Ready to trade in the cold winters of Boston for the temperate climate of San Francisco? How about the fantastic career & recreational activities that are available year-round? 

If zero inches versus 47 inches of snow, proximity to beach communities, myriad job opportunities (especially tech in surrounding Silicon Valley), and living in one of the most inclusive & iconic cities in the world is highly appealing, the City by the Bay is waiting with open arms! But before you start moving from Boston to San Francisco, take the time to research everything San Francisco has to offer!

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What to Know About Moving from Boston to San Francisco

Moving to San Francisco from Boston takes a bit of planning and travel (about 3 to 4 days of road time). To ensure a seamless transition, check out the following guide on the differences and similarities between Beantown and the Bay City.

Taxes

Okay, so California, in general, is known to be a pretty expensive place to live. San Francisco is certainly no exception. The city has some of the highest taxes in the United States

Let’s look at sales tax first. In SF, you’ll pay 8.5% in total sales tax (7.25% state + 1.25% local). Boston, for comparison, has a total sales tax rate of 6.25%. Now, when it comes to income tax, you might want to sit down. San Francisco currently has a total top income tax rate of 13.3%. Boston? Only 5.1%.

Considering how much you’ll pay in property taxes in San Francisco? Good news! Even though housing prices are much higher (see ‘Housing and Cost of Living’), the average SF county rate is 0.649%. Boston’s rate is nearly double at 1.222%. For example, you’d pay $6,040 annually for an SF home valued at $800,000. That same home value would cost you $9,776 per year in Boston.

Economy and Job Growth

Looking at GDP for the Top 50 metropolitan areas in America (based on 2017 data), the San Francisco metro area ranks an impressive #4 (behind only Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City). 

Centered mainly around tech, the local economy in San Francisco is thriving. Other significant industries include healthcare, finance, and tourism. As of the beginning of 2020, SF had a phenomenal unemployment rate of only 2.4% (compared to the US average of 3.9%). Boston had a noteworthy rate of 3.1%. As for future job growth, San Francisco is projected to see a respectable growth of 39.1%. Forecasts expect Boston to do even better at 42.5% over the next ten years.

Weather and Climate

Sick of shoveling snow and scraping ice off… everything? When you move to San Francisco, you can ditch all of that! As mentioned in the intro, there’s no snow here. Of course, you can head east to the mountains if you ever want to ski or snowboard. Another plus side? SF has 59 more sunny days than Boston (259 vs. a dismal 200 days). 

How about winter lows? In Boston, you’re used to about 19°F in January. San Francisco rarely dips below 46°F during wintertime. As for summer, it stays cooler in SF at 67°F. Beantown, on the other hand, can sizzle with an average of 82°F. Of course, the Bay City can get chilly. Be sure to have a pullover or coat with you at all times, just in case.

Housing and Cost of Living

So, you might have jumped right to this section. Let’s address the (expensive) elephant in the room. First, we’ll take a look at living expenses. Currently, San Francisco commands an eye-popping cost of living index of 269.3. For comparison, the national average is only 100, and the Boston index is 162.4. The City of Boston isn’t exactly cheap, but compared to SF, it’s a bargain.

Next, we have housing prices. San Francisco has a median list price of… wait for it… $1.31 million. Yes, that’s not a typo. Boston, on the other hand, has a median list price of $769,000. Not cheap, but again, it’s a steal compared to the Bay Area. Rent? Expect to pay a median rent price of $4,500 per month (compared to $2,950 per month in the City of Boston). 

Things to Do

The real question is, what is there not to do in San Francisco? From beach excursions and skiing trips to the east to bar hopping and foodie tours in the city, there’s a way more likely chance that you’ll have a more challenging time deciding what to do than to finding something fun to do.

Into arts & culture? The Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a must-see for any enthusiast. So is the de Young Museum. Those who love Chinese food & culture should definitely visit Chinatown (the largest Chinatown outside of Asia). Park lovers will be drawn to Golden Gate Park, comprised of more than 1,000 acres. Want to enjoy a sandy escape from the city? Santa Cruz is an hourlong drive south. It’s home to sandy beaches, great surfing waves, and the world-famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Educational Opportunities

Do you have school-aged kids? San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is the sole district within the city and county. It also has the distinction of being the first school district in the state of California, established back in 1851. SFUSD ranks #53 in diversity among all school districts in the United States, while it sits at #94 out of 487 school districts in California. Overall, the district gets an A- rating.

