General Question

Breefield's avatar

How much does living in San Francisco really cost?

Asked by Breefield (2728points) February 9th, 2008

I’m currently a sophomore in high school, so college is a good two years away, but I want to know these things so I have a good idea of how much things will cost. I’d like to go to the Art Institute
Anyhow, I’m just looking for general information, things from people who’ve lived, or currently live there. How much an apartment would cost, where some of the nicer areas are, how much it costs for you to eat. Just general stuff, because I’m interested.

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7 Answers

artemisdivine's avatar

one of the most expensive places to live in the USA. i do not live there but i would MARRY someone just to live there! it is my fave city on earth. i have only been there twice but i absolutely adore it. i dont know what it is but it casts a spell on you. maybe its cause it is so gay friendly. if i could legally live there i would do so in a heartbeat. there are a lot of SF people on this board.

Cost of Living – Top 20 Metropolitan Areas
http://www.stlrcga.org/x436.xml

Moving / Relocation Calculator
http://swz.salary.com/CostOfLivingWizard/layouthtmls/coll_metrodetail_156.html#moving

San Francisco’s cost of living remains one of the highest in the country, due in part to the tight labor market and the high cost of housing, food and other consumer goods.
http://www.sfchamber.com/cost_of_living.htm

Cost of Living Index for Selected U.S. Cities1
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0883960.html

A Bay Area couple with two kids can’t make it on $50,000 a year
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/17/MN0ISQEFP.DTL&tsp=1

The nifty machine below allows you to calculate the salary you should make regarding you current wage and your style of life.
Unselect the category of goods you wish to exclude, enter your current salary and choose the current city and the one you want to compare with. Then press OK to validate…
http://www.easyexpat.com/mod/cost_en.htm

In the “golden age” of medicine 20 years ago, young physicians flocked to the Bay Area in record numbers and began practices. Housing and the cost of living were reasonable. As a result, the market for physicians rapidly saturated. This led to fewer new solo practices and more partnerships. In addition, the cost of living in the Bay Area has skyrocketed for the past 20 years.
http://www.sfms.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&SECTION=Article_Archives&CONTENTID=1750&TEMPLATE=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm

Cost of living saps Bay Area productivity
http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2006/03/27/story3.html

Chat Board
City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > California
http://www.city-data.com/forum/san-francisco/

jz1220's avatar

College students do not have the greatest quality of life in SF. Be prepared to settle for living in a neighborhood like the Mission, which is considered “hip” because it’s slowly gentrifying, but I’ve known plenty of people who’ve still gotten mugged there. However, it’s still popular with the art school students because rent is relatively cheap, and there’s a lot of young people and “culture”. Other neighborhoods to look at: “TenderNob” (at the border of luxurious Nob Hill apartments and the drug lords of Tenderloin), Potrero Hill and North-Panhandle. Again, these neighborhoods are semi-gentrified, so you can find good deals if you look hard enough. The Sunset and Richmond are very safe, more affordable, but extremely family-oriented neighborhoods. So if you don’t care about the hip factor or accessible nightlife, consider those areas. Living with roommates would set you back about $600–900 a month.

Owning a car is very expensive in SF, not only because of gas and insurance but because of the vultures known as the Dept. of Parking and Traffic. You SF drivers out there know what I’m talking about. As parking is not easy near the Art Institute, I would suggest moving into a neighborhood close to school and buying an used bike for $100 (not a fancy one, it will probably get stolen) to get around. Public transportation is utterly shameful and unreliable.

Food – I wouldn’t worry about it. Trader Joe’s is many college students’ savior. Unless you eat out everyday, you shouldn’t expect to spend more than you do now on food.

Aside from everything I’ve said, San Francisco is a fantastic city to live in. Many people put up with the crappy neighborhoods and inconveniences for the privilege of experiencing everything this city has. It’s a great place to study art. Good luck!

occ's avatar

Hi, I’ve lived in SF for the past 4 years or so. When I first moved here I was making very little money. It’s an expensive city but it’s worth it—so much fun, so much to do, so many amazing creative people. The most expensive thing by far is the rent, but if you are willing to share with a lot of roommates, it’s slightly better.

Be prepared to spend $800/month on rent. There are still some places where you can find rent in a shared place for as little as $600, but they are very hard to find. The good news is that SF is all rent-controled, so if you find a place you can afford, the price will never go up more than 2% a year!

Food you can actually do on-the-cheap, if you’re willing to prepare your own food and not eat out all the time, or eat lots of burritos which only cost $4 and keep you full for hours. And for the times when you do want to eat out, there are plenty of cheap places in the Mission. Entertainment is inexpensive, compared to other big cities—you can hit the bars in the mission for live music and a cover under $10. You won’t be able to keep a car in the city, unless you make a lot of money to pay for a parking spot, but most young people here get around on bikes or public transit (an unlimited bus/train pass within SF is only $45 a month.

Overall, you’d want to budget $1500 a month. I have friends who have gotten by on less, close to $1200, but they were definitely living hand-to-mouth and definitely not going out for beers a lot. The thing is, there are so many great outdoorsy things to do, you can find entertainment without spending lots of money.

Hope this helps!

Spargett's avatar

Here’s the deal… There’s alot of misinformation about San Francisco. It certainly can be expensive, and it is more than someone coming from Indiana would be use to, but it can also be very afordable.

The only thing that really does cost more is (naturally) the housing since its one of the most desired places to live in the world. But its not like sodas are $3 in SF and $1 outside the city limits. Cars are inherently expensive in any city, and not nessesary at all.

I say go for it, don’t buy into all the hype. You can make a budget easily work. Get a room in the city for $500 or less. Perfect for a student what more do you need?

Cragslist is your ticket for all resources. Please don’t hesitate to message me with any questions and don’t be afraid of a great experience.

emilyrose's avatar

I did americorps my first year here and made $1100 month after taxes and I was fine. You can find a cheap room on craigslist, it just won’t be very nice. That year I went out to eat only a few times, and to cheaper places…so you better plan on making a lot of your own meals if you won’t have income… but really it’s just the rent that’s high. If you want to have a real “college” experience you can also consider sharing a room and save big. sf rules. i just went to the art academy today for a press conference and i saw some amazing stuff.

Breefield's avatar

Thanks for all the amazing tips everyone! It certainly sounds fun, like an adventure.

syntak's avatar

well ive lived in mostly all neighborhoods in this city. i moved here when i was 18 and im 24 now. when i first moved here, i was told i came at the end of the dotcom boom so rent prices were still high but dropping. i first moved to a 2.5 bedroom with two bath on grove st. at shrader (haight ashbury district) and the full rent was 1700. It was two huge bedrooms and a small office. included was a large kitchen, living room, and a kick ass backyard. it was a flat in a 3 story building. i thought i lucked out with the price. soon after i moved to my own place (only a one bedroom apartment) on terra vista at baker (western addition neighborhood), there i paid 1300. it was a kick ass spot, 2 story, only one bath, living room, 2 walk in closets, large kitchen, great view from the top of the hill. by the time i moved out of that spot, an identical apartment was for advertised for 2200 across the street. now i live in the mission neighborhood. I pay 2700 for a 3 bedroom with a living room. and two bathrooms. shitty neighborhood. but rents cheap and plenty to do (bars, restaurants, clubs, etc…)

if youre moving here when you turn 18 i recommend getting a single room with some buddies. prices will run you 600 – 1100 for a decent room. not cheap if youre not used to it. craigslist unfortunately is more than likely your best resource for the bay area. make sure you interview your roomies and not have them interview you. avoid sketchy situations and always play it safe.

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