Relocating to San Francisco – life expectancy is high, but is the cost of living higher?

When moving to a new city, there are a lot of things you need to keep in mind, including living costs, the employment market and overall quality of life. When it comes to the quality of life and life expectancy in general, a study conducted by Stanford researchers places the Bay Area, amongst the regions with the highest life expectancy in the country. People living in San Francisco and San Jose have a chance to live at least 2 years longer than compared to the national average.

Although life expectancy is highly influenced by a number of things, including income, even those that make less on average get to live a few years longer in San Francisco. Nationwide, underprivileged Americans have a life expectancy of 79.4 years, but in San Francisco, the number increases to 80.9, whereas in San Jose, it grows, even more, reaching 81.6 years.

These results make San Francisco and the Bay Area, in general, the perfect place to move to, but it is important to remember that the cost of living in the City by the Bay is also significantly higher than in other U.S. regions.

If you are planning to move to San Francisco, we’ve come to your help by breaking down the various costs of living and how you can make it work, even if your bills tend to increase.

Home and rent prices

Housing prices in San Francisco are known to be significantly higher than in other major U.S. cities. 2018 data from the National Association of Realtors shows that the median piece for a single-family house in San Francisco is $952,400; a pretty expensive price when compared to cities such as Seattle ($489,600) and New York ($403,900).

California is known to be expensive, but San Francisco wins the prize even when compared to other cities in the Golden State. The median price for a similar single-family house in San Diego reaches $626,000, whereas in Los Angeles is gets down to $576,100.

If you are planning to rent, know that rent prices in San Francisco have increased quite rapidly. In March 2019, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city was $2,474, but by January 2020, the numbers have grown to reach $3,500.

If you are coming from a less expensive area of the country, these prices may seem plain frightening, but these are just median prices, influenced by some extravagant areas where rent can reach $10,000 per month. You will be glad to know there are plenty of areas where rentals go well under $3,500. Plus, you can always share the apartment with one or more roommates, to really cut down on expenses.

Taxes and utility costs

If the housing market is one of the hottest in the country, when it comes to utility costs, San Francisco residents are amongst the luckiest. Bills are usually lower than the national average, but this has to do a lot with the city’s climate. It rarely gets too hot or too cold in San Francisco, meaning you won’t have to worry about adjusting the temperature too much inside your home. Basic utility costs for a 915-square foot apartment reach around $150 each month, but if you are good at budgeting, you can easily lower that amount.

When it comes to taxes, California is known to have some of the highest income taxes in the nation. State sales tax in California is 7.25%, but if you add county and city rates, it grows up to 8.50% in San Francisco. Property taxes, however, tend to be low at a 0.67% average effective property tax rate.

A high life expectancy, however, can help reduce insurance taxes, as they are in direct correlation. In simpler words, the highest your life expectancy is, the lower the price of insurance is going to be. Insurance experts at Life Ant, however, advise that you should purchase life insurance as young as possible. As you age, your life expectancy becomes lower, which translates into higher risks for the insurance company, which needs to compensate for those risks by increasing the premium.

Food and commuting costs

Prices in San Francisco are higher than in many U.S. cities. A loan of fresh bread, for example, is $3.23, and 2 pounds of meat can easily go over $15. If you were to go out, a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost you $40, while one cup of cappuccino is $4.61. However, some people living in San Francisco manage to do just fine with a yearly income under $50,000 by shopping at the farmers market, eating at small restaurants or cooking at home, and buying groceries in bulk.  

Any person living in San Francisco will tell you that relying solely on your car for transportation is not only expensive but very stressful as well. The city is number 3 on the list of cities with the highest traffic congestion levels, and they don’t stand too good when it comes to parking either.

Fortunately, the city provides several public transportation methods, including buses, trains, and BART (the Bay Area Rapid Transit). Many residents rely on ride-sharing services or their bikes to commute. This is not only less expensive but saves time as well, as you risk being stuck in traffic quite a lot during rush hours.

The job market in San Francisco

Living in San Francisco may be expensive, but the salary for professional jobs is also higher than almost anywhere else in the U.S. A monthly income of $5,000 allows you to live in a median apartment and meet basic expenses, with some money left aside for savings or emergencies, and this is way below the average monthly salary. The average monthly salary after tax is $7,666 in San Francisco, which is enough to live a balanced life.

The unemployment rate in San Francisco is down to 2.7% as of January 2020, almost a full percentage lower than the national 3.6%. With this being said, if you have in-demand skills, you should be able to find a job in San Francisco without much hassle.

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