I love living in Stockton, but I’m still jealous of the Bay Area.

On most weekdays I commute two-and-a-half hours each way from Stockton to my job in San Francisco. I obviously really appreciate my Central Valley hometown — it’s cheap, there is more to do than you might think, and in general the people are warm and friendly.

But when it comes to life in the Bay Area, there’s a long list of things to be thankful for.

We put a call out on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus asking Bay Area residents what made them thankful to live in the region this holiday season. We received nearly 100 responses ranging from the sports teams (“2 World Championships in 3 years!!!” wrote Jason Resler, while Katyris Lynnell Byrd-Brumfield commented simply, “9ers!”) to plastic-bag bans (“Gosh, I love the message that sends!!! (totally serious)” wrote Gloglix del Kauffman).

You can read all the comments here. In general, most who responded said they were thankful for four aspects of Bay Area life.

THE DIVERSITY

The St. Mary's Girls Drum and Bell Corp. in the 2012 San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. Photo by Mark/Flickr.
The St. Mary's Girls Drum and Bell Corp. in the 2012 San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade. Photo by Mark/Flickr.

Walking down a San Francisco street you might hear a shopkeeper doing business in Mandarin, tourists describing attractions in German and schoolchildren gossiping in Spanish. The Census Bureau reports that more than 112 languages are spoken in the city, more than in almost any other American municipality. It shows how the Bay Area is “a land of people from all different backgrounds,” as Monika Gorkani described it on Facebook.

The region’s diversity might best be seen in its variety of dining, cultural enrichment and entertainment opportunities. You might spend a weekend in the Bay Area checking out Broadway shows, learning more about Asian art or sitting in on a lecture about Black history.

And chances are, you’ll be sharing those experiences with many other Bay Area residents who have similar backgrounds and interests. The region’s diversity means there are friends and groups here for pretty much everyone.

“Found our tribe right away upon moving here,” wrote Angela Lebakken on Facebook.

THE WEATHER

Don’t like today’s Bay Area weather? Walk a few blocks or wait a few minutes.

A sunset in the East Bay. Photo by Andrionni Ribo/Flickr.
A sunset in the East Bay. Photo by Andrionni Ribo/Flickr.

The region’s proximity to the ocean combined with its hills and valleys causes weather to vary from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood. It can be sunny and hot in San Jose while it’s chilly and overcast along San Francisco’s Embarcadero. There are so many climates in the city of San Francisco that one enterprising startup has developed an app that can tell residents how the weather might change if they walk from the Mission to Potrero Hill.

But there is one weather event that’s rarely seen in the Bay Area. And it’s part of the attraction for some who move from other parts of the country to the Bay Area.

It typically doesn’t snow here.

“All the sunshine and no snow!!” wrote Noelle Boehm of San Jose, describing what made her thankful to live in the Bay Area.

THE FOOD

Crabs at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Photo by Sherif Salama/Flickr.
Crabs at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Photo by Sherif Salama/Flickr.

The Bay Area is a foodie mecca. If you want lunch prepared by an American culinary pioneer, you can find it here. You can also enjoy fine Vietnamese dining as well a restaurant that’s been described as “culinary Everest.”

More of a beer-and-a-burger fan? We’ve got that covered too. The Bay Area has a diverse, vibrant culinary scene that draws praise from local residents while also attracting tourists. San Francisco, in fact, is home to more restaurants per household than any other city in the country, according to the real estate website Trulia.

“We’ve heard the tired knocks against us, that we’re snobs, smugly celebrating our seasonal supremacy,” wrote San Francisco magazine restaurant critic Josh Sens in Sunset magazine. “But consider this: When asked their reasons for visiting San Francisco, 94 percent of domestic travelers choose ‘dining out.’”

Having such a lively food scene does present some unique challenges to local residents, however.

“So many restaurants, so little time and money,” wrote Krissy Losik- Zaier on Facebook.

THE PARKS AND NATURAL SETTING

From the top of Mount Tamalpais to the beaches of Half Moon Bay, Bay Area residents said they’re thankful for the region’s natural riches. The area is home to dozens of parks and greenspaces, including more than 50 state parks. Many offer breathtaking views and opportunities for unique outdoor experiences. Cliff Jones wrote on Facebook that the Bay Area is home to “some of the most spectacular vistas.”

“It’s just so freaking beautiful,” added Jane Collins. ”I spent decades trapped in the stucco walls and traffic of L.A. The Bay area is paradise.”

What makes you thankful to live in the Bay Area? What did we miss in our list? Post a comment below and let us know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.buginas Kristen Buginas

    I hope you’re not actually diving 5 hours 5 days a week, that’s ridiculously irresponsible environmentally.

    • http://www.kqednews.org/ Ian Hill, KQED News

      It’s probably not good for my health either. But it’s what I can afford. And I’ve done the math – I wouldn’t save money living in the Bay Area.

    • Greg

      Obviously Ian loves the Bay Area but simply can’t afford it. Your comment is irresponsible and inconsiderate.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kristen.buginas Kristen Buginas

        No, Greg, there isn’t anything irresponsible about calling someone out on the environmental impact of their actions. I respect his response though; money puts us all in difficult positions. Your response, on the other hand, doesn’t add anything but nastiness.

  • http://twitter.com/tavisallen Tavis Allen

    Ian, your vehicle at least gets good gas mileage, I hope?

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