Profile: San Francisco, California
Population: 764,976 (San Francisco proper)
USDA Hardiness Zone: 10
Major Airports: San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Mineta San Jose International Airport
Companies With a Major Presence: Google, eBay, Yahoo, Facebook, Netflix, TiVo, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, Palm, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Chevron, Gap, Levi's, Genentech, Charles Schwab, Clorox, Cisco Systems, Adobe, Dolby, Electronic Arts, Peet's Coffee and Tea, Gymboree, McAfee, LeapFrog, Intuit, Wells Fargo, Safeway, Ross, Lucas Arts, Pixar
Since the days of the Gold Rush, people have made their way to the San Francisco Bay Area in droves. Then, they were drawn by dreams of striking it rich with nuggets of gold. Today, the region attracts people for a mix of reasons: its moderate climate, world-class dining, fine arts and culture, a reputation for progressiveness, the outdoors and, as before, the money, with San Francisco the financial hub of the West Coast and Silicon Valley a center for high-tech innovation.
If anything, the region is diverse. It is home to a vibrant and expansive immigrant community and one of the largest Asian-American populations in the nation, as well as a haven for gays, lesbians and transgender people. The Bay Area ranges from Marin County's woodsy retreat in the north to Oakland's urban culture in the east to the geeks developing the latest technology in Silicon Valley in the south.
The downside? Commutes can be long, with congested freeways and abundant amounts of traffic. Living in the Bay Area is also expensive, with the median cost of homes in some desirable neighborhoods surpassing $1 million.