What Does it Really Cost to Live in San Francisco?

Apartment Therapy's Cost of Living Report

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When we first moved to San Francisco the cost of living came as a shock. Not that we were relocating from a particularly inexpensive city, having lived in Boston proper for years, but nothing had prepared us for this.

Skyrocketing rents are fed by a constant demand for housing, fueled in part by the growing tech industry and rapid gentrification. Once you find a place you may be hard pressed to leave it, as many of the buildings are rent controlled (ours included), providing a strong incentive not to move around. As far as the other factors that are necessary for big city survival, grocery costs are high but farmers markets and neighborhood fruit stands are great to help balance the cost. Dining out can also be expensive, but you can also get authentic, inexpensive eats like Pho for loose change. The one thing that is more affordable is utilities, as the temperature rarely seems to swing far enough one way or the other to merit running a heater or air conditioner.

Essentials and Entertainment



Milk: $2.39
Monthly Muni/Bart pass: $76.00
Gas: $4/gal
Movie ticket: $11.21
Restaurant Dinner: $35.52
Beer (draft pint): $4.00
Cocktail: $11

Housing for Rent



Median Rents (One Bedroom):

Potrero Hill: $ 3,186
Mission: $ 2,500
Russian Hill: $ 3,000

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One Bedroom Examples


Potrero Hill: 1 bed, 1.5 bath, 600 square feet, $3,650
Mission: 1 bed, 1.5 bath, 1,046 square feet, $4,385
Russian Hill: 1 bed, 2 bath, 1,200 square feet, $4,300

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Two Bedroom Examples


Potrero Hill: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,105 square feet, $6,200
Mission: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,169 square feet, $4,675
Russian Hill: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,580 square feet, $7,500

Housing for Sale


Median Price:
Potrero Hill
: $ 795,000
Mission: $ 699,000
Russian Hill: $ 1,295,000

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One Bedroom Examples

Potrero Hill: 1 bed, 1 bath, 700 square feet, $499,000

Mission: 1 bed, 2 bath, 888 square feet $599,000
Russian Hill: 1 bed, 1 bath, 974 square feet $730,000

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Two Bedroom Examples

Potrero Hill: 2 bed, 1 bath, 1,307 square feet $899,000

Mission: 2 bed, 2.5 bath, 1,227 square feet $1,400,000
Russian Hill: 2 bed, 2 bath, 1,300 square feet , $1,699,000

(Image: Kim Lucian, Listings via Zillow)

(Image credits: Kim Lucian)

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