Home to the iconic Golden Gate bridge, slopes and hills with unbeatable views, THE Silicon Valley, and a number of unmissable quirks, San Francisco sure is one heck of a city. But there’s a lot more to take into consideration when planning a move to a new city. Luckily for you, safety, cost of living, the ideal neighborhoods, all of these and more have been covered in our comprehensive relocation guide for those of you considering moving to San Francisco.
What Should I Know Before Moving to San Francisco?
With an estimated 2020 population of 896,047, San Francisco is the 4th largest city in California and is currently growing at a rate of 0.72% annually. San Francisco spans across 232 miles, and has a population density of 19,104 people per square mile. For a city this size, no other city has as much personality, and its oddities are impossible to find elsewhere.
For one, San Franciscans love dressing up. Wear your wackiest, we dare you. You’re sure to find someone who is dressed up wackier than you, and are probably even pulling it off better than you could ever imagine. Residents take part in several events and occasions throughout the year, but two of these add to the absurdity in their own fun way.
One is the oldest consecutively run annual footrace in the world: the Bay to Breakers race, where residents run from the bay to the ocean (you can get as drunk as you like). The other is the Folsom Street Fair; no ordinary happening, this is a leather fetish/kink festival that takes place in September. San Franciscans don’t hold back; after all, nudity was legal in the city until recently.
Time runs oddly in San Francisco; residents and public transportation are always a little late. Even the weather here is weird – it is so erratic that it is said to vary within the city itself. The city is prone to fog, but San Franciscans, in all their weirdness, have named it. There’s no wiggling your way out of this one – Karl the Fog is your new pal if you want to call San Francisco home. All of this adds to the city’s great location, accessible to the communities and nature around it. To the east lies Yosemite National Park, to the south is the Santa Cruz boardwalk, a drive down the coast leads to LA, with Napa being 30 minutes to the east.
Crime Rate in San Francisco
All of this fun adds a ton of life to San Francisco, explaining the reason it grows at this rate. However, don’t forget about one of the most important aspects of finding a home: safety. It’s important to keep yourself up-to-date on the crime statistics for San Francisco, and understand what they mean.
For one, the violent crime rate comparison to a thousand residents is 7.12, higher than the national average of 4. This means your chances of becoming a victim of crimes like murder, assault and rape is 1 in 140. Thankfully, murders and rapes make up the least of this statistic, as robbery and assault take up the majority.
The property crime comparison per 1,000 residents is 57.01, much higher than the national average of 24. This makes your chances of becoming a victim of property crimes like burglaries and theft 1 in 18. These crime rates are indeed high, so make sure you choose a safe neighborhood when deciding when to stay.
San Francisco Weather
The weather in San Francisco makes you feel like you’re living in a micro-world due to the microclimates, where the weather varies from one hill to the next. Overall, it experiences moderate Mediterranean weather, with annual temperatures varying from 45°F to 72°F.
Summers in San Francisco are long yet comfortable, and temperatures peak in July. But even then, they average around 57°F and rarely go above 80°F. No matter how warm the day, at night the mercury drops to less than 70 degrees. But here’s where the microclimate issue arises; Karl the Fog makes an appearance, hiding the sun for a while and making temperatures dip.
Of the summer months, June, July and August tend to see the most of the fog. It shows up in the morning hours with temperatures around the upper 50s, disappears by 10 am with temperatures up in the 60s, reappears again by around 3 in the afternoon and disappears around 6. Sometimes, the regions in West San Francisco closest to the ocean are shrouded in fog the entire day.
Soon enough, winter sets in, characterised by cold cloudy skies and showers of rain. Temperatures average around the mid 50s in the day and drop to 50°F at night. 80% of San Francisco’s rain falls in the months from November to March. The rain is not constant like in Seattle, but comes in stormy bursts that lasts a few days before washing out inland.
The coldest and wettest month is January, with temperatures dropping till 50°F. This clears out into spring by the month of March. March, April and May are the months of spring, and though foggy, April can be gorgeous and sunny. May is an extremely foggy month, with temperatures hovering around 58°F.
How Expensive Is It To Live In San Francisco?
