6 apps for simple living in San Francisco
In San Francisco, it’s pretty easy to conduct your life from the palm of your hand. For three months, I got the chance to live the simple life. Depending on how you look at it, this is either super convenient or excruciatingly lazy; but either way, here’s the apps that are at the top of the pile.
- Synopsis Healthy food, rapidly delivered
- Best point Delivery time
- Worst point Food presentation
I ate several unhealthy takeaways in the first couple of weeks. To ensure I didn’t go back to the UK three times larger than when I left, I needed something that balanced convenience with healthiness.
Sprig delivers healthy meals to your door very quickly. The ingredients are locally sourced, the logistics is distributed, and the food is made the same day. It’s an integrated service: cooking, curation, delivery. Their pricing was incredibly simple: $10 for a meal, $2 for delivery, tip included.
The first experience with this app was strangely magical. I paid for the chicken (there’s a choice of 3 meals at dinner), and it arrived at my door within approximately 10 minutes. Ten minutes.
It felt too good to be true, so I asked for the meal’s nutritional info (they’re happy to give you it). It turns out everything was as healthy as claimed, even to the point where they use a selection of good cooking oils. I was intrigued to see how they managed to get the food to me so quickly: a Quora answer revealed quite a lot.
- Synopsis Restaurant food, delivered
- Best point San Francisco’s quality restaurants
- Worst point Easy to overspend
When it came to weekends, it made sense to treat myself to something a bit more special. If no one was around for a restaurant trip, why not bring the restaurant to your door?!
Caviar allows you to choose food from a restaurant, and they pick it up and deliver it to your door. Being less integrated than Sprig, expect longer and less consistent delivery times. But you do get to track your location of your delivery via GPS.
The quality of San Francisco restaurants really excels this service. In particular, I highly recommended Citizens’ Band and Little Delhi.
- Synopsis Anything from anywhere local, delivered
- Best point Anything can be delivered to you
- Worst point Really expensive
Postmates is similar to Caviar, but is for delivering anything from anywhere locally. You can provide instructions for a custom location, and then you pay for the item once the driver provides the receipt.
If you’re with a group of people who are wanting to get something delivered from around the city, then Postmates might be your answer. If you’re by yourself, it’s delivery price are off-putting (you’d pay $10 delivery for a $4 coffee).
- Synopsis AirBnB for cars
- Best point Reasonable pricing
- Worst point Having to trust the owners
It was time to spread my wings and hire a car. Being quite picky with cars, so I wanted to approach this a bit differently.
RelayRides is AirBnB for cars. For my last month, I hired a MINI Cooper S from a friendly chap. The pricing is very reasonable. However, if you want to make sure you’re well covered insurance wise, that will set you back another 40% of the cost of the rental.
On a side note, if you’re new to California, I highly recommend hiring a car for as long as possible. San Francisco’s public transport isn’t as bad as people claim (Transit can help you there), but there’s so much to see outside of SF, and I wish I’d had one for longer.
- Synopsis Try clothes on at home, decide if you want to buy
- Best point Personal assistance
- Worst point Browsing always means chatting to an assistant
I was told that clothes were cheap over there, so I used it as a chance to freshen up my wardrobe.
There’s a new wave of apps changing the e-commerce sector. One of those, BRANDiD, is a very interesting concept. It blends IM personal assistance with the ability to try on clothes at home—only paying if you want to keep the items.
They’re very accommodating: they were happy to pick up unwanted clothes in the evening after work, and there was seemingly no limit to how many different items and sizes I could get delivered.
- Synopsis Evening delivery service
- Best point How necessary this kind of thing is
- Worst point Tips included, but drivers sometimes look like they are expecting another one.
As I was living in the city and commuting down to Cupertino, this meant I could never be around for deliveries during the day. I searched for a service I’d heard about called Luna, but it turns out they were acquired by a competitor, Doorman.
At $19/month for the monthly plan, you get anything delivered to your own postbox at their HQ. And, when it’s convenient in the evening, you can get it all re-delivered to your home address. All drivers went above-and-beyond: one guy was even happy to wait around when I was late getting off the shuttle.
These services might seem quite steep in price, but I think these real-world services are often more valuable than the digital services we pay for. Reducing stress through simplicity is sometimes priceless.