I Made It To San Francisco!

Dear readers, wow, what a week. Seven days ago I started a new life as a resident of California in the city of San Francisco. Allow me to give thanks and apologize.
March Trip to San Francisco

Thank you to all the people who helped make this happen!  Thanks to Mike and Val who were some of the first to reach out to me after seeing my goal to move to San Francisco.  They took the time to sit down with me in December and share why they loved San Francisco.  Mike sketched a map which rocked!  I received so much love from folks on Twitter and will be forever grateful for your suggestions, recommendations and advice!  There were emails with links, other people asking me questions about moving to San Francisco and it seemed everyone in the Twin Cities had a positive story to share about San Francisco!  You all brought me to tears more than once with your generosity!  So thank you again for helping me make this transition.  Social media and social networking can change your life!

Now, to apologize.

I thought it would be a great idea to blog about my move real time. I started off making videos to capture my excitement and thoughts. As each day passed, I began to feel more agitated about this decision. I tried to think about Mary Tyler Moore and all the women going to work in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
Mary Tyler Moore Statue

What if something went wrong?

  • What if I sprained my ankle while moving a box?
  • What if I couldn’t find a good health insurance plan in California?
  • What if something happened to my animals?
  • What if I missed my plane?
  • What if I couldn’t find a place to live?
  • What if I got swindled for my money?
  • What if the plan crashed?
  • What if I was delusional in thinking I could move my entire life from Minneapolis to San Francisco in the span of 3 months?

Mary Tyler Moore would just roll with it. Embrace change!

These scenarios keep me up at night and I didn’t know how to articulate them.  I didn’t want to ruin what could be one of the biggest decisions of my life.  We probably all know people who say, “If I ask for something, that jinxes it” or they knock on wood after speaking of something they very much desire.
March Trip to San Francisco
Now, I’m a huge believer in The Secret, the Law of Attraction and defining one’s destiny but this decision was just a bit too big for me to easily accept.  People are their own worst obstacles.  I kept telling myself that visualizing my future self would not “ruin” things. Fear of the unknown is a powerful disrupter. Regardless, I made it through!
March Trip to San Francisco
I just finished reading The Alchemist and Paulo Coelho elegantly wraps important lessons about self empowerment through active pursuit of your goals in a wonderful story about a Spanish shepard on a journey.   I had a flashback to the Never Ending Story as I followed Santiago’s journey to Egypt while I made my way to San Francisco.

This trip went well beyond what I thought I would need in terms of emotional stamina. As an introvert, I get drained interacting with people. To “recharge” my batteries, I need time alone. Extroverts on the other hand need to interact to gain energy. This entire process was so emotionally overwhelming for me because I had to always be “on” and interacting. Everyone wanted a piece of my time. I used “No” often in the last 6 weeks. Once I got here, it was non stop meeting people, checking on things, phone calls, emails, work stuff and so on. I was falling asleep by 9:30pm Pacific! It’s been like bootcamp. I wake up, talk to people all day long, emails, calls, walking and then return home to repeat the next day. I get it a lot, “Oh, Adria, you don’t seem like an introvert.”. Well I am and for Meyer Briggs I test out as an INTJ/INTP. I’ve learned, especially through Twitter, how to be more “social” but it’s like holding down the button on your remote control; my batteries drain much faster when I interact with others versus doing activities by myself. This has left me utterly empty in terms of blogging and producing the videos I’ve recorded but relief is close. I can feel it!
March Trip to San Francisco
I cried the first day I arrived. I was so sad. I was mourning the loss of my life as I knew it. As I picked up the keys to the place I’m staying at, I began to think of Minnesota. Everything I knew; the roads, the restaurants, the people, my apartment, my car. I had just left everything behind. I know this is a new chapter in the life of Adria but damn, it hurt like hell.  I felt like I dropped a mySQL database without making a backup. I kept replaying this question in my mind, “What the hell have I done selling all my stuff and moving to San Francisco?” yet in the same moment, remembered why I thought this was a good idea.  Very much a Jekyl & Hyde discussion.

I lost my breath realizing I’ve made a life altering decision that I can’t really go back on and yes, with all the new stuff I try, you would think this would be like the Staples Easy Button yet…remember, just one year ago, traveling to Chicago made me feel nervous! Thankfully I had the opportunity to go to Chicago 3 times in the month of June for Wordcamp Chicago, Blogging While Brown and BlogHer. That was truly a blessing and helped me to overcome my fear and anxiety about traveling. It certainly helped set the stage for all the traveling I’ve done in the last 12 months!

