If I move to San Fran and earn the same salary as I do in St Louis, will I be poor?
June 20, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

I need help understanding the difference in cost of living between St. Louis and San Francisco. I live in St. Louis and am a candidate for a job in San Francisco for the same salary.

My current salary is in the low $50s and I live comfortably. I bought a home a year ago and my monthly payments are apx. $1300 per month. I can afford to eat out, see shows occasionally, and save some money each year.

Online cost of living calculators suggest that the cost of living is almost double in San Francisco, and that I would have to earn close to $100k to equal my salary in St. Louis. Is that realistic? If I accept a job there for the same salary, it seems my real income is essentially half of what it is here?

So... will I be poor if I earn the same in San Francisco? Is $50k enough to live comfortably in San Fran? [Note: the new company is located in this part of town: http://tinyurl.com/yqwpmx]

Question 2: Are the cultural opportunity and excitement of San Fransisco worth what is essentially a significant pay cut?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
san francisco is comparable to new york's cost of living, and in new york, you could live comfortably but simply on $50K. you will probably have to rent, and have much less space than you are used to. you'll be shocked at first, but you'll get used to it, especially when you realize everyone lives like that.

i think san francisco would be worth it (i've lived in st.louis).
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:31 PM on June 20, 2007

Cost of living is 16% greater in SF than St. Louis.

See this link to find a table that will compare city costs, etc.

posted by JayRwv at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2007

To be honest, I'm surprised that living in San Francisco costs only double what it does in St Louis. Life in SF is probably worth some sort of pay cut, but 50% is overly harsh. You certainly would not even come close to having the same lifestyle - owning a home would be impossible. To do much of what you currently do, you'd have to share an apartment. Saving money would be tough, if even realistically possible. Everything - seeing shows, eating out - is much more expensive in SF. Frankly, any job that pays $50K in St Louis should easily pay double in SF - why would you want to subject yourself to such a demotion? If you're good at what you do, you should be able to score much more money somewhere in SF.

These figures are from 2005, but the median home price in San Francisco (depending on which area you find a place) ranged from $449,000 to $750,000. It's more now, of course. In St Louis, the median home price was $149,000 - this hasn't changed much. So a housing purchase alone would be more than roughly three to five times as much in SF as St Louis.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2007

JayRwv writes "Cost of living is 16% greater in SF than St. Louis."

It's telling me that cost of living is 116% greater in SF than in SL....
posted by mr_roboto at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2007

With all due repest to JayRwv, that calculator is fairly meaningless in that it only shows the effects of relocation on *disposable* income. So yeah, 16% more for restaurants and whatnot. (Although actually, restaurants are, on the whole probably 50% more expensive in SF - that 16% number is moderated by the fact that a lot of consumer goods one would use disposable income on would cost the same across America, like a CD at BestBuy or whatever.) But housing (as shown above) can easily be 300% to 500% more! (And that's a big part of people's expenses - typically 25% to 35%.) If you do a little math on that, you'll see that housing prices alone could raise the cost of living by as much as 175%!

I know plenty of people in St Louis (and its brother in economic parity, Kansas City) who have pretty nice (non-rent-controlled) two- or three- bedroom apartments in decent neighborhoods for $450 or so. What would something like that cost in SF? I guarantee it would be a lot more than 16% extra . . .

Transportation costs are generally higher in California, as are utilities and such things as property taxes. Groceries are more. Medical care is generally more. None of these are reflected in the calculator mentioned above, so don't be fooled - to think that you could a similar life in SF for only 16% more is pretty wildly inaccurate.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:46 PM on June 20, 2007

Consider the fact that a car might be less necessary (even given the vagaries of MUNI, SF's mass transit system) if you choose a well-connected neighborhood in the city. The location you indicate looks like it's a ten-minute walk from the Powell Street BART station down 4th Street, so perhaps your money might go further if you live in near a BART station Berkeley or Oakland.

I think it's worth it (but then I've worked in Ghana and Indonesia).
posted by mdonley at 3:48 PM on June 20, 2007

Apologies to mr_roboto . . . it appears that I read it incorrectly as well (although the refernence to disposable income now seems odd!)

The calculator says that someone making $52K in St Louis would need to make $112,500 to maintain the same lifestyle in SF - 116% more! Rough.

