Size of move Studio 1-Bedroom 2-Bedroom 3-Bedroom 4+ -Bedroom Office Other
Next step

Cost of living in San Francisco

What is the cost of living in San Francisco, California, in 2022? San Francisco is a beautiful city, filled with sweeping views and a laundry list of places to visit and things to see. The city is also well-known for being welcoming to people migrating into the area. Jobs are abundant, especially in the startup and tech space, although companies usually hire for any manner of things. But how does the cost of living for the area look? The cost of living for any particular location is the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses like housing, utilities, food, taxes, and healthcare. San Francisco and California itself have a reputation for having a relatively high cost of living compared to other US locations. San Francisco does have well-paying jobs to support this cost of living, balancing out the demand on the consumer.

Jump Ahead To:

The Cost of Living Index

The term "cost of living index" refers to the expenses mentioned above, but as an index-related value. To date, there is no official cost of living index calculation, so many of these figures tend to be arbitrary, based on a non-standardized figure for comparison. The cost of living index baseline is usually set at 100. If a place's goods, services, rent, etc., are more than the national average, they get a score higher than 100, based on the difference from the norm. Similarly, if these expenses are less than the national mean, the cost of living index is given a score less than 100 to reflect how much less those expenses are. The standard cost of living index is, therefore, 100. A city or state in the US will have a number higher or lower than 100 as their cost of living index to indicate whether they are more or less expensive than the norm.

Median Income in San Francisco

Many places in the US offer a relatively low cost of living. However, San Francisco is not one of those. Some estimates put the city as the third most expensive one to live in. The median income in San Francisco is around $72,947. While this value is quite impressive when taken in isolation, one has to understand the price of living in San Francisco to appreciate how little it actually is when taken in context. The median income in San Francisco makes it seem as though it's a great place to live. Compared to other cities where median income may be two-thirds of what one makes in San Francisco, the suggestion is that this city is a great place to live. However, estimates put the average to rent an apartment in the city at around $4,128 per month ($49,536 per year), a whopping 67% of the median income in San Francisco.

Cost Of Living in California Per Month

So, what exactly adds to the California living cost? The average cost of living in California has several contributors. Among them are:

1. Rent/Mortgage: We already covered above how much is likely to be spent on rent, but what about the mortgage? The average monthly payment for a 30-year mortgage in San Francisco is $2,812, as of 2022 ($33,744 per year, or 46% of one's annual salary).

2. Groceries: The cost of living is influenced by groceries, which are slightly higher than the national average in San Francisco.

3. Utilities: One of the less recognized (but just as important) costs of living in the area is the utility cost. The average cost of utilities in San Francisco is actually a little less than the rest of the country. The costs of utilities in the city are as follows: Electricity: $0.25 per kWh, Water/Sewage: ~$50/month, Natural Gas: ~$1.25/therm, Phone: Between $6 and $25/month depending on plans and providers.

4. Trash Handling: San Francisco seeks to be a green city, and to this end, they offer trash handling at around $40 per month.

5. Transportation: Gas sits at around $4/gallon at most gas stations, with minor fluctuations. The cost of transportation is significantly higher than in other areas, although public transport is reliable within the city.


Why is the Average Utility Bill in San Francisco So High?

It's expensive to live in this city because of combined costs and expenses. With almost a million people living within the city, the public utilities and works must be constantly maintained, which means taxation plays a massive part in infrastructure upkeep and public works. The most significant reason for the high cost of living in the area is due to its proximity to Silicon Valley and the high rates of pay for jobs in the region offer.

Where to Live in San Francisco

There are a lot of places to live in San Francisco, and determining the best neighborhood takes a bit of consideration. The best areas to live in San Francisco incorporate safe housing, close amenities, and easy access to the places you want to go. San Francisco has consistently been named one of the best places to live in the country, and these neighborhoods are among the best suburbs of San Francisco to consider when moving here.

