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Cost of Living in San Francisco, CA 2023

December 23, 2022
Considering moving to San Francisco? Here’s what to expect from the cost of living in San Francisco, to the salary you need, and what transportation is like.

There's no shortage of reasons to move to San Francisco. With a prosperous housing market, economic growth, and plenty of sports teams, San Francisco is booming.

The walkable nature of the beautiful city, the draw of warm west coast living, and the opportunity for outdoor adventures, all make San Francisco one of the most sought-after locales in the U.S.

If you're thinking of packing your bags and becoming the newest Golden Gate City resident, you'll have to prepare your budget!

Luckily, we've got you covered.

Here's everything you need to know about the cost of living in San Francisco.

San Francisco Housing Costs

It's not a secret that San Francisco's cost of living is one of the highest in the US. Because it's right up there with cities like New York and Los Angeles, it’s crucial to get an idea of how much your expenses will change when you move to the city. One of the most significant costs to consider is your rent.

The average rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $2,264 while a two-bedroom will run you around $2,560. There’s no denying that these prices are high. However, they only tell a part of the story.

Rent prices in San Francisco are starting to dip. Rents fell 1.7% in the past month, and are up 2% in comparison to the same period last year.

So, although the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is roughly two times the national average, now might be a good time to rent. You may be able to get a good deal locked in before rent prices fully rebound.

When it comes to saving on rent in San Francisco — renting with roommates is the name of the game. It's also not uncommon for San Francisco residents to live with their parents.

For renters between the ages of 23-29, the percentage of those with roommates rises to over 50%. If you’re going to take this route, take time to find a roommate who is a good match for you.

Interested in starting your San Francisco apartment search, learn how to find an apartment in San Francisco and about the best neighborhoods in the city!

Finding the Best San Francisco Apartment for You

If you're uncertain about a neighborhood, consider a month-to-month apartment before making a long-term 12 month commitment. If it's your first time renting or if you don't have a high credit score, consider no credit check apartments. Lastly, if you prefer to rent from the owner of an apartment and have a more personal relationship with them rather than property managers, consider a for rent by owner apartment.

Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco

San Francisco Transportation

According to data from MIT's Living Wage Calculator, the average San Francisco resident spends $4,938 annually on transportation-related expenses. For a family of four with two children, this cost rises to $13,456 annually.

However, these expenses are incurred by those households that own a personal vehicle. In a public transportation-friendly city like San Francisco, it's completely possible to get by on public transportation alone.

Not only is it possible, but you'll also be saving significantly. A monthly adult pass costs $98 or $1,176 annually. That's a fraction of the cost of ownership for a personal vehicle.

For another point in the public transportation category — residents in San Francisco are never more than a quarter-mile from a public transit stop. Talk about accessibility.

That's a part of the reason that the San Francisco public transportation system hosts over 230 million passengers a year.

San Francisco Food Costs

The average San Francisco resident spends $3,999 on groceries annually or $333.25 monthly. A family of four spends $11,764 or $980.33 monthly.

These amounts reflect those determined souls who can resist the temptation of San Francisco's incredible restaurant offerings. Whether you grab a quick bite to eat at lunch or have a sit-down meal with a friend, these costs can be quite substantial.

According to data from Numbeo, an inexpensive meal at a San Francisco restaurant costs $22 on average. For a three-course meal for two at a mid-tier restaurant, expect to pay $100 plus a standard 15% $15 tip.

 Lombard Street in San Francisco United State

San Francisco Healthcare Costs

Not only can insurance policy premiums be expensive, but they can vary depending on various factors. Factors such as age, lifestyle, whether you have pre-existing conditions, where you live, and more can play a role in how much you pay each month.

In short, healthcare costs can be unpredictable, though they will have a major impact on your budget. In San Francisco, the average resident spends $2,288 annually on medical related care. A family of four pays $7,559 annually.

If you are in need of non-employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, head to to find a plan that fits your budget and needs. Additionally, the San Francisco Free Clinic offers free healthcare services for those who need it, including the standard annual physical.

Finally, don’t forget to report your move, whether you are moving to another state or staying within the same state. If you move at a time that is outside of the open-enrollment period, you will need to provide documentation to avoid a lapse in coverage.

San Francisco Utilities

In San Francisco, the average monthly utility bill per household comes to $251.24, a rate just under the national average of $240 for basic utilities, including gas, water, and electricity.

These lower rates are due in part to the city’s mild winters, where the average temperature is in the high fifties. Though you may need to heat your home occasionally, it’s nothing like the cool to freezing temperatures experienced in the northeast region, meaning you can save big.

Of course, you will need to budget for your cell phone and internet service, which some consider an extension of traditional utilities.

Expect to pay around $114 for your monthly cell phone service bill, which is the average across the US. Additionally, the average cost for internet service ranges from $30 to $70 depending on your needs. For example, if you are working from home, you will likely need a higher service tier.

That said, as a new resident, you have some major advantages when it comes to getting discounted services.

Many service providers offer deep discounts for new customers, including reduced rates for bundled cell and internet services, free access to streaming services, and free hardware. Be sure to shop around before making a switch to get the best deal.

Learn more about the estimated utility costs per city!

man and woman walking on the top of the mountain at San Francisco city, California.

Fitness and Entertainment

Fitness and entertainment expenses can add up quickly, so it’s important to account for them in your budget. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular fitness and entertainment options in San Francisco. Here’s a breakdown of how much these options will cost you.

Fitness and Outdoor Recreation

The average cost of a gym membership in San Francisco can be a little costly at $103.69 monthly. This translates to just over $1,244.28 annually.

You might be able to catch a deal as a new resident or gym member, so don’t be afraid to shop around. However, there are cheaper fitness options.

