The Cost of Living in San Francisco – All the Facts

The population growth in the City by the Bay is constant because of its high quality of life. When you want to relocate, go over the cost of living in San Francisco and see how much money you need to live comfortably. Remember, this technological and tourism hub is a 7th highest-income county in the US, with 18 Fortune 500 companies and a large number of national and international enterprises.

After moving to San Francisco, you will be in one of the most desirable locations in the US. This is a metropolis that has it all – diverse housing, plenty of job opportunities, education, and entertainment options that will keep you busy. So let’s break down all the costs and see just how much money you will need on a monthly basis to enjoy everything SF has to offer.

The Average Cost of Living in San Francisco per Month

When you are considering relocation to SF,  research the costs of different necessities. Crunching numbers might not be fun. However, knowing how much money you need will make it easier to create a budget and arrange cash so that you are not broke by the end of the month. Keep in mind that prices vary from one part of the metropolis to another, and every resident has a unique set of circumstances. Choosing between upscale and more suburban locations, renting or buying, driving, or using public transportation will have a huge effect on your average cost of living in San Francisco.

Take into consideration every necessity and you'll get the average monthly costs.

The Average Cost of Living in San Francisco Compared to Other Cities

When you are thinking about moving to another place, you should compare its overall cost of living with the place where you are currently staying. You might be packing and relocating to a pricier location without even knowing. Nevertheless, those usually offer better paychecks and diverse employment opportunities that will cover higher expenses.

If you are still on the fences about relocating to SF, compare it with other major cities in the US, and see why it attracts new residents every year. Pay close attention to earnings, because they are some of the highest in the country.

Average SF Salaries Compared to Other Cities

SF is not a cheap place to be in, but what it lacks in the affordability it makes up with high wages and a variety of employment options. Some careers offer more money than others, but according to Numbeo, the average monthly salary after taxes is around $7,670. Residents of metropolises like Los Angeles, Seattle, and Las Vegas all have significantly lower wages than those in SF. Career chasers flock here because they know that they can land a job that will allow them to live comfortably enough.

How Much Money You Will Need to Live Comfortably

Personal finance resource GoBankingRates published a study that shows how much money you will need to live comfortably in some of the major cities in the US. Data points out that residents of SF should have a median income of $96,265 a year if they want to live comfortably. For Seattleites, that yearly income should be $79,565, folks in Los Angeles have to reach a median income of $54,500, while those in Las Vegas need $53,160 for comfortable living.

CityMonthly Utility BillsRent for 915 sq ft Apartment (outside center)Buying Apartment sq ft Price (outside center)Average Monthly Salary
San Francisco$150$2,850$950$7,670
Los Angeles$125$1,750$480$4,440
Las Vegas$160$1,000$160$3,500
Seattle$170$1,700$430$5,750

Home Prices Affect the Cost of Living in San Francisco California

Have you decided to relocate and buy a property? California is famous for its pricey homes, SF especially. Nevertheless, if you are set on becoming a homeowner, statistics from data collecting site Numbeo show that the price per square foot in the center is around $1,220, while a square foot in other locations is about $950.

Results of a poll created by ranking and reviewing site Niche shows that 55% of residents are very satisfied with the exterior and quality of homes, while only 4% say that they are affordable. If you are short on cash and can’t afford to own a property, you should consider renting.

Renting Is a Popular Choice

Did you know that 62% of residents here rent their homes? According to data from Numbeo, to rent a one-bedroom flat in the center, you will need $3,550, while the same footage in other parts of the metropolis can be rented for $2,850.

Bigger places like three-bedroom apartments cost between $5,000 and $6,600, depending on the location you choose. The closer to the center you get, the higher the rent will be. If you want to avoid putting a big dent in your savings account, try settling down in more affordable areas.

These Are the Most Affordable Locations in the City 

If you could pay less for accommodation, why wouldn’t you? Research and find some of the best places to live in San Francisco that have affordable housing and other amenities you need:

  • Haight-Ashbury was once home to Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin and many other artists. Today, rent is still affordable, and Haight Street, which is within walking distance, has everything residents need from coffee shops to food joints and breweries.
  • Outer Sunset is the perfect place if you are moving with pets because it is in the vicinity of Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park. Also, it is one of the most affordable spots in the metropolis, with a 5.5% decrease in rent prices.
  • Lone Mountain is a suburban area with 2.5% of rent decrease. It is perfect for young adults and millennials because it is close to the University of San Francisco.
  • Inner Richmond is a walkable residential spot that attracts a diverse crowd. If you are moving to the city alone, here you can find one-bedroom flats for under $3,000.
  • Glen Park is well connected with the rest of the metropolis, making it perfect for commuters. Hilly streets will give out classic SF vibes, while Glen Park Canyon offers plenty of green spaces within the urban community.
Housing might be expensive, but you can look for cheap places.

