Insider Insights: A Guide to Living in San Francisco

Over the past 18 months, CORT has been posting a series of Expat Interviews. In 2018, our focus changed a little and we’ve been interviewing our Destination Services Consultants and posting their very special ‘Insider Insights’ into their home cities. This month, we are doubling up!

Natalya Kouxina is one of our Consultants but also an expat in her own right. We hope you enjoy learning about what life is like for an expat Russian in San Francisco working to help new arrivals settle in.

When did you come to the US?

I left Russia to move to the US in 2001 with my American husband. I was born in the village of Selizarovo , Tverskaya Oblast and was raised in the nearby village named Selishe. It has about 3,000 people, and it is about four hours’ drive from Moscow.

Family sitting on couch

What do you miss the most from home?

The village I was born and raised in. It was nice there and I have many good memories. I miss friends and folks I used to know, some streets and areas where I used to spend a lot of time, and long warm summer evenings. We don’t have those here in SF. That’s one of the things that people don’t know about SF.

What’s the one thing you can tell us about your city that people would be surprised by/ the best kept secret perhaps?

Everyone knows SF is famous for being very expensive of course! But what they don’t know is that it is foggy in the summer time and gets warm to hot in the fall. We have a ‘micro climate’, so a jacket is a must at all times, as one neighborhood can be warmer or cooler within a 10-15 min drive!

How did you get into relocation?

One of the local CORT representatives got to know me while I was working at a property management company and she told me she thought I would love this work.

How long have you been with CORT?

I started with CORT in 2014 and have been living in San Francisco since 2009.

What do you like the most about your job?

I love the opportunity to show beautiful houses and getting to look around and learn about new areas that I’ve never been to before. It’s also really satisfying to get to know new transferees and help them orient to the area and understand local life.

What do your assignees like most about the city?

Landscape, hills, social life, activities and history.

What’s usually their biggest worry before they come?

They are afraid of how expensive it is and they will not make it here. They also worry that their dream house will not appear – but it usually does!

I’ve got 24 hours on the ground in your city, what should I be sure to go and see or do?

Go to the Embarcadero shores to walk by the Bay, visit Downtown SF, the Farmers Market, City Bee Bus tour, a Bay Cruise and finish up at the Top of the Mark Restaurant & Beach Blanket Babylon show. If you have a good budget, there are many more things including great shopping!

Is there a local/regional food item that is both awesome and unique to your home town (in Russia) and one that’s become a favorite for you in San Fran?

San Francisco sea food stew with clams, mussels, fish and crab in rich tomato sauce with crunchy sourdough bread and garlic. It’s my favorite, but of course we don’t have it in Russia. We mainly cook recipes using potatoes, carrots, onions, beets and pork there. My favorite Russian dish is skinny pancakes with berry jam and hot tea with lemon.

We wanted to say a special thank you to Natalya for her ‘double interview’ and sharing pictures of her gorgeous family!

If you’re moving this summer and would like help from one of our team with your move, please reach out to us at