I ended up here because for the last 10 years of my working career, I was stationed at the Oakland Naval Hospital (and satellite clinics), now mercifully closed. But when I was first sent here, before the last two bursts of real estate inflation in CA, I bought a condo in downtown SF because I suspected it would be hard to move away. I like opera and I’m two blocks from the SF Opera (certainly in the country’s top 5 houses, maybe second after the Met). I like food and there are few better places for that. I hate really hot, humid weather and most July/August days here it’s in the 60’s. I like living near the water and I’m within a few miles of it in 3 directions. I like history and this place is loaded with it. My main exercise is walking and simultaneous people-watching and short of New York City, there’s no place better for that.
The politics here do get oppressive and I do get tired of being panhandled, hustled, taxed and generally treated like fodder for the utopian classless boutique society. I also get depressed in the rainy weather here between November and April. For those reasons, 3 years ago I bought a small second home down south of Tucson AZ (property’s cheap there but rising lately) and I now go there in the winter. I call it the "anti-San Francisco". I shop at Wal-Mart. My Congressman’s a Republican. Packing a side arm is legal and not rare. There’s not much close enough to walk so I drive my 11 year-old car with 20K miles on it (exercise comes from parking at the far end of the Home Depot lot). Most of the music on the radio is canciones. The station with the best reception has an unbroken line-up of Conservative talk shows (Rush at 10 AM). Can’t let my cat out on the patio because the pair of Harris Hawks sitting on the phone pole at the end of the driveway might get her.
The best example of the contrast has to do with the founder/discoverer of both areas. Don Juan Bautista de Anza commanded the Spanish Presidio of Tubac near my AZ place. In 1775, he led an expedition north which ultimately resulted, in 1776, in the founding of the Presidio of San Francisco by the bay of that name. In Southern AZ, Anza is greatly honored. Many things are named after him. In San Francisco, a statue of Anza (presented to the city by King Juan Carlos of Spain) had to be removed from a public place because it was repeatedly vandalized by self-designated advocates of "native Americans" whom they claim Anza enslaved.
For now, anyway, cycling between these two extremes suites me fine. Oregon seems very attractive to me, but I think you get even more rain than San Francisco and Oregon politics can be nearly as freaky.