We were in San Francisco on a family visit and neighborhood vetting tour recently. You can't go home again, but, seeing the city from an expat's perspective, I understand now why people enjoy living there, despite the cost of living (though you can argue that London and Tokyo would be worse).
What I loved:
- Considerably less traffic than I expected. Now, we drove during non-commuting hours and stayed in a residential neighborhood, but not once did I get the blood boiling sensation I get in Chicago or L.A.
- Great food can be found in holes-in-the-wall for very reasonable prices
- California chill-out attitude
- The cool little playground the kids and I frequented almost every day while we were there
- Dogs everywhere
- All of the renovations going on in Golden Gate Park. The massive Children's Playground at the east end is getting some groovy stuff in. If they still had the equipment that I used to climb on 30 years ago, I would be concerned.
What I didn't love:
- The insularity of the natives (best place to live according to you)
- The pushing out of lower income residents
- Ugly residential architecture
- Goofy public school lottery system
- Overall lack of diversity from a socioeconomic standpoint
That being said, I'd still want to move back if given the chance.