Do you feel defeated and depleted by New York City’s sweltering summers and icy-cold winters? If you’re reluctant to leave your world-class city behind, give some consideration to the benefits of another world-class city, San Francisco. 

The City by the Bay (be like a local and avoid the uncool nicknames ‘San Fran’ and ‘Frisco’) offers access to unmatched recreation with some of the most beautiful weather in the country. You can go for a winter stroll without having to worry about slippery sidewalks, a summer bike ride without facing sweltering humidity, and endlessly fabulous arts, culture, entertainment, and cuisine. Here are a few key things to know about living in one of the nation’s most beautiful cities.

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What to Know About Moving from New York City to San Francisco

Before you pack up your bags and move from the East to the West Coast, here are some things to know about living in the Bay Area.

Weather and Climate

If the weather is a primary reason for moving from New York to San Francisco, we’ll discuss the benefits of San Francisco’s climate first. With the Pacific Ocean bordering the city on the west and the Bay bordering the north and east, large bodies of water significantly affect San Francisco’s weather. The marine influence cools the city in the summer and provides a warming balance in the winter, making the city comfortably temperate throughout the year. Although cold winds can blow through the Sunset and Richmond neighborhoods, the hills and high-rise buildings create micro-climate pockets. When you get serious about moving, research your potential neighborhoods’ weather patterns.

Far above freezing, the average January low is 46° F, whereas, in NYC, the average is 26° F. The average July high is a dry 67° F in San Francisco, and in NYC, it’s a muggy 84. San Francisco has only about 72 rainy days and just about half the rainfall of NYC. Snow? No, not in the City by the Bay.  

Housing and Cost of Living

New York City housing is expensive. In San Francisco, it’s even pricier with the median home cost double that of New York City. In NYC, the median home cost is $680,500, and in San Francisco, it’s $1,378,300. Over the past ten years, home appreciation in San Francisco, at 48.5%, is almost double that of NYC’s 26% appreciation. 

With such expensive real estate, the majority of San Franciscans rent, as they do in NYC. The average cost for a two-bedroom rental in NYC is $2,049. In San Francisco, the average for a two-bedroom is $3,286. 

San Francisco is almost 44% more expensive than NYC, but with the San Francisco household income 67% higher than in New York City. A healthier paycheck can help make up for the higher cost of living. Living in San Francisco will save you almost 50% on utility bills, and transportation expenses will be about 25% lower.

Transportation and Traffic

Both NYC and San Francisco have excellent public transit, are very walkable, and you can comfortably live in either city without owning a car. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) runs throughout the Bay Area, and the SF Muni operates a variety of transportation in the city, from the light rail trains that comb city streets to the legendary cable cars.

If you’re an NYC commuter, your travel time averages 41 minutes one way. Commuters in San Francisco spend 33 minutes one-way. Whereas 57% of NYC residents use public transit and 22% drive, In San Francisco, 34% use public transportation and 34% drive. In either city, it makes sense to try to find a home as close to work as is feasible.

Like NYC, where 55% of residents don’t own a car, San Francisco is nirvana for those who want to live car-free. Although the majority of Californians rely on a vehicle, about 31% of San Francisco residents don’t own one. 

Both cities enjoy high walking, transit, and bike scores, proving just how easy it is to get around in a variety of ways. In Brooklyn, the walk score is 98, transit is 100, and the bike score is 95. By comparison, San Francisco has close to 50 neighborhoods with walk scores over 90. With the Muni, many communities have a 100 transit score, and the overall city bike score is 71. Moving to San Francisco from NYC will assure you of getting some first-class exercise walking and biking in SF’s steep terrain.

Economy and Job Growth

Recent and future job growth in San Francisco is strong. NYC job growth was 0.5% in 2019, whereas in San Francisco, job growth in the same period was 1.3%. Future job growth is predicted to be 39.1% in San Francisco, 33.5% overall in the U.S., and 30.7% in New York City. The San Francisco unemployment rate is almost half of NYC’s.

San Francisco provides more jobs in business, management, and finance; engineering, computers, and science than New York City – not surprising since San Francisco is the headquarters of some of the biggest tech companies in the country. In New York City, more people work in healthcare support and personal care, sales and administrative support, and construction and maintenance/repair.

Taxes

Taxes can really dig into an income, so it’s prudent to compare the tax rates if you’re moving from NYC to SF. Sales tax in San Francisco is 8.5%, which is just slightly lower than NYC’s rate of 8.875%. According to bestplaces.net, state income tax in California averages 8% and in NYC averages 10.1%, with both states assessing income on a progressive scale.

