Cost of living in SF

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Submitted by Former SD resident on May 9, 2011 - 12:38pm

I know this site is mainly about SD but wondering if anyone can provide insight into the SF market. My husband has been actively looking for a job on the West Coast for a few months and now were finally starting to get some good options coming in. We'd love to be in SD, but don't think it's in the cards for what he does. A company has been agressively persuing him (even offering some reloc expenses :o ), they've talked bonus, equity, benes, but want to know what his base salary requirement would be. We know the area is substantially more expensive, so he doesn't want to low ball it, but also doesn't want to price himself out of the job.

Also, any insight on homes/neighborhoods in/around SF? I'm very familar with SD as we both grew up there and I've learn a lot of about the housing market from Piggington, but don't really know much about SF (other than we like if after visiting several times) What would a decent house in SF cost? We have 2 kids under 3 and would need it to be within 45 minutes of the Brisbane. For a comparible neighborhood we like RB, PQ, Poway, 4SRanch, etc.

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 9, 2011 - 2:17pm.

I'm highly familiar with Brisbane, just south of Candlestick Park and surrounds. There is a nice mall fairly close to there (Tanforan) but San Bruno is older and the houses there are slightly larger than in Daly City, which has houses that are quite small and close together. Both areas are 5-10 mins from SF in traffic - VERY convenient.

As you work your way into Burlingame (airport-area) and beyond to the south and west, it becomes more expensive for an older 1500-1600 sf house on a medium to larger lot. An SFR in SF proper is quite cost-prohibitive but flats there are as cheap as $350K for a 2000 sf fixer with a one-car garage, depending on area.

I don't know what your price range is or your housing needs are, but you can get more house for your money just across the San Mateo Bridge in Hayward. A little ways south of there is Union City and then Fremont. My understanding from a relative who retired from teaching in Fremont schools is that they are very good. I don't know if that school district extends into Union City, however. I don't know how the schools in Hayward are now (Alameda County) but they used to be very good.

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 9, 2011 - 2:12pm.

To answer your question, a 1500-1900 sf home of about 50-60 years old on a 5000-9000 sf lot on the peninsula within 15 miles south and west of Brisbane would cost approximately $550K to $850K. It may or may not need cosmetic or other work.

As far as I know, there is no Mello Roos close to there except in Foster City (a VERY congested newer area developed on built-up land on the interior of the bay).

I have not checked Hayward and Union City but would surmise that the same size and age home over there would cost $475K to $750K.

Submitted by Coronita on May 9, 2011 - 3:25pm.

Pacific Heights.

Submitted by sdrealtor on May 9, 2011 - 3:33pm.

I love it! My knowledge of the South Bay would fit in a thimble even though I have sold several properties there in the last couple years but you are the worlds expert on a place 500 miles away that you havent lived near in decades. AMAZIIIIING!

Submitted by Eugene on May 9, 2011 - 3:36pm.

As far as I know, if you want an area that's similar to RB/PQ/Poway, you need to look in west SF (Richmond or Sunset), or on the peninsula starting from Millbrae and further south. You're looking somewhere around 750k for a basic 3-bedroom in west SF. The peninsula is more expensive.

East Oakland (Piedmont, Montclair) is good, almost everywhere along the 24 and the 680 is good, you get more house for the same money, but you pay with longer commute. People who live in East Bay and work in SF often commute on BART. You need to find out if it's a viable option for you.

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 9, 2011 - 4:37pm.

Very good suggestions, Eugene, especially WRT the BART. One of my kids lived in Richmond (SF) for a couple of years and the (mostly refurbished) housing in that area is viable but it didn't occur to me that a young family might like it. I didn't mention the 24 going out to the 680 (very nice and mostly treed, BTW) because I felt it would not usually fit within the 45-min commute time frame requested by the OP, due to bridge and interchange congestion. The SM bridge is the lesser of the two evils, IMHO.

I agree that northern peninsula cities are more expensive but would be the best location for the OP's business-park location. However, I have seen some minor cosmetic fixers and other fixers from the low $500K on up in there in recent months.

There is a major BART station in Hayward, with pkg available. It is on the Fremont to Daly City line.

Submitted by UCGal on May 9, 2011 - 4:38pm.