1. Fisherman's Wharf: Surrounded by fantastic attractions like Boudin and Alcatraz, this area offers a fantastic sea view.

2. Financial District: One of the more commercial areas of the city, the Financial District borders neighborhoods like Chinatown and North Beach.

3. Mission District: A Latin-heavy neighborhood, this area boasts access to some of the best burritos in the city.

4. North Beach: Potentially the best place to live in San Francisco according to residents, North Beach is an attractive option for people who work downtown.

5. Russian Hill: A historical part of the city, but quite expensive to get lodgings.

6. Haight-Ashbury: Famous for being the soul of the counterculture movement of the 70s, the Haigh-Ashbury district has cleaned up its act and remains one of the safest neighborhoods in the city.

San Francisco Suburbs

In addition to the inner city, the San Francisco suburbs provide some of the best places to live. If you can't find a place to stay at an affordable cost within the city, it might be worth looking at what the suburbs offer. Among the suburbs that you'll find are:

1. Berkeley: Known for being the home of The University of California Berkeley, the suburb is more than just a college town, with wide suburban streets and a great atmosphere.

2. Oakland: One of the more multicultural suburbs, Oakland is an excellent place for families from all over to settle. The area also boasts some of the best seafood in the city.

3. Pleasanton: Located about an hour away from the city center, Pleasanton offers easy access to the city through public transport. The area is known for having some of the best pizza around.

4. San Jose: San Jose boasts the best climate in the San Francisco suburbs, along with a wide variety of attractions to appeal to any type of resident.

5. Walnut Creek: If you want safe, secure, and beautiful, Walnut Creek is exactly what you're looking for in the suburbs of San Francisco.

What Is the Most Expensive Neighborhood in San Francisco?

There are a few pretty opulent neighborhoods in San Francisco that could qualify as the most expensive places to live in the area. Among the most expensive communities to live in San Francisco are:

1. Presidio Heights: Median home price of $4,948,331

2. Seacliff: Median home price of $4,203,253

3. Marina District: Median home price of $2,402,845

4. Pacific Heights: Median home price of $2,014,414

Affordable Places to Live Near San Francisco

So, what are the cheaper places to live near San Francisco if you can't afford to rent or buy a house in these wealthy neighborhoods? The good news is that there are a few affordable places to live near San Francisco for those who have a more modest budget.

1. Bernal Heights: Median home price of $866,685 and $1,787 median monthly rent

2. Excelsior: Median home price of $646,360 and $1,511 median monthly rent

3. Financial District: Median home price of $654,150 and $1,643 median monthly rent

4. Oceanview: Median home price of $678,568 and $1,462 median monthly rent

5. Outer Sunset: Median home price of $833,912 and $1,619 median monthly rent


San Francisco Cost of Living

Living in San Francisco can get expensive. As one of the most in-demand cities to live in, it remains at the top of the in-demand cities in the US. Because of its massive demand and the salaries that many of the residents command because of the area’s industries, the cost of living is quite expensive. But precisely what makes it too costly to live in San Francisco?

1. The Booming Economy: On average, residents of San Francisco see a rise in salary of around 1.6% per year. This upward trend has continued unabated for quite some time.

2. Housing Shortage: Housing availability has become a slowly burgeoning problem in the urban area. With so many residents trying to get housing, competition is fierce for homes.

3. Building Regulations: Many existing houses have been in the area for more than twenty years. New developments have to follow stringent regulations making them infeasible.

4. Anti-Growth Culture: The city tries to preserve its history and culture, meaning fewer open areas for houses to be built.

In addition to these factors, there are also the inherent costs of living in the area, such as utilities:

1. Electricity rates usually come up to around $183.27 per month, although this number may be higher or lower depending on usage.

2. Water can set a person back by up to $149 per month.

3. An Internet/Cable connection will cost anywhere between $19.99 per month to $59.99 per month, depending on the provider and package.

