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Navigating San Francisco's Dating Culture: Tips, Trends, and Insights

From its bohemian roots to its hippie era to the most recent cyberculture, the Bay’s long-rooted culture of openness and idealism is influencing dating in surprising ways.

A look at San Francisco's cultural past

Writer and poet Allen Ginsberg came to San Francisco during the 1950s. He met a group of other poets who would eventually become the core of the Beat Generation. The “Beats” offered a sense of freedom and genuine curiosity unrivaled in postwar literature. And before long he put the city on the world’s counter-cultural map with his works being published alongside Jack Kerouac. The Beat poets encompassed all races, genders, religions, classes, and sexual preferences.

Following the Beat Generation were the hippies and subversive visionaries they inspired. Steve Jobs, a self-identified child of the sixties counterculture “borrowed” Kerouac’s writings for an Apple commercial. Jobs attributes much of his success to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco communities in which he spent his early years. 

Surprisingly, the romantic utopian culture of the 1960s, with its skepticism about modernity and its mechanisms, is strongly linked to one of the biggest technological revolutions in the last century.

One of the people that bridged the gap between hippie communes and tech experimentation was Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog, published in 1968. His catalog was essentially a tool for organizing the world’s information. Even Jobs pointed out, “The Whole Earth Catalog … was one of the bibles of my generation … it was a sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along.” 

The idea of a new world in which information could cross barriers of geography and be shared with anyone, anywhere, was hugely inspiring to local computer scientists, specifically scientists at Stanford University who were working on developments in personal computing, laying the groundwork for the current Silicon Valley environment. Momentum carried into the dot com boom of 1998-2001 and hasn’t slowed since.

From The Whole Earth Catalog to Google, you will see the common thread between counterculture and cyberculture – the inspiration to change the world. Some say today's tech culture is a direct descendant of the hippy movement. The techies have much more wealth and don’t follow a counter-culture, but similar to hippies, they hold the same social mission to transform the world, but with technology. Likewise, many of tech’s biggest leaders, such as Google, follow principles that guided the hippie movement, such as personal growth, and a mix of work and play. 

What is San Francisco's dating culture like today?

The culture in San Francisco has changed dramatically over the years and it has influenced dating in surprising ways. For example, the recent tech boom caused a mass migration of singles moving to Silicon Valley to become the next "disruptor" and make millions. The city held an air of excitement created by a large group of visionaries. While this still may remain somewhat true today, it does not hold the power it used to as major tech companies are expanding their operations to other cities or moving away from San Francisco altogether. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the city's demographics, with many people leaving the city or changing their living situations.

With that being said, San Francisco still remains one of the most open-minded and diverse dating cultures in the country which can positively impact the dating scene as people have more opportunities to meet a wider range of people. In terms of political ideology, San Francisco is known for its liberal leanings. According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, 67% of San Francisco residents consider themselves to be "somewhat" or "very" liberal, compared to 20% who consider themselves to be "somewhat" or "very" conservative. In the 2020 Presidential Election, San Francisco voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, with 87.3% of voters supporting the Democratic ticket.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco has a population of 883,305 people, with the median age being 40 years old, and the largest ethnic groups including White (41.9%), Asian (36.4%), Hispanic or Latino (15.0%), and Black or African American (5.1%). The most common religions include Roman Catholic (23%), Protestant (16%), and a whopping 44% stated having no religious beliefs at all. The city has a male-to-female ratio of 49.5% male, and 50.5% female tipping the scales slightly in favor of men. According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau, 46.8% were unmarried (never married, divorced, or widowed).

According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is $123,859, the median individual income is $72,569, and according to Glassdoor, the average salary is $101,000. Forbes states that San Francisco has one of the highest concentrations of billionaires in the world, with more than 90 billionaires residing in the city as of 2021.

San Francisco has a highly educated population, with 59% of residents holding at least a bachelor's degree and 28% holding a graduate or professional degree. This is likely due to the city's strong emphasis on technology, innovation, and higher education, as well as its reputation as a hub for creative and intellectual pursuits.

Is San Francisco an easy place to date?

According to the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau, the marriage rate is 4.8 per 1,000 population. This is lower than the national average marriage rate of 6.5 per 1,000 population. In other words, over half of the population is single (55.5%). On average, men marry at age 34 and women at age 32. This is slightly higher than the national median age at first marriage, which is 31 years for men and 29 years for women. The lower marriage rate average and the higher median age at first marriage is due to a variety of factors including:

  • Cost of living: San Francisco is known for having a high cost of living, which may make it difficult for some couples to afford the expenses associated with a wedding and married life.
  • Career focus: San Francisco is also home to many tech companies and startups, which may attract individuals who prioritize their careers over starting a family.
  • Diversity and progressive values: San Francisco has a diverse population and is known for its progressive values. This may lead to a greater acceptance of alternative lifestyles and family structures beyond traditional marriage.
  • Delayed marriage: Nationwide, the average age of first marriage has been increasing in recent years, and this trend may be even more pronounced in San Francisco, where many individuals may prioritize personal and career development before settling down.

There are several other statistics to consider when evaluating whether San Francisco is a good city for dating. For example, the number of bars and restaurants in a city can impact the dating scene, as these are common places for people to meet and socialize. San Francisco has a vibrant restaurant and bar scene, with many options for socializing and dating. Second, a city with a diverse population may offer more opportunities for dating and meeting people from different backgrounds. San Francisco has a diverse population, with a mix of ethnicities, cultures, and religions. And third, while the overall gender breakdown may be roughly equal, the gender ratios in certain age groups may be more heavily skewed towards one gender or the other. This can impact dating opportunities, especially for those seeking partners within a certain age range. In 2019 the estimated population of males aged 30-49 in San Francisco was approximately 100,800, while the estimated population of females aged 30-49 was approximately 97,000. This gives a male-to-female ratio of approximately 1.04 in this age group.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have more questions? Check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about dating in San Francisco. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Is San Francisco good for dating?

Yes, San Francisco is great for dating! With the city offering a vibrant social scene with great restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, there is plenty of opportunities to meet other singles.

Is San Francisco a good place for singles?

Yes, San Francisco is a good place for singles. Around half of the population is single, with an almost 50/50 male-to-female ratio. Furthermore, San Francisco singles are educated with high-income jobs. San Francisco has one of the highest concentrations of billionaires in the world, with more than 90 billionaires residing in the city as of 2021.

Is it hard to date in San Francisco?

No, dating in San Francisco is not hard but it does pose some challenges. The number of singles combined with the city's vibrant restaurant and bar scene, with many options for socializing and dating, makes San Francisco one of the top dating cities in the country. However, San Francisco is known for having a high cost of living, which may make it difficult for some couples to afford the expenses associated with dating. Furthermore, San Francisco is home to many tech companies and startups, which may attract individuals who prioritize their careers over starting a family.

Where do singles meet in San Francisco?

Many San Francisco singles use dating apps, dating websites, and professional matchmakers to date. San Francisco also has a vibrant social scene with plenty of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and festivals.

Taylor Wade

Taylor is one of the founders of Ambiance Matchmaking. She now dedicates her time to curating content for our community through her podcast and blog. Writing and podcasting is the art of great story-telling. As a relationship writer and editor, she has always sought to capture the reality of the dating experience, full of drama, friction, and joy. The best mind is an open mind, so she specializes in asking questions and approaching a story without preconceptions.

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