In 2017, San Francisco achieved its goal to become the first city to have a park within a 10-minute walk of every residence.

For outdoor lovers, pet owners, and fitness gurus, this is a game-changer. Residents benefit from increased access to fun outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, skating, calisthenics, and more.

Check Out a Sporting Event

The sports scene in San Francisco is pretty diverse. Both the Golden State Warriors won a league championship in 2019, and the 49ers have gone pretty far in Super Bowl contention in recent years.

You can head to one of the city’s many sports bars to enjoy a game. However, if you prefer to view a game live and in-person, you’ll have to ensure that your budget is ready for the expense.

Here are the average ticket costs for San Francisco’s major sports teams.

  • San Francisco Giants: $38.32
  • San Francisco 49ers: $139.71
  • Golden State Warriors: $146

Recreate Night at the Museum

Okay, so maybe you can’t recreate it, but you can relive some of it. San Francisco has an impressive collection of affordable museums for a variety of tastes.

The city’s museums play host to millions of visitors each year. Not to mention, they are perfect destinations for a solo trip or a weekend family outing. Better yet, you won’t break the bank.

Here’s the cost of an adult’s general admission ticket at some of San Francisco’s most popular museums.

  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: $25
  • Asian Art Museum: $20
  • Walt Disney Family Museum: $35

The Painted Ladies of San Francisco, California sit glowing amid the backdrop of a sunset and skyscrapers.

Other Expenses to Consider in San Francisco

The mark of a thorough budget is the inclusion of commonly missed expenses. These so-called “hidden costs” are those only long-term residents are familiar with, many of which may be difficult for a new resident to anticipate.

San Francisco has plenty of hidden costs, though luckily, we’ve broken them down for you. Here are some additional costs to consider in San Francisco.

  • Taxes: San Francisco residents can expect to pay a minimum combined 8.5% sales tax rate. The sales tax rate can jump in other areas of the county. A state income tax is collected on a sliding scale, depending on your income.
  • Childcare: Childcare is an expense that can overtake the price of rent in some budgets. However, it’s a necessary expense for many San Francisco families who pay at least $2,450.00 annually to cover childcare costs.
  • Parking:** Besides being a color-coded nightmare, San Francisco parking can be quite expensive. If you plan on moving with your personal vehicle, be sure to check whether your apartment offers free parking.

What Salary Do I Need to Live in San Francisco?

Earning enough in a city with a high cost of living like San Francisco can be challenging. However, starting with the basics is enough for you to create an accurate estimate of how much you need to earn to live comfortably.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is $126,187 in San Francisco. However, the standard rule of budgeting for an apartment starts with rent — you should earn three times the monthly rent.

As the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $2,307, your monthly income $7,690 to live comfortably in San Francisco. That translates to an annual pre-tax income of $92,280.

Final Thoughts

With everything the city has to offer, living in San Francisco is a dream. If your budget works and you’re ready to take the plunge, we’ve got you covered. If the cost of living in San Francisco is too high, consider checking out the East Bay or learning about the cities nearby.

Take the quiz above to find your dream San Francisco apartment!

FAQs: What to Know About the Cost of Living in San Francisco in 2023

How expensive is an apartment in San Francisco?

San Francisco rents are on the rise again. A one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $2,307. A two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $2,609. The year-over-year rent growth in San Francisco is 2.5% compared to last year.

What is the cheapest rent in San Francisco?

Currently, the cheapest rent in San Francisco is for a one-bedroom apartment. You can expect to pay an average of $2,307 in rent.

How expensive is it to live in San Francisco?

In San Francisco, the rent averages $2,307 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Public transportation costs $4,938 annually for one person, or $411 a month. Food in San Francisco costs about $3,999 on groceries annually or $333.25 a month. Eating out costs $22 for a meal at a low-cost restaurant for a single entree or $100 for two at a mid-range restaurant, which doesn't include a tip.

How far is San Francisco from Los Angeles?

San Francisco is 381.986 miles away from Los Angeles and usually takes around 6 hours and 12 minutes to drive with reasonable traffic.

How far is San Francisco from San Jose?

It's 48.4 miles between San Francisco and San Jose. It will take just under an hour to drive from San Francisco to San Jose in normal traffic conditions. There is also public transportation available by BART between San Francisco to San Jose.

How far is Sacramento from San Francisco?

Sacramento is 87.9 miles away from San Francisco via I-80. Driving between San Francisco and Sacramento takes 1 hour and 51 minutes in light traffic. There is also Amtrak service from San Francisco to San Diego that takes about 2 hours and 25 minutes each way.

How far is San Diego from San Francisco?

San Francisco is 501.6 miles from San Diego. It takes about 8 hours and 30 minutes to drive between San Francisco and San Diego.

What is the population of San Francisco?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Boston was 815,201 in 2021. The entire population of the state of California is 39,029,342.

Is San Francisco cheaper than New York?

At the moment, San Francisco is more expensive than New York City. A one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $2,307. For comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in New York City costs $2,005. Rents in San Francisco rose 2.5% in the last year, and New York City climbed 6.0%.

Is San Francisco cheaper than Los Angeles?

San Francisco is not cheaper than Los Angeles. According to our Rent Report, a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco costs $2,307. For comparison, a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles costs $1,660. Rents in San Francisco rose 2.5% in the last year, and Los Angeles climbed 2.9%.

What is a good salary in San Francisco?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median salary for San Francisco residents is $126,187. However, if you want to follow the 30% rule and only spend 30% on your monthly income on rent, you need an income of $92,280 to live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Currently, a one-bedroom apartment costs $2,307 a month.

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Davina Ward
Davina G. Ward is an esteemed journalist and expert on the apartment rental market. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
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