Are you eager to become a San Francisco ex-pat and trade out your west coast lifestyle for the intensity and flurry of New York City? Moving to New York City will land you at the cultural and financial epicenter of the country, where density and diversity are the norms. You’ll likely have a more intense work-life ratio, but when you do have time for R&R, your choices will be infinite. Maybe you’ll trade out wine tasting in the Napa Valley for weekends in the Hamptons, or a Giants game for cheering on the Yankees or Mets.

But before you book your moving company, you’ll want to know what will feel familiar and what will be distinctively new and different. 

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What to Know About Moving from San Francisco to New York

Housing and Cost of Living

Both cities are world-class, famously unique, and capture the essence of urban life, but housing is where moving from San Francisco to New York City can be a real advantage. The median home cost in NYC is $680,500 compared to $1,378,300 in San Francisco. 

If renting is a better option, an average one-bedroom in NYC rents for $1,788 compared to $2,130 in San Francisco. The ratio of renters in both cities is similar – 66% rent in San Francisco and nearly 70% in NYC. 

The overall cost of living in NYC is 187 compared to the US average index of 100. In San Francisco, it’s 269, due mainly to the extraordinary housing costs. If you move to NYC from San Francisco, some basic expenses will be higher: 12% higher healthcare, 54% higher utility, and 15% higher transportation costs.

Taxes

In San Francisco, you pay a 0.68% tax on the value of your home. In NYC, property taxes are levied by each borough and range from 0.627% in Brooklyn to 1.925% in Manhattan

Each borough also assesses a separate sales tax than can range from 7% to 8.5%. So depending on where you shop, your sales tax can be fairly equivalent to the 8.7% you pay in San Francisco.

Both New York and California assess a progressive income tax based on your taxable income. The New York state tax varies from 4% to 8.82%, and in California, it ranges from 1% to 13.3%. Be aware that in addition to state income tax, New York City residents must also pay a city income tax

Economy and Job Growth

San Francisco is a global tech titan, while New York City is a global financial colossus. In addition to finance, healthcare, retail trade, professional and technical services, manufacturing, and education bolster the NYC economy.

Job growth in NYC was 0.5% for 2019 and 1.3% in San Francisco. Models predict growth over the next ten years to be 30.7% in NYC and 39.1% in San Francisco. Even though job growth is more robust in San Francisco, NYC’s huge range of diverse industries provides a plethora of job opportunities. 

Transportation and Traffic

San Francisco public transit is fantastic but doesn’t hold a candle to the warren and web of subway, train, and bus routes that 57% of NYC residents use for their commutes. In San Francisco, 34% commute by public transportation in an average 33 minutes one-way. Your NYC one-way commute will average 41 minutes.

While you pay by the distance in San Francisco, with one MTA card swipe, you can go anywhere in the NYC system. In the City That Never Sleeps, the subway and busses run 24/7, allowing night shift workers or late night merrymakers to head home in the wee hours of the morning.

Traffic isn’t easy in either city, and parking is even worse because it’s not only hard to come by but super expensive.

Weather and Climate

Living in San Francisco is like living in two seasons –  comfy summer and comfy winter. If you love the excitement and rewards of living in four seasons, NYC gives the gift of cold, blustery, snowy winters, gorgeous springs, hot, humid summers, and exquisite falls that not only provide relief from high summer temps but offer a window into the vivid winter ahead. 

Here are some temp comparisons to give you an idea of what to expect: The average high in a San Francisco January is 58 °F, and the low is 47. Your NYC winter wardrobe will need to accommodate an average January high of 38 °F and a low of 26. The average July high in NYC is a hot and humid 84 °F compared to San Francisco’s gentle 67.

NYC will not only be hotter and colder but a lot wetter. NYC gets 47 inches of rainfall yearly and 25 inches of snow. San Francisco receives about 25 inches of annual rain, mainly during the winter, but no snow.

Crime Rates

Although NYC has about nine times the population of San Francisco, the crime rates are lower. Violent crime in NYC is 28 compared to 40 in San Francisco. Property crime is 25 in NYC and 79 in San Francisco.

Once you narrow down the borough you want to live in, search the internet for crime maps so you can see the types and frequency of crime in various neighborhoods. Crime rates are usually higher in heavily touristed areas. It’ll be worthwhile to google the savvy ways New Yorkers stay safe.

The safest areas in NYC include the entire borough of Staten Island, Southern Brooklyn, and Central/Northeast Queens. If you plan to live in Manhattan, you may want to explore these neighborhoods: the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, and the Upper East Side.

Culture, Diversity, and Demographics

New York City covers about six times as much land mass as San Francisco and has about nine times as many people. Approximately 8,560,000 people of diverse cultures and ethnicities live in NYC compared to about 864,300 in San Francisco.  With 18,400 people per square mile, you’re used to San Francisco’s population density, but when you move to NYC, get ready to rub elbows with 28,500 people per square mile.

