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An Open Letter to People in SF and LA: Why I Live in Fresno

I visit SF at least once a month, lived in LA briefly, and visit LA once in few months as well. Every time I talk to people there and tell them that I am from Fresno, the reaction is worth noticing. "What's there? Why do you live there?"

Some facts: Fresno is in the Central Valley of California, with drive time to SF, LA, and Morro Bay within 3 hours. If California was a country it's GDP would be 5th largest in the world, and yes most of it is because of the farming in Central Valley. No, it's not because of Silicon Valley, this was still a fact back in 60s, 70s, and 80s before the Silicon Valley even existed.

People in SF believe they live in the best place on this Earth. That SF is above every city. Their view of Fresno only consist of just farmland and dairy farms with cows. It pretty well sums up everything that is wrong, tunnel-vision, and ignorance about what Fresno has to offer.

It is true that there are a lot of farms around Fresno in the Central Valley which supply food to not just SF and LA but entire US and all across the world. However, Fresno is far from just farmland.

The city of Fresno and surrounding cities have much to offer. You can have the best bread pudding at Charlotte's Bakery, Cronut (fusion between a croissant and donut) at Clovis Donuts, cake at La Boulangerie Bakery, Roasted Garlic appetizer and Ravioli at Fugazzis in Visalia, best Mexican food at Guadalajara in Fresno and Figaros Mexican Grill in Visalia and Hanford, the best ice cream made fresh at Superior Dairy in Hanford, the best tea at Teazers, amazing coffee at Kuppa Joy Coffee House in Clovis, and one of the most delicious burgers at Dog House Grill.

You can visit the Fresno Zoo, Underground Garden in Fresno, Woodward park with Japanese Garden, watch the beauty of granite cliffs at Yosemite, hike the Nevada falls and Vernal falls at Yosemite, walk among the giant tree at Sequoia National Park, visit the Crystal Caves at Sequoia National Park, have amazing chocolates at Reimers on Hwy 198 in Three Rivers, see big wild cats at the Cat Haven on Hwy 180 just before Kings Canyon, kayak on San Joaquin river and Kings river, go white water rafting on Kings river, go bicycling at old town Clovis trail, Woodward Park trail, and Auberry trail, hike to twin lakes above Shaver and Huntington lake (this is where you see pristine waters and hawks skimming the surface of the lake to catch fish), go boating at one of the 18 lakes near Fresno, and enjoy a relaxing evening at lost lake.

I visited Norway, and Norwegians love Sun Maid raisins, the huge Sun Maid factory is located just south of Fresno between Selma and Kingsburg.

Fresno consists of over 1000 Restaurants, over 140 Cafes, over 80 Bars, and over 30 Night Clubs. You can enjoy live music at Landmark and Kuppa Joy in Tower, checkout local art at Art Hop every first and third Thursday of the month, live plays at Woodward Park in summers, and live comedy at Tower District.

Moreover, you can get fresh vegetables and fruit and make your own gourmet dishes at home, pick your own grapes, peaches, and apricots for as low at 50 cents per lb and eat them fresh right away, and enjoy chilled watermelon on a hot summer day.

In winters, you can go skiing and snowboarding near Shaver lake and checkout snow covered mountains and go snowshoeing at Yosemite and Kings Canyon.

Seasonally, you can enjoy the Rogue Festival in the spring. It is the largest independent/fringe arts festivals in the country. In Fall, you can enjoy the Big Fresno Fair and the Renaissance Fair. During Halloween, you can enjoy Hobb's Grove, Haunted Fresno, and many other haunted houses. On the day of Halloween, you can dress up and participate among numerous people dressed up for the night at Tower District. During Christmas, you can walk the Christmas Tree lane that starts from Shields and Van Ness, and spans over a mile with beautifully decorated houses.

And above all, you can get a big 4 bedroom house for $1200 per month mortgage payment with a huge backyard and a pool. You don't have to be stuck in traffic, or pay an arm and a leg for parking.

If you don't mind paying $2500 for a small room in SF with no parking or take 2 hours to get home in LA traffic, you can certainly live there. Don't get me wrong, I do love SF and LA, I often hike in SF, enjoy various kinds of food and enjoy the views of Golden Gate bridge. However, I choose to live in Fresno because of what it has to offer.

Not only that, people within SF fight and argue with each other whether which region in SF is better for example: SOMA, Mission, Sunset, Pacific Heights etc. I do not see the same to this extent in LA, but in SF, geocentricism is very prevalent. It is hard to have a conversation with a San Franciscan without getting into where you live and which place is better. This was not the case when I used to visit SF in 90s or even early 2000s. It is most prevalent with people who moved to SF from other places than people who are born and raised in SF. San Francisco has seen an influx of a number of people with the tech industry which explains the above statement of why the mentality changed after early 2000s.

I am Californian, I consider the entire state of California my home, not just Fresno. However, I believe people from SF thinking that they live in the most beautiful place in the world or people from LA thinking that LA and Hollywood is the best is a very narrow minded thinking. Having traveled all across Europe, I can certainly say none of the above two statements are true. I believe each place has a unique experience to offer and it is the limitation of our thinking to consider one place better than the other.

This letter is addressed only to those people from SF and LA who dislike Fresno and/or participate in geocentric arguments.

Checkout this article as well: http://www.movoto.com/fresno-ca/moving-to-fresno

Jag Singh in Travel on July 08, 2014 10:04 pm