One thing to consider in your negotiation...

It's not the cost of living that your potential employer cares about - it's the "cost of labor".

Employers don't care if you have higher expenses compared to salary - they care if they can get an equally qualified candidate for less.

Or at least that's what my corporate overlords have told me and my fellow employees.

If your husband is an engineer... cost of labor is on the rise in the bay area. Salaries are no longer stagnating and it's a competitive marketplace. I have a friend who's a vp of software for a company in Berkeley... she's having a tough time getting offers accepted because she's competing against google etc..

However... non engineering jobs may not be as competitive.

Submitted by Eugene on May 9, 2011 - 5:29pm.

I don't know what the commuter traffic is like on San Mateo bridge vs. Bay Bridge. Google tells me that Hayward to Brisbane is 26 miles and Montclair to Brisbane is 23 miles.

When you are looking at suspiciously cheap fixers, the general rule is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is ... For example, here's a 3-bedroom fixer in Millbrae for 545k:

Why so cheap? You only need to zoom out the satellite view to find two good reasons.

Submitted by danielwis on May 9, 2011 - 10:59pm.

Lived in Noe Valley a few years ago. Before that lived in Oakland. Loved it in Noe Valley. Very close suburb. Family oriented. Beautiful down town shops. Close to great dining. Nice views of down town depending on which side of the hills you are on. It is pricey though. Near by Diamond Heights is another great location. These areas are basically in the city: Much closer to down town than what is mentioned above. Price vs. commute. Personally I hate the commutes around the Bay. I vote live in the city.

Submitted by zzz on May 10, 2011 - 4:11am.

I would definitely vote against Hayward. It is an industrial area and not particularly nice in my opinion. I have spent some time there for business reasons and all the people I know who work there don't live there nor would want to.

I also agree commuting via car in the Bay Area sucks. I'd go with south SF or somewhere on the BART line.

Some friends who work in south SF rented a large million dollar home in San Mateo for about $3500/month and then later bought in Foster City and are very happy with Foster City for raising kids. They paid in the low 800s for a 4/3,~ 2200sq ft. Perhaps try renting in those areas before deciding?

Submitted by scott-at-alumni on May 10, 2011 - 7:43am.

Hi Former,

We moved from Rancho Penasquitos to Belmont (mid-peninsula) about 2 years ago. Housing much more expensive up here, older stock, smaller houses. We were school-district shopping so I can chat about that, as well as local prices if you want. We also lived in San Bruno (still own that house) years ago. But we've never lived in the city (we lived in London, but never found city life in SF compelling enough). We rented in PQ (4br, 3ba, built in '87, $2100) and we're renting in Belmont (3br, 2ba, built in 1907, $2800) until we decide to do something permanent.

Message me if you want to chat more.

Good luck!

Submitted by bearishgurl on May 10, 2011 - 1:37pm.

I want to add that a young family (3 kids) whom one of my kids went to school with in here Chula Vista was from Pacifica, where they had inherited a house (bought long ago). They leased it and moved here for a job. After about five years in SD County, they returned to Pacifica and are still there. The parents DID tell me that the schools were very good in Pacifica but of course it is more pricey than the other areas I mentioned.

I also thought of mentioning Sunnyvale for schools but feel it will usually be out of your 45 min commute range, in traffic. The housing inventory in Sunnyvale includes 60's and 70's two-stories, mostly on 5000 sf lots.

In addition, I feel a commute from Union City on south (East Bay) will hit the 45-min mark on most days.

Like some other posters, I vote for the City or San Bruno and other close surrounds simply because life is short and commuting takes away so much from the worker's already long day. Proximity is far more important than size in this instance.

Former SD resident, it would help a lot if you posted your price range.

Submitted by Former SD resident on May 10, 2011 - 4:25pm.

Thanks for all the comments we have a lot to consider. I never thought I'd have sticker shock after living in SD but guess I was wrong.

UCGal: I appreciate that the employer is concerned about their cost of labor, but we still have to consider the cost of living, if we can't swing it with what they offer, then we won't move. We are not in a position where we have to move, it's actually pretty good living where we are at only problem is we under-estitmated the difficultly of living so far from family especially after starting our own.

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