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A Complete Guide to Moving to San Francisco


San Francisco is undoubtedly one of America’s most iconic cities. In fact, it’s iconic the world over.

With its majestic Golden Gate Bridge, picturesque coastline, incredible food, cultural landmarks, and booming economy, San Francisco is considered one of America’s powerhouse cities.

San Francisco offers the best of both worlds — charm and character as well as opportunity and growth. If you’re looking for a major change in the pace and outlook of your life, a move to San Francisco could shake things up.

Learn more in this guide to moving to San Francisco and what to expect.


Moving to San Francisco: Is It a Good Idea?

San Francisco, also known as the City By the Bay, is a unique and fascinating place to set up your life. You have direct access to thriving city life, and a plethora of outdoor pursuits, backed by a view of the ocean at almost all angles.

San Francisco is a city with a history of social movements, change, and historical milestones.  It’s progressive and always has been. If this appeals to you, then ‘Frisco is a great choice.

You have access to beautiful beaches, well-manicured parks, and urban hiking through the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, and more. Not-to-mention the many career opportunities and earning potential, especially in the tech field.

San Francisco is also one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., with one of the highest dog populations and plenty of eateries and parks that welcome your furry friend(s).

What Are the Drawbacks?

Deciding to transport your car and all of your belongings cross country is a decision not to be taken lightly. And even though San Francisco is an alluring city, we must consider with all of this new opportunity, comes a few drawbacks. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in America. It’s a well-known fact that rent is the highest in the country as the demand for housing increases, but housing supply remains the same.

As a result, this has driven the median price for rent to almost unaffordable rates. Basically, this means that you have to be able to afford to live in San Francisco if you plan on moving there. A major saving grace is that earning potential is some of the best in the country.

The cost of living, taxes, and other services are fairly pricey, too. But salaries are generally adjusted to this cost of living. This is why it’s so important to look for and secure employment before you make the move.

Traffic in San Francisco is also a major drawback. The same goes for the availability and cost of parking. The city’s weather is temperamental and is often subject to fog and rain.

The Best Places to Live in San Francisco

San Francisco offers a range of lovely neighborhoods to choose from. But bear in mind that your decision is most likely going to be based on the cost of rent. The great thing about living in this city is that it’s easy to walk, catch a cab, bus or tram from one neighborhood to the next.

Some of the best neighborhoods to live in are:

Each of these neighborhoods has a little something to offer everyone. The closer to the city center you live, the more your rent will be. You’ll also need to factor in where you work and choose a neighborhood that is a reasonable distance from your workplace. This way, you can avoid spending excessive amounts of time in traffic.

The San Francisco Cost of Living

This is probably the most important factor to consider before you move to this iconic city. You’ll want to make sure you have a job secured and know what kind of budget you have. This allows you to gauge whether you can really afford to live in San Francisco, or not.

When it comes to renting, this will be where most of your budget goes. On average, you can expect to pay $3,300 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city. If you live outside the city, rent goes down to about $2,700. A three-bedroom apartment will set you back roughly $5,900 in the city, and $4,400 in the suburbs.

If you plan on buying a home in San Francisco, be prepared to pay an average of $12,000 per square foot. Or, $9,000 per square foot in the suburbs. There are ways to save money on rent, though. If you are on a budget, you just have to know which areas to choose from, and which to avoid.

Some of the most expensive neighborhoods include Dogpatch, South Beach, Pacific Heights, and Panhandle. Some of the more affordable areas include Ocean View, Excelsior, Outer Sunset, the Richmond District, and Central Sunset.

Other Costs and Taxes

San Francisco is well-known for being a foodie’s paradise. The city offers some of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in all of America, as well as more traditional fare. The selection is extremely diverse and caters to all tastes. To eat out at an inexpensive restaurant, a meal will cost you anywhere from $13-$20.

Other day-to-day expenses are a little higher than other states, but this is off-set by the higher wages paid in this city. For example, you can expect to pay an average of $5 for a takeout coffee, $1.64 for a liter of milk, or $4 for a dozen eggs.

If you live in the state of California, you are required to pay both state and federal taxes. Sales tax in San Francisco averages about 8.5% — you will find sales tax added to most services and goods.

Homeowners are also required to pay property taxes. This is calculated based on the neighborhood you live in and the size of your property. Purchasing an apartment/flat in San Francisco is accompanied by real estate transfer tax.

Job Opportunity In San Francisco

The reality is that most people who move to San Francisco do so because of a job opportunity. There is a thriving job market in this city and it’s a brilliant place to meet and even exceed your career goals.

Yes, it’s possible to relocate to San Francisco without a job, but it’s often not recommended. This is purely because of the high cost of living.

San Francisco is the epicenter of the tech industry in the U.S., where many tech giants such as Apple, Google, Twitter, and Facebook have established their headquarters. Most of these companies and many new and innovative startups are based in the iconic Silicon Valley.

Since the very early 2000s, the tech industry has boosted the local economy in San Francisco like no other industry. Needless-to-say, if you are looking for a great career opportunity in tech, as well as sales and marketing, there is plenty of opportunity in this city.

Education in San Francisco

If you are a young family with children looking to relocate to San Francisco, there are plenty of great schooling options in the city. However, the public education system works a little differently in this part of the U.S.

Children in San Francisco do not attend public schools based on the neighborhood they live in. The city aims to create an even playing field when it comes to education, demographics, income, race, and language.

This means you are able to choose from a range of public schools throughout the city, and your child will be assigned to one of them by the school board.

There are also plenty of private school options, but admission to private schools is expensive and requires rounds of testing and interviews. It’s highly recommended that you begin your school search and admission application well in advance before your move.

How to Move to San Francisco: Shipping Your Home

The cheapest way to move to San Francisco is by hiring a U-Haul, packing it yourself, and driving it cross-country to your final destination. It may be worthwhile hiring movers to pack up your house if you need the extra help. But driving your own goods to your new home is the best way to save money.

Generally, the cost to hire a rental truck varies based on how far you have to travel, i.e. mileage, fuel costs, etc. It’s best to get a few quotes on truck rental and compare them before you choose.

If you’re wondering the cost to transport your private vehicle(s) from one state to the next, this is where an auto shipping company can help. Basically, this type of company picks your car up from your home and safely transports it across the country to your new address. This is a convenient, hassle-free, and safe door-to-door option.

American Auto Shipping Transports Your Vehicle for You

Moving to San Francisco or any other state for that matter is not a decision to be made on a whim. It takes plenty of consideration, time, and planning. When it comes to the City By the Bay, consider the high cost of living and whether you can find a job to suit.

If you’re in need of a professional cross-country auto shipping service, American Auto Shipping is a company you can turn to for efficient, stress-free service.

Learn more about our cross-country car shipping and how we can help you smoothly transition into your new life, in a new state!


Dave Armstrong
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