Eurofag to soon start a new job in the U.S. (California, Bay Area) here. What to expect? How is Murrica? What does suck and what is awesome? What is disturbing at the beginning?
Ex-Eurofags answer's welcome.
What might shock you the most (and not in a good way) is the sheer amount of poverty, homelessness, and crime. San Francisco is the homeless illegal immigrant crime capitol of the world. That said there is still a lot of fun to be had in SF, plenty of things to do.
i'm familiar with bart, i live near the bay area. and really it has a very small footprint for the area and population it services. nothing in the majority of the peninsula or the south bay, limited coverage in the east bay. 5 lines for 8,000,000 people? great. sf and sj have above average bus/lightrail systems for the u.s., but still nothing compared to europe. sometime go to london and check out the tube (admittedly the premiere public transportation in the world, but still...) the u.s. is built on suburbs and having a car. it's just part of our historical narrative since we aren't confined by medieval city planning (no insult intended, just a statement of fact when talking about european population centers that are 1000+ years old).
>It's part of our historical narrative
The U.S. is more than 70 years old. San Francisco is very small in terms of square miles. Finding a house in the bay area close to transit isn't very hard, and it probably wouldn't hurt to walk or bike a little bit either, ya know.
IF op's in sf proper. if he's not...
and considering he's getting a job here he'll probably be here long enough to want to check out more of the region, and a car offers a hell of a lot more flexibility on that front.
Have you been to Oakland? There are a lot of really cool neighborhoods. I agree it overall feels less safe than across the bay, but parts are really not bad. Other parts though... It's like on the wire. Particularly East of high st in the flats. Richmond also has a lot of bad areas, not familiar enough with the area well enough though so I don't know what the nice areas are like, if there are any
I'm an American, so I'm probably really biased, but San Francisco isn't extremely bad in terms of safety as far as American cities go. It has a gigantic homeless problem and hosts illegal immigrants, but is pretty gentrified in some areas and has less overt crime than a city like LA, Oakland, or Detroit. It's also more open minded than somewhere in the South, which can be important to people coming from Europe.
If you want to know awesome stuff to do there, what kind of stuff are you into? The Bay Area is pretty fantastic for coffee and SF has a lot of cool unique things to do.