18 Things You Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners About SF

At some point in your life as an SF resident, you're going to have friends and family come in from other cities, either to visit or move here, and you, as a denizen of this fair(-ish) city, are going to have to show them around. And part of that includes letting them know about the... quirkiness of this unique city. So, in preparation, here are 18 things you're probably gonna have to address:

Flickr/Orin Zebest

1. No, no one dresses up here for anything

Nope, not even work. In general day-to-day life, that guy in the red flannel and jeans is probably the CEO of a promising startup.

2. There is, however, a certain dress code for going out

Also known as: "trying really hard to make it look like you're not actually trying hard".

3. Yes, you did just smell that, and you will likely smell it three more times today

SF is, shall we say, a little lax in enforcing certain laws.

4. You will see a stranger's p*nis at some point

Even though they cracked down on general public nudity, those hardcore nudists are pretty defiant, and everyone's allowed to be naked during public parades.

5. Never look at your phone while you're walking around

Because, poo.


6. Speaking of which, there are a lot of homeless dudes

Even people from NYC will probably be shocked. In general, if you're really nice, give them some food. Most of the time, though, keeping your head down is the best way to avoid being chased past the SF Symphony building.

7. No one actually goes to Alcatraz or Fisherman's Wharf...

(But if you do go to the latter, there'll be a homeless guy who'll jump out from behind a bush and scare the sh*t out of you.)

8. ... or rides cable cars

(But if you do, pro tip: have $6.50 on your Smartcard, then hop on at a stop halfway up the route. Don't wait at Powell and Market.)

Flickr/Alfredo Mendez

9. Taxis don't exist (mostly)

Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft are your new best friends.

10. No one uses cross walks

Unless you're on Van Ness or Market... then everyone uses crosswalks.

11. There really is no Summer here

You have to grab onto whatever weekend has 70/80-degree weather and treat it like it is, whether it happens in July, or January (much more likely).


12. The guy offering to help with the BART machine? He's gonna ask for money if you let him.

And you can't pretend you don't have any because he's seen it all!

13. You are going to have to wait for a drink

Unless you are a pretty girl or a pretty guy at a gay bar.

14. Straight guys and gay guys are virtually indistinguishable

If you're a girl or a guy looking for a guy, the well-dressed hipster chic dudes will have you guessing up until the point at which you make out. And even after.

15. Don't you dare say "San Fran"


16. "Frisco" is actually OK, but only if you understand why

Flickr/Wouter Kiel

17. It is ANARCHY when it comes to getting a parking spot

The laws and rules of society don't apply when you see a free space across the street on a hill.

18. The apartment I pay $1,400 a month for?

I share it with four other people.

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Joe Starkey is an SF-based freelance writer, and owns (at last count) 54 ties... which he never gets to wear here. Follow him on Twitter.