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Eight hours in San Francisco's mission district

Eight Hours in San Francisco’s Mission District

Guide / Things to Do in San Francisco’s Mission District

Concerned by gentrification in San Francisco’s downtown Mission District, the city’s government debated an emergency 45-day moratorium on new construction earlier this month. The reason? To give breathing space to decide how to rescue this historic Latino enclave from being engulfed by latte-sipping, tech-working hipsters.

There’s nothing unique about the Mission — from Brooklyn to Brixton gentrification debates are being waged across the world. There is also nothing new about it; the New York Times was writing about “new people, people who have money… moving in [and] altering life for everyone” way back in 1999.

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Books new expats must read

Five Books New Expats Must Read (plus some recommendations from the Twittersphere)

What Are the Best Books for New Expats to Read?

There are numerous “how to” guide books for expats out there. They detail the finer points of moving overseas, from arranging international shipping to getting your taxes in order. While these texts have their moments — mostly explaining the minutiae of the endless visa forms an expat must complete — they don’t provide much practical assistance  and inspiration to expats in their new lives.

Here, then, are my top five books new expats must read.

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Guide to tipping in the USA

A Guide to Tipping in the United States: When to Give and How Much

America’s Tipping Culture Explained

America’s tipping culture is out of control.

Every time you eat in a restaurant, every time you buy a drink at a bar, every time you grab a coffee, get a haircut, ride a taxi, buy groceries… someone expects to be tipped.

It means that, almost entirely irrespective of quality, you must assume that all services are going to cost at least 15%, 20% and sometimes even more than the ticket price.

It is the obligatory nature of tipping in the United States that non-Americans, and particularly Europeans, find so hard to comprehend. Sure, my waiter took 20 minutes to take my order, forgot the water I asked for, gave me lukewarm food and dropped a knife into my lap when clearing my plate — but I still have to pay them extra? WHAT?

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California wine country tour

Eight Hours in Wine Country – San Francisco to Sonoma / Napa Wine Tour

Review – Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

As I write this I am sitting with a cool flannel on my head and my fourth coffee of the morning steaming by my side. Why? Because I spent yesterday’s holiday (it was Memorial Day here in the USA) touring Northern California’s valleys and consuming my body weight in wine.

Like me, you’ll probably have a few preconceived ideas of what a wine country tour is like: likely fairly sedate, enjoyed by a sophisticated older crowd and probably involving quite a bit of spitting perfectly good wine into a glorified metal buckets.

It turns out not all wine tours are like that.

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How big is the UK compared to California?

How Big Is the UK Compared to California? (And Nine Similarly Important Questions)

One thing that expats to the United States, especially from densely populated Europe, find difficult to comprehend is the sheer scale of the place.

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the United States is enormous. In fact, the USA is so big that the entire European Union (all 28 member countries) could fit inside it, twice.

My new home state, California, is (by population at least) the largest state in the union. But how does it compare to my native United Kingdom?

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moving abroad checklist

Moving Abroad Checklist — 10 Things to Consider before Moving Overseas

Every year tens of millions of people move across the world to call a new country home. They do so for a whole variety of reasons — for work, a lower cost of living, or a better quality of life. Whatever their reasons for emigrating packing up your life in one country and moving to another is a major undertaking.

Trust me — I speak from experience! In March 2015 my wife and I packed up our life in London, England and moved over 5,000 miles to San Francisco, California. You can read a little background to our story on the About page.

The key lesson I have learned from my experience? To move abroad successfully you must plan ahead. Every year embassies and consulates report having to help out their citizens because they’ve found themselves in financial hardship or run into legal troubles.

Your exact checklist will vary depending on where you are moving to and your specific circumstances. My wife and I have been quite fortunate: we didn’t own a home in the UK, we do not have children, and our parents are still spritely young things. However, if you’ve got assets or care obligations for example, your move may be more complicated.

Most moves will, however, require thinking about similar issues. What, then, were the 10 major areas on my moving abroad checklist?

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expat life in San Francisco

Nine Things I Wish I’d Known before I Became an Expat in San Francisco

In March, my wife and I packed up our life in London, England and moved 5,315 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to San Francisco, California.

Moving to a new city, let alone a new country, is a hugely exciting experience – new people, new culture, and new things to see, do and eat. But it also comes with a whole range of details to figure out and cultural quirks to get used to.

So, after nearly eight weeks in San Francisco, what are the nine things I wish I had known in advance?

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