Also, "repest?" I don't know how that happened; it doesn't sound very nice. I meant "respect," of course.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:50 PM on June 20, 2007

These are some housing prices from Zillow, just to give you an idea.

I moved here from the DC area, where I was paying $600/mo for a (rathole, but mine all mine) one-bedroom in a nice neighborhood; sticker shock came when I had to pay $750 for a room in a house. Nice house, nice room, but still. So yeah, housing is expensive here, but foodwise, culturally, and weatherwise, it's way, way worth it.
posted by rtha at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2007

Is that realistic?

Yes, I am afraid it is.
posted by caddis at 4:05 PM on June 20, 2007

The general rule of thumb I have heard is that if you move for a job, it shouldn't be a lateral move anyway; generally, you want 20% over your original salary or comparable, as compensation for the trouble involved in moving, etc.
posted by misha at 4:05 PM on June 20, 2007

I know plenty of people in St Louis (and its brother in economic parity, Kansas City) who have pretty nice (non-rent-controlled) two- or three- bedroom apartments in decent neighborhoods for $450 or so. What would something like that cost in SF? I guarantee it would be a lot more than 16% extra . . .

Umm....yeah. Having just spent a month looking for a 2BR place in San Francisco, I can attest to that. There's virtually nothing that's not in a horrible neighborhood or a complete wreck that's under $2000 for 2 bedrooms.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:10 PM on June 20, 2007

My current salary is in the low $50s and I live comfortably. I bought a home a year ago and my monthly payments are apx. $1300 per month. I can afford to eat out, see shows occasionally, and save some money each year.

Forget all the calculators. Low 50's is not much here in San Francisco. You won't be able to afford a home. And $1300 a month will get you a studio or a small 1-bedroom to rent in any decent part of town. For example, Here's a 1-bedroom (with pictures) for $1395.

Its not my intent to scare you off. On the contrary, like Dee said above if someone wants to offer you that salary here they may not be giving you a fair shake (depends on the work, I know) and the amount of the offer is worth reconsidering.

As for Question #2, I can't answer that but many people say yes. It depends a lot on you, what you value in life and where you see your future at. For example, it may be worth taking the job if there is more opportunity for advancement here. That is, moving here would be an investment as well as a cultural opportunity...
posted by vacapinta at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2007

But every time I crest the hills in Pacific Heights and look down into the Marin Headlands I think "oh right, that's why I put up with the insane cost of living here!" (No, I don't live in Pac Heights!). Or strolling down the street in Hayes Valley.....or wandering through Dr. Seuss-ville out in the Sunset.

As a city and a region, it's got a lot to offer. Alternatively, its not the nirvana that some my claim, but I do think it's a pretty great place to live.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:15 PM on June 20, 2007

I wouldn't do it. I live in SF now, and I can't imagine trying to get by on your proposed salary. If you're going to do it anyway, know that you'll likely have to live way outside the city, or in a multi-person share, in order to afford anything approaching the lifestyle you describe in StL.

The mortgage, insurance, taxes, and any HOA dues you're going to be paying to buy a place as modest as a two-BR condo in a safe neighborhood in SF will approach - and may even exceed - your gross annual income. I've been out of the rental market for a couple years now, so I don't know what that would cost.
posted by aberrant at 4:16 PM on June 20, 2007

PS. I should add that the apt. listed above is also in what many would consider a mildly "dodgy" part of town.
posted by vacapinta at 4:16 PM on June 20, 2007

"Mildly dodgy"? That's the Loin!
posted by aberrant at 4:23 PM on June 20, 2007

420 square feet, too. That's a tiny one bedroom in a sketchy neighborhood for almost $100 more than your current monthly housing costs.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:26 PM on June 20, 2007

Aww come on, it's the Tender Nob!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:34 PM on June 20, 2007

it's effectively a 50% pay cut on a not-so-stellar (sorry but let's not kid ourselves here) salary to begin with, don't do it
posted by matteo at 4:35 PM on June 20, 2007

420 square feet, too. That's a tiny one bedroom in a sketchy neighborhood for almost $100 more than your current monthly housing costs.

I don't get it... so EVERYONE living in S.F. makes $100K, even cashiers and busdrivers?
posted by rolypolyman at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2007

That's not the 'Loin! the Loin is a bit farther East. There's actually some great bars there on Polk a block away - the Lush lounge, the Hemlock etc. I would call the neighborhood "interesting."