Don’t Forget About the Taxes

You can’t escape paying taxes, at least some of them. Overall, the state of California has high tax rates, and its income tax rates are some of the highest in the US. SF is no exception to this. Nevertheless, there is a benefit of living in California because property taxes are low. This is because of Proposition 13, also known as the People’s Initiative to Limit Property Taxation, which reduces property taxes.

You will save some money on property taxes.

It Pays off to Use Public Transportation in SF

Did you know that 32% of residents use public transportation for their daily commute to work? As a resident, you can use cable cars, busses, trollies, and ferries to get around. Also, Bay Area Rapid Transit or B.A.R.T can take you to East Bay and to the International Airport.

Municipal Railway, known as Muni, is the seventh-largest system in the US, and you, as an adult, will need to pay $3 for a ride to use it. You can also get a monthly pass for between $80 and $100.

If you are not too keen on using public transportation, you can always hire professional San Francisco movers who will ship your car to your new location. Beforehand, go over the pros and cons of driving in the metropolis.

Avoid Driving and You’ll Lower Expenses

According to the annual SF Mobility Trends Report, since 2010, the total number of vehicles registered in the city has grown by 6%, adding more than 26,000 cars to the streets. Even though it is a growing trend to have a car if you want to save up, consider other types of transportation because driving here is more trouble than it is worth.

Finding a parking space is a nightmare. When looking for a place to park your car, garages are your best option, and prices vary from $2 to $7 an hour. If you park on the street, know that most parking meters have a two-hour limit and prices go between $2 and $5 per hour. Gasoline is also a major expense when you are driving. The AAA Gas Prices website shows that the gas prices in SF are around $4.30 a gallon, which is significantly higher than the national average of $1.90 for a gallon.

Traffic jams and a long time spent commuting might convince you to bike around or walk to your destination. Join 16% of residents that are frequent cyclists and avoid long and tiresome trips with your car.

Utilities Are Lower Than the National Average

Utility bills are an unavoidable part of everyday life. No matter where you are, at the end of every month, there will be a bill for electricity, water, garbage, heating, and cooling.

The good news for every future resident is that utility bills are lower than the national average. The pleasant climate of the area plays a major role in this because summers are not particularly hot, nor are winters extremely cold.

According to data from Numbeo, basic utilities for a 915-square-foot apartment in SF are around $150 a month. Additionally, the unlimited data on cable or ADSL internet will be around $70. If you want to lower your expenses, even more, use energy-efficient appliances and bulbs, and run AC and heat economically.

The good news is that you can save up on utilities because of the warm climate.

Important Miscellaneous Costs:  Entertainment, Shopping, Food

This is the metropolis of many possibilities. Those who are moving from a small town to a big city like SF might get overwhelmed by the entertainment options and vast outdoor and indoor activities they can participate in.

Active and outdoorsy types can join a gym or a fitness club for around $95 a month. Tennis players can also rent a court for $18 an hour, and when you want to kick back and relax, there are movie theaters where the tickets are around $15.

Getting a new pair of jeans or a summer dress will not only cheer you up, but it will also make you look good. Levis 501 can be found for $65, while dresses in stores like Zara are around $45. If you are required to dress up for work or a special occasion, having leather business shoes will knock around $155 out of your wallet, while runners will have to pay $90 for quality sneakers. At the end of the day, the money you are left with can be put into savings, or you can dress up and head out, exploring a variety of dining options.

Dining out and Cooking Require Some Money

From some of the best restaurants in San Francisco to fast food joints, you will find a meal for any occasion and budget. Grabbing a quick bite in an inexpensive diner is around $18, while a combo meal in McDonald’s is $10. If you are moving across the country for love, and you want to surprise your partner with a pleasant meal for two, you will need $80.

When you don’t feel like going out, making dinner in your own home can be fun as well. If you’ve moved for a relationship and live with your partner, cooking can be a fun thing you can do together. Just stop by the market and grab essentials like a gallon of milk that is around $4.50, a carton of eggs that will cost you $3.50, and a pound of beef that is $7 on average. Also, a report from Numbeo recommends that residents set aside around $430 a month for food expenses.

Top-rated restaurants will inspire you to spend some money on dining out.

SF Might Be Costly, but It Pays Off

You heard stories about California. This is the place where dreams come true. Becoming a resident of SF just might be what you need to make your wishes a reality. Yes, it is expensive, but with plenty of job opportunities, in an array of industries, you will manage to pay your bills and still have some money left to enjoy yourself. Don’t let the fear stop you from embarking on this adventure because at the end of the day, being here pays off.

Written By: Blake Shaw