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How does Sacramento compare to its frenemy to the west? Here’s our take.
When it comes to parking, paying your mortgage or picking up last-minute dinner reservations, would you rather be in Sacramento or San Francisco? Yeah, us too. Sacramento is a standout city-one that's been in The City's shadows for far too long. Prepare to be surprised, pleased and totally fulfilled by how good we have it here in the 916.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
When it comes to food, Sacramento has a lot on its plate.
SACRAMENTO IS AMERICA’S FARM-TO-FORK CAPITAL
SF restaurateurs pride themselves on their locally sourced food scene. But without us, their pickings would be slim. That’s because a lot of what they serve comes from our local farmers. In the Sac region, 70 percent of the land is agricultural, and there are more than 7,500 acres of boutique farms. Our production, climate and farm-to-table distribution put the Bay Area (and the rest of the country) to shame.
IT’S WAY CHEAPER TO DINE HERE
Compare Bandera in Sacramento to Hillstone in San Francisco: Both are owned by the same company and serve very similar menus. The house-smoked salmon and grilled artichoke starters cost $1 more at Hillstone. The same housemade margarita is $1 more, too. We also did the math on their wine lists. The average bottle of wine at Bandera is $47.73. The average at Hillstone is $66.35.
YOU WILL SPEND 35% MORE IN SAN FRANCISCO ON A DINNER FOR TWO AT A MIDRANGE RESTAURANT*
CALL ME MAYBE
When a new restaurant opens here, snagging a table usually is a breeze if you’re flexible. However, reserving a table at one of SF’s hot spots (old or new) is near impossible. At State Bird Provisions (winner of Bon Appétit’s best new restaurant of 2012) in SF, reservations actually are impossible to secure: It deactivated its reservation system, because it’s booked solid for the foreseeable future.
WE’RE THE CAVIAR CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
The Wall Street Journal once proclaimed the Sacramento Valley “ground zero for caviar” because it produces 85 percent of all the white sturgeon caviar in the country. You’ll see a lot of that caviar atop SF’s most delicious dishes.
PASSMORE RANCH CALLS SACRAMENTO HOME
Some of the Bay Area’s top restaurants—AQ, Gary Danko and two-Michelin-star-rated Atelier Crenn—get their fish from the same Sloughhouse fish farm that supplies Sacramento restaurants such as Formoli’s Bistro and Ella Dining Room & Bar.
OUR BRIDGE ACTUALLY IS GOLDEN
When Sacramentans voted for the Tower Bridge to be painted gold, we really went GOLD. The Golden Gate Bridge, however, is decidedly orange. In fact, the color used to paint the Golden Gate Bridge is called International Orange. (Should you want to paint something the same shade, get yourself a can of Sherwin-Williams’ Fireweed. Just don’t call it gold.)
SACRAMENTO IS A BETTER PLACE FOR CONVENTIONS
According to former local tourism exec Leonard Hoops: “From a convention perspective, medium-sized groups feel like they ‘own’ Sacramento. They fill up downtown hotels and get street banners. In SF, that group is more than likely meeting in a single (albeit large) hotel and not getting any special treatment from a city perspective.”
VOTING WITH THEIR FEET
What do people who’ve lived and worked in both Sac and SF have to say about Sacramento?
“My restaurateur friends in San Francisco have voiced jealousy about the ease of doing business in Sacramento. The laws there regarding everything from labor to refuse can be quite intolerable and often put small businesses under. Factors such as these, coupled with high rent and inarguably some of the toughest competition in the world, make me quite grateful for my little neck of the ‘West K.’” —CARINA LAMPKIN, OWNER OF BLACKBIRD KITCHEN + BAR
“What I love about Sacramento is that everybody here really wants it to succeed. They want to stay because they know they can actually make it better. I also love the weather. I hated carrying around a sweater every day.” —ERIN BOYLE, OWNER OF SCOUT LIVING
“My wife and I moved back to Sacramento because we really wanted to be part of a close-knit community that our kids could grow up in. Although the job market wasn’t as strong as it was in the Bay Area, the cost of living, housing prices and weather here made Sacramento very attractive for us.” —RYAN WILGUS, D.D.S.