Here’s the terrifying part. San Francisco is truly seeming like a great, quirky city to live in thus far, but this life comes at a steep price. In recent years, it has gained a notorious reputation for its soaring prices. Crunch that budget and hold onto your socks as we delve into the belly of the beast to figure out how expensive San Francisco life is.
Cost Of Living In San Francisco
The cost of living in San Francisco is a massive 80% higher than national average. A family of four living in San Francisco would have to spend around $4,370.81 a month on expenses excluding housing. Similarly, a single person living in their own house in San Francisco would spend around $1,205.13 on monthly expenses. Groceries in San Francisco are 29% higher than the national average. You’d spend around $4.28 on a loaf of bread, $2.29 on a gallon of milk, $2.33 on a carton of eggs and $4.32 on a bunch of bananas.
Healthcare in San Francisco is 20% higher than the national average, which means a visit to the doctor will cost approximately $132.96 and a visit to the dentist will be around $114.23. San Francisco is also home to lots of dogs, and a visit to the vet will be around $62.84.
Buying A House
You better have a great job or a very big inheritance coming your way, because the cost of housing in San Francisco is 231% higher than the national average. The typical house value in San Francisco is $1,385,625; a figure that has actually declined -1.1% over the past year. It is predicted to rise by 7.5% in the next year. The median house price is $1,146,835.
Renting A House
The average rent for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,111. Apartments in San Francisco don’t come cheap unfortunately, as only 3% are rented out for between $1,000 and $1,500, and 8% between $1,500 and $2,000. The remaining 88% are all rented out at over $2,000 a month.
Utility costs in San Francisco are 9% higher than the national average. Your average monthly energy bill will be around $182.92, while your phone bill could come to around $194.98 a month. Gas sells for $3.51 a gallon. Basic utilities like electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for a 915-square-foot apartment are around $159 per month.
San Francisco Economy And Employment Opportunities
Although manufacturing is a major industry in the Bay Area, it is a slightly smaller source of income in San Francisco. Major industries here include food processing, textiles, finance, shipbuilding and tourism. And of course, San Francisco is one of the country’s leading tech-hubs. Some of the most popular occupations in San Francisco are Software Engineer, Senior Software Engineer, and Project Manager. Collectively, these pay between $57k and $168k per year. Overall, the average salary of San Franciscans is $99k, making it a little easy to keep up with those housing and utility costs.
Among all the big names, the most popular employers of San Francisco are Salesforce, Google, Uber, Facebook and The Gap. Psychiatrists, pilots, flight engineers, and Computer and Information Systems Managers are some of the highest paid occupations here in San Francisco.
Parents have quite a range to choose from when it comes to education in San Francisco. Although, it is comparatively not as good as other cities in the US. San Francisco boasts 114 public schools, of which 75 are elementary schools. Kids in San Francisco don’t necessarily attend school based on where they live. Parents can draw up a list of their top preferences irrespective of location, and the school board assigns one to their child. This is done to maintain even demographics in each school based on race, language and income.
Parents can choose homeschooling for their child, as it is legal in California. However, you will have to complete the Private School Affidavit as the Department of Education considers homeschooling to be a form of private education. There are also 25 high schools in San Francisco. Over 89% of the residents in San Francisco have received at least a high school graduation, with 58% having completed at least their bachelor’s. City College of San Francisco, San Francisco State University, University of California and University of California Hastings College of the Law are just four of the many universities in and around the city.
Getting Around San Francisco
San Francisco has a great network of public transportation. The municipal transportation system (called the Muni) operates buses, light rail Metro trains, cable cars and streetcar lines handled by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority or the SFMTA. There’s also the BART, which has nothing to do with the Simpsons, just in case you thought this was another one of the city’s many quirks.
BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
The Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, provides a high-speed all-electric rail service to the surrounding areas and the San Francisco airport (SFO). It connects the San Francisco Peninsula with communities in the East Bay and South Bay. Your fare depends on the distance to be travelled; the greater the distance, the higher the fare. However, a round-trip fare from the airport to downtown San Francisco is $19.30 ($9.65 one-way).
Muni Bus and Metro
Muni buses and rail lines ensure you can get to any corner of San Francisco without a hassle. The buses remain on street level, while the rail sometimes goes underground. There are a number of bus routes that stretch across the city, alongside six Metro lines that go inbound towards downtown San Francisco and outbound towards other places. Individual bus and rail rides cost $2.50, with special discounts for seniors and children. There are also apps you can use, like the 511 Trip Planner to help chart out your route better.