But, yeah, the point is made I think. All the ones I saw in nicer neighborhoods for that price were essentially closets. You could also live farther out in safe but boring neighborhoods such as the Sunset or south to Visitacion Valley but then...well...you're missing out a bit on the cultural aspect.
posted by vacapinta at 4:41 PM on June 20, 2007

so EVERYONE living in S.F. makes $100K, even cashiers and busdrivers?

The cashiers share apartments with 5 other people. The busdrivers live with their families down in neighborhoods such as Hunter's Point.
posted by vacapinta at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2007

No, you will not be poor. At the same salary, you cannot maintain the same level of luxury and financial freedom. But the style of living isn't the same either. I moved here from suburbs where everyone drives a car to get anywhere and spends a lot of time at home. Here I rely heavily on public transportation and spend a lot of time outside. The latter really influences what I find acceptable in housing - I don't need a big place because I just eat and sleep there.

While the online calculator says you would need a 116% salary increase to maintain an exact 1-to-1 cost of living, I would say it's probably closer to 60-70% after "lifestyle conversion." But really, after a few months here, you'll learn to make do with much less in some aspects and spend heavily in others. Thrifty living is actually one of the most appealing aspects of SF to me and you'll find that a lot of people live comfortable lives earning even less than $50k.

Are the cultural opportunity and excitement of San Fransisco worth what is essentially a significant pay cut?
I say yes but this is a personal question based on your interests and lifestyle. If you're a highbrow culture guy, it's going to be really expensive to keep up with the Joneses. But if you enjoy the occasional museum visit, play/musical, concert, and festival, SF has it all and can be very affordable once you figure it out.

NOTE: Your office is in one of the more expensive parts of town. You will NOT be able to buy a place there. I used to live diagonally across from it and paid $2000/mo rent for a 1-bed+loft. I'm guessing the same unit probably costs about $2200-2400 now. If you want an idea of how extreme it gets, these luxury lofts are just around the corner go for about $1.2 million. When I first moved into the area about 4 years ago, it was selling for ~$700,000.
posted by junesix at 5:02 PM on June 20, 2007

As far as the restaurant thing goes I've always found restaurants cheaper in big cities than in small cities. In the big cities you can always find some out of the way "find" that is cheap and awesome - in small cities you have the two popular overpriced restaurants and franchises in strip malls.
posted by any major dude at 5:09 PM on June 20, 2007

Have you ever lived in a "major" city before? It's a very different lifestyle than in St. Louis.

Housing in SF will be much, much more. Most other stuff will be marginally more or roughly the same. It's not like $20K cars cost $40K in San Francisco. As "any major dude" noted, restaurants, clubs etc may be more expensive on the high end, but they are MUCH more plentiful and higher-quality on the low end of the price scale. As several other folks have pointed out, you don't really need a car, or if you have one, need to drive it much.

I lived (with a partner earning about $25K) pretty comfortably (if very modestly) on about $20K/yr in San Francisco. I went out, etc. You will certainly not be poor. And you will live in the best city in the country (I live in LA now, and wish every day I was back in SF).

That said -- pay in the Bay Area is typically higher than elsewhere in the country. So ask for more money to do the same job.
posted by YoungAmerican at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2007

A lot of people are telling you that SF's culture is worth a pay cut (among other things). And, well.. that's true for some people, but not for others. Allow me to give you a different perspective.

I go to SF regularly but don't live there, and I never would want to live there. It's very crowded. And I, being a terribly boring person, wouldn't make use of the culture. And I would find the difficulty of using a car maddening, and a reliance on public transportation horrifying. Yeah, again, I'm a boring, grumpy person. But SF really isn't the city for me. If someone were willing to, say, triple my income for me to move there, I'd certainly take it... But I wouldn't move there just to have the equivalent amount of money, let alone less. In general, I find SF a great place to visit, but a nightmare of a place to live.

But, that doesn't mean you wouldn't. If the culture and excitement of SF will play a vital roll in your decision, you really should visit, if you haven't before. You won't know what the place is like until you see it for yourself. Considering what everyone else is saying about pay equivalence, you certainly should find out what your individual opinion of it is.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:31 PM on June 20, 2007

I make considerably more than what you're quoting and I still find myself sticking to a budget in order to have what I do -- and I consider myself lucky.

