An Ultimate Guide to Living in San Francisco – The Ins and Outs of the California Gem

If you wondered what living in San Francisco is like, you have come to the right place. One of Bay Area’s most famous cities has the largest LGBTQ community in the nation, offers incomparable restaurants, is home to many tech startups, and has the most iconic landmarks in the US, such as the Painted Ladies and the Golden Gate Bridge. And we will tell you all about that and much more. Whether you just moved or are planning on moving to San Francisco, follow our ultimate guide, and find out what is it like to live in SF.

SF iconic neighborhood
Ready to find out everything about SF?

Is San Francisco a Good Place to Live?

Yes, it is, but unfortunately, it’s not without fault. Since you’re moving to California‘s most desirable city, you should know that life in San Francisco is expensive, and the area might seem too small to you. If you’re moving from a small town to a big city, SF will be overwhelming. Yet, if you’re coming from a larger metropolis such as Los Angeles, NYC, or Chicago, SF will feel smaller. These two factors will probably play a huge part in your decision. To help you make the right one and see if life in SF is for you or not, we will start with an overview of the pros and cons.

The Pros and Cons of Living in San Francisco

Saying bye to friends is not easy, but you’ll be indeed starting something new and exciting. SF can offer a lot of good things, and that is why we will first begin with the list of advantages:

  • The job market is vast: If you work in tech, the question of how to get a job before you move won’t bother you. Almost every major company has its headquarters here, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple. You’ll also find a large number of brand-new startups.
  • SF is pet-friendly: If you’re moving with pets, know that your animal friends are more than welcome, especially dogs. In 2016, SF was even ranked as the most dog-friendly city in the US. Dog-friendly amenities are abundant, and your four-legged friend will be able to walk without its leash in many parks.
  • Cultural diversity and open-mindedness: SF has an ethnically diverse population, and thus its residents are very open-minded and welcoming. You’ll be moving away from friends, but you won’t have a problem making new friendships as soon as you settle. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, you should definitely make SF your home. In that case, Castro is your neighborhood, the most well-known one not only in the US but in the whole world.
  • Outdoor activities: You definitely won’t be bored whenever you have some spare time on your hands. There are a lot of options when it comes to outdoor activities in and around SF. Biking or hiking in the Marin Headlands, flying kites at Crissy Field, and picnicking in Dolores Park, to name a few.

However, no place is perfect, and that is the case with SF too. Here’s a list of disadvantages you should have in mind if you’re about to live in San Francisco:

  • Expensiveness: SF is notorious when it comes to expenses. From housing to restaurants, cafes, and bars, you have to earn a lot to provide a comfortable life. The place is more expensive than NYC.
  • Homeless people: This is a considerable problem SF is struggling with. You’re now probably wondering, is it dangerous to live in San Francisco? If you’re moving to a city alone, try avoiding Downtown late at night, where many homeless people can be spotted. The Downtown neighborhood is also connected to high crime rates.
  • Traffic congestion: Shipping a car cross country to SF might not be a good idea because, as a driver, you’ll spend enormous amounts of time stuck in traffic. According to INRIX, SF has the fifth-worst traffic congestion worldwide and the third-worst in the US, with motorists spending around 79 hours in traffic.
  • The climate: Whether this is pro or con depends on you, but SF has a strange climate, different from other major cities. No matter the time of the year, it can get cold, and microclimates often make weather differentials within the city. Cold and strong winds are common too. And there is also the fog. How to survive such weather? As long as you have your umbrella and a jacket, you’ll be fine.
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog
Whether you like it or not, SF can get foggy

The Cost of Living in San Francisco

As we briefly mentioned, the cost of living in San Francisco is not naive. Even though living in SF is not easy to afford, it’s also not impossible. There are many strategies you can implement to cut down expenses. For example, if you’re moving across the country for love and are moving in with your significant other, the two of you will save up significantly on rent and utilities. If not, be sure to search for a flatmate for at least the first couple of months. You can also consider moving to the suburbs or cook your own food instead of dining out. Here’s an overview of your necessary monthly costs in SF.

Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the center$3,400
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the center $2,700
Rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the center$6,300
Rent for a three-bedroom apartment outside of the center$4,600
Basic utilities for 915 sq ft apartment $150
Public transportation$81
One meal at an inexpensive restaurant $18
Two meals at a mid-range restaurant$80

What Salary Do You Need to Live Comfortably in San Francisco?

A part of figuring out how to live in San Francisco is figuring out how much you should earn and according to Numbeo.com, the average monthly wage in SF is around $8,500. This amount should be enough to cover renting, utilities, and basic expenses. Such a salary will also allow you to put some money on the side for unexpected costs, such as car repairs.

