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Pls give info on living in SF or its suburbs
Old 07-08-2013, 11:02 AM   #1
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Pls give info on living in SF or its suburbs

Dear Forum members,

My DD has a wonderful job opportunity in San Francisco that she is considering. As we all know the cost of living, specifically, Rent, is high in that area. We are currently living in the suburbs of Washington DC where the rent is also high so we are wondering if rent in SF is much higher than that of Fairfax, Virginia. Please, if you know the area, please give us the
names of safe, reasonably priced towns near SF (0ne-hour commute each way) so we can go online to see what she may be able to find for $2300/month.

She is hoping to pay no more than $2300 for a 2 bedroom apartment or townhome, etc. that would allow one dog and one cat. Will this be do-able?

Thank you so much!

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Old 07-08-2013, 11:44 AM   #2
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A few questions:

1) Where in the city would her job be? Crossing the city can add a lot to her commute.
2) How will she be commuting? Car or public transportation?
3) Does she have kids and have to worry about schools?
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Old 07-08-2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
A few questions:

1) Where in the city would her job be? Crossing the city can add a lot to her commute.
2) How will she be commuting? Car or public transportation?
3) Does she have kids and have to worry about schools?

Her job will be in the Financial District, 3 Embarcadero Street. She is flexible with respect to driving or taking public transportation. She has no kids so no worry about schools.

Thank you for your questions.

We are most grateful.

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Old 07-08-2013, 01:34 PM   #4
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The financial district is well served by public transportation so that would be the way to go IMO. However, because the stock market opens at 6:30 am on the West Coast, some people in the financial district have "odd" work hours (like 5:00 AM to 3:00 PM) and for those, driving may be more convenient since their commute will be off peak hours.

So the options:
1) since she does not have to worry about schools, living in the city is an option. On her budget, I think she could find a smaller apartment (1-bedroom probably) within walking distance of the financial district. As she moves away from the financial district, she could probably find larger apartments, but she should try to stay within walking distance of a MUNI light rail station (all light rail lines serve the financial district).

2) using either BART or Caltrain+light rail, she could extend her search on the Peninsula, North of San Mateo probably to keep her commute below 1 hour. IIRC Rich_by_the_Bay was able to find an 2-bedroom apartment in her price range in San Mateo.

3) using BART or the Ferries, she could extend her search to the East Bay, say as far as Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley.

4) if commuting by car, I think that the best way into the city is I-280, so it would extend her search to areas of the northern Peninsula that are not well served by public transportation. I also know quite a few people who commute by car to the financial district from Marin County via the Golden Gate Bridge. I think that commuting by car opens up the potential for huge delays though. If the SF Giants have a game in town or if there is a special event in the city (like the America's Cup right now), then the highways and embarcadero can turn into a parking lot pretty quickly.

If it were me, I would look on the Peninsula, north of San Mateo, either close a BART station, Caltrain station, or Muni light rail station.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:09 PM   #5
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Good advice from FIREd. We moved to SF about 4 months ago, rented for 3 months and just closed on a condo last month. Some add'l thoughts:
  • Nice but not elite 1400 Sf 2 BR rentals are now going for $2800/month with SF proper being the most expensive.
  • I'd include the peninsular towns of Burlingame, San Mateo, Foster City and a few others. Also pricey but a bit less than SF
  • Public transport is very reliable, safe from what I hear, and fast (when not on strike).
  • The good news (in addition to the area being fantastic) is that once you get past the housing obstacles, the cost of living is comparable to other big, desirable cities., maybe a little less in our lifestyle. No AC needed, a zillion outdoor attractions, etc.
Good luck to you and your DD.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:12 PM   #6
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FIREd gives a lot of good advice; but, personally, I would probably lean towards a smaller apartment within walking distance, even if it is a longish walk, from the new office, something now more than a couple of BART stops or a few MUNI stops away for the first year.

This will give her time to explore the city and see what happens during city events, shutdowns of public transit (accidents, labor disputes, etc.) to see if the lifestyle outside the city is worth the extra hassle. (And, many people prefer the lifestyle in the city proper.)