These typical monthly expenses for living in San Francisco show that it will take a decent enough salary to afford rent and utilities. These average living expenses per month might seem like a little, but when you add in rent and summary expenses like groceries, it's easy to see why this is one of the most expensive cities to live in. The cost of living in San Francisco may be a bit steep for someone who isn't sure about what they want to do when they move here. However, if you are moving to San Francisco, you'll need to find a job covering your essential cost of living in the city.

Average Utilities Cost Expenses in Detail

As mentioned above, the cost of rent and utilities can come up to quite a large amount in San Francisco. When one compares San Francisco’s utility costs with the rest of the country, the costs are a whopping 231% more than the national average. Electricity costs are as much as 88% higher than the national average. Natural gas prices were as much as 52% higher than the national average. However, even though the state it sits in suffers from water shortages often, the cost of water was slightly lower than the national average. Aside from utilities, there are a lot of other things that need to be considered, such as:

Average food cost per month

Food costs in San Francisco are negligible, but the costs are, on average, about 12.5% of the monthly budget for a household. For a family of four, the average spending on food per month works out to around $1,695 as a moderate estimate. If the family eats out more, they will spend more since the average cost of dinner works out to approximately $40 per adult. The average cost of monthly food for one would translate to roughly $423.75, which is almost one hundred dollars more per person than the national average. More affluent households may spend far more on groceries per month than this budgeted value, depending on the amount they make. For a single person living in San Francisco, the costs of living, such as groceries, could be manageable on a budget. Some families claim their average grocery cost per month is around $2,000 for a family of four, suggesting a single person may spend as much as $500 on their food expenses per month.

Average internet bill

What's the average internet bill per month in San Francisco? San Francisco has no shortage of internet providers, and they each offer service levels that cater to their clients’ spending. Xfinity offers one of the cheapest packages with a 50Mbps connection costing $19.99 per month. Faster connections are likely to cost a client more. AT&T offers up to 75Mbps to buyers for around $45.00 per month, but the company also has a Fiber option in select areas, which gives up to 1Gbps for approximately $35 per month. Viasat offers a 100Mbps connection for $60 per month, while Earthlink offers a 75Mbps connection for $49.95 per month. WiFi for an apartment may cost as little as $19.95 for the connection, and many providers include a wireless router as part of the package. An average internet bill per month in San Francisco could be as little as $19.95 or much more, depending on the package a person takes and any additional services they take from their ISP.

SF water bill

An SF water bill is likely to set a person back between $95 and $100 per month. The cost of water in San Francisco is affordable, making it one of the less terrible expenses to pay for living in the city. A San Francisco water bill is on average (and a little below average) with the rest of the country.

Gas prices in San Francisco

Gas is necessary for heating in the colder months, and piped gas does tend to cost a bit. Piped gas prices in San Francisco work out to $19.97 per thousand cubic feet. This is a massive increase of 65% more than the national average cost per thousand cubic feet. On average, a person can expect to pay between $150 and $180 per month for their gas and heating bills. This value will fluctuate over the year, as the colder months require more heating than the warmer ones.

How much is electricity per month in apartment?

We covered electricity before, with the average electricity bill anywhere between $130 and $10 per month, depending on usage. During the month, your apartment electricity costs may increase or decrease based on if you leave your lights and electrical devices on or not. It is important to remember that electricity rates in San Francisco are among the highest in the country. Therefore, the cost of electricity per month in San Francisco is some of the highest in the country. To lower electricity bills, consider switching off unused electrical devices and lights.

