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Bankrate: San Francisco’s Cost of Living

Cost Of Living In San Francisco | Bankrate

San Francisco is often considered one of the cultural and financial hubs not only in California but the United States. However, the city’s exorbitant cost of living has led to a decline in its population, with many residents leaving the area due to the high prices. If you are thinking about relocating to San Francisco, there are certain things you must know. This article delves into the cost of living in San Francisco, housing costs, food expenses, transportation, job market scenario, local and state taxes, and overall cost of moving to the city.

Housing Costs in San Francisco

The housing market in San Francisco is notoriously challenging to navigate, with sky-high prices for both renting and buying. According to RentCafe, living in San Francisco is 79 percent higher than the national average and 28 percent higher than California’s average cost of living.

The median home sale price in San Francisco was approximately $1.33 million in April 2023. Most homes sell for more than that, with the price being almost unaffordable for the average American. Renting here is no better, with the average rent being $3,313 per month.

Job Market

San Francisco has always been known as a city with a high concentration of tech companies. However, lately, the city has seen a significant number of layoffs in the tech industry and beyond, leading to apprehension about the future. The employment rate in San Francisco county as of March 2023 was 3.0 percent, which is lower than the national rate of 3.6 percent during the same period. Salaries remain high in the city, with an average of $94,480, helping residents make up for the expensive cost of living.

Food Costs

Living expenses in San Francisco are not only related to housing costs but extend to other areas as well. Food costs are also steep. According to RentCafe, food expenses in San Francisco are 31 percent higher than the national average. This means that the average cost of food for a single adult living in the city is about $4,686, while an adult with one child would spend $6,916 annually. Those costs rise to $10,702 per year for two adults with a child.


The public transportation system in San Francisco is undoubtedly well-structured, with buses, trains, ferries, and cable cars being an essential mode of transport. However, fares on Bay Area Rapid Transit are based on the distance, making commuting relatively expensive. A single adult ticket on Muni costs $2.50, and a monthly pass is $81. Gasoline prices in California are also quite high. A gallon of gas in San Francisco costs an average of $4.79, as compared to $3.53 for the country overall.

Local and State Taxes

Local and state taxes are an essential factor to consider when moving to San Francisco. Currently, the state sales tax is 8.625 percent. San Francisco residents also have to pay a flat city income tax of 1.50 percent, along with California state income tax, ranging from 1 percent to 13.3 percent based on income. Property tax rates in San Francisco are calculated based on a property’s assessed value, with the rate being 1.179 percent for the 2022-2023 tax year.

Related Facts

  • San Francisco is the second-most densely populated city in California, following Los Angeles.
  • The average commute time in San Francisco is 34.5 minutes.
  • Living in San Francisco is 207 percent more expensive than the national average.

Key Takeaway

San Francisco is a city that is both vibrant and expensive. High cost of living, including housing, food, and transportation, combined with the challenging job market, makes it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in San Francisco. Therefore, it is essential to plan accordingly and take into account the cost of living beforehand.


The cost of living in San Francisco is undoubtedly high, and it can make or break a decision to move to the city. Housing costs, food expenses, transportation, job market scenario, and local and state taxes are crucial factors to take into consideration before relocating to San Francisco. While the high salaries may seem like an attraction, they may not be enough to counterbalance the city’s overall high cost of living.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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