Jobs Opportunities in the Bay

The information mentioned above should clarify what is it like to live in San Francisco and it is fairly obvious that living in SF is hard without a steady income. The great news is that, according to Investopedia.com, the unemployment rate has dropped below the national average as of January 2020. We talked about countless job opportunities briefly, and if you have in-demand skills, you should be able to find work quickly.

A useful tip: There will be some things to consider when relocating for a job, but the most important is to think about the additional costs and make sure your wage won’t hurt your level of comfort in SF.

Man in a formal suit
Take advantage of SF's excellent job market

Raising Children in SF

What’s it like to live in San Francisco with children? Unfortunately, not ideal. If you’re relocating with your little ones, know that you’ll have some challenges. Parents settled here often send their children to public schools that are not in their neighborhood, while the private ones are very costly. Thus, families usually prefer to relocate to Marin County suburbs or choose the East Bay. Both are more family-friendly and can offer better public schools.

Two kids in the park
If you're looking to relocate with children, consider settling in the SF suburbs

Getting Around the City

We have already mentioned the traffic congestion as a big problem, but SF’s public transit system is pretty good. And many options cover the entire area, from BART and Muni to cable cars and vintage streetcars.

If you still prefer to drive your own vehicle, be sure to find the cheapest way to ship a car across the country. But remember that apart from auto transport expenses, car insurance rates average

$2,250 per year in SF, which is higher than California and the national average. And the price of gas per gallon is $3.83.

If you prefer two over four wheels, know that SF is very bike and scooter-friendly. Therefore, if you want to know how to move a motorcycle or how to pack a bicycle when moving, put them on the list of questions to ask movers.

Cable car parked near trees
Cable cars are maybe an attraction, but they are also a very useful way of getting around SF

Best Neighborhoods in Francisco’s Bay Area

In case you’re still not an SF resident, and you haven’t found the perfect neighborhood just yet, we have a few suggestions. Take a look at our list of the best places to live in San Francisco.

Up-and-Coming Mission Bay

Mission Bay is one of SF’s newest neighborhoods, with around $4 billion spent to develop it. A few of its areas are still under construction, and if you choose to settle here, you’ll watch the building of new high-rise buildings alongside hip bars, restaurants, and stores. If you happen to find work in Silicon Valley, you won’t have to worry about transportation since Caltrain station will get you there in no time. This neighborhood also has a vast park that includes a volleyball and basketball court and is dog-friendly.

Live Far Away From the Fog in Noe Valley

This neighborhood used to be a kind of sleepy one but has gentrified over the years. Noe Valley can offer some of the best restaurants in San Francisco, peeking around well-maintained Victorian-style homes. It’s situated on the city’s sunnier side, and you won’t have to worry about the infamous fog if you find a home in this neighborhood. This is mostly a family-oriented area, and you won’t find much after-hour fun.

Historic Architecture With Modern Sensibilities in Nob Hill

Nob Hill is one of SF’s signature neighborhoods, mostly known for its many attractions and luxurious hotels. The home of the Fairmont Hotel and Grace Cathedral also offers terrific restaurants, a stunning park, and an eclectic mix of shops. This unique neighborhood has changed a lot over the years. On the one hand, you’ll get a peek at the historic SF, which on the other hand, perfectly blends with modern amenities. If you decide to find an apartment atop Nob Hill, you will have the best views over the area. Take a look at this video to find out more about this charming neighborhood.

Find Reliable San Francisco Long Distance Movers

And that’s a wrap on everything you need to know before relocating to SF. Hopefully, our ultimate guide will come in handy if you’re already here and looking for ways to adjust to a new environment.

If you’re moving out for the first time and wondering how to save on moving costs, know that there are several ways. If you want to move out of state on a budget, you can donate unwanted items because the fewer things you have, the less you’ll pay for relocation expenses. You can also pick up some moving hacks and moving day tips. That way, you’ll be able to do many tasks by yourself and only contact a cross country moving company for storage units, in case you need to use them. The cost of interstate moving can also be lower if you avoid moving during the holidays when relocation expenses are the highest.

Hire Experienced Movers for Your Long Distance Moving to SF

In case you’re just about to start planning your relocation, consider hiring cross country movers. Spend some time looking for the most professional San Francisco long-distance movers and efficient long-distance moving services. You’re relocating during the coronavirus time, and if you want to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, you’ll need some help getting organized to move. A trustworthy long-distance moving company can also provide you with packing services, and if you want stress-free moving, you should definitely consider the option. You won’t have to worry about things such as how to choose the best-sized boxes and packing materials for moving because your chosen movers will come fully equipped.

We are sure that you can’t wait to relocate now that you know how to move to another state and what’s it like to reside in SF. There are some disadvantages to living in San Francisco, but if you find a good job and settle in a neighborhood that suits your needs and preferences, you’ll love it.

Written By: Jessica Hill