Ultimate Guide on Living in San Francisco | Cross Country Movers
The view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city

Ultimate Guide on Living in San Francisco, California

Posted in City Guides on May 12, 2022

Often named one of the greatest places in the States, The City by the Bay is a dream destination for many. However, as with any other location, living in San Francisco comes with both pros and cons. What is it like to live in San Francisco, really? If you’re moving across the country to this beautiful place, our honest guide can help you get to know it even before the move.

High Costs of Living in San Francisco Will Make You Track Your Spending

There is no way to sugarcoat it – life in SF will cost you an arm and a leg. According to World Population Review’s ranking for 2022, it is one of the most expensive cities in the country – only NYC has higher costs. BestPlaces states the median home price to be as high as $1,470,000, while you’ll have to set aside $3,000 per month if you want to rent an apartment with only one bedroom. This is why many don’t even think about ownership or even dare to look at house hunting tips. Rather than that, they opt for renting after relocating to another city alone and sharing an apartment space with roommates to reduce housing costs.

Still, housing costs are not the only expenses you should consider when relocating to a new state. SF also has higher grocery and utility costs than the national average, while taxes in California are among the highest in the States. Not all can keep up with the high-cost life in SF brings – it’s one of the reasons it is known as a transient metropolis in which many don’t spend too many years.

Don’t be overly disappointed if you end up eating Ramen for dinner at some point or looking to add one more roommate to your already full apartment. Still, many still choose SF when deciding where to live because all that fuss is more than worth it.

Homelessness Is One of the City’s Biggest Problems

The high cost of living combined with insufficient housing stock created a severe problem in this part of the Bay Area. Don’t be surprised when you witness a vast line of tents alongside the sidewalk when traveling back from work. As awful as it is, homelessness is frequently connected with drug abuse, which won’t exactly provide you with the feeling of being safe walking alone. It all takes away some part of SF’s charm.

San Francisco skyline behind the row of houses
Many cannot cope with the expensiveness of SF housing

As a Tech Bomb, SF Is Mecca for People in the IT Industry

An excellent job market somewhat alleviates the rent and house expensiveness and, simultaneously, is one of the main reasons to move to this region. With Silicon Valley being located in the southern part of the SF Bay Area, it is no wonder that experts from the tech field rush to this metropolis – it is one of the biggest technology hubs in the country.

Keep in mind that giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Netflix all call Silicon Valley their home. Moreover, it is estimated that 20% of all jobs in the SF region are tech-related, making it one of the best cities for millennials and young professionals.

The city’s booming economy allows it to have an unemployment rate below the national average and provides excellent job opportunities even beyond the IT industry, especially if you work in the tourism, healthcare, or finance sector. Therefore, thinking about how to get a job after the move shouldn’t cause a severe case of anxiety about moving out.

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What Salary Do You Need to Survive in San Francisco?

Did you know that in SF, there is almost half a million dollars income gap between the rich and the middle class? The job market is an excellent start, but it doesn’t mean a thing if your salary isn’t big enough for you to afford decent housing.

Life-saving tip: try earning at least three times your monthly housing expenses. If the average rent of a one-bedroom apartment is around $3,000, you need to make at least $9,000 per month for a comfortable life. Simultaneously, it means that annual pre-tax income should be approximately $108,000. It’s pretty high of a sum, which is what you probably won’t be able to afford to live on your own for some time after the move.

SF Is Not the Most Laid-Back Destination to Live in California

In order to meet SF’s high costs, it is more likely than not that you’ll have to work a lot. Add server competition you’ll probably meet in your niche, and you’ll get why many San Franciscans are known as extremely hard-working. The laid-back attitude for which California is known isn’t very applicable to SF – at least not as much as in Los Angeles or San Diego, for example.

Be Prepared for One of the Best Public Transportation Systems, but the Worst Traffic

SF is known as one of the cities with the best public transportation system in the country, named SF Muni. There are plenty of transportation options that will help you travel between the districts – just think of all the buses, streetcars, trains, ferries, and, of course, the most iconic of them all, cable cars. Since many residents opt against owning a vehicle, excellent public transportation sure counts as one of the benefits when relocating to a big city.

However, keep in mind that SF is, at the same time, one of the most congested cities in the States. The average person loses a little less than 100 hours in traffic annually! It’s one of those things that threaten to reduce your love for this place.