It almost doesn’t feel real. I know I’m waking up in San Francisco everyday but it sorta feels like I’m living someone else’s life. One of the most unreal things is how helpful people have been in helping me plan the move, research the move and get adjusted out here! It’s been certifiably awesome!

On that note, the move went very well overall! I selected a moving company to get my stuff to San Francisco. They were professional, on time and all my things arrived without damage.

Moving out of my apartment went great. I gave notice back in February and continued to make my moving plans. I’ve been on a month-to-month lease since last April although I’ve been renting there for 3 years. I guess I just had this feeling that something…was…going to happen.

Tossing my life. So began the process of discarding, selling, donating and giving away my things. P1050007
I decided rather than sell my technology equipment on Ebay and Craigslist, I would donate it to Free Geek Twin Cities. They got all my tech goodies including external hard drive enclosures, ethernet cables, adapters, converters, crimpers, memory, motherboards and a few boxes I had. People can earn a computer by volunteering plus they learn how to work on technology as well. A three way win of recycling, refurbishing and retraining!
Donations to Free Geek Twin CitiesIt felt good knowing they could immediately use the technology to test and build out computers for folks! I would have loved to had access to a program like this 10 years ago when I was just getting started *smile*
Staff of Free Geek Twin Cities
Several of my neighbors scored furniture pieces and all my stuff on Craigslist sold well! The movers arrived Monday with my stuff which all fits neatly into a 5×7 storage unit.
Feels kinda cool to see all my items in one, small area! I very much feel the whole 4 hour work week / Tim Ferriss energy going on here! When you die, you can’t take your stuff with you so with the help of my organizer, Robin, I began to look at what I could get rid of. A lot of items held emotional value for me but I made peace and let go. At first it was scary to get rid of stuff but each night after tossing or donating items, the pain faded. Heck, if you ever see me wearing my brown leather belt, know that I’ve had it since I was 16 years old! I’m not a materialistic person so I don’t try to keep up with the Joneses (or the Jetsons if you think of every new item reviewed at Gizmodo). I got rid of books, clothing, technology, furniture, papers, makeup, kitchenware, office supplies and knick knacks that used to sit on my desk when I had a “cube job”. In fact, the more I threw away, the better I began to feel!
I made sure anything with my personal information was shredded. OfficeMax has a shredding service at $0.69/lb. Organizers and people who can be supportive of you streamling your life, rock!

The bad news with moving. Lost/broken stuff. I’m still waiting on one of my monitors to arrive. Somehow, UPS sent it to the wrong destination and it’s been sitting somewhere in San Pablo, Ca since Sunday. Also, my Macbook Pro died. The hard drive gave out so Monday I made an appointment at the Apple store and dropped it off. Had a very positive experience (except for the old guy who didn’t have the correct status of parts availability) and sounds like I’ll be getting it back at the end of this week. While it’s been a bit uncomfortable not having it, I’m getting by now that my Dell arrived. No worries on data, everything was backed up online using Mozy. My digital camera also died just before the move. I have been throughly enjoying the Panasonic Lumix ZS3 and driving back when I braked, the camera fell out of my bag and onto the floor. That small fall caused lines to appear in the LCD. Man was I upset! I turns out Panasonic does not cover the LCD in the warranty. People on Amazon echoed this as a warning but I ignored it thinking they weren’t very careful with their cameras. Blech.

Let’s talk pets. One of the hardest things about making this decision to move was how to deal with having pets. I think it’s horrible when people get pets and then get rid of them because “their new place doesn’t allow pets”. Yuck! I absolutely love my cat Turtle who I’ve had for 15 years and Bluey my dog is the awesomesauce on my ice cream. Bluey and Turtle at the Vet
I researched heavily about how to transport them to California on a plane. One of the frustrating things I found was that airlines would only allow one animal per passenger. I didn’t want to have to pick which one to bring in the cabin. I obviously felt a loyalty to Turtle who I’ve had for so long but realized that Bluey as a 4lb Chihuahua could end up in trouble being checked as baggage. Bluey and Turtle in the carrier
No decision was needed because one of my coworkers at Zendesk offered to take in my cat Turtle while I looked for a place. This made my heart dance! I actually felt it skip a beat! I am so, so, so grateful about how it worked out and could not have asked God or the Universe for a better solution *smile*. Turtle flew with me and did great! No loud meowing while in flight and she pretty much napped with her catnip. She also did well when I took her through TSA airport security.
Turtle is adjusting to her temporary digs and I went to go see her on Saturday. I guess she’s been hiding out in the bathroom on the water heater but when she heard my voice, she ran to the door! Bluey is still in Minnesota with Jacque, my client. Bluey now has a full time job working at the Bona Bros gas station and is the unofficial mascot *smile*. The photo updates via Twitter from Jacque and Kate have put my heart at ease.