Although the majority of San Francisco residents rent, if you buy a home, your property tax rate will be 0.649% in San Francisco County. On a home valued at $1,000,000, the annual property tax would be $6,490. If you own a home in the Bronx, your property tax rate is higher at 0.967%.

Crime

You probably feel quite safe living in New York, where the crime rates are close to the national average. You can also feel safe living in San Francisco, but you’ll have to be selective in terms of where you decide to live, and where you hang out. The violent crime rate in San Francisco is about 10% higher than in NYC, and the property crime rate is over 75% higher. 

Geography

Both cities sit on peninsulas at sea level, but very distinct geographical features define the two. Whereas NYC is relatively flat, San Francisco is famously known for its steep inclines. The city’s topography has over 40 hills, seven of which are considered significant landmarks that shape the city’s geography, weather, and help define its neighborhoods.

The Golden Gate Bridge connects the city north to stunning Marin County, the wild north coast beaches, and world-famous Napa Valley. The Bay Bridge connects the town east to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite in CA’s Sierra Nevada mountains. From surfing at Ocean Beach to snowboarding at Heavenly Valley, every type and manner of recreation is at your fingertips when you live in San Francisco.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

You’re one of 8,560,000 people living in New York City. San Francisco’s population of 864,260 seems minuscule in comparison but has grown by 11% in the past 20 years compared to NYC’s 6.9% growth.

While both cities are proudly diverse, ethnicity percentages vary. San Francisco has 34% Asian, 41% White, 5% African American, and 15% Hispanic residents. In NYC, 14% are Asian, 32% White, 22% African American, and 29% are Hispanic.

Culture abounds in both cities, and in San Francisco, with exciting events, concerts, and festivals happening year-round, entertainment caters to every taste. And speaking of taste, San Francisco rivals New York City in epicurean delights. Residents in both cities benefit from outstanding cuisine reflected by diverse ethnicities  – and San Francisco’s food trucks serve up some of the best.

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Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Wondering where to live in the Bay City? Here are some of the best neighborhoods and communities in town:

Alamo Square

With access to convenient Muni lines, commuting is accessible from this trendy neighborhood of under 7,650 residents. Average home prices run over a million dollars, but rents are affordable, and about 83% of residents hold leases. You can easily walk to plenty of hip bars and restaurants. Get more information about Alamo Square here

Balboa Terrace

With a population of just over 2,000, in Balboa Terrace, around 93% of residents own their homes. Built in the 1920s, Mediterranean style homes exude charm and affluence. Shopping and dining are within an easy walk to Ocean Avenue, and beautiful Balboa Park offers a pool, a soccer stadium, skatepark, and playground. Learn more here.

Dogpatch

With the Muni T-Line and Caltrain commuter rail station, Dogpatch is a great neighborhood to live in without a car. Some of the city’s oldest houses contrast with live-work spaces and hip condos in this mixed-use neighborhood. Located on the Bay in east San Francisco, Dogpatch is full of bistros, galleries, and bars. Here’s where you can find out more.

Duboce Triangle

Charming Victorian homes with narrow side yards give Duboce Triangle a cozy, intimate feel. Locally owned shops, cafes, coffee houses, the “Slow Street” to Golden Gate Park, and access to trails in Corona Heights or Buena Vista Parks are within walking distance. Muni lines make accessing the rest of the city easy. Would you like to know more about Duboce Triangle?

Mission Bay

Located in eastern San Francisco, Mission Bay has evolved from an industrial district into a mixed-use residential and commercial area. The UCSF Medical Center campus fills almost half of the neighborhood and provides the majority of local employment. Housing is available in condos, apartments, lofts, and work-live spaces. Learn more about Mission Bay here.

Telegraph Hill

The majority of pre-Great Quake buildings sit in Telegraph Hill, and residents have beautiful views across the San Francisco Bay. A Muni bus runs up to the neighborhood from Fisherman’s Wharf, and tourists come to see the famous Coit Tower or the ubiquitous flock of feral parrots that have acclimated here. Check out more info about Telegraph Hill here.


Cost of Moving from New York City to San Francisco

On average, it costs about $3200-$4000 to move from NYC to the Bay Area. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 2900 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination cities, 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 New York City to San Francisco movers now!

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Patricia McBratney

Between working as a clinical educational therapist and flipping houses, Patty’s lifelong love of horses found her riding the remote... Read More