San Francisco is widely recognized as one of the most desirable cities in the United States. The scenery is breathtaking, the weather is mild year round, and the people are as diverse as any other place in America. The downside to moving to the Bay Area is that it’s one of the most expensive places in the United States. Rent, transportation, and even food cost significantly more in San Francisco than anywhere else.

If you are considering moving to San Francisco, the following information breaks down the average cost of various necessities in the city so you can estimate the income you will need to live there as a student, professional, or unemployed job seeker. Note that these are averages.

Because the cost of living varies greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, and each resident has their own unique circumstances, you may need to adjust these numbers to determine the specific amount of money you need.

The central theses

  • San Francisco has one of the highest cost of living in the United States.
  • The average city one-bedroom apartment rental in San Francisco is around $ 3,500 per month, and utility bills are around $ 150 per month.
  • Students can save on the cost of living by sharing an apartment with roommates.

Rental rates in San Francisco

San Francisco rents have increased rapidly. As of January 2020, a one-bedroom apartment in the city costs around $ 3,500, while the median of all homes is $ 4,300...

For someone moving from a less expensive part of the country like the South or the Midwest, this number can come as a shock or downright fear. After all, in cities like Cincinnati or Memphis, a monthly income of $ 3,500 would create a comfortable home with a yard, pay for essentials, and still leave you pocket money.

The good news is that $ 3,500 is the median. There are some extravagantly affluent neighborhoods where rents are $ 10,000 a month or more, but there are also areas with rents well below $ 3,500... ..

San Francisco utilities

Utilities are the only expense that San Francisco residents take a break from. Bills for city dwellers are lower than the national average. This is in large part due to the city’s pleasant climate. It doesn’t get hot in summer or particularly cold in winter. Basic utilities such as electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for a 915 square foot apartment cost about $ 154 per month..Budget-conscious residents can easily lower this amount by using energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances and running their heating and air conditioning economically.

Food costs in San Francisco

San Franciscans pay more for groceries than residents of almost any city in the United States. A gallon of milk costs around $ 4 on average. A loaf of white bread costs about $ 3. A dozen eggs cost about $ 3. For a pound of boneless and skinless chicken breast, the average cost is $ 6...

In San Francisco, the typical household spends about $ 5,200 a year on groceries, or about $ 430 a month. This is lower than other major metropolitan areas like San Diego, but higher than Los Angeles...

Commuting costs in San Francisco

Relying on a car for transportation in San Francisco is very expensive, not to mention a huge hassle. Car insurance and gasoline cost well above the national average. The city ranks third in the country for traffic congestion after Los Angeles and New York, and parking is as bad as traffic... ..

Fortunately, San Francisco has far more advanced public transportation systems than other California cities. In addition to buses and taxis, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system runs largely throughout the subway area...

For drivers, auto insurance rates in San Francisco average $ 2,257 per year, compared to $ 1,868 in California and a national average of $ 1,548..In contrast, it is much cheaper to commute and get around the city with BART. The average passenger fare is $ 4..Assuming two trips per day and 20 days of commuting per month, this works out to be $ 160 per month.

Student life in San Francisco

The Bay Area is a huge draw for students. Several prestigious schools are home to the region, as are dozen of high-paying employers in nearby Silicon Valley, many of which are recruiting from local colleges. Before you move to San Francisco to go to school, however, you should know how much money you will need to survive.

As a college student, you can mitigate the stiff San Francisco rents by living with roommates. If you share an apartment with three other students, your share of a three-bedroom apartment will get you around $ 6,300 to $ 2,100..Your electricity bill is also a quarter of the cost of living alone. Eating out is still expensive, but transportation isn’t an issue for the most part as long as you rent a space that’s within walking distance of the campus.

Working in San Francisco

A professional San Francisco lifestyle is far more expensive than a college student. On the positive side, the pay for professional jobs in San Francisco is higher than anywhere else. As a professional, you’ve likely gone beyond the lifestyle of your roommates so the rent of around $ 3,500.00 is your sole responsibility..Utilities add another $ 154, while a monthly grocery bill of $ 430 allows you to eat healthily but certainly not in fancy restaurants....Transportation costs between $ 160 if you’re willing and able to travel exclusively with BART to over $ 500 a month to own a car...

With a monthly income of $ 5,000, you can live in an average apartment and cover basic expenses each month while having money left over to save or use unexpected expenses like car repairs or dental work. That’s $ 60,000 a year. With the right education and experience, there are many such jobs in the Bay Area.

Finding a job in San Francisco

The above information should make it clear that San Francisco is a difficult place to live without a stable income. Even if you move to the area with money saved, the city’s exorbitant cost can quickly undermine your savings. California offers unemployment benefits up to a maximum of $ 1,300 per week depending on your income, which may not be enough to keep you from immersing yourself in savings...

There is good news for job seekers in San Francisco. In January 2020, the city’s unemployment rate was 2.7%, almost a full percentage point below the national rate of 3.6%... .In fact, it’s one of the lowest city-wide rates in the United States. Especially if you have in-demand skills, you should be able to find a job in San Francisco quickly. Even so, it is still advisable to save six months on the cost of living if you move to the city without a job. For San Francisco, that means $ 25,000 to $ 30,000.