Are you looking for the best colleges & universities in the SF metro area? Some of the finest institutions call the city home or are within proximity. These include the University of California – San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford University (#6 in national universities). Creative or artistic? This city is also home to the acclaimed San Francisco Conservatory of Music and California College of Arts. There’s also City College of San Francisco, one of the nation’s largest community colleges.

Crime Rates

When it comes to violent crime rates, San Francisco and Boston are pretty similar. SF has a violent crime index of 39.6, while Boston has an index of 37.3. As for property crime, the Bay City definitely has room for improvement with an index of 79.2. Boston has a property crime index of only 35.8.

Are you looking for the safest cities in San Francisco? Sea Cliff offers stunning ocean views, while The Presidio is a former military base that offers culture, history, and some great trails. If you’re looking for safety + gorgeous homes (mainly Edwardian and Victorian), Noe Valley is an exceptional neighborhood. Pacific Heights has beautiful grassy hills and historic homes. And to round out our list, Nob Hill is home to the famous Grace Cathedral and some of the best hotels in the area.

Food

To be fair, Boston is a great foodie destination, especially when it comes to seafood. But with its diverse makeup and history, San Francisco is a powerhouse when it comes to innovative restaurants and food trends. And it also has fantastic seafood – sand dabs, abalone, Bay shrimp, Dungeness crab, and more!

Love soul food? Swing by Brenda’s French Soul Food for a soul-soothing experience. San Francisco is also known for its Mexican food, and La Taqueria is one of the best in the business. Mersea Restaurant & Bar offers outstanding tacos, ceviche, and more with views of the bay. Enjoy chic Asian fusion? Dragon Beaux has terrific dim sum, egg yolk lava bao, and so many other delectable dishes.

The above is far from an exhaustive list, but the beauty of living in a place like San Francisco is discovering all the fantastic eateries, bay bars, and restaurants here!

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Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Here are some of the best areas to call home in the City By the Bay.

Alamo Square

Made famous for a row of Victorian homes known as the Painted Ladies – if you’ve ever watched the classic TV show Full House, you’ve seen them in the intro – Alamo Square is home to many tech professionals. Yes, it is an expensive neighborhood, but it’s also one of the most desirable places to live in SF, with a host of hip bars and restaurants within walking distance. Learn more here.

Balboa Terrace

Quaint, beautiful, and affluent, Balboa Terrace was one of the original subdivisions on Mount Davidson. It’s home to gorgeous Mediterranean-style homes, manicured landscaping, and buried electrical lines (which led to a clean look). Homeownership is exceptionally high (at 93%), but there are still some excellent properties on the outer edges of the neighborhood. Get more info here.

Dogpatch

Situated in the northeastern portion of San Francisco, Dogpatch is sort of the antithesis of many other parts of the city – it’s much sunnier and flatter. You’ll find some of SF’s oldest houses here, dating as far back as the 1860s. The neighborhood provides easy access to the T-Line Muni Metro for convenient travel. Discover more details about Dogpatch here.

Duboce Triangle

North of the Castro, Duboce Triangle, offers a quiet atmosphere. It surrounds a park after the same name, which is a popular spot for dog owners and their beloved pets. As for homes, you’ll find a lovely assortment of Victorian houses and lush yards & streets. Eclectic with ample opportunities for nightlife fun, there’s an excellent selection of bars, sandwich shops, and coffee houses. Discover more here.

Mission Bay

With a mix of commercial and residential, the former industrial district has blossomed into a super popular spot for single professionals and students alike. Into jogging or taking a leisurely stroll? The neighborhood is close by Corona Heights and Buena Vista Park. The top employer in the area is the UCSF Medical Center. Here’s where you can delve into more details on Mission Bay.

Telegraph Hill

Providing views of the famous Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill is a highly scenic neighborhood named after the code-sending device located at the peak, which signaled ships up until the mid-1800s. Interesting fact: Telegraph Hill has the highest concentration of pre-Great Quake of 1906 buildings of any other part of the city. Delve into the particulars of Telegraph Hill here.


Cost of Moving from Boston to San Francisco

On average, it costs about $4500-$6500 to move from Boston to San Francisco. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 3,096 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best Boston to San Francisco movers now!

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More