Moving Here

Moving to San Francisco

Your first decision is what you want to bring with you versus what you will simply replace when you get here.

If you decide to hire a moving company, start the process as early as you can, and get estimates from two or three companies. Estimates should be free, and online reviews can be helpful. Packing your belongings into boxes yourself can cut down on costs, and there will be varying levels of insurance that you can elect to purchase. In general, we would recommend using the more recognizable van lines that have offices across the country.

If you’re moving cross-country, it will be a 2-3 week process from loading to delivery. Generally the mover will initially provide a 2 week “spread” for estimated delivery, and then a more precise date as delivery approaches. This is why planning ahead is vital. Tipping the movers is appreciated, but not necessarily expected.

Ikea, Costco, and Target (among others) are options for starting over. You may benefit from renting a truck for the day to pick up all of your new furniture, if you don’t have any friends with trucks/vans.

Once you have a San Francisco address, you can arrange for water, garbage, and Pacific Gas and Electric before you arrive, as necessary. Don’t forget about getting a California driver’s license, registering to vote, and banking. See the Services section on our website for more info.

Several interns highly endorsed moving out to San Francisco in early June, rather than mid-June, which allows plenty of time to get settled & get to know the city.

For anyone moving from outside of the country, in general, customs is difficult.

Services and Utilities

Driver License
See our section on Commuting/Parking below. Visit the DMV website for detailed info. Definitely make an appointment or you'll be waiting in line for 3 hours.

San Francisco has the usual array of major banks. Best represented in number of branches and ATMs are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Washington Mutual.

Internet, TV, and Phone
Comcast can provide cable TV, internet, and/or phone. AT&T can provide internet and/or phone service. Satellite TV via Direct TV or Dish Network may or may not be an option where you rent or buy.

Electricity and Gas
To start service for your new home or apartment, you will need to contact Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).

In San Francisco, landlords are responsible for arranging garbage collection. If you purchase a home, you will need to contact Sunset Scavenger AKA Golden Gate Disposal to arrange for weekly collection.

Commuting and Parking

San Francisco is a beautiful compact city with lots of ways to get to work. Many residents own a car, but others manage to piece together a combination of public transportation, bicycling and walking to complete their commutes.


Public transportation is generally good in the Bay Area. A great general resource for those of your considering public transportation is, which is a nice overview of the transit options in the area. The Transit Trip Planner there will rapidly tell you which buses/trains are available to get you to any destination in the Bay Area.

MUNI buses, light rail, subway, and cable cars will transport you throughout the city. Monthly passes can be purchased for your Clipper Card or you can load cash onto the card. Each ride is $2.00 (which allows for transfers). If you don’t have a card you need exchange change.

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) will get you out to the surrounding communities including Daly City, Oakland, and Berkeley, the airport, and further. When you enter the BART station you must buy your ticket immediately from a ticket machine. You will receive a small card that you insert into a machine marked “enter”, keep it until you arrive at your destination. When you leave the BART station, you insert the card again in the machine marked "exit". If there is any money left on your card, it will be returned to you, otherwise, the machine will keep your card. BART and MUNI are designed to transport people to and from downtown San Francisco; none of the three hospitals is located downtown.

On weekdays UCSF operates shuttles between the major campuses, although the hours of operation may or may not be convenient for early/late working housestaff.

Golden Gate Transit provides ferry and bus service between Marin County and San Francisco.

Cal Train, a high-speed diesel rail service, serves the peninsula from San Francisco to San Jose.

For those of you who are planning on having a car, you’ll need to plan ahead. The California DMV is a necessary resource.

1. Smog Check
You will need this before registering your vehicle if you bring your own car. You can do it at most gas stations, look for an official “Emission Control” sign. Expect to pay $35-50. If your car does not have a California emissions control system, you may have to pay $300 in fees or have your car retrofitted.

2. Make a DMV Appointment
At the DMV you can:
a. Get your license
b. Change your car title to your name
c. Get your Registration
(see below)

You'll need separate appointments for each of these steps, and the ideal is to schedule them back to back, but if that is not possible, you can often get them on the same day. One resident reported she took her license test in the morning, had lunch on Haight Street, and then came back in the afternoon for her registration. So plan on making an (extremely productive) day of it, either way.

You can make appointments ONLINE ( The DMV offices are located at:
1377 Fell Street
SF, CA 94117
(415) 557-1179

1500 Sullivan Ave.
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 994-5700

Keep in mind that they book 10 or so people for the same appointment time, so don’t be in a rush.

a. Get your California Driver’s License
Your out-of-state driver's license is valid for only 10 days. If you come from another state, you will need to pass a written test for a California license. If you come from another country, you will need to pass a written test and a road test. The driver’s handbook PDF is available on the DMV website, and we recommend looking it over before your test.

Even if you do not drive, you may obtain a photo I.D. card ($6) that will be useful for financial transactions. Be advised it takes around four weeks to receive your California license. Your old license will be invalidated, so you will need to have other means of identification in the meantime (a temporary license will only meet driving needs).

b. Change your car’s title to your name
If you are driving mom and dad’s car, make sure you get them to change the title to your name. This will be important when trying to get a parking permit.

c. Register your vehicle
You must register your car with the state within 20 days if you brought it with you from another state and within 30 days if you bought it here. Failure to do so can result in a penalty and other legal difficulties. Registration can be accomplished at DMV offices listed above.