It all depends on if you're traditionally liberal or thrifty with your money and what you find important to you.

Here are some choices you might have to make. (Hint: You can't easily do both on $50k in SF)
  • Do I want to drive a nice car I don't own OR Do I want to live in a decent apartment by myself?
  • Assuming no stupid boys-always-pay crap, Do I want to eat out at nice restaurants with dates and not have to brown bag it for lunch OR Do I want to shop at Whole Foods, visit the farmer's markets, maintain an awesome kitchen and make a lot of meals for friends?
  • Do I want to regularly go to the opera, symphony and to concerts, plays and events OR Do I want to maintain a nightlife habit out with my friends?
You can do it, happily, but you can't do it all.

MOVE if you get a kick out of being thrifty.
MOVE if you love SF (it's really that great).
MOVE if you can put up with a housemate.
MOVE if you are ambitious or talented enough to seek a better salary when the time comes.
STAY if you want to have kids, pets and a car.
STAY if you're not good at maintaining savings or carrying a lot of debt.
STAY if owning a home is more important to you than having the sort of lifestyle SF provides.

But really, WAIT for a better offer.
posted by cior at 5:32 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not to hijack, but as someone who is also moving to SF (and making considerably less than $50K, but newly graduated), I was wondering if any of you Bay Area peeps have any good/offbeat suggestions for budget living in the SF. Not typical stuff that's true everywhere (use craigslist, get roommates, etc), but where are those good cheap restaurants and bars, any little-known discounts for cultural events, good thriftstores?
posted by purplevelvet at 5:46 PM on June 20, 2007

candidate for a job in San Francisco for the same salary

Talk to your employers about what "same salary" means. If they're referring to the exact same dollar amount, they're screwing you. Most employers will do a cost-of-living adjustment and if they don't, ask for it. It's a reasonable request as part of your counter-offer.
posted by junesix at 5:47 PM on June 20, 2007

purplevelvet, got an email address? Want to avoid the derail.
posted by junesix at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2007

If you're making a lateral move, into more or less the same job in SF as in StL, then you're getting screwed, and you should politely but firmly ask for more money. 50k is on the low end of livable salaries in San Francisco. You won't be poor, but you'll learn to be thrifty and your lifestyle will probably still go down a notch.

At 50k, you'll be able to live in a studio or with roommates (but probably not in the SOMA neighborhood where your office is). You'll be able to go out for cheap eats or take-out pretty frequently, keep yourself supplied with beer and/or weed, and catch a show or a nicer dinner on a semi-regular basis. But you're not likely to unexpectedly spend the weekend in Napa and bring back two cases of wine. You won't be able to save for retirement, and there's no way you'll be able to purchase a house -- even if you could come up with a reasonable downpayment.

Your $45 muni pass will be your main form of transportation (your office is near the K, T and N lines that stop at 4th and King, you'll probably end up living near one of them), and you'll wonder why you keep paying to keep parking and insuring the car that you don't use.

Is it worth it? I think so, and that's why I live in SF. But, If I were in your shoes, I think I'd hold out for more money. San Francisco employers know that it's expensive to live here, and generally pay accordingly. Most of the people who you'll see on 4th and Bryant at lunchtime will be technology workers, and the great majority of them will be making more than 50k.
posted by toxic at 6:50 PM on June 20, 2007

A note for the San Franciscans who are scratching their head at me saying that the K, T and N lines go to 4th & King...

It's true that today, only the J and T go to 4th and King/Caltrain. But as of July 1, Muni is going to rearrange things again.
posted by toxic at 6:54 PM on June 20, 2007

It's not like $20K cars cost $40K in San Francisco.

Back of the envelope:

St Louis sales tax: 6.075%
SF sales tax: 8.5%

StL state income tax rate: 6%
CA state income tax rate: 9.3%

The car with a $20K sticker in St Louis costs $21,215 after sales tax. The same sticker-price car costs $21,700 after sales tax in SF.

In St Louis, it takes $22,569 in pre-state-tax income to buy that car. In SF it costs $23,925. That is a difference of $1356. $1356 is 6.7% more expensive. So "the $20,000 car" costs 6.7% more in California, just because of differences in the tax code.

