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Oct 9, 2011 08:46 AM

Do I want to move to San Diego?

I'm about to (finally) finish up grad school and I've been browsing jobs mostly in CA, but also in other states. I have a few pretty good leads in San Diego, but I've never spent much time there before.

Do you like living in this area? How do you think it rates from a chow perspective? If it was you, and you had a *slightly* less exciting job opportunity in the bay area would you take that instead (because of the food/atmosphere)?

If it makes a difference, I would be near UCSD, so North of San Diego proper.

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  1. I've lived in both the Bay Area and San Diego, and for me (hands down) I'd rather live in SD.

    If the food scene is your #1 priority then you're going to be happier in the Bay Area. The food is more interesting, more innovative and overall quality of food and service is higher. The Bay Area does fine dining far better than SD

    If your #1 priority is your overall quality of life, then America's Finest City is the better bet. You may have to work harder to find the food and ingredients you want, but the trade-off is that you really learn your way around town and who the produers and vendors are that interest you. SD county has more farms than any other county in the U.S., the quality and availability of our raw ingredients is excellent. SD does bistro dining very well. We are also pretty much ground zero right now in the craft beer world.

    From the cultural and arts perspective, San Diego can compete well with the Bay Area and is only 90 minutes from LA. Do you want a higher degree of sophistication, or do you want an easy, laid-back, live and let live environment. Plus our weather is w-a-y better than the Bay Area. You can go to the beach in January and get a sun tan. You can go from the beach to the mountains in 45 minutes.

    Baja is only 30-60 minutes away from SD (depending upon where you live). Yes it's safe and some of the best eating in the area is in Baja norte these days. You can visit the Valle de Guadalupe for great wine tasting. V de G has been compared to where Napa was 20 years ago in terms of affordability and development.

    And since I'm probably considerably older than you ;-), I'd take the more exciting job. You've got to do what excites you. If you do, the rest will follow regardless of where you live. Good luck with your decision.

    8 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Interesting perspective, thank you so much!!

      1. re: DiningDiva

        Wow! I'm surprised at just how similar DD's response was to what I was going to write. I've also lived in the Bay Area and SD each for about a decade. I won't repeat what DD wrote but add that the one place where SD has a far more interesting drinking and dining scene is if you are a fan of beer. Not just 'beer' but really, really good, flavorful, sophisticated, creative beer, you will be in heaven in SD. As an example, San Diego breweries just took 20 medals at the recent Great American Beer Festival, more than Oregon and Washington combined. There's also a food scene developing in SD that pairs well with beer and tends to focus on farm-to-table cuisine, as DD pointed out. If you're a fan of wine and wine focused dining, you can't beat the Bay Area. But SD is leading the world in creativity and quality in beer right now and it's quite exciting to be in the middle of it.

        Good luck with whatever decision you make. Both are wonderful places.

        1. re: steveprez

          This is good to know -- the beer will be a huge selling point to my fiance :)

          1. re: steveprez

            I don't know how you can say this, unless you simply haven't been to SF lately. The Bay Area beer scene is very good, indeed. Russian River, Drake's, Marin, Magnolia are all top notch. 21st Amendment makes some very good beers, and bottle shops like City Beer have a great selection. Plus, you have Toronado, Rogue Public House, and Zeitgeist.

            San Diego has a lot of breweries, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily better than San Francisco. It's different.

            1. re: Josh

              I've lived in the Bay Area about a decade and travel there regularly on business and pleasure trips. I'm a big fan of 21st Amendment, Toronado (both SF and SD) and Russian River (which isn't really in the Bay Area, is it?). But you really can't compare the Bay Area, which has a few good breweries, to the SD craft brewing scene which has coalesced into more of an eco-system that you sometimes see in other industries (Napa in the 70s, Silicon Valley, Hollywood) where you have numerous breweries in close proximity, cross-sourcing, cross-fertilization and "competitive cooperation" which leads to tremendous creativity.

              This isn't just my opinion. Look at the GABF where SD took 20 medals (21 if you include Pizza Port San Clemente) and Bay Area breweries took just a few. Or look at the beer geek website "RateBeer" where people serious about beer rate the various craft beer offerings. An astonishing 20% of the Top 100 of 2011 were from SD breweries. SF Bay Area: Zero.

              Yeah, the Bay Area has a few good breweries but what's going on in SD right now is something special!

              1. re: steveprez

                I definitely think the local craft beer scene has helped to improve the quality of food in San Diego restaurants over the last few years. Gone are the days when people went out for a beer and pizza. Nowadays, it has to be the right beer, with the right pizza (or burger), at least among people I know. I realize it's just a start, but Im loving that San Diegans have become more sophisticated with food and alcohol. And the fact that our beers are getting national recognition makes it even sweeter!

                1. re: hungerpane

                  I hope that's true, but IMO there's a bit of a "gold rush" vibe to the whole thing. I've eaten at almost all of the newer gastropub-type places, and there aren't many I'd be compelled to return to.