Cable Cars & Street Cars
Alongside the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ve seen these in every possible movie scene about San Francisco. Cable cars run downtown on three lines: Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. Cable car rides cost $7. The streetcar has the F-Line, running up and down Market Street, all the way to popular attraction Fisherman’s Wharf. You can pay your fare by paying the conductor onboard, by purchasing tickets in advance at locations or using the MuniMobile smartphone app.
Of course, you can always drive around in your car, but there’s a fair bit of traffic to navigate and the slopes are steep too. Thankfully, having your own vehicle is not a necessity in San Francisco. Flagging down taxis is a bit of a challenge, which is why we recommend using ride hailing apps like Lyft and Uber. Taxi fares start at $3.50, with each additional mile costing $3, and every minute stuck in traffic costing $0.55.
The Clipper Card is a pre-loaded card giving you access to BART, Muni buses, Muni Metro, and cable cars. You can buy them at multiple locations and refill them at Muni/BART stations. The Clipper Card makes it easy for you to pay your fares but make sure you have enough balance on your card by holding the card over a scanner when you board.
Best Neighborhoods In San Francisco
You already know that though San Francisco is a great city with good public transportation, its crime rates are worrying. This is why it is important to not only choose a neighborhood that supports and reflects your lifestyle and personality, but also brings the assurance of safety.
1. South of Market
Packed with museums, restaurants and more, South of Market, better known as SOMA, is quite the popular neighborhood. It is well located – a short walk or cab ride away from Union Square. Top things to do here include heading to a Giants game at Oracle Park, exploring the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and grabbing dinner at one of its high-end restaurants. The median home value here is $952,303 and the average rent is $3,500 per month.
A surf scene that complements its small-town charm, Pacifica is great for adrenaline junkies. For one, it is known to be a great destination for surfers and hikers alike. It is also great for mountain biking, with several routes winding across the hills. Average rental figures for apartments here are around $2,569, while the median home value is $1,152,671.
Trendy boutiques, historic buildings standing alongside modern apartments, a range of restaurants and dining options, Mission has all this and more to offer. Its namesake, Mission Dolores, is an 18th century surviving icon of San Francisco. Mission St. is the place to be to catch up on that food and shopping scene. The average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment here is currently $2,626, while the median home value is $1,376,711.
Is San Francisco A Good City To Live In?
When Rudyard Kipling wrote about San Francisco, he had one complaint: A complaint that it was impossible to leave. The city’s quirks aren’t for everyone; if your main prerogative is to hold a position with one of the bigwigs in Silicon Valley, you may prefer the much more focused city of San Jose. But anyone looking to live in a city brimming with personality will fall in love with San Francisco.
Sure, the fog is annoying, but follow the rule of always layering and carrying a jacket like the other locals do, and you’ll befriend Karl in no time. The city is compact and easily walkable, bikes have their own dedicated streets, and the public transportation does its job fairly well. As long as you can keep up with the soaring costs of living this life, San Francisco is undoubtedly the city for you.
Also See: 6 Best Moving Companies In San Francisco
Top Realtors in San Francisco Share their Thoughts
1. Aaron Bellings
“Moving to San Francisco is always a great decision! I’ve lived here my whole life, and nothing compares to the beauty and lifestyle of living in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. Located just a short drive away from some of the best wine tasting, skiing, and camping that the entire United States has to offer, San Francisco is the golden gateway to the West! With gorgeous weather, architecture, and some of the best restaurants and bars in the US, San Francisco has always been an international hot spot. Also steeped in history from the Gold Rush of 1849 or the flower child movement in the 1960’s there is something here for everyone. If you ever have questions about buying a home in San Francisco or what it’s like to live here, I’m always happy to talk about my experiences. After one visit to sunny Northern California, you’ll never want to leave!”
Are you tempted to give it a go and move to San Francisco? Make sure you get started on that moving checklist, which should include drafting up a budget and finalizing a moving company. Look up some moving companies with our help so you can obtain a few quotes to understand how much a move to San Francisco will cost you.