General Question

SarahBeth's avatar

Can I afford to live in San Francisco?

Asked by SarahBeth (110points) April 30th, 2009

My boyfriend and I would like to move to SF. He is a chef and is hoping to land a sous chef or line cook job, I am a counsler but having been waitressing for the last year because i happen to make more money waiting tables. So i can do either. We’d like a studio apartment. Also I’m wondering how much it’ll cost to keep my car in this city.

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17 Answers

wenn's avatar

1. research average cost of living, use google.
2. assess your current and potential income and current savings.
3. decide if it is something you can afford.


casheroo's avatar

Considering his line of work, he better find a place to work before he goes..or line up another job, like serving, because chef jobs are very hit or miss (at least it is in my area, my husband is a chef.)

Likeradar's avatar

Try Craigslist to see the going prices of apartments in the neighborhoods you’re considering. We really can’t tell you what you can or can’t afford, I don’t think.

basp's avatar

Having a car in S.F. can be problemmatic if you don’t also rent a garage. Not saying it is impossible, but parking in neighborhoods is very limited for the amount if demand. When you look for places to lve, check out the available parking.
Also, if you don’t have a car, public transportation in SF is better than most metropolitan areas.

SarahBeth's avatar

we’re not going until he gets a good job offer (im not sure how easy this will be). but it’s too expensive to live there to go without at leat one job secured.

SarahBeth's avatar

how much does it cost to rent a garage? a few hundred bucks a month?

basp's avatar

It has been quite a few years since I checked on garage rentals but I think it is probably more like four or five hundred a month(depending on area). You might try going online to the San francisco chronicle newspaper and check the ads.

TaoSan's avatar

simple answer?


ben's avatar

@SarahBeth It really depends on what neighborhood you want to live in. In a popular neighborhood, one bedrooms can go for $2000—$2200, but if you’re willing to live a little farther out, things can go down quite a bit. $1500—$1700 still can get you something nice. In a hot neightborhood (Mission/Lower Haight), a parking spot is $200–250, but often if you live farther out, you can get one included. Big studios are even cheaper.

I’d recommend checking out Craigslist.

SarahBeth's avatar

Thanks Ben! We’d be happy with a studio, and i’ve been on craigslist like crack… (we live in Florida right now so im not able to hit the pavement to find a place). Im not that perticular about neighborhood, but i may be naive. I only know to stay away from the Tenderloin area. Any suggestions?

ben's avatar

Yeah, a few. My favorite neighborhood (I’m looking for a place now, as well) is Duboce Triangle, though it’s a pain (expensive) to have a car there and Noe Valley-Mission near 24th St BART. If you’re going for a little more value, I’d recommend Alamo Square, Inner Sunset (but I’d say keep the street number below 13th—you don’t want to live way out near the ocean), NOPA (north of the panhandle). Those are all charming neighborhoods that aren’t too expensive. Inner Sunset has the N-Judah muni line and lots of great cheap food, but it can be a little foggy. NOPA and Alamo square aren’t quite as close to transit, but aren’t that far and aren’t too expensive.

Oh yeah, a weird thing about SF is every neighborhood can have different weather—crazy, I know. That’s why you should avoid the outer richmond or outer sunset (near the beach). Often first timers move in there because things are so cheap, but it’s really foggy and far out from almost everything.

If you’re a hipster, the Mission is nice because it’s the bohemian center of the universe and sunny, but it’s slightly overpriced and dingy.

Let me know if you have more specific questions about areas.

Lothloriengaladriel's avatar

Why do you want to move there? There’s plenty of other places in the country that are much cheaper and a lot nicer, SF just doesn’t seem too appealing.

Likeradar's avatar

@Lothloriengaladriel Niceness is in the eye of the beholder. (or be-liver in the case of a city?)

Judi's avatar

Here is a Cost of Living Calculator It will help you determine how much you would need to make in the new place to live the same lifestyle you live in the old place.

basp's avatar

If cost is a huge consideration, check out the east bay. Lots of great places in the east bay.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Yes you can.
Between 2 people with jobs, a studio is very doable. Try for a 1 bedroom if you can. There’s deals to be had.

Also consider nearby cities accessible by train (aka BART). There are good places in San Leandro, North Oakland, Berkeley and Daly City. Rent is more reasonable in these areas. The extra bedroom is worth it sometimes. Parking isn’t as bad in those areas.

Having a car is expensive in SF. You’ll need a permit most places. Also budget about $100 per month for parking tickets. Hopefully you won’t need it. Chances are toy will.

Do NOT even consider the Tenderloin District. I cannot stress this enough. I don’t want you to get attacked.

occ's avatar

I would say yes, if you’re willing to live frugally. A studio apartment will cost you about $1200. You’ll have to find one in an area that has street parking, because a garage rental would cost you around $200 extra per month. However, it’s possible to live cheaply in SF if you make an effort. You can buy great produce for cheap prices at the Alemany farmer’s markets. And there’s no better cheap dinner than a burrito: $4 and you won’t need to eat again for a long time. You mentioned you work in the restaurant business so you might not really have food costs, if you end up eating most meals at work. Entertainment costs are also low in SF compared to other big cities, since you end up doing a lot of free activities outside (hiking, hanging out in the park), and there are often live performances at bars for free or a very minimal cover, like $5. So if you’re willing to share a studio apartment and make an effort to eat on the cheap, you will probably be fine. I had a friend whose first job in SF paid less than $25K and since she lived with roommates and bought her food in bulk she was able to make it work.
**important caveat – this all depends on whether or not you have lots of student loans. If you have loans to pay off every month, the situation is different.

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