WE’RE CLOSER TO LAKE TAHOE
We can be on the slopes in 90 minutes. From SF, it can take well over three hours (with no traffic) just to get to Sugar Bowl.
San Francisco always is trying to pass crazy laws. There’s a reason the city is sometimes called Ban Francisco. In the past few years, it’s tried passing laws against circumcision, Happy Meals, homemade infused liquor, public nudity and pet goldfish. In 2010, SF voters passed an ordinance that restricted homeless people from sitting or lying down on public sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Repeat offenders could be fined up to $500. That’s more expensive than SF’s exorbitant parking tickets—and targets people with presumably no money!
FLY ME AWAY
When the weather is iffy, flying in and out of San Francisco International Airport can be a total crapshoot. As a result, its on-time arrival-and-departure stats are less than stellar. From January 2012 to November 2012, 26.59 percent of SFO’s arrivals and 23.92 percent of its departures were late. At Sacramento International Airport, only 14.27 percent of arrivals and 12.95 percent of departures were late. Bonus: Our airport food rocks. In November, the Airports Council International-North America recognized Sacramento International Airport with its Richard A. Griesbach Award of Excellence in the 2012 Airport Concessions Contest.
TARGET LOVES US
Until this past October, San Francisco had zero Target stores. Now it has one . . . we have five.
ONE GALLON, TWO CITIES
If you drive a midsize car with a 16-gallon gas tank, you’re saving more than $2 every time you fill up in Sac.
OUR MAYOR CAN BEAT THEIR MAYOR IN A GAME OF 1 ON 1
Although we don’t know San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s exact height, we do know that Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is 6 feet 1 inch tall—and he has a 12-year NBA career under his belt.
RIVER CATS VS GIANTS: CHANGE FOR YOUR 10-SPOT
Sacramento River Cats games are much more affordable than SF Giants games. At Raley Field, you can sit on the lawn for a cool $8. Bleacher seats for a Giants game can cost anywhere up to $53.25 depending on date, opponent and row, due to the team’s “blink and you’ll overpay” dynamic ticket pricing.
WE RUN SOME GREAT RACES
Our Run To Feed the Hungry may bring out fewer people than SF’s legendary Bay to Breakers, but at least there’s less nudity and puke on our streets. Many competitive long-distance runners also favor the California International Marathon in Sacramento over the San Francisco Marathon. Why? Fewer hills mean better times.
IN SF, PRIVATE SCHOOL CAN COST MORE THAN COLLEGE
Sending your daughter to Convent of the Sacred Heart Elementary School in San Francisco will cost you more than $25,000 per year. (Plus textbooks!) At Sacred Heart Parish School in Sacramento, the cost is $5,470 per year, max.
WE’RE NOT RIGHT ON A FAULT LINE
We all can sleep a little easier knowing that Sacramento is near zero major fault lines. SF is flanked by the San Andreas and Hayward faults, with more to the north and south.
TAKE THIS JOB
Employees at Bay Area tech firms work late nights and weekends. People who work at the state Capitol have been known to get Fridays “off.” Not to mention the state’s benefits.
THE CROCKER ART MUSEUM HAS SENIORITY
Our beloved museum is the longest continuously operating art museum in the West—and its new modern wing outshines the de Young or SFMoMA.
SACRAMENTANS ENJOY FOUR SEASONS
Warm, green springs; hot, dry summers; brisk, colorful autumns; and cold, rainy winters. Save for its “Indian summers” (which typically last just a few weeks), San Francisco usually is foggy and chilly. Hence, the famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”
HOME SWEET HOME
When it comes to real estate, you get a lot more bang for your buck in Sacramento. How much more? We asked two agents—Tom Gonsalves of Sacramento’s Gonsalves Real Estate Properties and Jesse Fowler of San Francisco’s Brown & Co. Real Estate—to compare and contrast their respective markets. No surprise: Sacramento blows the roof off San Francisco.
