Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

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Meg77
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Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Meg77 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:25 pm

My husband is being recruited by another manager with his current employer for a position in San Francisco. The move would be essentially lateral, although it would come with a pay grade increase (probably a 5-10% bump) plus a cost of living adjustment (TBD), along with the *promise* of a promotion within 12 months assuming certain metrics are met.

PROS
That's likely a couple of years sooner than he would qualify for the same promotion on his current team. Further, he anticipates this change would bring a substantial improvement in his job satisfaction. He's currently inching toward burnout under the weight of the constant pressure from his current micromanaging boss. The Dallas market is also known to be more competitive and "work-obsessed" so to speak than the other divisions, and he is really loving what he's hearing from this CA manager. San Francisco may be his favorite city on earth. He says he literally feels better there. We got engaged on a trip there, but that was my only visit. I could see us living there, and it could be a fun, relationship-building adventure for our new marriage to explore and put down roots in a new city. A move is also the only thing that could get me out of my employment contract and force me out of career complacency (though I'd also give up my flexible, low stress job and the roughly $100K in RSUs that will vest in 3-5 years). We've both moved to a different part of the country before, and we appreciate the growth and perspective that has given us on a personal level.

CONS
If this option were offered in any other city we probably wouldn't even consider it. That sometimes-tyrannical boss happens to really like DH, and he's been given loads of responsibility and exposure. Plus if he did need a change just for a better work culture, a local move to another firm would be MUCH easier: we wouldn't have to move and I wouldn't have to find a new job too (not to mention both of us starting over with our business networks - an important piece of both our jobs). Obviously San Francisco is much more expensive than Dallas. Our tax burden would soar, and I'm not convinced we'd get much more for that money. We'd be renters instead of owners (we'd rent out our townhome here though, rather than sell). Also the economy in TX is one of the strongest in the country. People moving here from CA seems to be much more on trend. DH has family here locally, and that would be a real loss particularly if/when we have a child. I can't really say whether having a kid there versus here would be much worse (it sounds like a real hassle either way), but undergoing that transition on top of a move and a new job might be more than I care to handle.

MONEY
We'd still be able to afford to max out retirement accounts as we are currently doing - though as a percentage of income our savings rate would drop. I've done a detailed budget, and our raises would almost offset the difference between taxes and housing (or else we wouldn't move). If I could get rid of one car our discretionary would also increase by a decent amount. All things considered out lifestyles probably wouldn't change much. However, psychologically a lot would change. Here we are near the top of our peer group as far as financial stability and success. We feel we have lots of options and flexibility financially; we could easily live on one income if we had to or chose to. Going from feeling free to feeling restricted financially would be a real adjustment.

I know there are a lot of Bay area folks on this forum, so I wanted to throw this out there. If any of you have any insight on the city or a similar move to a HCOL area I'd love to hear it.

Here are some specific questions I have.

1. Any advice regarding specific neighborhoods a couple of newbies should target or consider? We'd want to live in the city. His job would be in the financial district for the record, and hopefully mine would be too. We are scheduled to visit for a long weekend in December. He'll meet the team, and they are even setting up some informal interviews for me while I'm there. We plan to explore some neighborhoods we could see ourselves in and maybe even visit some listings just to get a real feel for what we could get.

2. Related to the above, how feasible would it be for us to get by with one car? Assuming neither of us had a long commute I can't imagine we would need to pay for 2 autos and all the parking and insurance that go with them. My car payment and insurance total $674 a month, plus I have about $20K in equity in my car I could get if I sold it. I'd love to be car-free, however I'm not familiar with how practical walking, using public transit, and taxis/Uber actually are in the city.

