What to know before moving to San Francisco
Updated: May 9
Should I move to San Francisco?
If you're considering a to move to San Francisco, there are a few things you should know to help make the transition easier. Below, we examine the cost of living, averages for buying or renting a home, weather, public transportation, and diversity. Each has its pros and cons depending on what you're looking for.
San Francisco has a high cost of living:
San Francisco is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the United States. According to a recent report from the Council for Community and Economic Research, San Francisco has the highest cost of living index of any major city in the country. The report found that the cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6% higher than the national average.
Other expenses in San Francisco are also higher than the national average. For example, according to Numbeo, a website that compares cost of living data, a meal at a mid-range restaurant in San Francisco costs around $20, compared to around $15 in the rest of the country. Utilities are also more expensive, with the average monthly bill for electricity, heating, water, and garbage in San Francisco costing around $150, compared to around $130 in the rest of the country.
Should you buy or rent in San Francisco?
Housing is the biggest expense in San Francisco. The median home price in the city is over $1.4 million, and the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is over $3,000 per month. These high housing costs have led to a housing affordability crisis, with many residents struggling to find affordable housing. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city needs to build at least 100,000 new homes by 2030 to meet demand and stabilize housing prices.
The housing market in San Francisco has historically been one of the most expensive and competitive in the United States. While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to some changes in the market, including a brief decline in prices in 2020, prices have rebounded quickly and demand for housing remains high.
According to data from Redfin, the median home sale price in San Francisco as of March 2021 was $1.5 million, which was an increase of 2.7% compared to the previous year. This is significantly higher than the national median home sale price of $335,613 as of the same period.
The San Francisco housing market is known for being extremely competitive, with many homes receiving multiple offers and selling above asking price. According to Zillow, the average number of days a home was on the market in San Francisco as of April 2021 was 50 days, which is relatively low compared to some other markets.
In terms of the rental market, San Francisco is also known for having high rents. According to Zumper's National Rent Report for April 2021, San Francisco had the highest median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the United States at $2,650 per month. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $3,500 per month.
What you should know about the weather in San Francisco:
San Francisco's weather is notoriously unpredictable, with a climate that can change dramatically depending on the time of day and the neighborhood you're in. The city's location on the coast means that it's often cool and foggy, especially in the summer months. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, San Francisco has an average high temperature of 63.4°F (17.4°C) and an average low temperature of 50.1°F (10.1°C) throughout the year.
One of the most iconic weather features in San Francisco is the fog (affectionately named Karl), which can roll in unexpectedly and blanket the city in a thick layer of mist. The fog is caused by the cool air from the ocean meeting the warmer air over the city. This can lead to a phenomenon known as the "microclimate," where the weather can be drastically different from one neighborhood to the next. For example, the Mission District in the eastern part of the city is often much warmer and sunnier than the Sunset District in the west.
Public transportation in the city:
San Francisco has an extensive public transportation system, operated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The system includes buses, trains, light rail, and cable cars. The Muni system operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides transportation to most parts of the city.
The cost of public transportation in San Francisco is relatively low compared to other major cities in the United States. A single ride on the Muni system costs $2.50, while a monthly pass costs $81. However, the system can be crowded during peak hours, especially on buses and trains that run through downtown. The city is also known for its steep hills, which can make walking or cycling challenging in some areas.
Diversity of the residents in SF:
San Francisco is a very diverse city, with a population that includes people from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's population is 48% White, 34% Asian, 15% Hispanic or Latino, and 6% Black or African American. The city is also home to a large LGBTQ+ community and is known for its progressive social policies.
The diversity of San Francisco is reflected in its many neighborhoods, each with its own unique culture and vibe. Want to know the best neighborhood to live in San Francisco? We break down each district on this site!
Overall, San Francisco is a vibrant and exciting city with a lot to offer. Be prepared for the high cost of living and the unique culture and climate of the city. With a bit of preparation, you can make the most of your time in this amazing city.