Additionally, remember that SF is not exactly a car-centric metropolis. Getting professional car shipping, aside from basic cross-country moving services, is a good idea if you plan on road trips, but it is not recommended to use the car for a city ride. SF parking is a nightmare – even if you succeed in finding the spot, it doesn’t come cheap.

You’ll Get To Enjoy the Magnificent Nature of the Bay Area

One of the things to do after moving cross-country to SF is to explore all the natural beauty this region offers. This metropolis is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and its nature holds a big part in it. Whether you want to enjoy coastal views, unique and recognizable architecture, or amazing parks, this destination offers it all.

SF can be heaven for all those who love spending time outside. Did you know that Golden Gate Park is even bigger than NYC’s Central Park? It is considered to be one of the best urban parks in the States and offers plenty of recreational activities, iconic views of the city’s skyline, and many natural wonders. If training up and down SF’s famous hills is not enough for you, it’s helpful to know that there are many places you can be active and enjoy your day.

Be Prepared for Annoyance Called Karl the Fog

Fog is one of those things SF is infamous for. Remember that it will be your constant companion when you decide to move here. It even got a nickname (Karl) and separate social media accounts! Additionally, keep in mind that SF may not be as warm as you would initially think. Summer months are the foggiest days of the year – don’t be surprised if you have to grab a jacket when going into work early. In fact, when getting packing services, make sure you don’t toss warmer clothes away.

Fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge
You'll have to get used to Karl the Fog after the move

SF Will Allow You to Be Yourself

SF is known for its open-mindedness and acceptance of all people, no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation. There is no doubt that it will allow you to be what you want to be – without the fear of being judged. After all, if that weren’t the case, the destination wouldn’t be known as LGBTQ+ heaven. The city’s welcomeness is one of the essential things to consider when relocating to a new state and, simultaneously, one of the greatest benefits of relocating to SF. At the same time, SF’s diversity and liberal views will help you expand your own horizons.

People enjoying SF Pride Parade after long-distance moving
San Franciscans are more inclusive than residents of many other cities

You Won’t Get To See Much Children on the Streets

What’s it like to live in San Francisco with children? Statistics show that this metropolis is one of the cities with the least number of children in the US – and the number is constantly dropping over the years. Reasons for it can be found in the combination of high expenses and people who are highly professionally driven.

However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t move with kids, as long as you have enough financial means to support your family. Moreover, the high rankings of schools in the SF region combined with many possibilities for outdoor activities make it a good destination for families. It is especially true if you choose a more family-oriented neighborhood with many kid-friendly amenities.

Couple playing with kids after cross-country moving
Why you shouldn't live in San Francisco if you have kids? It can be a great decision, as long as you can afford it

How to Choose Between SF Neighborhoods?

Before getting long-distance movers to help you relocate to a new home, you must overview more than just the metropolis in general. So you can enjoy your life after relocating to a new city, you must choose the neighborhoods that entirely fit your wishes, needs, and preferences. When you plan on living in SF, consider the following areas:

  • Nob Hill – for exceptional views, historic landmarks, and reminiscences of Hitchock movies,
  • Haight-Ashbury – for the unique bohemian and funky vibes,
  • South of Market (SOMA) – for fantastic nightlife scene and good commuting options,
  • Dolores Heights – for when you want to escape the fog and enjoy plenty of fun things,
  • North of the Panhandle (NoPa) – for trendy restaurants and bars, amazing food and jazz clubs,
  • Noe Valley – for a small-town feel, perfect for families,
  • Potrero Hill – for more affordable housing opportunities and a residential vibe.

This Part of the Bay Area Is Thriving With Culture

Known as one of the country’s cultural centers, SF is home to an incredible cultural scene, no matter the neighborhood you call home. World-renowned museums and their exceptional collections combined with mesmerizing street art are perfect for all those classic and modern art lovers. Great music history, unique festivals, avant-garde theater productions, and venus that host both known names and local talents – it’s all part of SF’s charm.

Add amazing nightlife and dining options and plenty of exciting attractions, and you’ll see why people never get bored in SF. If you want to know more about some of the most interesting things to do in this metropolis, make sure you watch the video below:

Is San Francisco a Good Place to Live In?

SF is, by all means, a truly exceptional destination in which the pros outweigh the cons by far. However, you must be financially well-prepared for the high-cost SF brings. Still, if you’ve found the answers to how to live in San Francisco without going broke, nothing can stop you from enjoying your new life after the move. All that is left is getting cross-country movers and finding some long-distance moving tips for an ultimate stress-free move.

Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

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