                  One aspect of this I find particularly troubling is that as the beer scene explodes, and people see money to be made, you see a proliferation of second- and third-tier beers being served around town, presented as something quality because they are local, as though there was some kind of magic that makes any beer from San Diego good.

                  While we do have a number of great breweries, not all of our breweries rise to that level, nor are they all similarly blessed with talented brewers (without naming names).

                  So while I do agree it's a good sign that there seems to be more demand for quality, I am troubled by what seems to sometimes be an over-eagerness to see any place serving rustic food and craft beer as high-quality. Hence my gold rush comment above. I think it will take a little time to see which of these places can last.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I am curious to know if you are looking for a job in industry, or a postdoc. If it is the former, I can't help you :) If the latter, then I was in your position 15 months ago. My advice would be: go where the science is best. All other concerns should be secondary. This from someone who lives and breathes food.

            13 Replies
            1. re: shouzen

              Looking for a postdoc, so I'm sure the decision will mainly be based on the science. I guess I just wanted to hear that San Diego isn't some kind of foodie wasteland. If it came down to two labs of similar caliber in different cities, I would definitely consider the locations when comparing them.

              1. re: LabLady

                San Diego is not a foodie wasteland. It's not the Bay Area, but it's not a desolate food destination

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  It sounds pretty good from your description, actually! I'm getting the impression that it is a good city for food/drinks, just in a more casual way than SF. Casual probably suits us better anyway.

                  1. re: LabLady

                    Casual? We luvs us some casual in SD. If it helps, there are 785 burger joints in San Diego. Of those 785 places, 783 of those received some form of "Best Burger in San Diego" accolade last year. San Diego has a 25:1 ratio of residents to taco shops, more farms than tables, 582 places that serve some form of truffle oil fries, and there are more than 60 food trucks that you will probably never see unless you work in an office park.

                    If that is not enough, craft beer establishments breed like rabbits in SD, we are on pace for 2 new gastropub openings a week for the next 2 years, and most SD bartenders can text 45 WPM on their iPhones while ignoring you. To seal the deal - by the end of 2012 - we will have 8 restaurants named after a fabric (and I still think pork pie hat is a fabric). :)

                    Did anyone mention 360 days a year of flip-flop weather?

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Yeah. That one gave me chuckles too. :)

                  2. re: LabLady

                    If science was equal, and it was a decision between SF and SD, I'd have to go with SF (too bad none of the labs I was interested in were in SF). That being said, we are fairly happy living here. SD is a much better place than MANY other places in the country, all things considered. And hey, it's only a few years!

                    1. re: shouzen

                      yes, my reaction was "ya could do worse" a heck of a lot worse

                      1. re: hill food

                        besides if you get bored with SD (doubtful) you can eat the abundant veggies from Imperial and Riverside Counties and then with the money you saved, if you shop around do a cheap 40 minute flight up to SF for a day trip lunch 'n' dinner out once in a while.

                    2. re: LabLady

                      If you are looking for a postdoc than food shouldn't really play a role in your decision as you won't have much time for restaurants anyway (We never had so much processed food/junk food as during our postdoc time in SD). Choose your location based on science, recognition of your PI and network possibilities as they are key for your future career in industry or academia

                      1. re: LabLady

                        I would put education first, then the food. You won't starve in SD and can find enough decent food to satisfy you while you're here. If you can't find what you want to eat, then you can always learn to cook it. Can't quite say the same for education...

                        1. re: daantaat

                          True, but it's not like the education is exactly lacking in SF...

                          If cost of living isn't too much of an issue for OP, and if the educational opportunities are roughly on par with eachother, it's largely a lifestyle choice, I think.

                    3. If you're in any major city on the west coast you can always find good food so I would consider weather and culture as the two most important differences between SD and SF. If you love to eat outside and do lots of physical activities then SD is the place. If you want to eat in art museum cafes and spend hours at bookstore/coffee shops then SF is the one. I've lived in both, and if it wasn't for the quakes and cost of living I'd be in SF, even though SD is an easy place to live.

                      1. Few people will disagree that the Bay Area is food friendlier, but living in San Diego, you have access to good ingredients. If you plan on dining out often, and it is a top priority, SF proper is probably a better bet for you. Also, if you're a person who prefers a somewhat urban energy over a more laid back one, SF is also preferable in that regard.

                        Politically, SF is also much more liberal, so if that matters to you, then there's that.

                        That said, SD is a lovely place to live. I lived in the UTC area, and that's about 20 minutes from Hillcrest, which has pretty decent eats, and a fairly liberal vibe.

                        Since I cook a lot of my meals, for me, all other factors aside, the decision between these two places would come down to urban vs. laid back vibe, weather, and political climate.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: inaplasticcup

                          San Francisco's ingredient access seems much broader and deeper than we have here. They have great produce, AND great wine, AND lots of ranching. So they not only have the produce, they also have meat. AND wild mushrooms.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Oh, no doubt. Foodwise, SF is superior in every way, IMO. I just wanted to let OP know that it's not a total food desert out here. Good ingredients can be gotten with minimal trouble.