Transportation. I sold my car. I loved driving stick shift. Toby (named my car, yup!) was the first manual vehicle I ever drove. I had no idea that changing gears yourself could be so empowering and well…fun! It was confusing at first doing the pedals and the gears but within 2 months, I got it and smile everytime I’d sit down to drive *smile*. San Francisco has a very, very, very good public transportation system but people walk, bike and board.
March Trip to San Francisco
The BART is a train system that basically gets you from the airport to San Francisco and then to the East Bay. It runs several times and hour.
March Trip to San Francisco
The MUNI is the transit system of buses you can take that go all over the city.

The Caltrain is a commuter train that takes you from San Francisco down to Stanford and Palo Alto.

You can rent a Zipcar for $7/hr but if you’re planning to keep it for a day, go with a regular car rental company like Enterprise for $25/day because an all day Zipcar rental will cost $65.
March Trip to San Francisco
Plus there are trolly’s (plural?), taxis and bike rentals.

It’s hard to find parking and if you get a stall, it can be as much as $300/month. I decided I wouldn’t need a car after querying my Zendesk coworkers and helpful folks already living in San Francisco.
March Trip to San Francisco
There are a bunch of iPhone apps to help you figure out when/where the next bus/train is arriving including:

Two popular websites to navigate the public transportation in San Francisco:

Food I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven here. The food choices are never ending! This french toast photo is from my meal at The Chef and The Butler. Delicious!
French Toast from The Chef and the ButlerI’ve been told there are over 5,000 restaurants in San Francisco which means if there were just 60 breakfast places and I went to one each weekend, it would take me more than a year just to visit them all!
March Trip to San Francisco

I am a self confessed foodie. I love food porn (not to be confused with regular pornography which sexually exploits participants).
March Trip to San FranciscoI’ve always been a fan of comfort foods; rich, delicious, creamy, delicate creations that make your tastebuds do backflips but it took me a few years to really become comfortable enough to admit and then embrace this passion.
March Trip to San Francisco
Joining my coop in Minneapolis helped because of the deli, simple ingredients listed on the packaging and the ever so helpful staff. I learned that making my own whip cream was as easy as whipping heavy cream and stirring in a little vanilla. Who knew? Good by nasty Cool Whip.
March Trip to San Francisco
I then began to cook with meats I’d never considered before like lamb. I made my own bread last year from scratch and now can say I enjoy cooking!
Of course, cooking to me is all about eating! With my new found interest, I began to explore more restaurants, especially when I was out of town. For my friends wedding in 2008, I had dinner at this fancy Las Vegas spot. Since it was Thanksgiving week (and in fact, Thanksgiving Day), I had this amazing 3 course meal with the most buttery, light and creamy mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted!  There was roasted pork, turkey of course and I loved every moment of the meal; savoring the textures, flavors and ambiance.  It was certainly a turning point.  
March Trip to San Francisco
Once I found the #nomnomnom hashtag on Twitter, there was no stopping me with the iPhone as I began to snap photos of food I cooked, ordered and saw through windows!
March Trip to San Francisco
Housing in San Francisco. Now I did a post on my plan to find housing in San Francisco.  That hasn’t changed much.  It’s expensive out here!  I stayed at the Mosser hotel in March while I was researching neighborhoods. Clean, affordable (ask about their weekly rate) and close to everything.
March Trip to San Francisco
That’s right, not apartments but locations! The city of San Francisco is 7 miles by 7 miles and each block can be completely different than the last block so I made sure to research! I’ve been looking on Craigslist for a while and while Google Maps street view has been a lifesaver to give me a real glimpse at intersections, I wanted to walk the neighborhoods for myself. I visited the Mission, Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, Haight, Hayes Valley and of course SOMA.
March Trip to San Francisco
I looked at several places to get an idea of what to expect at for what rent amount. I am not going to live in any of the big apartment complexes.
March Trip to San Francisco
Some places were new. Some places were old.
March Trip to San Francisco
What I will pay in rent would be a mortgage in Minneapolis on a nice home!  The place I’m staying at is beautiful!  It’s a condo that is very close to Zendesk.  I am the guest of a gal who’s been here a couple of years.  She’s full of energy, works at the university and is an obvious extrovert.  The ceilings are 20+ feet tall, there is exposed brick, large windows, a washer/dryer in the unit and a nice kitchen.  I feel like I’m in heaven!  Landed this spot off of Craigslist.  Now I’m not one for having “roomies” as I’ve shared in the past but I’m glad I expanded my search because it makes a huge difference being able to walk to work!  I have Katie to thank as I met her here a few weeks ago and we joined forces that weekend to look at listings and available apartments.  She has two dogs and is also finding it a bit harder to find a place.  It seems there was a person (Diane Whipple) who as mauled to death by dogs so since then, San Francisco landlords are less accepting of pets.
March Trip to San Francisco
I continue to ask people I see with dogs where they live. It’s a bit forward but I explain that I’m working to get an idea of where to look and so far, everyone has been helpful!
March Trip to San Francisco
That’s all for now. There are a TON of photos over on Flickr for you to check out and I’ve got several blog posts started to break down some of these topics with details.

