San Francisco Cost Of Living

Is it over-exaggerated on this site? I know it is expensive to live there, but if I am a BB IB coverage group analyst out of undergrad with no debt and no savings, is it feasible? I'd like to live in the city and not in Oakland, Berkeley, or Marin. Do summer analysts have to live outside of the city or in the Tenderloin lol?

I'd also add.... what salary makes it affordable to live in SF as a recent graduate?

Comments (33)

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 4:11pm

Definitely over-exaggerated. I would say about 10-20% higher than NYC cost of living. I'm not sure why people compare NYC to SF all the time and always make it seem like SF is a complete shithole and they always resort to focusing on the Tenderloin or literal shit in the streets. As long as you have roommates you can live comfortably off an analyst's salary. After a few years you'll get your raises and promotions and can live in the more trendier parts of the city or even have an apartment alone if you choose.

 
  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jan 7, 2021 - 4:52pm

Is it possible to live alone if I am not a heavy spender?

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 5:15pm

It depends on how picky you are with which district you want to live in, but yes it's possible but not as easy and as recommended in the way that a first year in NYC can. 

 
  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Jan 7, 2021 - 5:14pm

When focusing on the essentials that actually matter for analysts such as transportation, housing and food (as you're going to be sleeping, working, eating, and not having much free time to do other stuff) yes.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in RE - Comm
Jan 7, 2021 - 7:28pm

If you're coming out of college and only plan to work in sf for 2 to 3 years, you'll be fine. Your lifestyle during college is obviously nothing lavish, so when compared, it's going to be fine or a step up as it is. Pairing it with IB pay will be fine too. After those 2-3 years it can get tiring as a professional to still pay a rent premium for a quality of housing or city living that is not as good when compared to other major cities.

Living in Marin, Berkeley or Oakland with IB hours is not going to be possible since public transit is not as reliable and doesn't run late. Driving is not going to be easy with the cost of parking, traffic and tolls. You're really going to need to be living in SF proper, and somewhere close to downtown. Right now, rent has fallen quite a bit. Think between 2500 and 3000 per month for a one bedroom. Roommate situations maybe 1700-2200 per month, really depends on what your looking for.

 
  • Analyst 3+ in HF - EquityHedge
Jan 10, 2021 - 11:00pm

I've lived in SF for 5+ years now, and the blanket statement of the entire city being a shithole is a pretty poor take. Like most major cities it has problems, good and bad areas, etc. but unless you're spending all day walking around the TL or sketchier part of SOMA you don't run into the common issues with the frequency that the internet would have you believe. Everyone has their preferences and SF can be a great city if you know where to live and value the weather, outdoor activities and whatnot that you can't get to the same extent elsewhere

 
Most Helpful
Jan 8, 2021 - 9:43am

I've been living in SF for 15 years.  Lived in Lower Nob Hill near the Tenderloin for 7 years and then bought a house in the more residential single family home areas of SF.  
 

People pay the big rents / high cost of living for the City lifestyle.  Convenience, spontaneity, walkability, weather, broad and deep career opportunities; a MSA/city where you could actually raise kids and they possibility will live near you when they start their career. 
 

A lot of the attributes about the city are depressed with the pandemic.  Depending on your forecast, things will get back to normal. 
 

For saving money, and I still do try even at mid-career, I don't eat out all the time.  I buy groceries, particularly fruits and vegetables (and frozen dumplings) at the Asian markets.  I normally go to Safeway for everything else.  I drive an old car, but have a newer one in the garage.  My oldest got into a good public school (free).  Daycare costs ridiculous, but preschool is generally cheaper (more scale with more students) and cheaper in elementary (public and private, generally).

 

You can get by.  Housing, still expensive.  Wife told me yesterday low $2K for one bedroom.  When I moved to SF, 15 years ago, was $1,200.      Rents peaked in mid-2019 and have fallen.  Save money your first few years; don't get a car (depending on your commute and public transportation germ-o-phobia).  There is rent control so get in and lock up a nice unit for a historically lower price and live there for 5-7 years, then figure out if you want to buy or move. 
 

Yes, especially the Tenderloin, homelessness from the eye test has gotten 25-50% worst in the worst areas.  But, I'm normally passing through in a car.  For some, it's shocking.  For me, I got used to it and it's shocking (since I don't go to the TL area that often anymore) but only a partial degree of heightened disgust.  
 

There are very nice parts of SF to live.  Even the most dangerous places (Hunters Point) are becoming gentrified.

 

Pre-pandemic, i would find myself at Japantown a lot for food and drinking.  When I was in my mid-20's clubbing at Broadway or SOMA, $7 cab ride anywhere from Nob Hill.  Late night eating at Osha Thai, or some noodle soup restaurant near Chinatown/Broadway, or pizza.  In my 30's, occasionally go to Hawthorne near Union Sq/Financial District.  Geez, I wonder how these nightlife places will survive.  
 