3. Are we crazy to even consider this?
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thomasbayarea
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by thomasbayarea » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:43 pm

1. Any advice regarding specific neighborhoods a couple of newbies should target or consider? We'd want to live in the city. His job would be in the financial district for the record, and hopefully mine would be too. We are scheduled to visit for a long weekend in December. He'll meet the team, and they are even setting up some informal interviews for me while I'm there. We plan to explore some neighborhoods we could see ourselves in and maybe even visit some listings just to get a real feel for what we could get.
This depends on what you want out of the city? Are you young, kid-less, adventurous? Or do want a quite life? Near the ocean (=foggy) or sunny? Near BART? Start here --> http://www.sfgate.com/neighborhoods/ and explore these areas.
Image
2. Related to the above, how feasible would it be for us to get by with one car? Assuming neither of us had a long commute I can't imagine we would need to pay for 2 autos and all the parking and insurance that go with them. My car payment and insurance total $674 a month, plus I have about $20K in equity in my car I could get if I sold it. I'd love to be car-free, however I'm not familiar with how practical walking, using public transit, and taxis/Uber actually are in the city.
Public transit is very good. If you plan to spend most of your time in SF, you don't need a car, certainly not two.
3. Are we crazy to even consider this?
Not at all. Real people move to SF all the time, you know.

new2bogle
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by new2bogle » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:45 pm

SF is my favorite city. Alas, it is too expensive for me to live in.

Have you really looked at how much housing is over there? Call around and see what you get for your money, it is truly expensive.

Have you lived in a city before? It's much different than suburban life like Dallas (which I visit often due to family being there, Plano/Coppell area).

Everything is more expensive, from toothpaste to gas to eating out. Take it all into account. If it's affordable, I would do it, SF is a great place (go niners!! though now you'd have to drive down to santa clara to go a "home" game).

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curiouskitty
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by curiouskitty » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:47 pm

What do you like to do in your free time? How would you describe your peer group? I'll be able to give you better input regarding neighborhoods with a bit more information along those lines. There are many nice neighborhoods including Hayes Valley, Noe Valley, the Mission, the Castro, & Potrero Hill but they're all different.

You could easily get by with one car and likely even without any if you're willing to rent cars or use City Car Share, Zipcar, Getaround, RelayRides, Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, etc. instead when you want to leave the city on the weekend or run a quick errand. It is very common to not have a car here even among those with six figure incomes. Its especially convenient if you live near BART or some solid Muni lines. I would just make sure you have a reasonable way to commute to work and a grocery store nearby and then the majority of your reasons you want a car will be gone. This is also San Francisco so there are services to deliver nearly anything including Good Eggs and Instacart for groceries as well as Google Shopping Express and Postmates for general goods. I don't have a car and I don't want one, although I do get to benefit from my girlfriend's car on the weekends. Given how often we get parking tickets, I believe we'd come out ahead just renting for the weekends when we want one.

Berkeley is also great and you'll get more space & amenities for your money. Western San Francisco is foggier but has great deals if housing prices are a central consideration.

I don't think you're crazy to consider this at all. While I have heard stories of people moving from California to Texas, the Bay Area is booming and people are moving here in droves. Even if investment dries up, there are so many companies with so much money that there will be many new jobs opening up for years to come. Many of the larger companies are trying to fill upwards of 5,000 positions a year and $10,000 referral bonuses are becoming the norm in tech. San Francisco is an interesting and amazing city. Most people really love it here and there are many chances to move up professionally when there are so many fast growing companies.

RosieQ
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by RosieQ » Wed Oct 29, 2014 2:48 pm

SF in mind bogglingly expensive on the housing front, but otherwise a wonderful city to live in. Nice 1 bedroom apartments rent for about $3000 a month.

A few basic thoughts about your move:

1) 1 car is likely a very realistic option and I would highly recommend doing it. Parking is both expensive and difficult in the city so not having as much of that stress, plus freeing up more income for other necessary expenses in the city can be a welcome change. Have the 1 car also gives you the flexibility to get out of the city for some of the great beautiful outdoor activities in close proximity that SF is known for.

2) Working in Financial district opens you up for lots of public transportation options. Consider living near a muni train station or bart station and you will be able to get to work very quickly. A monthly pass on these is $60-80 each, far less than daily $20-30 parking downtown would be.

3) Pacifica is one of my favorite underappreciated areas of SF. It's on the beach, not nearly as foggy as everyone says, and is a 15 minute drive to SF. It would be my first choice for buying in the bay area at the moment if you had to, or if you were looking for some extra open space.

