Moving to San Francisco – Everything You Need to Know About Living in the City by the Bay

If you’re moving to San Francisco, Scott McKenzie’s legendary song about this iconic city is probably playing non-stop in your head. And we can’t blame you. It’s a catchy tune. Although we are not so sure how many gentle people with flowers in their hair you’ll meet on the streets these days, this place certainly has a reputation for being friendly as a legacy of its hippie past. Besides that, modern SF has a lot to offer and attracts thousands of newcomers every year. So if you are one of them, take a look at our guide to find out something new.

You may like the view over the Golden Gate Bridge, but there is so much more to discover and like about SF.

What Should I Know Before Moving to San Francisco?

There are so many things you need to know about your future place of residence, but let’s begin with some basics. The city and county of SF have almost 900,000 residents and is home to more than 4.5 million in its metropolitan area. Located on the West Coast in the state of California, SF is one of its most iconic places in the US and the world. It’s also known by its many popular nicknames such as San Fran, SF, Fog City, Golden Gate City, and the unpopular one, Frisco. If you are not sure what to expect, let it surprise you. Don’t try to compare it to Los Angeles or any other place on the West Coast because SF is in a league of its own.

Park your car and explore SF on foot like a true local.

Relocating to SF – There Is More Than One Pro:

Whether you are moving out for the first time or you are already used to changing your place of residence, you are well aware that every place has its pros and cons. Those of you who are moving from a small town to a big city such as SF will probably need some time to adjust to it, but eventually, we are sure you’ll adapt to it.

Pros of Moving to San Francisco in 2020

Since the bay is home to Silicon Valley and that many high-tech industries are headquartered right here, the job market is vast. All major companies from Netflix and Tesla to Apple and Facebook have a presence here. Therefore, if you’re worried about how to get a job before you move, that wouldn’t be so difficult around here.

SF is a place that has a lot to offer for sure, and it will take you weeks and months to explore its hidden corners, but also the surrounding areas. If you transport your auto, places like Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, or Half Moon Bay will be perfect destinations for a weekend getaway.

If you don’t know how car shipping works and you don’t want to get driving anxiety, but you’re also not a fan of public transportation, you’ll be happy to hear that some companies have their shuttle services for employees. So that’s one of the things to consider when relocating for a job.

In SF, it doesn’t really matter where you come from or what is your ethnicity, race, or gender. Here, everyone is very open-minded and welcoming. The SF metro area is the home to a large Latino population who with 39% make the majority.

Even if you were never into working out and going to the gym, you might get inspired to do that in SF. The weather is always nice, so there is always someone jogging down the street or doing yoga at the park, and it became almost a trend. Locals also pay attention to what they eat. There are several farmer’s markets around town and plenty of options for healthy snacks.

Those of you who are moving with pets will be glad to hear that SF is a great place for pet animals, especially for dogs. Pretty much every neighborhood has at least one dog park where they can run without leashes, and even some apartment complexes have these areas. However, not every landlord will be happy to have a dog in its place, so make sure to check that.

Are you ready to call SF your home?

Are There Any Cons?

Wherever in the world you go, you will hardly find a place without flaws, and SF is not an exception. For some people, these things might be deal-breakers, others won’t even bother about them, and so on. It’s all a matter of preference and lifestyle. So let’s check out what might be the cons of life in SF.

A Few Cons of Relocating to SF

No one expects that life here is cheap, but now and then, you will be shocked by the prices at restaurants, bars, and not to mention housing costs. If you want to stay in the center, prices are significantly higher than the national average, but we will go more in-depth about that later.

Although earthquakes are a real threat to any place on the West Coast, many are worried about SF in particular. In 1906, a massive earthquake devastated SF, destroying around 80% of it. So there is always that fear of when the next “Big One” is going to hit.

Of course, how can a list of cons for any metropolis go without traffic jams? And it does not stand for rush hours only because here pretty much every hour is rush hour. If you are a driver, you should count in an extra 30 minutes, at least when trying to make it on time.

SF is another large US metropolis that is struggling with an enormous number of homeless people sleeping on its streets. Many of them you can spot around Downtown, which is usually connected to a higher crime rate. That is something to keep in mind if you are looking for a home in the center.

Although perhaps some expect that the entire state of California is a sunshine state 365 days per year, that is not so true, especially for SF. Here you won’t find that coastal, dry climate, nights can be quite chilly, and there is a lot of fog. So don’t forget to bring a jacket and an umbrella, just in case.

There are not too many cons of relocating to a place such as SF.

How Much Do You Need to Make to Live in San Francisco? The Average Costs

The cost of living in San Francisco is something this town is notorious for. It really is not easy to afford living here, but at the same time, it’s not impossible. A few millions of people manage to do that, so what is their secret? There are no secrets actually – you need a well-paid job, and to live in accordance with your income. Those who are moving to a new city alone should consider finding a flatmate for the first several months. It will be much easier if you are trying to save up some money. There are always ways to spend less, from cooking food to moving to the suburbs, etc. According to Numbeo, on average, an adult person needs around $1,100 for living on a monthly level, without the rent. Let’s briefly summarize the average basic costs on a monthly level.


