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Why I Choose to Raise My Kids in San Francisco: Mariangela Mistretta

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

It was a foggy October afternoon in 2013 when we arrived in San Francisco. Me, my

husband Samuel, my daughter Daria, now 11, a stroller, a car seat and nine suitcases in a

large taxi. We were driving from the airport to the city, the place we were about to call

home. A few months earlier in Switzerland, where we were living, we had made a rather

quick decision to move to the Bay Area. New opportunities, a fresh start.

Our chatty driver seemed rather excited about our new adventure and was eager to inform

us about what to expect in San Francisco. He started with Karl the fog (the fog has a name?)

and the unique microclimates of the city. That dusky afternoon, jetlagged and quite nervous

about this new chapter of our life, having left behind family, friends, house, jobs, etc…, his

voice sounded like a remote buzz from the radio. My foggy brain was tuned into a different

frequency, “What if I don’t like it here? Do we have a plan B?”

Nine and a half years have now passed. We never needed a plan B, but rather a plan to

manage the volatile weather of City; the driver was right after all. Never forget to dress in

layers! Although our early days were filled with the classic funny or stressful situations that

occur when you move to another country/continent, we have been blessed with amazing

friends, caring neighbors, incredible teachers, and plenty of unexpected sunny days that’ve

brightened our way while we were adjusting to our new life. As they say, you need a village.

Potrero Hill is the neighborhood where we decided to settle down. Or rather the

neighborhood that chose us. It has the best weather, views, and atmosphere in the city; I

know my opinion is biased! Here our family grew as we welcomed our second daughter,

Eliana, seven, who today is a proud San Franciscan!

San Francisco made it easy to fall for her. I had already started romanticizing about the City

many years earlier while reading about its social movements, cultural movements, Kerouac

and Ferlinghetti. You can imagine how it felt to find out that Ferlinghetti lived in our

neighborhood on Wisconsin Street. I was meant to land right here in Potrero.

We’re delighted by the multicultural soul of this city. We, a multicultural family ourselves -

Italian, Swiss, and American - have found our tribe here. It is a comfortable environment

where dichotomies naturally coexist and become fertile ground for new ideas. There is a

reason that San Francisco has always been an incubator for innovation. Here different

backgrounds are welcomed, diversity is real, and inclusion is not just a word but an ideal

that people strive for. Lately even more so. In a world that is too often polarized and where

extremisms easily flourish, we are happy to raise our daughters in a city where

“compassion” is not just a word.

We know that San Francisco isn’t perfect and has serious issues that we all want to see

resolved. Our own neighborhood is no exception. But no place on earth is perfect. The cities

in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and France where we lived before moving to the Bay Area have

their own struggles. I hear people who have lost faith in the ability of San Francisco to shine.

The pandemic has hit the City hard. But this place is resilient. Its people know how to tap

into their shared sense of community to provide solutions. Here you can build communities

around a school, a neighborhood, a park, even around pets! In the other metropolises

where we have lived, individualism is more in vogue. We as foreigners (who is not a

foreigner in San Francisco?) have benefitted from San Francisco’s culture of mutual support.

This feeling of belonging is the premise for people to be happy and to thrive. This is possibly

the true reason why we love the City, and it makes us happy to know that our children are

immersed in this culture. Every time that I am on my way back from the airport and I start seeing the City’s unique skyline wrapped in Karl’s arms from the freeway, I feel grateful to live here.

Mariangela Mistretta

Mariangela has been living in Potrero Hill for 8 years with her family and has worked as an international journalist for over 20 years. She speaks English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. She is passionate and curious about different cultures. Storytelling and reporting are her main passions, with a focus on social issues.

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