It’s been around half a year since I moved from Vancouver to San Francisco. Time has never passed by faster. Some observations about the cities and my life in general:

  1. SF has strong Main Character Energy. I think America in general does. Everyone loves to love and loves to hate SF (Canadians included) with a passion that Canadians just do not possess for their own cities. It’s exciting to live in a place that everyone is obsessed with. I think the fact that Canadian cities often Just Work™ strongly plays into this - it’s challenging to tweet constantly about public transit or make zoning reform your personality if your city is not clearly suffering from the lack of it. FWIW Canadian cities have problems of their own; Vancouver is increasingly unaffordable without much in the way of industry or well-paying jobs to justify the high cost of living and it’s extremely hard to afford a house in all (3) of Canada’s major cities, but somehow the issue just isn’t as sexy on social media or among young people the way America’s many issues are.

  2. Public (transit|infrastructure|services|health|postal service|basically anything) is so inferior in SF (and generally the US) compared to Vancouver/Canada it’s seriously unfunny. This applies almost universally: Canada Post > USPS, ICBC > DMV. Canadians who complain about Canada’s infrastructure just have no idea what their neighbours down south have to deal with.

  3. SF is way more interesting of a place to live in than Vancouver. There’s just so much more happening (not all of it great). I’m partly biased because of the industry I happen to be in, but even apart from work stuff, there’s so many more public lectures, concerts, museum exhibitions, industry and political events happening in this city! Vancouver is positively sleepy 😴.

  4. Vancouver is outstandingly beautiful. SF is pretty too, and architecturally more historic and well-preserved than Vancouver (though Vancouver has a neo-futurist residential skyscraper), but it’s just hard to beat the Pacific North West’s unique combination of mountains and water.

  5. Relatedly, it’s impossible to match the kind of access to trails and mountains and overall outdoors that Vancouver has.

  6. It’s lovely how both cities have such great air and water quality, a fact I am acutely aware of, writing this post in Delhi.

  7. I’m conflicted, but I think SF has a better restaurant scene than Vancouver, mainly because of how deep it is. Every other day I hear about a place for the first time that has its own Wikipedia page. I had one of the best meals of my life at House of Prime Rib after learning about its existence exactly 2 days before. Vancouver has unbeatable Asian food, but that’s about it.

  8. Vancouver summers are the best in the world. Every day is prettier than the last, and the sunsets are after 9 pm + spectacular. The temperature is perfect and not being at one of Vancouver’s many beaches every single day is a crime.

  9. Having said that, the overall weather in SF (and California in general) is to die for, while Vancouver’s makes you want to die. People adapt to weather, and you internalize aphorisms such as “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear”, but it’s all cope: human beings need sunshine. FWIW I think I adapted better than most, and was personally okay going for rainy walks on the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path, but nothing beats just heading out for a run in shorts and a t-shirt.

  10. Vancouver (and Canadian cities in general) feel a lot safer than SF (and major American cities in general). This doesn’t affect me as much as a 6’3” man, but I’ve heard so many anecdotal cases of random acts of violence and theft in SF in a way that I never did in Canada. I also don’t know if I would feel as comfortable just going for a late-night saunter in Golden Gate Park the way I did on the Sea Wall.

  11. I’ve found a lot more community in SF than in Vancouver, because of our existing ties to the city. I haven’t been this social since college! Although, I miss my Vancouver friends dearly ❤️.

I miss Canada: it was my chosen country, and I spent the entirety of my adult life there. We are all products of the society we grow up in, and Canada shaped my moral/political/social/aesthetic opinions in major ways; “Canadian” is definitely part of my hyphenated identity at this point. But I’m also excited for the future and carving out space for fulfillment in this golden land! Onwards.