Differences in car insurance, smogging, titling, and registration fees will probably amount to another extra couple thousand a year. Average gas price in SF today is $3.47 a gallon; the same web site lists the StL price as $2.77. That means that the same gallon of gas costs 25% more here. (It's not an identical gallon; it's specially formulated to reduce emissions. That's great for the environment; also reduces gas mileage a couple percent, which you can tack on to that 25% when you're evaluating your new gas costs.)

Bottom line, your lifestyle will change dramatically. Right now you are building equity in a home where you are presumably comfortable; enjoying some of the finer things; presumably you have a car; and you are putting money away.

If you move to San Francisco for how pleasant it is here, you'll have to rent a small apartment in a nice part of the city. (If you don't, you won't find the pleasant things that make living in SF what it is.) You will never own a house here on your income. When you decide you've had your fun in the city and want to own a home again, you won't even be able to afford the starter homes that require 3-4 hours of daily commute time. You'll have to start a new career in a new city if you want to do that.

You won't be able to have a car here and put money away too; if you try to do one or the other, you'll probably have to greatly curtail your eating out and other expenses.

The people I know who are permanent SF-ites are here either because they don't have to worry about money for some reason, or they have come here because they love it here and can't imagine being anywhere else. Often it's both. If you don't immediately relate to that feeling, moving here may not make sense for you.

If someone is actively trying to recruit you from StL to SF by offering you the same salary you're receiving now, laugh in their face and hang up the phone - your time is being wasted by an unscrupulous headhunter who wants to serve up a warm body and collect a commission. It's no skin off their nose if you waste a year and many thousands of dollars learning a very costly lesson.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:18 PM on June 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who moved from St. Louis on the same salary as you. He moved from a house in the burbs to a 2 bedroom apartment living with 2 other people in haight-ashbury (?). He lived there for 2 years and still talks about how great a city it was. He longs to return there, but he still can't afford it. He has made it clear on several occasions that he left because he had to share a living space with roommates. He moved to Chicago and only now, three years later, believes this city is at least comparable to San Francisco, in terms of cultural appeal.

Offtopic, I grew up in St. Louis and moved to Chicago after college. I love this city and compared to St. Louis, it is the Emerald City.
posted by rabbitsnake at 7:30 PM on June 20, 2007

I was wondering if any of you Bay Area peeps have any good/offbeat suggestions for budget living in the SF.

Yes. Its a great question. People do make very little and survive here just fine. But you have to be creative. You should probably start a separate thread.
posted by vacapinta at 7:56 PM on June 20, 2007

Despite all the people out there who apparently can't live on less than six figures, I'd suggest a couple of things from my $46k perspective:

1. Consider living outside SF; I live in Pacifica, which costs less than SF, and it's about the same time to the things I go to as if I lived in the Mission (the only interesting neighborhood in SF that I can afford and isn't scary -- the one exception being, of course, the Mission). You might find you need a car, although a coworker of mine manages to get from Daly City to work in the Outer Richmond and San Mateo, and to school at SF State, near Lake Merced, on public transit, 6-7 days a week.

2. if you live in the city, compensate for the rent hike by getting rid of your car. Zipcars, etc, are great for when you need to go to IKEA or Santa Cruz or wherever the heck you need to go once a month.

3. yeah, forget about ever owning a home. Last time I checked, I couldn't afford a mortgage on a trailer. Admittedly, that was at the height of the dotcom thing, but it is a telling statistic nonetheless.

Apart from owning a home, I'd say you can do fine here -- I eat out a lot (4x per week-ish), and I have some savings (in a year I have saved about $9k). I buy a lot of books, go to movies, museums, concerts, etc. -- pretty much the only entertainment I forgo is television. In other words, I'm echoing the "16%" cited above, in anecdotal terms, here, for day-to-day fun.

I guess what I'm saying is that obviously, you can live in the SF area on a $50k+ salary -- thousands of people do it. But I have to admit, with all the others, that you will sacrifice the "American Dream" at least a little bit to do it -- in other words, you will probably feel (although not actually *be*) "poor." So ultimately I'm saying what everyone else is saying: if you don't have a reason to move to SF that involves either a) a job you love way more than the one you have now, or b) an unquenchable love of the city itself that you'd do anything to satisfy, don't move here.