Average monthly net salary after taxes

$7,600

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apt in the center

$3,500

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apt outside of the center

$2,800

Basic utilities for 85m2 apt

$150

A monthly pass for public transportation

$81

The monthly fee for a fitness club

$93

How Much Does It Cost to Move to San Francisco?

Relocations are not cheap, and even the cost of interstate moving is not something you can afford easily if you do not prepare and research all of your options on time. You have to keep in mind that the cheapest way to move out of the state is not always the greatest. Finding a reliable San Francisco moving company is not easy to do, and you should learn how to recognize fake reviews so that you do not end up with scammers.

Besides that, we all know that there are always some creative ways to save up some money on moving services. You can estimate the value of household goods you no longer use, or you plan to buy new ones and sell them online. Another option is to get your own packing materials and save some money on packing services. Ask your friends for help, some of them probably have extra boxes and stuff that could be used for packing, and we are sure you’ll learn some new moving hacks from them.

How to Pick the Best Place to Live in SF

When it comes to the best places to live in San Francisco, there are some things you should know. SF has numerous neighborhoods, each with its distinctive culture, vibe, and population, but there is a neighborhood for everyone. However, where you stay will, in a way, define you.

Every district has its reputation. For example, Mission District is the place where hipsters prefer to stay, while families favor the Noe Valley. You can, of course, settle wherever you want, but make sure to research the community and try to meet the neighbors before you move there, so you know what to expect.

Is SF a Good Place for Raising a Family?

SF is usually known as a great place for young professionals, entrepreneurs, and adults, but rarely is it mentioned as an ideal place to raise a family. However, there are of course families with children that are relocating here, so if you are one of them, here are our recommendations for places that are family-friendly:

  • Noe Valley
  • Inner Sunset
  • Bernal Heights
  • Presidio Heights
  • North Beach
Choosing the right community for your future home is essential, especially when you have kids.

Getting Around SF

Yes, the traffic is crazy, but luckily, public transportation seems to work fine, and what is most important, it covers the entire area. You can opt between buses, also known as MUNI, trolleys (MUNI Metro), BART trains, and ferries.

In the beginning, the public transportation system might seem a bit confusing, but once you experience its benefits and realize that you do not have to search for a parking spot or stay stuck in traffic for hours, you’ll be good. Prices for a single ride are around $2.5, while seniors and kids can get a discount.

Are Cable Cars Just for Tourists?

Yes and no. Everyone can use cable cars, but although they are an iconic symbol of SF, you will rarely see a local riding on one of three cable car lines. Cable cars used to run across the entire SF, but now there are only three remaining lines that go through some of the most popular neighborhoods.

You shouldn't miss riding a cable car at least once, for fun.

Where to Eat In SF

If you are a foodie (and who is not), you are going to love SF, because the best restaurants in San Francisco are on another level. From restaurants, street food carts, bars, and cafes, the food culture here is diverse. There is something for everyone’s pocket, but as with everything else, the prices for dining out can be sky-high. And especially if you want to have a view over the Golden Gate Bridge while dining. Just keep in mind that for the majority of up-scale places, you need to make a reservation.

What Food Is Typical for SF?

There are so many foods that you need to try in SF, but since you’re relocating, you will have plenty of time to try everything that SF can serve on a plate. Here are our recommendations for those of you who can’t decide from where to start:

  • Abalone
  • Dungeness crab
  • Bay shrimp
  • Sourdough French bread
  • Cioppino
Those who like to try out new dishes will certainly be impressed by SF's food scene.

Miscellaneous Costs and Things to Do In Your Free Time

Living in SF is much more than just working to pay your rent and bills, you have to live, and life in this place comes with a lot of unpredictable costs. Whether you decide to go out, visit a museum, main tourist attractions, or you want to visit Napa or Sonoma Valley nearby, buy workout clothes – it all comes at a specific cost.

Best Places for a Night Out

Whether you want to go clubbing or to grab a beer in a bar, SF has it all, and every neighborhood has that IT place for hanging out. So let’s see exactly what the best that every community can offer in terms of nightlife.

  • Union Square – the perfect place for new craft cocktails.
  • Mission – the area where you’ll find dive bars with cheap beers, pool tables, and a vintage vibe.
  • SoMa – if you want to dance all night, SoMa has a variety of dance clubs that play all kinds of music.
  • Financial District – a great area with plenty of wine bars for those who prefer to enjoy their drinks slowly.

Folsom Street Festival

If it is September and you notice a bunch of people wearing nothing but a few strips of leather on the streets, no, they are not filming a movie. It is just the annual Folsom Street Fair that is a bit kinky and certainly not for everyone. If you are open-minded and curious, feel free to visit it, but keep in mind that it’s not really a family-friendly event.

SF doesn't really sleep, and it is even more exciting when the night falls.

Don’t Let the Fog Change Your Plans

SF fog is so well-known that locals even gave it a name; the fog is called Karl. Although Karl likes to go out a lot, SF has 259 sunny days per year on average, so overall the weather should not be your biggest concern. Put on some floral shirt and embrace your inner hippie while planning your relocation. SF is a great place to be, and we are sure that you will manage to find your place under the bay sun.

Written By: Jane Davis