4) Less expensive but really vibrant places in SF include Inner Sunset and Cole Valley, Bernal Heights, Noe Valley and a bit more residential and inexpensive in Glen Park/Diamond Heights/Outer Sunset and Outer Richmond.

I would consider this certainly as SF is a wonderful place to live but also think twice because of the family angle. Being close to family can be priceless. Also, with a child on the way, using family (if they are willing) for high quality childcare that will likely exceed anything a nanny could provide at a fraction of the cost could give you another edge to staying in Texas. As with many things, childcare in SF is crazy expensive.

cheapskate
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by cheapskate » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:17 pm

You should budget $4000-$5000/month for renting something semi-decent (2BR) in the city. Also remember that rents are outpacing inflation handily. Factor in a 5-10% inflation in rent annually (depending on the tech IPO scene). Since 2009, there has been a very steady influx of high tech employees moving to SF. Practically every major silicon valley company runs buses to SF to ferry workers back and forth. This has driven up the cost of housing dramatically. Once you factor that in as well as the 11% CA state taxes, if you are still financially even with your current situation in Dallas, then the move is well worth it.

The job scene in the Bay Area is very vibrant, there is no question you will find something interesting very quickly. It will certainly be a very interesting change for you lifestyle wise. From your post, you don't have kids. Perfect time to make the move and experience what the Bay Area has to offer. You can always move back in a few years.

The concerns are :

- The financial hit compared to life in Dallas - rent + state taxes.
- Prepared for everything to be more expensive - from restaurants to gas.
- Insane traffic (although if you live in the city and take public transport, you are less affected).
- San Francisco is a great place to live before you have kids. Suburbs are a lot more kid-friendly. Certainly public schools in the suburbs are generally better. Most of my friends have tended to move out of SF once they had kids.

Have you considered living further out in the South Bay (and taking Caltrain up to the city) or living the East Bay and taking BART into the city ? Rents will almost certainly be cheaper then.

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Raybo
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Raybo » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:24 pm

San Francisco is a great place to live, if you can afford it.

My wife and I have only 1 car (neither of us work) and don't drive it very often. When I moved here (over 10 years ago), I had a car but sold it the first time I got a parking ticket (in front of the house). Don't even consider having 2 cars if you have to park one of the them on the street. In fact, if you decide to have only one car AND you have to park it on the street, I'd consider going without a car at all. There are plenty of car sharing services (at least 2) with cars all around the city. In addition, renting a car for a week-end getaway is not a problem as there are plenty of places in town to do that.

As for where to live, that, again, depends on what you want out of where you live. There are lots of neighborhoods and they offer different kinds of services, such as restaurants, grocery stores, etc. But, there is no real problem getting from one part of town to another using public transit (which takes about as long as driving, given the clogged streets). Note that riding a bike around town is another viable option, as is walking.

Note that some areas of SF (those in the western part of town) get very foggy and windy in the summer, though everywhere in SF gets foggy and windy in the summer. June and July are great months for going on vacation!

But, finding a place to live in the city is tough. There are, at least, 3 ballot measures on the November vote that deal with housing. Don't assume that you will come to town and find a place to live in a day or two. My suggestion would be to try and negotiate a period of time (one or two months) where the company will pay for your housing (airBnB or hotel) while you look for a place to stay.

It is hard to comment on the change from being rich in Dallas to feeling strapped in SF. I was born and have always lived on the California coast. I can't imagine moving to a place like Dallas, regardless of how much farther my money might go there. Yes, you will pay more in all kinds of taxes (income and sales), but you will also get some good services. For example, the San Francisco public library is the best one I've every seen and there will be a branch withing walking distance of pretty much wherever you live. Public transit in SF, in particular, and the entire Bay Area in general is fabulous (as long as you don't have to go north to Marin County too often). The city, in my view, is well run, has world class open space, and unbeatable food, both restaurants and produce.

On the down side, other than cost and scarcity of housing, is rampant homelessness, bad summer weather, earthquakes, and a multi-year drought. In some parts of the city, crime is a problem, though that is true of every city.

