Moving to San Francisco, CA

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Jump to any of the following sections to learn more about what to expect living in San Francisco.

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San Francisco At-A-Glance

Ever wondered about the vibe of the city by the Bay? San Francisco, with its iconic Golden Gate Bridge, is nothing short of a dynamic enclave, especially if you’ve got a soft spot for innovation. A city where tech aficionados and nature enthusiasts tip their hats to each other, gracefully intertwining the past with the pulse of the future.

But it’s not all about silicon and circuits here. Northern California’s commercial, cultural and financial hub also ranks proudly as the healthiest city in America in 2023. The decisive factors — ample green space and healthy food choices. The cost of living, you ask? Well, that is on the high side, reflecting its prime seat at the tech and finance table, yet those who call The City home often say it’s worth every penny.

Education and job opportunities? You are looking at a hotspot near the educational powerhouses of Stanford and UC Berkeley, with Silicon Valley as your neighbor. It’s a place where the opportunities are as vast as the bay it cradles and the good coffee around here fuels those brainstorming sessions just right!

Considering moving to San Francisco? Just make sure you don’t call the city “Frisco” or “San Fran” when you make the big announcement to your family and friends.

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A City With Many Diverse Facets

Dreaming of kick-starting your own venture? Or are you the type to jog by the sea at dawn? Maybe hunting down hidden art gems is more your speed? Well, living in San Francisco means you get to experience all this and so much more. After all, this is a city that celebrates diversity.

Fancy a healthy lifestyle? The city’s penchant for organic fare and its array of parks, including the vast, green expanses of Golden Gate Park, just might speak to your soul. And oh, those hills? They are your everyday fitness challenge!

Art buffs will be happy to know that SF historic theaters await you, as do the many galleries and the lively music scene. As for the furry companions? They are welcomed with open arms in this pet-friendly spot with many off-leash parks and beaches for them to romp around.

And remember, no matter where you live in San Francisco, its quaint, quirky and walkable neighborhoods generally offer loads of coffee shops, restaurants and shops to fuel the soul.

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From Silicon Slopes to Financial Peaks

For those fresh out of college, SF is a coveted place to kickstart a career once you finish college. That’s because the city’s offering of a median income nears the six-figure mark for college-educated individuals.

While greatly benefiting from the Silicon Valley vibe, San Francisco’s economic strategy is to cover a great range of industries and sectors. That adds finance, real estate, healthcare, education and hospitality to the already established information and technology core. Basically, you can make it here no matter what your line of work is.

Setting Silicon Valley aside for a moment, the financial figures in The City paint an optimistic picture compared to national and state averages. The median household income of around $126,000 puts San Francisco at 82 percent above the national average and 50 percent above that of California, whereas the per capita income of $77,267 means San Franciscans earn more than double what the average American makes and 87 percent more than other Californians.

Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent (as of July 2023)

Average weekly wages for all industries: $2,684 (Q1 2023, for San Francisco metro area)

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Real Estate in the Bay Is a Pricey Proposition

At approximately 47 square miles and 808,437 multicultural humans strong, San Francisco is the second-most densely populated major city in the country, after New York. It’s fairly common knowledge that it’s expensive to rent or buy property in San Francisco, yet its romantic lure continues.

The median home value in San Francisco is $1,194,500 — almost five times the national value — and the average gross rent for an SF home is $2,130, which is almost double the median rent in the U.S. With these figures in mind, no wonder only 38 percent of San Franciscans own their homes, considerably below the 64.6 percent throughout the United States or even the 55.5 percent in California.

 Once you get over the sticker shock and finally nab a place, you’ll find it’s easy to start calling the city home because living in San Francisco sure has its perks.

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Five SF Neighborhoods With Distinct Flavors

San Francisco’s 36 neighborhoods each show off their individuality, just like the residents of the diverse city. For instance, surfers flock to the Outer Sunset for cheaper price tags on standalone homes and the walkability to the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, on the east side of the city, Mission Bay has become a major biotechnology and healthcare hub thereby creating a housing boom for those in the industry.

It’s difficult to choose the top five when nearly every area has its own singular charm and exclusive atmosphere but we’ll give it a try to help you narrow down the listings before moving to San Francisco:

Pacific Heights: This posh part of town has beautiful Victorian homes, quaint restaurants and chic shops. The parks here are great for a lazy Sunday picnic and the whole area is protected against the cool ocean breeze.

Mission: This place is all sorts of colorful. From its streets to the food, there is something for everyone. Seeped in history but heavily gentrified, there’s a modern vibe to it, with cool art on the walls everywhere you look.

Glen Park: It’s a peaceful nook with a homey atmosphere and plenty of small, family-owned shops. The housing here, be it bungalows, Victorians or modern homes, is a bit more on the affordable side. It’s a solid choice for those working down in Silicon Valley but wanting to enjoy the SF city life.

Marina: It might not be the most diverse spot in town, but it’s got its own charm. Mostly, you’ll find single-family homes and a few tall apartment buildings. There’s a cool mix of unique shops, local eateries and a couple of indie movie theaters where you can catch a flick.

