A Tale of Two Cities: Is Seattle the Next San Francisco?
I’ve lived in Seattle for four and a half years, long enough to witness the city’s massive growth and feel its stitches ripping at the seems. Since 2012, I’ve watched the substantial boom in both population and building, job opportunities, and craft breweries. As the liberally-proud and technically-sound city evolves, we seem to be following in the footsteps of another popular West Coast city—San Francisco. The idea has been circulating for years as the city’s similarities become easier to notice. While walking through the neighborhoods of San Francisco last month, I pondered the question myself, looking for clues that might help answer the lofty question, “Is Seattle becoming the next San Francisco?”
How We’re Alike
Groundbreaking Tech Environment
Probably the most recognized similarity are the city’s innovative technology giants. Seattle’s downtown is overrun with millennial techies lassoed with Amazon badges and it’s guaranteed at least 1 in 4 people you know work for/have worked at Microsoft. San Francisco is famous for ultra successful startups and companies like Uber, Slack, AirBNB, Twitter, and Google, just to name a few. According to a recent report from Linkedin, Seattle has been sourcing a lot of its tech workers from San Francisco. (Keep reading to find out why. Hint: Real Estate)
A Compilation of Neighborhoods on Hills
A macro view of both Seattle and San Francisco show a small landmass surrounded by an abundance of water. Zoom out and you’ll see two cities made up of neighborhoods with diverse people, culture, and offerings. Seattle dwellers know Ballard is the location for a brewery tour, while San Franciscans knows the Mission district is where it’s at if you want great tacos and burritos. Sun seekers flock to Gas Works Park in Fremont on a clear day and Delores Park is consistently packed with people and their four-legged friends.
A Stone’s Throw Away From Nature’s Attractions
When the urban dwellers tire of city life, each has its outdoor refuge close by. Mt. Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park are both within a three-hour drive of Seattle, and there are day hikes galore off I-90. San Franciscans can cross the Golden Gate Bridge and visit Point Reyes National Park or cruise down Highway 1 to take in the views of Big Sur.
We’ll Buy “Artisanal” Anything
Both cities have an appreciation for all things artisanal. Small-batch, locally-made goods permeate stores and markets. Whether it be one-of-a-kind ice cream (San Francisco’s Bi-Rite), third-wave craft coffee (Seattle’s Slate Coffee Roasters), ceramics, chocolate or clothing, these cities boast creative residents and those proud to support local craftspeople.
What Sets Us Apart
SF and Sunshine for the Win
We can’t compare and contrast the cities without noting the weather is consistently better in SF. While the Bay Area deals with fog, at least they don’t have to deal with as much rain. The City by the Bay enjoys year round mild temperatures with an average temp of 60 degrees. Seattle, in contrast, experiences all four seasons (or at least 3.5 of them) and has average of 152 days of rain a year. Do I even need to point out that’s nearly half the year?
Real Estate Prices, Not Yet a Wash
Seattle’s home prices are soaring, but they’re still not as atrocious as San Francisco’s. In a data release by Zillow, home values and rents are rising in Seattle faster than almost any other place in the United States. Zillow also reported the median rental payment (in 2017) is $2,100 per month, a jump of 8 percent over the past 12 months. But Seattle homes cost approximately half of what San Francisco’s do. And while Seattle residents have the option to move just outside the city to more affordable towns, San Francisco’s suburbs are frequently more expensive than living in the city itself.
Getting Around Town
Hats off to San Francisco and all their ways to move around the city. The BART regional transportation system covers much of the San Francisco Bay area and Muni’s buses, light rail Metro trains, historic streetcars and cable cars cover all corners of the city. And Seattle? Well, we have a pretty decent bus system and grand plans to expand the light rail, but the lack of options mean most choose to own a car.
Things to Do
Golden Gate Park – Walk through and explore over 1000 acres
Ocean Beach – Supercharge your Vitamin D levels
Twin Peaks Lookout – The best 360-degree view of the city
San Francisco Ferry Building – Shop for local goods and food, plus people-watching
Delores Park – Rest your tired feet and make friends with locals
Mission District – Contemplate community mural art down Clarion Alley
Where to Eat
Outerlands – For locally sourced, organic brunch in the laid back Sunset district
Media Noche – For Cuban food in Mission District
Souvla – For a chicken sandwich and frozen Greek yogurt. (multiple locations)
El Farolito – For delicious late night burrito in Mission District
The Mill – If you’re a millennial-living, toast-loving, coffee snob. (multiple locations)
So after a few days in SF, did I reach a conclusion? Is Seattle destined to become the next San Francisco? While two days of exploration wasn’t enough time to confirm nor deny, the parallels are hard to deny. Two things I am confident about is both cities offer plenty of great options to eat and drink. No matter where you move or where you visit, it’s always good to get out and see for yourself.