I know several people who live car free in this city; that can help offset the higher rents paid.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:25 PM   #7
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Retire2013, I have no current knowledge of San Francisco so no help there, but congratulations to your DD on getting a job offer in such a fine and livable area.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:27 PM   #8
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FIREd gives a lot of good advice; but, personally, I would probably lean towards a smaller apartment within walking distance, even if it is a longish walk, from the new office, something now more than a couple of BART stops or a few MUNI stops away for the first year.

This will give her time to explore the city and see what happens during city events, shutdowns of public transit (accidents, labor disputes, etc.) to see if the lifestyle outside the city is worth the extra hassle. (And, many people prefer the lifestyle in the city proper.)

I know several people who live car free in this city; that can help offset the higher rents paid.
This is what we chose to do. We opted to live in the city, within walking distance of the Financial district. We rarely drive. We walk and use public transportation to go almost everywhere. It's very easy and convenient. This is a great area with lots of things to do. But there is quite a sticker shock when it comes to rents in the city especially if you are unwilling to compromise on square footage. Also, having large pets could pose a challenge. My apartment building is pet-friendly and allows up to 2 smaller pets per apartment. Seems pretty standard for other pet-friendly buildings we looked at. Oh and Pets may have to pay rent too!
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:28 PM   #9
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Both my brother and sister in law work near your daughter. Parking is very expensive in that area (i.e. can cost hundreds of dollars a month depending on which lot you can find monthly parking). Public transportation can be very convenient depending on where you live.

With your daughter's budget, she might be able to find an apartment in SF. If she is willing to do house/apt share which is common in high rent cities, she probably can get something for less than her budget. In the Richmond district, there are multiple bus lines that can get you to downtown in about 15-20 minutes. The 38 bus on Geary Blvd comes every few minutes during rush hours and there is a 38 express that won't stop after the avenues which will get there quickly. The Sunset district has less buses but still can be convenient depending on which part of Sunset. I have to go look at a map of SF to remember the other districts. I grew up in the Richmond/Sunset areas although have moved away a long time ago.

If she goes outside of SF toward the peninsula, there are few buses and would take a long time. By living near BART (the subway system), she can get to downtown in reasonable time.

I would start with good SF areas that have lots of MUNI (the bus system) before looking outside of SF.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:35 PM   #10
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FIREd gives a lot of good advice; but, personally, I would probably lean towards a smaller apartment within walking distance, even if it is a longish walk, from the new office, something now more than a couple of BART stops or a few MUNI stops away for the first year.

This will give her time to explore the city and see what happens during city events, shutdowns of public transit (accidents, labor disputes, etc.) to see if the lifestyle outside the city is worth the extra hassle. (And, many people prefer the lifestyle in the city proper.)

I know several people who live car free in this city; that can help offset the higher rents paid.
+1. Why waste an opportunity to live in and enjoy a great city? Are these pets like family members? Would she consider roommates if necessary? If she likes more sun, consider Berkeley/Oakland, very near a BART stop. Also, what does a young single person need with all that floor space? I lived for 6 years in 500, and now in 700. More floor is just more to vacuum or scrub. I would think she would want to be working or partying, not wasting time keeping house or commuting.

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Old 07-08-2013, 02:56 PM   #11
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Don't overlook the East Bay. Parts of Oakland are lovely and safe. Alameda is wonderful and has a great ferry connection to the Embarcadero. And if she doesn't mind heat, something near BART in Contra Costa county would be very doable.

That said, I lived for nearly 30 years in San Francisco itself and absolutely loved it. When I first relocated to the Bay Area, I lived in Walnut Creek because I was afraid to jump into a "big city". But once I finally made the leap, I only looked back on foggy summer days.
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:21 PM   #12
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If she goes outside of SF toward the peninsula, there are few buses and would take a long time. By living near BART (the subway system), she can get to downtown in reasonable time.
We have found the combination of CalTrain and BART to be all we need living on the peninsula - convenient, reasonably priced, fast. But as a young person who presumably will enjoy the infinite entertainment, restaurants and socializing in SF she might prefer to live near work in SF itself.

Let us now what she decides -- it's all good.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:18 PM   #13
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+1 for those who advise finding a place in the city. Especially for a younger person.

If commuting is preferred, then for a job in the financial district I would suggest that BART is a better bet than Caltrain. The SF Caltrain station is some way from Embarcadero Center. Yes you can walk or get Muni, but that adds another step to the commute.