Haight-Ashbury: Right next door to Golden Gate Park, this neighborhood has a laid-back, friendly vibe. It’s a classic SF spot, great for vintage clothes shopping or grabbing a relaxed bite in a cozy cafe.

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San Francisco’s Varied Transit Eases the Daily Bustle

The booming local economy sure has the streets buzzing with activity. Commute times have stretched a bit, courtesy of a few bottlenecks on the roads and freeways. On average, the journey to work has nudged close to 33 minutes in recent years, which is a tad more than the national average of 27 minutes. This little detail lands San Francisco third on the U.S. TomTom Traffic Index, nipping at the heels of Washington for the second spot.

Now, despite the traffic hitches, getting around the city isn’t all that tough, thanks to San Francisco’s pretty extensive network of buses, trolleys, streetcars, and yes, the iconic cable cars. Affectionately known as Muni, this transport network is a pocket-friendly, safe and green way to zip around SF. And let’s not forget the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway making lives easier on the East side of town.

For those not keen on public transport or braving the traffic in their own cars, especially during the peak hours when things slow down to around 15-16 mph, Lyft and Uber are just a tap away. Plus, San Francisco is such a walkable city; you can knock out most errands with a good pair of sneakers. And for the cyclists among us, the city is continuously upping its game with more bike parking racks and bikeshare stations, thanks to the efforts of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

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Unlock Limitless Potential in San Francisco’s Halls of Learning 

Ah, San Francisco, the city that’s as known for its fog as it is for its brainpower. Nearly 60 percent of the adults here have at least a bachelor’s degree, planting San Francisco solidly among the top educated cities in the country.

Now, onto the places where all this learning is happening. We’ve got a mix of esteemed public and private high schools right here in the city. Lowell High School is a public school that’s no slouch when it comes to academics, often ranked among the best in the state. On the private side of things, Lick-Wilmerding High School not only offers rigorous academics but also focuses on a hands-on approach to learning.

Stepping into higher education, The City rubs shoulders with some of America’s academic powerhouses. You’ve probably heard of a little place called Stanford University, just a short drive away, and the University of California, Berkeley, which is practically next door.

The learning doesn’t stop when you toss your graduation cap. With a student debt to median earnings ratio of just 23.79 percent, it’s clear that an education here is an investment that pays off. Plus, with Silicon Valley and numerous research institutions in the vicinity, there are ample opportunities to put that education to good use.

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Cool Breezes, Fog and Sunny Spells Await

Living in San Francisco is all about wearing layers — ward off a potential cool ocean breeze with a sweater or shed that pullover when the sun heats you up. Wintertime is generally the rainy season, and summer usually brings with it thick fog. Locals like to boast that, thanks to warmer fall temps, September and October are the best weather months to plan a visit.

The City by the Bay boasts an annual high temperature of 65℉ and an annual low of 53℉, with 2,950 hours of sunlight annually and around 50 days per year with precipitation.

Summer average (June – Aug): 70℉ high, 56℉ low

Winter average (Dec – Feb): 58℉ high, 47℉ low

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10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in San Francisco

Moving to San Francisco, a city so full of surprises, can make every day an adventure. Want to see a giant red bridge? It’s here. Curious about a prison on an island? You got it. Hungry for some world-class food? Step right up. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Here are 10 things to do in San Francisco that will make each day a story to tell:

  1. Golden Gate Bridge: It’s a good-looking bridge with smart engineering. It stands strong, telling a bit of the city’s tale. You’ll want to see it, maybe even walk across it.
  2. Alcatraz Island: A short ferry ride takes you to the infamous prison turned museum. It’s a chunk of history sitting right in the bay, and the stories you’ll hear are bound to stick with you.
  3. Oracle Park: If you can, catch a Giants game. Doesn’t matter if you are a baseball fan or not. The energy is amazing, and the ballpark food is part of the fun.
  4. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA): This is the place to be when you feel like taking in some of the finest modern and contemporary art. And, with 7 floors, it is also one of the largest museums of its kind in the United States. While here, make sure to step outside on the third floor and take in nearly 20,000 plants on the largest living wall in the country.
  5. Muir Woods National Monument: Just a short drive north of SF, this is where you escape into nature. The towering redwoods will make you feel small and the serenity will wash away the city rush.
  6. California Academy of Sciences: It’s a jungle in the city, literally! The whole family will love the rainforest, planetarium and the aquarium.
  7. Fisherman’s Wharf: Fresh crab vendors shout out the catch of the day while clam chowder simmers nearby, ready to be served in a warm sourdough bowl. Over at Pier 39, playful sea lions put on a spontaneous show, their barks echoing out to Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Every step at the Wharf comes with a splash of local color and the whimsical tunes of street performers.
  8. Chinatown: Don’t miss out on one of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the U.S. The shops, the food, the lanterns — it’s a lot to take in. Just grab a delicious bite and shop for unique trinkets to your heart’s desire.
  9. Outside Lands Music Festival: This 3-day festival in August is not just about the music, although that’s great too. There’s also colorful street art, an artisanal market by local creators and all sorts of food to try.
  10. Pacific Coast Highway: If you have a car, start in San Francisco and just drive south along the coast. The views are something you’ll never forget. Do come back, though.

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