Lastly, while I have no idea what happens when you tell people you live in Dallas (likely some reference to the TV show), telling people you are from San Francisco often results in a knowing nod and entire conversations.

By the way, if you would like to get a personal tour of Alcatraz while you are here visiting in December, PM me as I am a volunteer docent on the island and can show you places you can't normally see. You will still have to pay to get onto the island.
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bonglehead
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by bonglehead » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:35 pm

Just so you know I was recently offered a job in San Jose with 50% bump from my current salary in Dallas,TX but after looking at everything (cost of living was a major factor), I decided to decline the offer and stay in Dallas. Your mileage might vary.

anonforthis
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by anonforthis » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:39 pm

I lived in San Francisco more than 10 years and my family and friends are still there. I go back every year. It's not a good place to raise children in my opinion. Too many people, too dirty and too expensive. You guys are better off in Dallas.

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Lee Saage
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Lee Saage » Wed Oct 29, 2014 3:44 pm

San Francisco is a beautiful and vibrant city and a hotbed of progressive politics. For someone coming from Dallas, that could be either a relief or a concern. In any event, it's a great city and we find its residents to be, for the most part, friendly and open. There are great neighborhoods and not so great. With BART and Muni, the transit system is quite extensive though service on Muni can be spotty. For commuting by transit to the financial district, I'd look at a service map for Muni's light rail system as well as that for BART. Look at neighborhoods along either rail system and homes within a mile of a station (or whatever your comfortable walking distance might be). Neighborhoods along Muni's K, L and M lines include Twin Peaks, West Portal, Miraloma Park, Forest Hill and others. Muni bus service, for the most part, is awful so I would not want to commute by bus as a routine.

As others have pointed out, the overall cost of living is high and increases more quickly than national CPI. Housing is crazy and becomes more crazy each day. The supply is constrained both naturally and politically so costs just keep going up. Renting is probably a better economic choice unless you are confident of a fairly long stay.

If you come, you will enjoy and treasure the experience.
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tj
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by tj » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:05 pm

I thought you wanted to move to Chattanooga? I would never be happy in SF. Too crowded and too expensive. :)

lostinjersey
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by lostinjersey » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:07 pm

As others have cautioned, be sure you understand the true cost of living in SF. We recently moved her from another VHCOL area (northern NJ) and our rent is 50% more expensive for a comparable place, in the East Bay which is much more affordable than the city proper. It is really freaking expensive here. And it's not just housing. Everything costs more (except utilities). Gas is $3.69. Tolls are $5 every time you cross the bridge. A Big Mac combo meal is $9.

That being said, obviously there are a lot of fantastic reasons to live here. Just be fully cognizant of the finances before you make any decisions.

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Meg77
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Meg77 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:15 pm

new2bogle wrote:Have you really looked at how much housing is over there? Call around and see what you get for your money, it is truly expensive...Have you lived in a city before? It's much different than suburban life like Dallas (which I visit often due to family being there, Plano/Coppell area).
We've done a fair bit of perusing just what's listed online to get an idea. DH has lived in downtown Minneapolis, and we live in the heart of Dallas now, not in the burbs (though it's not quite as "city"-like as San Francisco). We enjoy our walkable neighborhood, but getting used to things like seeing homelessness and not driving would certainly be new! That's part of the appeal though, just experiencing a different way of life. We could always move back, at least in theory.
curiouskitty wrote:What do you like to do in your free time? How would you describe your peer group? I'll be able to give you better input regarding neighborhoods with a bit more information along those lines.


