Say what you will about the two rival cities, but it seems like a lot of our Bay Area friends are moving south to LA, and cheaper rent can't be the only reason. We talked to five ex-pats in the creative field who traded in San Francisco's hills for a little more sunshine, and asked them what they miss the most about the glorious Bay Area.


Melissa Fleis, Fashion Designer

Academy of Art University and Project Runway alum Melissa Fleis combines bold, architectural silhouettes with a modern, artisanal edge to make outfits for the contemporary woman.


7x7: How long did you live in San Francisco?

MF: Six years.


7x7: Why did you move to LA from SF?

MF: I moved from SF to LA in order to be closer to the garment industry as a whole. Production, material sourcing, and a larger studio space are much more accessible here in LA. The weather's not bad either.


7x7: What do you miss most about SF?

MF: I definitely miss the many friends and clients I made while living in San Francisco. I also miss walking around in my old neighborhood in the Mission, and being so close to Napa Valley.


7x7: What parts of LA remind you most of SF?

MF: Echo Park, Silver Lake, and the Downtown Arts District.


(Photography by Alex Thompson)

Van Pierszalowski, Lead Singer of WATERS

Van Pierszalowski grew up in Cambria (a small coastal town halfway between SF and LA). He started the band WATERS while living in San Francisco, and recently relocated to Los Angeles for the space, the cheaper rent, and the dream—but not the clean air.


7x7: How long did you live in San Francisco?

VP: Seven years total in the Bay Area. Three years in SF, four years in the East Bay.


7x7: Why did you move to LA from SF?

VP: There were a few reasons. For one, I needed to move into a new apartment and it was prohibitively expensive anywhere in the city. I also wanted a little dog, which complicated the apartment hunt. At the same time, so many of my friends were moving to LA and there really are so many more resources for musicians and artists here. Also, not gonna lie, I wanted a few more sunny days.


7x7: What do you miss most about SF?

VP: I miss so many things! I used to work at Four Barrel on Valencia, and I really miss all of those people. I miss the fog rolling over Twin Peaks. I miss Bar Tartine. I miss Sushi Zone. I miss the Apothecarium. I really miss being so close to Marin County wilderness. I miss surfing at Pacifica.


7x7: What parts of LA remind you most of SF?

VP: Well, its still California. I think the difference between the two cities is huge, but also maybe a little overblown. The people are similarly friendly and open. There's good food everywhere. Good coffee. And I hang with a lot of people from the Bay, so in some ways the transition has been smooth.


(Photography by Alex Thompson)

Kristen Liu­Wong, Illustrator

Born and raised in San Francisco, Kristen Liu­Wong attended school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Since graduating in 2013, she has shown extensively in numerous galleries on the East and West coasts. Her work blends everyday occurrences from her life with abstracted nightmares and crude humor.


7x7: How long did you live in San Francisco?

KL: 17 years


7x7: Why did you move to LA?

KL: I moved to LA because I wanted a change. I was born and raised in SF but I moved to Brooklyn for college and lived there for 6 years. My last winter there was brutal, and I got really depressed. I'd been showing in galleries in LA a lot, so I thought I might as well try living here.


7x7: What do you miss most about SF?

KL: Besides my friends and my mom? I definitely miss San Francisco's beauty.
Everything is just so picturesque. I grew up on Pacific Ave. by Nob Hill and Chinatown and there's this little park on a hill on Taylor St. that I used to sit in for hours if I was having a bad day.


7x7: What parts of LA remind you most of SF?

KL: I don't know if I've lived in Los Angeles long enough to make that call. They both have completely different vibes to me. Because I grew up in SF, which is a walking city, and then moved to Brooklyn where no one has a car, I still can't drive, which is definitely a handicap here in LA. All I see are differences at this point.


(Photography by Alex Thompson)

Andrew Schoultz, Artist

Through his paintings, drawings, murals, and installations, Andrew Schoultz uses symbols and iconography to illustrate the weightier issues of contemporary life in America. Although Schoultz exhibits in galleries and museums, he often works in large­scale installations and public murals with the intention of making his work available to the general public.


7x7: How long did you live in San Francisco?

AS: 16 years


7x7: Why did you move to LA?

AS: This is a very intricate and hard question to answer. I moved to LA from SF because, after living there for 17 years and somewhat making it as an artist, it still felt like I was being pushed out. I was constantly at risk of losing my work space. It started to feel like a less-friendly city for artists, musicians, and creative types. It was disheartening to watch all my friends and their businesses being pushed out and replaced by people and businesses who have no actual connection or commitment to the community that was San Francisco. I didn't want to sit around complaining about something I could not change, and I had done a lot of projects in LA. My quality of life here, as well as my family's, has increased exponentially. I was able to buy my house and I have a gigantic studio in a building that is half the price that I used to pay in SF for a tiny studio.


7x7: What do you miss most about SF?

AS: I largely miss getting burritos at places like El Farolito, Cancun, and El Castelito. I also miss being able to ride my bike anywhere in the city, and not have to rely on a car. I also miss my friends and community that still live in San Francisco.


7x7: What parts of LA remind you most of SF?

AS: I would say the neighborhood Boyle Heights on the east side of the city reminds me a lot of the Mission District 15 years ago and York Street in Highland Park reminds me a lot of Valencia Street 15 years ago. Otherwise, it's a very different vibe in LA then San Francisco. Things are a lot more spread out and unlimited here; There is a lot of space for everyone.


Mike Sempert, Musician

Mike Sempert is a songwriter/ composer/ producer best known as the band leader and singer for Birds & Batteries. After many years of making albums and touring the country with B&B, Mike took a break from the indie rock hustle to focus on other aspects of his life. He got a dog, moved to LA, and married his longtime love.


7x7: How long did you live in San Francisco?

MS: Eight years in the Bay Area. Four years in San Francisco, four years in Oakland.


7x7: Why did you move to LA from SF?

MS: I felt that there were more opportunities for me to earn a living with music in LA. I write and produce music for commercials and score films in addition to making my own albums.


7x7: What do you miss most about SF?

MS: My friends of course. We had to leave a really special community to start new in LA, but we've been fortunate to stay in touch with our buds and still visit when we can.


7x7: What parts of LA remind you most of SF?

MS: The two cities are completely unique in my mind. I suppose there are little pockets of Echo Park and even Pasadena that remind me of the Mission, mostly because of those Victorian Box trees.