Exploring the Average Salary in San Francisco

The salaries in San Francisco are much higher than anywhere else in the surrounding regions, partially because of the massive cost of living within the city. If you're planning to live comfortably in San Francisco, you should be looking for a job that offers at least $7,000 per month ($84,000 per year). Many of the jobs in the region do cover this cost of living with a little bit left over. Typical jobs in the city area include:

  • Software Engineer ($96k - $155k)
  • Project Manager (63k - 139k)
  • Data Scientist (90k - 159k)

When taken as a whole, the average salary for someone living in San Francisco works out to $104k per year, which is slightly above the minimum amount to live comfortably. The salary to live comfortably for the average individual might require holding down more than one job. However, it may be worth it since even the lower-tier employment in San Francisco pay pretty well. Entry-level salaries in San Francisco come in at around $40k per year, but this isn't nearly enough to live comfortably on. The minimum wage of $15 per hour is far too little to live comfortably on or even barely scrape by. However, many jobs offer slightly more this to start. For an employee with a bit of experience, employers may offer up to $25 per hour for some jobs, which may be the bare minimum to live on. The minimum salary to live in San Francisco works out to $4,800, with a minimum of amenities.


Average Rent in San Francisco

While many people would prefer to be homeowners, many people who come to San Francisco don't want to buy the property immediately. The high cost of these properties means renting is usually a more financially viable solution. The cost of renting a property in San Francisco varies depending on the locale you decide to settle in. Some areas are more in-demand than others because of proximity to locations of interest or jobs. A 740 sq. ft. apartment in the urban parts of San Francisco averages out at $2,900 per month. A 2-bedroom rental apartment works out to an average of $3.995 per month. The rent rates in San Francisco have increased by 12% over last year. A little more than half of the housing in San Francisco is rental-based.
San Francisco rental prices are high compared to other cities in the US. However, this high cost of rent is typical in California. Out of the top ten rental cost cities in the US, six are in California, with San Francisco usually near the top of the list. COVID-19 has reduced some of the residents and, by extension, the demand for housing in the area. However, this hasn't carried over to a reduction in rental costs in SF because the market still shows massive scarcity. If you're renting in San Francisco, you should be prepared to pay the cost for a rental property in SF.

Average Home Price in San Francisco

Of course, the alternative to renting is buying a house in San Francisco. However, as mentioned before, there's a lot of demand and not much supply. As a result, the cost of buying a home in San Francisco is pretty high. On average, the cost of a home in San Francisco is approximately $1,608,937, down around 12% from last year. House cost in California is expensive because of many of the same reasons mentioned for the high cost of the rent. Whether you decide to buy a home in San Francisco or go for a rental depends on your financial situation and goals. Owning a home in San Francisco will increase your equity, but it may be too expensive for the average person. If you intend to buy a home in San Francisco, the cheapest location to shop for houses in San Francisco is Bayview. Before the pandemic, houses here would command sub-one-million-dollar price tags, making it the most affordable neighborhood in San Francisco for buying a home.

The Average Cost of Utilities by Bedroom Size

Most bedroom sizes in San Francisco are between 8'x 8' and 12'x 12'. This works out to an average bedroom floor space of between 64 sq. ft. and 144 sq. ft. On average. For a bedroom this size in a house, the average utility cost for a single bedroom is likely to be between $100 and $150 a month. Electricity costs are likely to be between $40 and $70 (depending on usage). It is important to note that the bedroom size doesn't play a significant role in determining the amount your utility bill will likely end up; it’s far better to estimate based on the size of the property in question. Some single-bedroom locations offer a large living room and kitchen, making the overall utility cost much higher, even if the bedroom is only 8' x 8'. Thus we must consider the entire apartment as a single unit to estimate the overall costs.

Average Utility Costs in a Studio Apartment

Studio apartments are only meant to hold one person at a time. They are also much smaller than full-sized apartments and have fewer room delineations. In San Francisco, studio apartments are the most in-demand apartments for new arrivals to the Bay Area. The cost of utilities in a studio apartment tends to be slightly less expensive than in a standard-sized apartment. A 900 sq.ft. studio apartment may cost as much as $150 in utility costs. Of course, this average utility cost figure is based on standard usage. For example, in colder months, gas costs would be more pronounced as it would cost more to remain warm.