Both cities are home to immigrants from all over the world; since the last census in 2000, NYC’s population grew 7%, and San Francisco’s increased by 11%. Mainly, NYC is 32% White, 29% Hispanic, 22% African American, and 14% Asian. San Francisco is 41% White, 34% Asian, 15% Hispanic, and 5% African American. 

Food

Some say the food in San Francisco just can’t be beaten – especially the ultra-fresh farm to fork cuisine and imaginative fusions like Mexican-Filipino-Burmese or Thai-Cuban-French. But New York may showcase more cuisines from around the world, mainly because culturally diverse immigrants introduced their iconic gastronomy to the city. Let’s just say you’ll be moving from one great food scene to the next. As you settle into your new city, be sure to hit the foodie highlights – bagels from Barney Greengrass, heaping pastrami on rye from Pastrami Queen, and wood-fired pizzas from Dellarocco’s, among others.

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Best Neighborhoods in New York City

Each borough provides a distinctive lifestyle, and within each borough, unique neighborhoods refine the vibe even further. We’ve summarized two communities from each of the five boroughs to give you an idea of the array of lifestyle choices New York City can provide.

Park Slope – Brooklyn 

Great schools, super public transit, safety, and green spaces make Park Slope a popular Brooklyn neighborhood. About 45,500 people live in a range of housing types, from restored brownstones, rowhouses, townhomes, condos, and historic single-family homes. Locally owned businesses, community gardens, and progressive residents add to the charming vibe. Get more Park Slope info here.

Windsor Terrace – Brooklyn 

Windsor Terrace is home to about 17,300 residents who enjoy the easy walking and small-town feel of their neighborhood. Two subway stations and four bus routes make using public transit convenient. The wide range of housing types includes apartments, condos, townhomes, and single-family houses. Find out more about Windsor Terrace here.

Pelham Bay – The Bronx

If you’re looking for a residential neighborhood that has a great mix of green space and convenient amenities, Pelham Bay could be your new home. The community of about 13,000 residents is densely populated. Excellent schools, low crime rates, and beautiful parks make this a popular neighborhood for families. Here’s more Pelham Bay information.

Fordham – The Bronx

Fordham University is the hub of this busy and active student-oriented neighborhood with its downtown area full of cafes, coffee houses, bars, and shops. Public transport routes weave throughout Fordham, so it’s easy to get around and access other NYC areas. About 98,700 residents live mainly in apartments, but homes are reasonably priced if you prefer to own. Ready to find out more about Fordham?

Lenox Hill – Manhattan 

An enclave of the Upper East Side, affluent Lenox Hill, is just half an hour north of downtown. Vintage apartments, doorman condos, and brownstones provide rental or purchase options, but either way, housing prices are some of the highest in New York City. Your Lenox Hill ‘neighbors’ include some of the most renowned museums in the country. Check out more information about Lenox Hill here

Gramercy Park – Manhattan 

Historic Gramercy Park is an iconic neighborhood of leafy tree-lined streets, brownstones, townhomes, doorman buildings, and the charming park. Residents walk to local taverns, pubs, restaurants, and corner grocery stores. Three subway lines, three trains, plus three bus lines, have nearby routes to ease getting around the city. Here are more details about Gramercy Park.

Forest Hills – Queens 

If you’re looking for a neighborhood with excellent schools and low crime rates, Forest Hills may just fit the bill. But Forest Hills provides so much more – restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, pubs, shopping, nightlife, and the extensive Forest Park are all enjoyed by the 79,500+ residents. You can find out more here.

Bayside – Queens 

Offering a mix of affordable and affluent housing, Bayside has something for everyone – excellent schools, low property taxes, safety, green spaces, a marina, lots of amenities, and a convenient location on the East River for access to Manhattan. About 70,000 people live in Bayside’s apartment buildings, condos, townhomes, and single-family residences. Learn more about Bayside here.

St. George – Staten Island 

With about 8,660 residents, St. George is the borough’s most densely populated neighborhood. Offering an easy commute to Manhattan, St. George has more affordable housing prices with an array of home types, plus lots of restaurants, bars, shopping, and convenient amenities. Here are more St. George details.

New Dorp – Staten Island

Family-friendly, urban New Dorp is located on the eastern shore of Staten Island and has about 28,225 residents. Five major shopping centers and the New Dorp Lane District offer a wide range of amenities. New Dorp, meaning “New Village,” was one of NYC’s first Dutch settlements. Homeownership runs at about 75%. You can find more info here


Cost of Moving from San Francisco to New York City

On average, it costs about $3200-$4000 to move from San Francisco to NYC. 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 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 San Francisco to New York City 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