Also +1 to those who point out parking is expensive. Expect to pay at least $15 per day, and it can be a lot more.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:25 PM   #14
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Another thing to be aware of is the enormous temperature variation throughout the Bay Area. Even within the city limits of SF, some neighborhoods get much more fog than others. Generally, towns south of SF on the Peninsula, and East Bay towns along the bay, have warmer temperatures much of the year. When you go east of the Berkeley/Oakland Hills, it gets quite hot during the summer and has cooler nighttime winter temperatures.

One other clarification. Muni Metro is a network of tram lines which are underground and function like a subway under Market Street where they also share underground stations with BART, but at different underground track levels. Elsewhere in the city, they are above ground and generally run along the streets like a regular tram. They're very useful to quickly get to or from downtown for those neighborhoods the various lines travel through.
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Old 07-08-2013, 05:35 PM   #15
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Looking at rentals currently available near the Financial District, $2,300 a month would rent a studio or small 1-bedroom apartment.
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Old 07-08-2013, 06:34 PM   #16
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Looking at rentals currently available near the Financial District, $2,300 a month would rent a studio or small 1-bedroom apartment.
+1

I sold my one bedroom condo in the Dogpatch (south of the ballpark) last year. I could have rented it out for $3000+. Rents in SF proper are insane.

I love the Rockridge area of Oakland, close to the BART. Lots of young people live there.

I now live in Lafayette, east of Oakland. My ride to the Embarcadero station is 32 minutes. Folks commuting to the bookstore in the Ferry Building from the Sunset or Richmond district routinely take at least 45 minutes on Muni. We joke about how my suburban commute is shorter than their intracity commute. And they're freezing to death out there today (near the ocean).

I highly recommend the Berkeley/Oakland area near the BART. Preferably within walking distance because parking at BART is tricky--you either have to be there by 7am or pay for a monthly parking permit, and there's usually a waiting list.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:00 PM   #17
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Yes - what gardenfun says. If she wants her rental dollar to stretch just a little bit farther, I was going to suggest Rockridge too. As well as having a lively selection of restaurants and being generally a very pleasant area, she should be able to find a place to live that is close to the BART station. The downside to most other nice areas of Oakland is that for a female, the walk to and from the closest BART station could feel less safe. The BART station in Rockridge is right there.

I lived in the Outer Sunset area of the City for a year and the commute on the N Judah streetcar into downtown (Powell Street) was about 30 mins. When I moved to Oakland, the commute on BART, including walking time to BART was only a little longer. The actual time on the train was a mere 15 minutes. IMO, regular commuting on BART is less stressful than on the SF Muni trains and buses (as it's faster, with less frequent stops).

Alternatively, as others have said, if she can handle a 1 bedroom, living close to work will be a great introduction the City, at least for her first year or two, while she finds her feet and gets to know the area.
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Old 07-08-2013, 07:03 PM   #18
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Your DD should nail down here working hours, if she needs to be at work by 6:30 am that will limit her transit options.

I have heard that some firms have car pools. She likely won't learn of them until she has started work.

When I was a young single, starting out in NYC, I lived in the city and loved it. I had room mates, one of whom had a Boxer! I think she should rent something in SF proper until she finds housing she likes better.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:15 PM   #19
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Another plus to living as close as possible to work is that her social life will likely be better. If there is a bus or train between you and the work/social center of your life, you are always faced with- OK, we'll go out for happy hour, but then I may need to return to the office, or even go out to somewhere else for a performance or whatever. It's really different to be able to walk home for a shower or a bite, and undertaking another round trip on transit or highways. Basically, if you live right there you will feel good about doing after work things that you would likely bypass if a commute was in your face.

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Old 07-08-2013, 08:56 PM   #20
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Like others have pointed out, she should try to live close to work, if she can afford it.
She can ditch the car and save about $500 a month and there will be less stress if she doesn't have to deal with the commute.

I know a few people that moved to San Francisco and they sold their car. And these people came from car dependant cities such as Los Angeles and cities in Texas, not New York! If they needed a car for the weekend, they would just rent a car. Much cheaper than owning. Plus now you can rent a car by the hour.

And where you live in the city is important, as other have mentioned. I lived in the outer park of the city and my Muni subway ride was over 40 minutes. My Co-workers that lived in the East Bay took Bart and their ride was only 20 minutes.
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