Average Utility Costs for a 1 Bedroom Apartment

Studio or one-bedroom apartments have much of the exact utility costs associated with them. As mentioned before, the average utility cost in San Francisco for a single person per month works out to around $240 at the most basic rate. The cost of utilities in SF will vary depending on whether you opt for faster internet (for example) or consume more gas. Electricity rates are also calculated by tier so that some apartments may take more utility costs than others. Finding out what tiered rate the apartment pays for electricity will help you estimate the costs of utilities much more accurately. The average electric bill for an apartment in San Francisco varies between $40 and $70 but may rise to $100 or more depending on the tier of pricing.

Average utility costs of a 1-bedroom apartment per month are approximately:

  • Electricity: $40-$70
  • Gas: $25 - $65
  • Water: $30 - $60
  • Internet: $20 - $60

Average Utility Costs for a 2 Bedroom Apartment

Many of the costs of a 1-bedroom apartment carry over to the 2-bedroom apartment. For example, the cost of the internet is likely to be the same since it depends on the type and speed of connection you have. Water will also remain constant since the same supply would come to both types of apartments. Usage may be more and might impact the final cost. The cost of electricity and gas may be higher since there is larger floor space for heating and more area for lighting. In general, the utility costs of a 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco cover:

  • Electricity: $50 - $100
  • Gas: $45 - $75
  • Water: $35 - $65
  • Internet: $20 - $60

Average Utility Costs for a 3 Bedroom Apartment

Once more, the costs of utilities for a three-bedroom apartment will be similar to those for a two-bedroom and one-bedroom apartment in some cases (such as internet costs). Electricity costs for a three-bedroom apartment may be more expensive. Gas for heating will also be more expensive. The average electric bill for a 3-bedroom apartment in San Francisco can be as expensive as $150 in some cases. Water may also be significantly more, depending on usage. The utility costs for a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco can be comparable to the utility cost of a house in San Francisco. In general, the utility costs in San Francisco for a three-bedroom apartment work out to:

  • Electricity: $100 - $180
  • Gas: $75 - $150
  • Water: $50 - $85
  • Internet: $20 - $60

San Francisco vs. New York: Which Offers the Better Value?

New York City is another one of the popular cities to live in, but how does its cost of living compare to San Francisco? When we look at the expense of food and groceries in NYC vs. San Francisco, there's no significant difference. However, other areas of comparison between San Francisco vs. New York City reveal more glaring differences. Housing costs in NYC are 50% less than in San Francisco because there's less demand for housing from the city's residents. There's also ample new construction to keep up with demand. The cost of utilities in New York vs. San Francisco is surprisingly more. Utilities cost up to 50% more in NYC vs. San Francisco. Transportation and healthcare costs are between 10 and 15% more expensive in New York than in San Francisco. When we compare both places to the average cost of living in US cities, they both end up as costly places to live. This high cost of living is linked to the high demand for urban centers where many high-paying jobs are located.

Is It Worth It to Live in San Francisco?

San Francisco is a fantastic city to live in, but the cost of living here is relatively high. The city does what it can to support its residents with affordable public transport and easy access to major amenities and businesses. Even people who work non-specialist jobs in San Francisco make a decent amount compared to other parts of the country. The most pressing concern for individuals who move to San Francisco is finding housing. As mentioned before, affordable housing is harder to locate than it first seems. Competition for housing is high, and the lack of new developments makes it difficult to find housing close to your place of employment. The result is that many workers opt for the suburbs, where housing is more affordable, but there's an increased cost of transportation to and from work.
San Francisco's suburbs aren't bad to live in either. They are safe, and they offer all the amenities that anyone would need in an apartment. Transportation costs to the inner city are negligible, and working within the urban center isn't much of a problem. San Francisco also offers some beautiful historical sites and more restaurants than you could visit in a lifetime. Despite the city being relatively small compared to others, there's so much to see. If you're considering moving to San Francisco, you should try it for a little bit. You don't even need to have those flowers in your hair.