I enjoy walking my dogs to parks - that's one big factor I forgot to ask about! I've read the city is pretty pet friendly, but that could throw a curveball into our housing options. I meet friends for coffee or wine on a patio on a regular basis. We are fairly "foodie" and like trying new trendy restaurants, but I also love to cook at home so would want a grocery store nearby (esp if I give up my car). I jog and do yoga; DH is big on golf and goes several times a month usually. I'm sure that could be tough to work in if we move though due to the expense and access...He gets really into the music scene. Our peer group is mainly other young professionals - several of our neighbors are doctors; his buddies are mainly from grad school (MBA); our financial industry colleagues. People here are more conservative than we are, though in CA I'm sure we'd be considered less progressive than most. We are libertarians who are generally socially liberal and fiscally conservative. We don't attend church.
cheapskate wrote:You should budget $4000-$5000/month for renting something semi-decent (2BR) in the city. Also remember that rents are outpacing inflation handily. Factor in a 5-10% inflation in rent annually (depending on the tech IPO scene)...From your post, you don't have kids. Perfect time to make the move and experience what the Bay Area has to offer. You can always move back in a few years...Have you considered living further out in the South Bay (and taking Caltrain up to the city) or living the East Bay and taking BART into the city ? Rents will almost certainly be cheaper then.
I've budgeted $4500 for rent. Definitely don't want to push that number too much if rents could go up 10% a year though! However we would rather spend more and really enjoy the city versus enduring longer commutes. We don't have kids and in general prefer cities to suburbs anyway.
Raybo wrote:It is hard to comment on the change from being rich in Dallas to feeling strapped in SF. I was born and have always lived on the California coast. I can't imagine moving to a place like Dallas, regardless of how much farther my money might go there. Yes, you will pay more in all kinds of taxes (income and sales), but you will also get some good services. For example, the San Francisco public library is the best one I've every seen and there will be a branch withing walking distance of pretty much wherever you live. Public transit in SF, in particular, and the entire Bay Area in general is fabulous (as long as you don't have to go north to Marin County too often). The city, in my view, is well run, has world class open space, and unbeatable food, both restaurants and produce...By the way, if you would like to get a personal tour of Alcatraz while you are here visiting in December, PM me as I am a volunteer docent on the island and can show you places you can't normally see. You will still have to pay to get onto the island.
Thanks for the offer! We visited last during the Sequester, and we were disappointed that our tickets to Alcatraz were cancelled while it was closed. I will say that I moved to Dallas from Alabama years ago and never thought I'd stay, but it has many advantages. One of the things we love about it is being able to afford to experience all the world class dining, culture, etc. while also saving so much - unlike many of our friends in Chicago, NYC, and LA. Housing costs are so low here that everyone across the income spectrum has much more disposable income. We pay $3250 total per month right now in total to own a spacious townhome across from a park in one of the best neighborhoods in the city. Our rooftop deck overlooks the skyline, we can walk to amazing restaurants and the arts district, and our dogs and cats even have their own rooms. To pay 50-100% more than that to RENT a place half as big and perhaps not as well-situated seems crazy by comparison, particularly in light of all the other higher expenses. But of course we agree the city has a lot to offer - which is why we are contemplating a change. :D
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tj
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by tj » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:25 pm

We enjoy our walkable neighborhood, but getting used to things like seeing homelessness and not driving would certainly be new!
I thought all major cities were like this! Is Dallas not? Perhaps I need to consider Dallas!? :)

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curiouskitty
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by curiouskitty » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:29 pm

cheapskate wrote:You should budget $4000-$5000/month for renting something semi-decent (2BR) in the city. Also remember that rents are outpacing inflation handily. Factor in a 5-10% inflation in rent annually (depending on the tech IPO scene). Since 2009, there has been a very steady influx of high tech employees moving to SF. Practically every major silicon valley company runs buses to SF to ferry workers back and forth. This has driven up the cost of housing dramatically. Once you factor that in as well as the 11% CA state taxes, if you are still financially even with your current situation in Dallas, then the move is well worth it.
I live in a small two bedroom for ~$2700 a month that I started renting a few years ago so don't assume you have to pay $5000 although it will be hard to find a good deal. Once you move in, about 75% of apartments have rent control so even if rent does go up by 5-10% annually, your rent is more likely to be going up 1%. Here are the maximum annual increases allowed for the last 30 years: http://www.sftu.org/annualincrease.html

As far as CA state taxes go, you'll be in the 9.3% bracket most likely unless you're fortunate enough to be making over a quarter of a million dollars per person. For someone making $100k-$200k a year that'll be about 6-8% effective rate plus you'll get a rebate for some of it on your federal taxes due to the itemized deduction for state income tax. You'll have to pay a maximum of $1000 a year into CA SDI which is another 0.5% to 1% if we again assume each person makes $100k-$200k. Obviously it isn't 0% like Texas but it isn't 11% either unless you are mega-rich and don't really need to care. In exchange, California has additional services and much lower property tax rates than Texas.

