Saying Goodbye. Again.


December was a record month. I’ve said goodbye to five different households of friends and neighbors. Two more are on the fence – and the fence is leaning precariously. I’m pretty aggressive when it comes to reaching out and making new friends. I practically drag people off the street and force them to eat dinner in my kitchen. But even I can’t make friends fast enough to keep up with the attrition. San Francisco is a tough town these days, even for the comfortably prosperous.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 7.54.20 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 7.49.12 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 7.52.49 AM

No, this isn’t going to be another tiresome rant against the evils of bubble capitalism run amok. Nor will it be an affirmation that the city is a temporary stop between college and childbirth as people make their inevitable way towards the cul-de-sacs of Real Life.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 7.52.21 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 7.50.35 AM

Instead, I’m asking questions. First, where are these people moving to? In these five cases: Seattle, Washington. St. Petersburg, Florida. New Orleans, Louisiana. Toledo, Ohio. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Second, what are their new neighborhood destinations like? In short, a place that comes close to the qualities they love about San Francisco, but at a lower price point: older, funkier, walkable, mixed use, and lively. It seems that almost every city in America has a tiny sliver of pre-World War II Main Street urbanism left in a little pocket somewhere. And that’s where these folks are headed.

John Sanphillippo lives in San Francisco and blogs about urbanism, adaptation, and resilience at He's a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, films videos for, and is a regular contributor to He earns his living by buying, renovating, and renting undervalued properties in places that have good long term prospects. He is a graduate of Rutgers University.