3. Car Insurance
Many residents recommend getting insurance that covers theft/breaking into your car.

4. Parking
a. public parking lot in front of hospital
Free: 4:45pm-8:00am if you show your badge. Also weekends (Friday 4:45p-8am on Monday) and UC holidays. Need to show your ID badge.

b. Permit lot on Parnassus
Entrance on
Irving under ACC bldg
$101/month, prorated if you purchase after the 1st of the month
Can enter 24hr/d
Buy pass by going to the parking office at G level of Milberry Union

c. Dayfloat
Free parking with passes handed out by the CR

d. 55 Laguna permit lot
Cheaper, but further away, need to depend on shuttle service
Cost: $41/mo
Buy pass by going to the parking office at G level of Milberry Union

Cost: $100/mo
Park in parking structure 1st day, get your permit validated
Get your permit in parking structure on 23rd street
Can park on street and walk, use escort service (go to front desk and they drive to your car)

cost 12.50/month
get parking permit at the cashier's office.
no cost for overnights

Most neighborhoods require permits to park long term. Temporary 24 hour passes are available (good for visitors). However, even with permits it's difficult to leave your car somewhere and forget about it for a week. Once or twice-weekly street cleaning occurs on most San Francisco streets, and unless you have hundreds of dollars to spare, familiarizing yourself with your neighborhood's street cleaning patterns is well advised.

Permit parking
To get a residential permit to have preferential parking in your neighborhood, you can submit an application either by mail or in person at the Residential Parking Permit office at 1380 Howard Street. Applications and instructions are available online at

When going to purchase your yearly neighborhood parking permit, make sure you have: a copy of your car's registration, the car's title in YOUR name, and another piece of documentation that proves you live at your current address (bank statement, cable bill).
Without these three pieces of documentation, they will not issue the permit.

The cost is generally around $60/year, and extends from November to November.

If you are someone who wants to avoid the hassle of owning a car but still wants the convenience of occasionally have a car available, car sharing may be a nice option. There are several car sharing companies in the city, which offer different combinations of hourly rates, monthly payments, and membership fees. Each company has "pods" where cars can be picked up and returned throughout the city.

City Car Share

Zip Car

Flex Car

Biking to work is a great way to avoid the expense and hassle of driving and build in meditation and exercise into your day. Some residents have managed to avoid owning/dealing with cars altogether throughout their residency, so know that it can be done!

A few great resources for bicycling in the city include the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the UCSF bicycling resource page.

1. Where to Get a Bicycle (cheap)
Get your UCSF discounted San Francisco Bicycle Coalition membership to get discounts at local bike shops - often up to 10% off.

American Cyclery
510 Frederick St @ Stanyan
& 858 Stanyan St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 664-4545

Pedal Revolution (Used)
3085 21st St
SF, CA 94110
(415) 641-1264

Valencia Cyclery
1077 Valencia St @ 22nd
SF, CA 94110
(415) 550-6600

Missing Link
1988 Shattuck Ave @ University
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 843-7471

2. Where to Park your Bike
For Bike cage keys, see Resident Coordinator (206-8317) in 5H22.

For Bike cage keys, you will need a photo ID, bike make, model, and serial number to REGISTER your bicycle (which can help you if it gets stolen). The serial number can be found between the two tires, or next to the wheel hub. (See for details)

Go to Milberry Union room G26 with this information; you will register your bicycle and receive a bike cage key for a three dollar deposit

Outside, no bike cage.

3. Where to Wash off the Sweat
The ED. Just kidding.

Milberry Union.

ICU call rooms, or women's locker room on the first floor.

4. How to Avoid the Hills
See the SF Bicycle Coalition topographic map to plan your trip and involve as many valleys as humanly possible.

The other option is to combine your bicycle commute with a helpful ride on public transit. See below for public transit's policies on bicycles.

Muni encourages bicycle riders to use the exterior bike racks provided on most of their lines. All newer diesel and trolley Muni buses have front-loading bike racks able to hold two bikes each. (except the 6 and 41 buses) Historic Streetcars, Cable Cars, and Muni Metro Light Rail Vehicles do not have bike racks, nor do some older vehicles; you may not bring bicycles on board.
Bikes are allowed on all trains, on any car, except the first of the train. Bicycles are not allowed during peak commute hours (Weekdays approximately 7:05 to 8:50 am and 4:25 to 6:45 pm.), with exception of Embarcadero station for trips to the East Bay. Folded bicycles are allowed at all times.
Caltrain/Golden Gate Transit/Sam Trans
Allows bikes on all trains (first come, first served).

5. Emergency Ride Home
Take advantage of the "Emergency Ride Home" program, which provides a $50 subsidy for anyone who is commuting by public transport, bike or walking and not able to use that mode to go home because of an emergency. In these situations, you can ride a taxi, rent a car and have the cost of this trip reimbursed by the UCSF Rideshare program. Chris Weeks must approve all reimbursement requests at Transportation Services 415 475 1513.