Why San Francisco Remains a Top City to Live In

Why is San Francisco still a top pick for living? Dive into our expert guide to find out about its thriving job market, eclectic neighborhoods, and unbeatable culture. See what makes the Bay Area one of the best places to call home.

Moving to San Francisco

Thinking about moving to San Francisco? Honestly, now's a great time. The Bay Area is booming, ranking second in the U.S. for worker population growth as companies reintroduce office work, often under flexible hybrid models.

Despite high living costs, San Francisco remains strong, especially with slightly declining rents, down 2.1% as of April 2024, as more people opt for suburban living.

San Francisco is more than just its iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz; it's a vibrant community with a unique lifestyle. We’re here to share the real deal about life in the city. Here are the top things you need to know before making the Bay your home.

1. Housing

Looking for a good, budget-friendly place to crash can be the toughest part of moving. If you're hunting for a spot in the city, teaming up with roommates is a solid move (trust us, it beats scoping out pricey studio apartments).

A lot of folks turn to Craigslist to find these gems. But heads up! it’s a jungle out there. With some listings snagging over 100 replies, you’ve gotta be quick.

Also, if you're living outside San Francisco, it might be harder to get picked as a tenant. Landlords often prefer someone who can pop over quickly to check out the place.

If you’re shopping on a budget, we recommend a short lease and living minimally for a while. It’s much easier to find the perfect fit if you’ve been living in the city for a while.

2. Best Neighborhoods

1. Nob Hill 

Perched above the city, Nob Hill is like the VIP section. It's got those iconic hotels, trendy eateries, and architectural stunners—all with killer views of the skyline.

Sandwiched between Chinatown and the Financial District on one side and Fisherman's Wharf on the other, Nob Hill is right at the crossroads of all the must-see spots.

You can stroll down to downtown SF in less than 20 minutes from here. It’s smack dab in the middle of everything, so much so that you can almost forget about public transport. It's a pretty safe neighborhood and definitely has its charms. But fair warning, it comes with a hefty price tag.


Right next to downtown SF, SOMA is the tech and startup hotspot of the city. It's a lively, trendy area that might not break the bank. The neighborhood is pretty big, and while some parts are a bit iffy, others are brimming with shiny new high-rises.

The sketchy spots in San Francisco aren't quite like those in Los Angeles, where you might bump into gang activity. Here, it's more about navigating around hoards of homeless folks. It's a big problem, so keep an eye out for petty thieves.

3. The Outer Richmond

Outer Richmond is tucked away in San Francisco County and is quite the gem in California. It's got that bustling city vibe, with most folks renting their places. This neighborhood is full of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks.

You'll bump into a lot of young professionals and retirees here, all enjoying a laid-back lifestyle. Plus, the public schools in Outer Richmond are top-notch, making it a hit with families too.

4. Transportation

Living in San Francisco has a major perk: public transportation is so good, you can skip owning a car. Seriously, parking costs are sky-high, and driving around the hills is just not worth the hassle. 

The MUNI, handling 220 million passengers a year, has you covered. And yes, you might wait a bit now and then, but you'll get to your destination.

San Francisco also offers cable cars and streetcars downtown, with lines like Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California Street. You can pay your fare on the spot or use the MuniMobile app.

Plus, it's one of the most walkable and bike-friendly cities in the U.S., making it ideal for those who prefer a healthier, wallet-friendly way to get around.

5. Jobs/Salary

The Bay Area is booming, especially if you're in tech. With giants like Facebook, Netflix, Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Tesla here, you're spoiled for choice when it comes to employers. In fact, in 2019, tech jobs made up over 20% of all jobs in the city.

And if you love networking, you're in the right place. But don't be fooled by the laid-back reputation, San Franciscans are incredibly hardworking. The whole work/life balance thing? Yeah, they’re still figuring that out.

6. Cost of Living

Here, we’ll go a little more into the numbers for those that love statistics.

Living in San Francisco, CA isn't cheap. Expect costs to be 24% above the state average and 71% higher than the national average.

Housing here hits your wallet hard, being 190% more expensive than the U.S. average, while utilities are about 35% pricier. Even your grocery bill is about 20% higher here, and the same goes for clothing.

When it comes to healthcare, like doctor visits and dental check-ups, you'll pay about 25% more than the rest of the country.

And for those extras like entertainment and grooming? They’re also about 20% more expensive. So, brace your budget if you're planning to move to SF.

7. Education

San Francisco’s public schools tend to be better than in other big cities. One interesting fact about education in SF is the Choice Enrollment Program, which allows students to request placement in any school in the district instead of the common policy of zoning them into their neighborhood schools. 

According to GreatSchools, the best overall schools are Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, Alice Fong Yu Alternative School, and Lowell High School.

San Francisco also boasts some incredible universities like the University of California San Francisco, Stanford, and the University of California Berkeley for higher education.

8. Weather

Given the city's location in sunny California, many people moving to San Francisco expect clear skies and warm temperatures year-round. Fortunately, this stereotype isn't entirely wrong.

On average, the city has 259 sunny days per year, with temperatures that rarely go below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, its weather is better characterized as "mild" instead of "warm," with highs between the upper 50s and the low 70s.

Like most cities along the California coast, San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate, which is typically marked by wet, mild winters and warm, dry summers. Although its winters are wet and mild compared to those in other parts of the country, its summers are cooler than you might expect, with average highs in the 60s.

9. Tips for Living in San Francisco

  • There’s Always Something to Do: In San Francisco, you’ll never run out of things to do. From the shopping at Fillmore Street to the SF Giants and the Golden State Warriors to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, there is quite literally something for everyone.
  • Nature: Even in the chaos of downtown, you can enjoy some crazy views from the SalesForce Transit Center. Head west and you'll hit Ocean Beach for some salty air and bonfire vibes, or wander through Golden Gate Park to spot the bison. Even though there are a lot of industrial buildings, there are definitely still plenty of great nature spots to explore.
  • Food: San Francisco is a food lover's paradise. Seriously, it's like the city was made for people who love to eat. It's even been crowned the best food city in America by U.S. News, so that's saying something.

And it's not just about those fancy Michelin-starred places (though they've got a few of those). Here, you can dig into some amazing tacos without blowing your budget. Whether it’s a five-course feast or a street taco that changes your life, SF’s got it all.

Is San Francisco Your Next Home?

Sure, San Francisco can be tough with its steep cost of living. But if you're game for the challenge, the perks make it worthwhile. Good news: the paychecks here, including starting salaries and yearly raises, often outpace many other major U.S. cities. 

So, living the good life in SF? Totally doable.

San Francisco is looking up. With its vibrant lifestyle and booming job market, SF is on the rise. Whether you're launching your career or seeking adventure, San Francisco invites you with open arms. Ready to make this dynamic city your home?

Nik Watson

Meet Nik, a writer specializing in real estate and moving. Over the past two years, he's written for various real estate firms and e-commerce companies, gaining expertise and a solid reputation. Nik has moved several times recently, experiencing both DIY and professional moves. He recommends using professional movers to reduce stress significantly. When not writing, Nik explores other business opportunities in real estate and moving

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