Anyways, the LLCs (ownership) will change and the City will regain some of its vibrancy.  It will take time.  My wife closed her brick and mortar business last fall so I know a thing or two; but someone will take her space as things recover.  It will take time. 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 3
 
Jan 8, 2021 - 1:11pm

You're welcome.

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
 
  • Managing Director in IB-M&A
Jan 8, 2021 - 12:53pm

Thanks for the super informative post! I am married young professional (late 20s) trying to decide between NY and SF...mind if I run a few questions by you?

1. SF nature / outdoor activities like golf. I've heard the balance b/w city and nature lives is better at SF. Is this true? Are outdoor activities actually accessible (with a car) and does SF working culture (in finance) allow for some time on the weekends to enjoy this?

2. Housing. I know SF houses are super expensive but is there anything within 20-30min commute to FIDI that I could afford to buy? Something like 200-300k down payment? How many bed/bath is possible with this at a decently safe and accessible location?

3. Networking. I feel that it's been super easy to network and meet ppl in NY. I am wondering if it's similar in SF or if it's more so "secluded communities"

 
Jan 8, 2021 - 1:41pm

 

Thanks for the super informative post! I am married young professional (late 20s) trying to decide between NY and SF...mind if I run a few questions by you?

1. SF nature / outdoor activities like golf. I've heard the balance b/w city and nature lives is better at SF. Is this true? Are outdoor activities actually accessible (with a car) and does SF working culture (in finance) allow for some time on the weekends to enjoy this?

2. Housing. I know SF houses are super expensive but is there anything within 20-30min commute to FIDI that I could afford to buy? Something like 200-300k down payment? How many bed/bath is possible with this at a decently safe and accessible location?

3. Networking. I feel that it's been super easy to network and meet ppl in NY. I am wondering if it's similar in SF or if it's more so "secluded communities"

Happy to help.

1) outdoors: I'm not a super outdoorsy person mainly because my wife isn't, but my friends in finance play golf.  SF has a good municipal course within city limits.  I've played at the Presidio and one of the courses near Pebble Beach (further south).  Anyways there are a lot courses nearby and my buddies golf often.  
 

Other outdoors stuff: there are some great parks and hikes within SF and nearby.  I used to cycle (I don't anymore after a near death experience) but used to ride from SF, over the Golden Gate Bridge, north towards the Marin headlands or Tiberon and back.  Used to ride with friends, coworkers.
 

Tahoe: skiing.  Great place for that (although I'm not a cold weather person).

Wine Country / Napa: weekend day trip for some wine tasting, lunch and outdoors.  Just 1-2 hours from the City.

Golden Gate Park: it's like the Central Park in NYC but for SF

Ocean Beach: where I went a bunch with my little kids over the summer during COVID; water is cold but fresh air and sun, sand and wadding in the shallow water.

If you are into more hard core nature, there are a bunch of state and national parks.  Muir Woods is magical.  Centuries old redwood forest that feels like a temperate rain forest.  Like 45 mins north of SF.  
 

Just walking around.  The urban jungle has interesting things and you can get stuff done while walking/exercising (like commuting to work).  Get this: there was a long period of time when I lived and worked in SF and I would go on a freeway once a month.  Awesome feeling not being stuck in traffic on a freeway.  SF is known for their great boutique-y streets.  Like an unplanned urban mall with small shops and restaurants.  Columbus Street, Chestnut, Union Sq, Hayes Valley, Polk, Union, Japantown, Clement, Irving.  Haight-Ashbury used to be great.  
 

People always emphasize the Tenderloin (TL, the Loin) with the homeless, needles and shit and some surrounding areas.  It's possible to avoid these places.

 

2) Housing.  I think with $250-300K, 80% LTV mortgage so maybe $1.2MM-$1.5MM price range?  My house on Zillow (zestimate) is around $1.3-1.4MM and I'm 12 min walk to an underground subway (The Muni) and then 15 mins from Financial District.  Door to office chair around 35 mins.  3 bedroom, 2 bath with outdoor deck and backyard, one car garage, in a "row house" neighborhood.  Where I live, I can get to the 280 freeway within 7 mins drive and the BART.  My house was built in the 1950's.  So, yes, doable.  
 

3) SF for networking I would say is on par with NYC, with the caveat that I'm in Commercial Real Estate.  IB there might be more spread out geographically because there could be the SF office and then the Menlo Park/Palo Alto office.  Of course, tech / TMT is a dominate industry so you'll get a lot of that; but I had a B-school friend work as a generalist at GS so there are other coverage areas.  JP Morgan has their healthcare conference in SF every year.  Anyways, I can't speak too deeply about IB but in CRE, definitely good networking. 
 

It's early January and 54 degrees. Rainy this time of year.  Good for the snow pack in Tahoe for water for the drier months. 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life
  • 1
 
Jan 9, 2021 - 6:20pm

Boy, I haven't had Osha Thai for a long time

Follow me on Instagram: @dickthesellsider

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