You can help if you know of apartments, condo owners or units that are in San Francisco, near SOMA and like well behaved pets.

13 thoughts on “I Made It To San Francisco!

  1. tammyhart


    You are a powerful woman and a huge inspiration to me. I admire what you've done so much. Way to go! I can understand the feelings you went through, and I hate that you felt so badly when first arriving, but it is awesome to see you pulling this off, and with class too! San Fran looks gorgeous, and I can't wait to see you next week!

  2. Tigressreow


    Your blog is inspirational, humorous and fun slice of life. One filled with hopes dreams actions and adjustments as needed. It's balanced, honest and real experience as you seek and embrace change. Just spread you wings and fly like an eagle!

    I hope you look back on this growth spurt complete with blog entries, glean the life lessons and write a book to help others find their path/passion. It's universal and for all ages who seek and embrace change.

    All the best,

  3. busydoingnothing

    My girlfriend and I recently began thinking out loud again about packing it up and moving out to San Francisco. We both are in love with it, having visited a handful of times. I did some Googling and came across your blog…good timing! It's funny, I was reading your original “I'm moving to San Francisco” post yesterday at work, wondering what happened with your plans, and ta-da! This post today :) I'm jealous to say the least. It's very cool to see people picking up and following their dreams.

    Great post…I laughed out loud at your simile for how you first felt (“like dropping a mySQL database without a backup”). Computer nerds unite! Even cooler, I own that same external drive enclosure in your back window, though mine is black.

    Keep up the great work, and best of luck in the big city!

  4. adriarichards


    Thank you! It was great getting to know you at Wordcamp Atlanta and I was
    also inspired by you stretching to reach your goals! That sort of symbiotic
    thing of energy exchange is a driving force on the Internet. I can remember
    many specific blog posts (and now tweets) that have shaped my journey too!

    See you next week for Wordcamp San Francisco! We'll do a “touristy” thing
    on Sunday like you suggested. Can't wait to see how Automattic puts on
    Wordcamp SF!

  5. adriarichards


    Thank you for your kind words. At first I hoped my blog would help others
    and now, time and time again, I get so many notes, emails and linkbacks that
    it makes the discomfort of sharing my innermost apprehensions worth it!

    Book on the goals page! butyoureagirl.com/about#goals

  6. adriarichards

    Hey Busy,

    You guys should do it! I'm chatting with another couple via email who are
    looking to move from Colorado to San Francisco ;)

    Sweet! Google Rank!

    I had lunch with Amir yesterday who I met at Wordcamp Atlanta and he just up
    and sold everything in February and started roaming the country. He said it
    should have taken him 3 days to drive from New Orleans to California but he
    was having too much fun along the way as he stayed with friends in different

    Now I don't know if I could go to those lengths but am certainly glad I
    decided to do this. I'm not afraid of the dentist but God speed on my
    nervous little heart during this move!

    Glad you liked my database analogy. Geeks shall inherit the Earth!
    (Especially on Earth Day!)

    Hope you two start move into the “research” phase of moving ;)

  7. Senam

    I'm so so proud of you! You continue to inspire me to throw fear aside and go fo my dreams. You are fabulous and strong and a victor. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Zion

    I live in Berkeley after moving to the Bay from Austin, TX several months ago in the same fashion you did and I just want to say that you and your information and PadMapper tutorial rock like hell! Thank you for your energy and words.


  9. Zion

    I live in Berkeley after moving to the Bay from Austin, TX several months ago in the same fashion you did and I just want to say that you and your information and PadMapper tutorial rock like hell! Thank you for your energy and words.


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  12. Personality types

    Wow congratulations (belated) on getting up the courage to make the move. That really is a stressful challenge for an INTJ/INTP who is a strong introvert. You should be proud you did it though. I hope months later it’s working out well. If I know INTJ/INTP’s, once you’re there for a few months, it would be just as stressful to reverse it as you are firmly entrenched there.

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