My family and I moved from Canada to San Francisco recently these are some pointers for others thinking of doing the same.
You wont have an SSN for a while. You need to wait 10 days before you can apply in person and then wait some more for it to come. The next points all deal with living without one.
You’ll probably hear many recommendations about getting a TD or RBC cross border accounts. These accounts are probably handy on the east coast but there are no physical locations of either of these banks in the west. This makes everything a hassle, and the thin veil of TD Bank/TD Canada Trust being the same entity quickly fell down. Getting the large sums of money out of the bank to pay our first months rent and security deposit was a huge pain.
In the end I opened an account with Chase without an SSN and everything worked well after that. I only use the cross border stuff to transfer money back to my Canadian accounts.
You have some options with your phone contract. I did Telus prepaid(doesn’t require SSN) and used my existing phone. This can be done on the spot in store.
I would recommend AirBnb for the first month or two. This will give you a chance to figure out where you want to live. Read the Bold Italic for a primer.
Since housing is so in demand there there are a ton of scams and fake listings. Be smart and Google all the listings to confirm they are not being sold rather then rented. As a Canadian with no US credit history you will be at a disadvantage but in my experience being friendly and open about your situation will compensate. Sublets are also a good option.
As with all cities a bicycle is probably the best way to travel. Craigslist has some nice ones but they aren’t cheap. I did the bikes direct thing and was happy with the result. Also if you are in Oakland or Berkley you can’t ride across the bridge since the bike lane only goes half way. Your options are the ferry or Bart with your bike.
Get a Clipper card ASAP if public transportation is in your future. You can get them from the red machines in some of the large stations or Walgreens.
Amazon Fresh and Instacart both have free trials and can simplify your post move life. I stuck with Fresh which fills in the biggest gap when living car free.