WHAT YOU GET FOR $250,000
Here: “In areas like Natomas, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and Citrus Heights, you can get a nice-sized home with at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms and around 2,000 square feet.”
There: “In San Francisco, there is a limited number of homes listed at around $250,000, and they typically have incredible deferred maintenance with defects, such as brick foundations that must be cured at a substantial cost. Typically, they are also in less-desirable neighborhoods.”
PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT IN DESIRED NEIGHBORHOODS
Here: “The average price per square foot in 95819 (East Sacramento) is between $270 and $310. If you get into the Fabulous 40s, it jumps to $450 to $590 per square foot.”
There: “In Noe Valley, the average home is 1,391 square feet and sells for $1,097 per square foot.”
WHAT $1 MILLION LOOKS LIKE
Here: “Right now, you can choose from homes that are all around 3,000 square feet with four to five bedrooms, three to four baths and about a quarter of an acre. For the most part, they’re updated to the nines, too.”
There: “During the past six months, citywide, the average three-bedroom home sold for $1,021,748.”
YOU DON’T HAVE TO HIKE UP A HILL TO GET TO THE NICE PART OF TOWN
In SF, Pacific Heights (operative word: Heights) is where you’ll find some of the city’s most beautiful homes—and steepest inclines. Our Fabulous 40s is on flat, pedestrian- and parking-friendly land.
OUR COFFEE CULTURE IS LESS PRETENTIOUS
Dare to drink anything but Blue Bottle Coffee in SF and risk getting serious glowers from others. Sacramento has exceptional local coffee roasters (Temple, Old Soul, Insight, Chocolate Fish), and there are plenty of Peet’s and Starbucks, too.
8.5% vs 8.75% - Sacramentans pay less every day.
IT’S CHEAPER TO LOOK GOOD HERE
A comparison of service prices at comparable salons . . .
There: [Polished Lounge]: $19
Here: [Top Coat Nail Salon]: $15
There: [Bare by Tru]: $65
Here: [Mellow Me Out Day Spa]: $45
There: [Massage Envy]: $59
Here: [Massage Envy]: $49
There: [Crunch]: $6999 per month
Here: [Crunch]: $995 per month
There: [Aveda Hair Concept Salon]: $70 and up
Here: [Aveda Hair Concept Salon]: $45 and up
DON'T THINK YOU GOT WHAT WE DON'T GOT, SF:
Ice Cream Scene
Them: Bi-Rite and Humphrey Slocombe
Us: Vic’s, Burr’s, Leatherby’s and Gunther’s
Them: The Painted Ladies
Us: Midtown Victorians
Food Truck Festivals
Them: Off The Grid
’80s rock bands
Them: The Castro
Us: Lavender Heights
HITTING THE ROAD
Not only is San Francisco notoriously riddled with potholes, it’s also a really expensive (and often frustrating) place to own and drive a car. In Sacramento, you can steer clear of a lot of car-related drama.
Parking fines in SF can run you $72 or more, depending on when and where you park. In Sac, the same types of parking infractions cost $35 to $40.
“San Francisco rates are usually about 10 percent higher,” says Chris Boden of R.C. Boden Insurance. A 35-year-old female with no tickets who drives 12,000 miles a year can expect to pay an extra $150 to drive in SF.
There are only two bridges taking you into San Francisco, and each will cost you $4 to $6, depending on the day and time.
We’ll take our stretch over their stretch of Interstate 80 any day.
THE DAILY COMMUTE
Us: 23.6 minutes
Them: 29.5 minutes
That’s nearly an hour less driving time per week!