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Tortuga
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Tortuga » Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:54 pm

Every part of the US will have its own natural disaster to refer to but if I were to bet I would side with those that say that in our lifetime SF has a higher than average chance of being made unlivable for a significant period of time due to the San Andreas fault (and others) transecting the western suburbs. That being said, I have close relatives living practically on top of the darn thing.

Tortuga

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steadyeddy
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by steadyeddy » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:25 pm

It's not really about the money (and if it was, you should probably stay put). It's about living where you want to live your life. You only get to do it once after all.

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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by lululu » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:45 pm

You will need giant amounts of money.

SF used to be a very vibrant, diverse city. From what I hear, it has become much less so as techies have driven out the lower paid more diverse artistic and so on residents.

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Zabar
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Zabar » Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:49 pm

Meg77 wrote:
cheapskate wrote:You should budget $4000-$5000/month for renting something semi-decent (2BR) in the city. Also remember that rents are outpacing inflation handily. Factor in a 5-10% inflation in rent annually (depending on the tech IPO scene)...From your post, you don't have kids. Perfect time to make the move and experience what the Bay Area has to offer. You can always move back in a few years...Have you considered living further out in the South Bay (and taking Caltrain up to the city) or living the East Bay and taking BART into the city ? Rents will almost certainly be cheaper then.
I've budgeted $4500 for rent. Definitely don't want to push that number too much if rents could go up 10% a year though! However we would rather spend more and really enjoy the city versus enduring longer commutes. We don't have kids and in general prefer cities to suburbs anyway.
I just moved back to the Bay Area after being away for about 15 years. We're midway down the Peninsula. However, if you are commuting to the Financial District and don't have kids, I'd seriously consider downtown Oakland and the Jack London Square area, both of which are undergoing a revitalization. Taking that BART from there to the financial district is actually faster than taking the BART or MUNI from many parts of San Francisco. Also, if you'd like a more relaxing trip, you can commute by ferry.

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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by john94549 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:07 pm

Our son and his wife, and our daughter and her husband, both rented in the City. When a child came along, they bought, our son and family in the City, daughter and family in Alameda. Both families have since moved a tad further out (for schools, mainly), but son and son-in-law commute to the City (GG Ferry and BART, respectively).

You'll love it here. Yes, 94549 is our ZIP code.

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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by countofmc » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:21 pm

Just stating the obvious- San Francisco is not the entire Bay Area. The interesting thing about the Bay Area is that the environment can change almost city to city, and even the weather! I live in Silicon Valley, and even here, you can get a different vibe in Palo Alto from say, Mountain View.

I feel like San Francisco has its own special vibe, and it's either hate it or love it. I could not imagine living there, and COL has nothing to do with it. But I LOVE visiting every once in a while. Just as long as I get to leave at night :happy . But I really like living in Silicon Valley. It has the right mix of suburbia and big city that I enjoy.

So for you, OP, I think the key is that you can come to the Bay Area, and I think as long as you can deal with the COL which is basically the only thing really universal about the entire area, then you can find a neighborhood you will really like. If you don't enjoy the city after a while, there's always other options that will give you a completely different feel without having to leave the Bay Area.

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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by couponhead » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:13 am

San Francisco is an expensive town for new people.

The housing system in San Francisco is highly regulated. Apartments in buildings constructed before 1979 are under rent control, which means that rent never goes up more than a percent or two and the inhabitants cannot (barring multiple acts of major malfeascance) be evicted. Because of this, the artists, musicians, social workers, etc who got there before you never need to move out of their apartments.

Of course, this means the people who were there before you never move from their apartments. The vacancy rate in SF is approximately zero and the available housing stock is very small. The average price to purchase a housing unit in SF is about $1MM -- more if you want a single-family rather than a condo.

