Head west, young urban professionals
October 9, 2010 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I'll be moving from New York City to San Francisco in about 3 months. Yay! I'm very excited but have a bunch of questions. This question is anonymous because of all the money talk after the break.

My wife and I currently live in New York City. Together we make about $130,000 per year and have lived very comfortably. My wife got an awesome promotion with a nice raise and will be making about $70,000 per year (she made about $55,000 previously), I think this is awesome and am totally for moving. I work in marketing for a small financial firm in NYC and make about $75,000 per year. We also have about $40,000 in savings, no debt, no kids.


-How do people find work in San Francisco - craigslist? other sites?
-What is the cost of living comparision assuming we live "downtown" in both places, and how do salaries compare?
-What is the job market like right now for financial jobs? What industries are growing?
-Can we live on $70,000 for a while if it takes me 3 months to find a job?
-What will it cost to move about a studio's worth of furniture?
-We don't really have any great stuff, would we be better off just buying new stuff out west and sending the rest by UPS?
-What can I do between now and January to make the move and job search better?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I moved from Philadelphia to Oakland a few months ago for my first post-grad-school job. I didn't have good furniture or kitchen stuff, which are the things that you're probably worried about shipping (since they're heavy and/or breakable) -- most of mine were stuff my parents didn't want any more.

So I sold the furniture on Craigslist, and ended up shipping about ten boxes of books, clothes, small kitchen stuff, etc. for $350 or so, by UPS -- the "ground" shipping takes about a week. I followed that with a day spent replacing all the stuff I'd abandoned at IKEA and Target, and another day putting together the IKEA furniture.

One thing I found useful to keep in mind was that shipping by UPS ground costs about a dollar a pound. So there are some things that it makes sense to ship that you wouldn't expect -- mostly small kitchen implements.

Depending on who I asked one of those "pods" seemed to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500, and was also much larger than the amount of stuff I had once I got rid of the furniture, which is why I didn't do that. (It sounds like you're *considering* keeping the furniture, though.)
posted by madcaptenor at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I moved out from Philly to San Francisco to be with Gucky back in 2005. Because I left my job in Philly (a regional corporation with no ties in San Francisco) and needed to search for a job there, and she was just moving into the city when I came out, we were in a similar financial and living situation.

It's completely possible for a couple to live on $70,000 in San Francisco proper -- especially if you have $40k in savings and no debt -- but expect to live much more modestly than you might be used to at $130k in New York, and probably not *downtown* downtown (ie, Nob Hill, South Beach, etc.) unless you find a stellar deal.

The best way to get a decent apartment or rental house will be to prepare for it: print your credit report, have references ready, have pay stubs ready so that you can go in and present those things as soon as a listing hits Craigslist. Preparation and timing is everything.

Trolling Craigslist really is the way to go for both a place and a job, unless you have a headhunter or respond to a job listing on a company's own career site. San Francisco runs on Craigslist, even more so than other cities. The job market seems to have recovered considerably here in most sectors, and it's likely you'll be able to replace your job. I personally had a great job within 4 months.

Moving a one bedroom apartment's worth of furniture and possessions from Philly to San Francisco cost me a little under $5000 using a large, reputable moving firm. Expensive! I moved out quite large items that were in storage, though, items which we still use today -- a queen-sized bed and mattress set, nice living and dining room sets -- which may have been far more larger or more desirable to move than what you're moving. There's an IKEA just across the Bay that delivers if you need cheap furni.

Good luck!
posted by eschatfische at 9:40 AM on October 9, 2010


-Can we live on $70,000 for a while if it takes me 3 months to find a job?

Good lord, I hope so!

Listen, San Francisco's expensive, but it's not that expensive. I moved here ten years ago with about $1,000 in the bank...well, less, probably. I had a job (found through a friend) and a place to live (found through a friend); the rent for room in the house I had was more than the one-bedroom I had been renting in Takoma Park, MD, but I still managed to survive just fine. Lots of people live in this city on not very much money.

I shipped most of my stuff UPS. Had a few things moved by movers. I think, all told, it cost around $2K.

And yes, craigslist is where it's at in the Bay Area. The East Bay is generally less expensive than the city itself, although it can vary depending on what you want in a neighborhood. "Downtown" San Francisco - to me - means the Financial District, and there's not much residential stuff there. Nearby SoMa and South Beach might appeal, although much of it seems to me to be overpriced condos.

Start talking to colleagues and former colleagues now about jobs out here. It's like anywhere else - good leads will come from who you know more than what you know.

Are you going to have a car? Unless you're going to live in the further reaches of the EBay, or you job is down on the Peninsula and you live in SF, I'd say don't - street parking is difficult and private parking is insanely expensive.
posted by rtha at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2010


-How do people find work in San Francisco - craigslist? other sites?

Depends on what exactly you do, in what industry, and at what level. In my experience, personal contacts and networking have been much more productive than craigslist. This may be a really good thing to do between now and Jan: build up your SF network.


-What is the cost of living comparision assuming we live "downtown" in both places, and how do salaries compare?

This page links handy (though flawed, of course) conversion table for neighborhoods. Cost of living is comparable. I'd say rent can be marginally less here, with other expenses costing somewhat more. The way I've always explained it is, you're pretty much going to spend the same amount, but when you wake up in the morning instead of looking at the brick wall of the building next door, your view might actually be awesome. There are less cheap food options, as it is dwarfed by the sheer amount available in NYC.


-What is the job market like right now for financial jobs? What industries are growing?

Again, depends on exactly what you do. I know people who are hurting, and I know people who are cleaning up, in finance. I would say it's a good time to be a contractor, and it's always a good time if you are good at what you do. Also consider working outside the industry in finance-related roles.


-Can we live on $70,000 for a while if it takes me 3 months to find a job?

Of course, but this also depends on how disciplined you can be about adjusting your lifestyle. (You will need to.) There is no objective measure of cost of living, just cost of living in the fashion one has become accustomed to. If I were to do it, I'd get a place based on one salary, rather than your projected combined salary.


Good luck, feel free to memail.
posted by danny the boy at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2010


Unfortunately, rental prices in SF proper didn't go down much at all in the crash. In my experience large rental agencies are rip-offs and you'd do better to use Craigslist to find a place. This will, however, take more time because the quality varies so widely. If you do want to use an agency because you want a really classy place fast, for the love of FSM, stay away from CitiApartments--not only will you overpay, but my family and numerous acquaintances of mine have had HORRIBLE experiences with them.

But even in SF, $130k a year sounds like a very comfortable living. I've lived easily on $45k here (1 bedroom apt with no roommates out by the ocean, car, eat out 1-2 times a week at mom & pop joints, etc), although YMMV depending on how posh you want to live.
posted by smirkette at 12:25 PM on October 9, 2010


-What can I do between now and January to make the move and job search better?

- start reading craigslist religiously, to get a sense of what's available, both for jobs and housing
- start networking like crazy with anyone in your professional field who works in SF, used to work in SF, or knows someone who works in SF
- read back through all the (many) AskMe threads about moving to SF, in which neighborhood to live, whether or not to have a car, etc. There are lots of good links in those threads.
- read the local paper, and track down other local SF websites.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:57 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"We don't really have any great stuff, would we be better off just buying new stuff out west and sending the rest by UPS?"

Yes, much better. It is rarely worth the hassle and expensive to move furniture and other easily replaced household goods over long distances. Please see my previous comment on how to move for additional advice on how to decide what's worth taking.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:28 PM on October 9, 2010


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