And if you get them to give you more money, but a and b still aren't true -- STILL DON'T MOVE HERE. The last thing the Bay area needs is more rich people.
posted by obliquicity at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2007

The offer, if it is indeed for the same dollar amount, and not a cost-adjusted amount, seems iffy, if not an outright insult, unless you expressed a great desperation to move, in which case it's crassly opportunistic. They are basically saying they think you are worth half what you currently make. Depending on your field of work, check out something like computerworld's salary survey (strangely doesn't include a lower west-coast/Silicon Vally region, so add 20-25% to their pacific region results, imho), which allows you to get a baseline for the salary range, based on job-title and location. If people who do what you do are indeed only paid $50k in the bay, then you've got it good in STL. If they are paid $100k, you know where you stand
posted by nomisxid at 9:28 PM on June 20, 2007

I just want to know which fellow St. Louis MeFite is leaving.

Yes, we're spoiled here in the midwest with our cost of living. But do you really want to leave Imo's, pork steaks, and the Cardinals for better weather, thinner people, and a less overtly Roman Catholic way of living than South City? Oh, probably and I sure as hell don't blame you. If horseblind is the anon poster, then we need to go for drinks before this happens. Difficutly: I still smoke like a Chinese coal plant.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:48 PM on June 20, 2007

There's an interesting and semi-relevant story in the SF Chronicle about a high school student who helped his teacher figure out how to buy a home on a $52K/year salary. I gather you're not a teacher, but there might be something useful in it for you.
posted by rtha at 10:05 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I live happily and comfortably in a charming area of San Francisco (Hayes Valley) on a salary in the low 40s. When I moved here 2 years ago, I was only making $34k, and I still got along fine. Sure, I have to share my 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate because I couldn't afford a decent place on my own, but I have tons of spending money to waste on yummy food and shows and movies and books and whatever else I want.

The people I know who make $100k+, use their extra money to live in a larger apt, own a nice car, and/or wear fancypants designer clothes. If you can do without those things, you'll get by just fine. It's an awesome city and I'd rather make $40k here than $80k anywhere else, but only you can figure out if it's worth it for you.
posted by logic vs love at 10:25 PM on June 20, 2007

That's an interesting article, rtha. Not relevant to the original poster's question, because it's in North Oakland, a "neighborhood under siege" from violent criminals, and far from SF proper.

It's interesting because it shows how this teacher bought a $383,000 condo with a 10% down payment. To make the down payment she gutted her IRA to the tune of $10K, and took a gift from her parents of $15K. She signed up for $100,000 in loans that will be accruing interest for 30 years with no mandatory repayment, in order to qualify for a decent $250,000 mortgage at a preferential rate.

Not only is she now locked into a neighborhood where crime is spiraling out of control, she's locked into her career - if she changes careers all her preferential teacher rates and deferments will evaporate and she'll be forced into default.

I would call it an example of predatory lending practices, but I guess with burgaries and robberies up 25% in North Oakland this year, no one cares about this kind of white collar crime.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:50 PM on June 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you live outside of the city and get a roommate (bringing your housing cost down around the $750 range), you'll have plenty of money to maintain your current lifestyle and then some. People making 30-40k have to budget, but they don't struggle. That's really the biggest concession you have to think about. If you can't bear having a roommate, you can probably find a one bedroom place just across the bridge in the east bay for around $1000, and not live quite as well, but still totally comfortably. Forget about living in SF proper. It's not worth it.

Restaurants and outings will probably cost you about twice what they do now, but that just means you go out a little less. Not the end of the world. And that's not your heaviest budget item, anyway. Housing is the biggie.

Another major budgeting consideration that people don't think about is driving. If you're not comfortable with public transit (I personally can't stand it), you can anticipate spending a grand or two a year on parking and tickets. There's just no way to around it. Just so you know.
posted by team lowkey at 12:32 AM on June 21, 2007

ikkyu2 - You're right. The article is framed as an "aren't people wonderful! The student helped his teacher buy a house!", but doesn't discuss at all what the true costs that house might be to the teacher. They won't do it, of course, but it would be interesting for the Chron to do a follow-up piece or pieces in a few years. For some people, owning a house - even one in a dodgy neighborhood - is better than not owning a house at all. But in this case, at least, we'll probably never find out.
posted by rtha at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2007

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