To make matters worse, construction of housing in San Francicso is very political. One side doesn't want ugly apartment buildings next to their $4MM 1000 sqft bungalows, while the other doesn't want post-1979 apartment buildings because they would not be rent controlled. The permitting process can be derailed by anyone, for any reason. As a result, very little housing has been built over the past 10 years.

No new housing + no vacancies + new jobs = high rents

Now that the City has gotten the picture, you can't walk 5 feet without running into a crane. Rents are very high now, but expect them to fall when the make-up contruction that is currently taking place is completed.

If you can get an apartment in a pre-1979 building, you won't have to worry about rent increases. However, landlords are beyond picky since (for them) getting out of a lease is more difficult than getting out of a marriage. If you want this type of apartment, you will need to be physically present to attend many open houses, preferably with your renter resume already printed out and a blank check in hand.

If you don't have time for that, you can rent in a newer building. Some of the larger corporate complexes have more "normal" renter evaluation procedures. The downsides are that their prices will be higher and that they will raise the rent to market rate every year.

If you end up on the east side of the City, ditch both cars. If you end up on the west side, ditch one. If you can, try to land on the east side of the City as public transit options are better. Since you are new, try not to end up in the tenderloin.

Valuethinker
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:39 am

Tortuga wrote:Every part of the US will have its own natural disaster to refer to but if I were to bet I would side with those that say that in our lifetime SF has a higher than average chance of being made unlivable for a significant period of time due to the San Andreas fault (and others) transecting the western suburbs. That being said, I have close relatives living practically on top of the darn thing.

Tortuga
The quake will come.

It will be bad. Buildings which passed the building code will fail due to bad construction or design. The soil under the harbor area will liquify, bringing down what's built on it. Falling bricks and statuary, and just broken glass, will kill maybe hundreds. At least one school will collapse, killing hundreds of children*. Plus a veterans hospital. The BART will be crippled, or even flood, and will be out of action for years. One or more key bridges will go down.

Charlton Heston, George Kennedy-- you've seen what it's like in 100 Irwin Allen films.

For a couple of years SF will be in a terrible mess. Look at the politics after Katrina or Sandy. People will move away, maybe some big employers. Governments will be chaotic and inefficient in their response. America being America people will be suing contractors, city inspectors, insurers for decades. The nation will lose interest.

Then one day it will start to come back. 20 years later? Boomtown. Once a year we'll have 2 minutes of silence to remember the dead.

If it's a tsunami then all bets are off. The world may really move on. But, then the entire Pacific coast from Vancouver to San Diego (and south) could be wiped out or severely harmed-- they aren't 10% as well prepared as the Japanese were.

But if it is just 'the big one' and 20, 30k people die. Well. Kobe. New York after 9-11. It looks really bad for a while. But then the advantages of the location climate spirit of the place kick in again, and it all starts again. Tokyo after the 1920s quake. Where the tsunami hit already had an aging population, declining. That's not San Francisco and the Bay Area.

At some point there will be a tech crash. One of Google Facebook HP Cisco Twitter etc. will go down to bankruptcy. Unemployment will reach the national average. There will be apartments available to rent. People will call it the end of the SF era.

10 years later? It'll be boomtown again.

* the Fukushima tsunami hit in the middle of the day and mistakes were made: sending children home in buses that were then destroyed. Had it hit in the middle of the night, a lot of kids might have lived. American kids probably spend only c. 1400 hrs a year at school (200 days x 7 hrs) and there are 8760 hrs in a year, so there's a good chance school will be out. Worst nightmare would be morning or evening rush hour, say about 4.30pm on a weekday.

generalzodschicken
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Re: Possible Relocation to San Francisco - Advice?

Post by generalzodschicken » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:45 am

Cost of housing in SF is 4-6 times that of an "average" metro area. Salaries are generally only 15-20% higher. You do the math. And that is just housing.

If COL is your main criterion, then, of course, it would make no sense to move to one of the most expensive cities on earth. If other criteria are more important, then maybe you'll want to move there.

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