Forgot password?

Living in San Francisco?

Join InterNations to meet other expats where you live and read more articles like Living in San Francisco with relevant information for expats.

Raul Gonzales

Living in USA, from Spain

"Thanks to InterNations, I quickly found useful tips of where to search for a flat. And I met great global minds at the same time."

Li Wang

Living in USA, from China

"As I already connected with several Chinese women before moving to San Francisco, I quickly felt at home here."

InterNations - a community of trust

San Francisco at a Glance

Living in San Francisco

Many expats dream of living in San Francisco, with its liberal spirit and welcoming atmosphere. Still, life in San Francisco has its ups and downs. Read all about San Francisco in our city guide, and learn about education, health, and the much-dreaded apartment hunt.

In the 1950s, San Francisco first became known for its liberal character due to people like Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, who were living in San Francisco at the time. The summer of love cemented this image in the 1960s, closely followed by the civil rights movement. But the City by the Bay is not just about this liberal lifestyle, the Hippies of yore, or today’s "hipsters".


While living in San Francisco, you may occasionally experience earthquakes. This happens every now and then because the city is located just over the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault is a continental transform fault which forms the boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. The entire fault runs 800 miles along the length of California, from Salton Sea in the South to Cape Mendocino in the North.

Around the Bay Area several sister faults run side by side. They can cause significantly destructive earthquakes. In 1906, for instance, a major earthquake and subsequent fires destroyed most of the city. Lots of people became homeless or lost their lives. The USGS has a fault map for the region and is also the place to refer to for earthquake warnings.


In the United States education is organized on three administrative levels. On the federal level, there is the Department of Education, which delegates most authorities to the various State Departments of Education. The latter often leave lots of the decision-making to elected Boards of Education on a local or district level.

Schooling (which may include homeschooling) is compulsory for all children living in San Francisco and elsewhere in the US. Aside from schools for children between the ages of 5 and 18, there are no government-sponsored childcare facilities. Private nurseries and pre-schools are available, of course.

Public Schools

The San Francisco School district (SFUSD) is the eighth largest school district in California and hosts over 55,000 students each year. Visit the website of the SFUSD for a complete list of public schools, including early education schools, elementary schools, and middle and high schools. There, you will also find the contact information of all administration offices.

The interactive school selector will help you to find a school for your children while living in San Francisco. Here you can also make enquiries for information on enrollment requirements. For instance, all children who are enrolled in grades 7 to 12 need to show proof of a pertussis (“whooping cough”) booster shot and other vaccinations.

However, the San Francisco School District is only one of nine school districts in the entire Bay Area. If you do not plan on living in San Francisco itself, your child may have to attend a school in a different Bay Area School District.

Independent Schools

Aside from the many public schools, there are also several independent schools for children living in San Francisco, with some international schools among them. If you want your child to receive an international education or to attend a school with a specific educational concept, like Waldorf education, one of these schools may be the right choice for your life in San Francisco:

Is sending your child to a public or international school the right choice? What about homeschooling? Our articles in the Family, Children, and Education section of the USA Extended Guide have helpful information on childcare in the US as well as the different types of schools and universities.

InterNations Expat Magazine