@ras:  I have never lived in CA but I have lived in Boston (Cambridge specifically) for the last ten years. FH and I have debated heavily about moving somewhere new but to be honest we feel we have the best of everything here. We are outdoorsy types that like having mountains and beaches all within driving distance. I personally love the change of seasons. By the end of the summer I’m ready for fall- after leaves drop I’m totally ready for snow- by March I can’t wait for flowers and trees to bloom and after they have I can’t wait to hit the beach. I get all of that here. While I will say that Bostonians aren’t the friendliest- I agree with @Jaquita: that people just don’t go out of their way to be friendly. 

I LOVE liing in Cambridge as well. I live a stone’s throw from Harvard and MIT so there is no shortage of the well educated. There is also a great art scene in Somerville/Cambridge or as some call camberville. Every spring and summer they have open studio where all the local artists open the doors to their shops and homes. It’s really cool to see the talents of those who live on the same street as you. Additionally, I would not say there is much if any of a drug scene in the people I keep and the places I go. This is just not something I am interested in nor do I ever feel like I am around it. 

Boston is def a very liberal city politically. I feel like we might be similar in our views- I tend to lean toward the liberal spectrum polically but consider myself conversative in my lifestyle.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

Post # 9
Member
228 posts
Helper bee

If you like the cold, you’ll LOVE Boston! πŸ˜‰

Seriously, though, it sounds like you would really like the city.  I grew up in the Bay Area and went to Boston for grad school, so I lived in Cambridge for about eight years.  I didn’t really like it at first, but I slowly grew to love it.  We’ve since moved back to the Bay Area for by husband’s job and I really miss Boston!  In fact, if it weren’t for the weather, I think I would prefer to live there.

Politically, it sounds like a great fit for you.  Think John Kerry. πŸ™‚  It’s a highly educated, very liberal place without being extreme (I find San Francisco a bit extreme, after having lived in Boston).  Because of the high density of colleges and universites, there is definitely a more academic feel to Boston/Cambridge as compared to the Bay Area, which also has some great universities, but they are so far apart they might as well be in different states.  In Cambridge, you can literally walk from Tufts University to Harvard to MIT!

Weather-wise, summers are hot and humid, and winters are a cold, wet, dirty mess.  But you said you like the cold, so maybe you’ll like the winters. πŸ™‚  The first real snow of the year always has a kind of magic and beauty that you’ll never get in the Bay Area!

Concerning the people, Boston may be a little more stoic and rushed than in the Bay Area, but it’s not as bad as New York.  Drivers, however, are kind of insane.  They’re called “Massholes” for a reason. πŸ™‚  And I totally get what you’re saying about the drug and mental illness situation in the Bay Area.  It’s always been a problem here — people simply aren’t getting the help they need, and San Francisco and the surrounding cities don’t do much about it.  Parts of the Boston Metropolis also have drug and crime problems, but it’s generally not nearly as severe as in the Bay Area.  Cambridge and most of Boston are VERY clean and safe.  You can walk down the street by yourself at 3am and never feel that there is a danger.  I live in Oakland now and although it’s one of the safer parts, I feel that I can never let my guard down here.

Concerning traffic…well, don’t move to Boston if you think the traffic will be better there than in the Bay Area.  It’s not.  Boston is an old city (part of its charm!) and the streets were designed for horses and carriages, not for cars.  It’s a confusing maze of narrow streets and crazy drivers.  Plus, in the winter, owning a car can be a pain.  If it’s parked on the street, expect it to either get towed or buried under several feet of snow for the duration of winter.  On the plus side, you don’t actually need to own a car.  The subway in Boston is much more convenient than BART.  The stops are pretty much walking distance from anywhere urban, the trains come much more frequently, and it’s cheaper.  So, pretty much everything feels more accessible and closer together than in the Bay Area.

Nature-wise, I think the Bay Area definitely wins.  We have so many more state parks and hiking oppotunities here.  In Boston, you would have to drive out to Western Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or somewhere else in New England.  Tahoe has higher mountains and better skiing than anything on the East Coast.  And we have Yosemite. πŸ™‚  However, in Boston you’re driving distance to Cape Cod and other places with some cool seacoast towns and decent beaches.  And you can definitely get to hiking and skiiing…I just feel it’s generally not as good or accessible.

Culturally, there’s no shortage of things to do in Boston.  Not as much as in San Francisco, and things do die down more in the winter in Boston, but no one can do everything anyway! I don’t think there is a “common thing that people do for fun” — I think there is enough that you can find your own scene.  My now-husband and I have been to some very cool/artsy shows and events there.  And if you like beer…the east coast definitely beats the Bay Area in good bars and crafted beers!

Aw…now I really miss Boston πŸ™‚

Post # 10
Member
46 posts
Newbee

I love SF!  I’m like you. i love the theater and outdoors but don’t love the weed.  I’ve also lived in Texas and Michigan.  It’s too cold.  I need to be able to go outside and do outdoorsy things throughout the year.  Unless you’re obsessed with skiing, the winters will quickly get old.  Also, if you really do value diversity, you’re in the best place.  Growing up in the Bay, I knew we had it good… I didn’t know HOW good until I moved away.  You can easily get to the snow if you want it.. and not be forced to be in it when you don’t want to be.  Kind of off topic, but there was just a story about two kids in some other state getting really sun burned because their teacher wasn’t allowed to give them sunscreen.  The kids had to go to the hospital.  CA is the only state where kids can use sunscreen at school.  We may not have the pot thing right, but we lead the way in just about everything else.  Good luck deciding!

Post # 13
Member
33 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Definitely not as hot as Texas.  I would say a typical summer weather is in the 70s to low 80s with a half dozen or more days in the 90s thrown in, although this summer has been pretty hot.  It also tends to be humid.  I would say 90 here feels more like 100 in places that are very dry

Post # 14
Member
49 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Sorry to be the voice of dissent, but I moved to Boston from overseas and I find it to be a fairly stifling and homogeneous city. It is pretty, and old (for the U.S.) and it has a number of great museums. However, on the whole, the arts scene is self-contained, small and not particularly exciting; the city is divided into neighborhoods between which there is little mixing (these neighborhoods are racially and economically divisive); if you have a car then, yes, the outdoors is a mere 20 mins or so away and that is very nice, but if you don’t have a car (like me) you’re mostly stuck in the city, which is not especially nature friendly. 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I like living here, but it is REALLY not all it is cracked up to be. Maybe if you’re moving here from Lubbock, TX then it is awesome (?) but in comparison to other big cities it is not that great. Also, It is quite a stuffy city and would not compare favourably with the Bay Area in that regard. 

Post # 15
Member
73 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Merle:  I have to agree with Merle. As someone who has gone to school in the boston area and is now living in the heart of boston (backbay), I disagree with the previous posters. Like Merle said, boston is not all it’s cracked up to be. 

Over time all of the college students really start to annoy you. Although Boston and Cambridge may seem ‘more educated’ because of the collection of schools in the area, I don’t think it shows any more than any other major city. The city is also made up of people who grew up in the surrounding towns. Although Boston is a pretty small city, you absolutely CANNOT walk from Tufts to MIT. Tufts is located out in the suburbs and across highways while MIT is located at the edge of Cambridge. It’s like a 45 minute walk from Harvard square to MIT. 

The neighborhoods also feel very divided and insular. And I think that the art scene around here is small and uninteresting. Just my 2 cents.

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