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Just came back from a week in The Noe Valley District of SF
Old 09-02-2014, 09:49 PM   #1
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Just came back from a week in The Noe Valley District of SF

Great time. Super weather, super food, mellow street scene. The reason this is in the health section is that I think it would be impossible to get fat or stay fat living in urban San Francisco. In a week I saw a few fat teenage girls picnicking in Dolores Park, and no other overweights. In particular, my age group of 60 plus men looked fit and happy. Just messing around I walked 6-8 miles every day, and my Fitbit recorded awesome floors totals.

I found the building I left 40 years ago to come here. Rent has increased 25X. No way could I afford to live there now.

So I will say again, If you live in Shangri-La, think carefully before you leave. Using my judgment today, I would work an extra 10 years to live in San Francisco over some random place. It's one thing to live one's whole life in some ok place, and stay there on retirement. It's another to live in a spectacular place and then retire to so-so, because you need or think you need something cheaper.

I am so glad I own a nice flat in an urban area of a nice city. I looked at a 900 sq ft. flat in an old building in Noe Valley- $3959/mo. And my son told me that is not bad at all.

Interestingly to me, most costs were essentially equal to Seattle's, except buying or renting real estate, which in similarly urban areas costs much more in SF than in Seattle..

Ha
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Just came back from a week in The Noe Valley District of SF
Old 09-02-2014, 11:31 PM   #2
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Just came back from a week in The Noe Valley District of SF

Thanks for your thoughts, I live in SF and have been thinking of leaving here after stopping work in the near future to help cut costs. Guess I'll need to consider it more carefully!
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Old 09-03-2014, 08:32 AM   #3
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The reason this is in the health section is that I think it would be impossible to get fat or stay fat living in urban San Francisco. In a week I saw a few fat teenage girls picnicking in Dolores Park, and no other overweights. In particular, my age group of 60 plus men looked fit and happy. Just messing around I walked 6-8 miles every day, and my Fitbit recorded awesome floors totals.
I found that to also be true when I lived in a couple southern California beach communities during my working days. There was definitely a health vibe going on, rarely saw anyone smoking and very few over weight people. And like San Francisco the cost of living there is very high and a little bit out of my ER budget but still like to go back to visit.
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Old 09-03-2014, 10:02 AM   #4
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Using my judgment today, I would work an extra 10 years to live in San Francisco over some random place.
Perish the thought! I wonder if perhaps you might be seeing SF through the rose colored glasses that the passage of time provides to all of us.

I lived in SF and Berkeley for 6 years from the mid 1960's through early 1970's, perhaps the heyday of SF according to some. SF has many advantages, including all that was going on there at the time, but it is far from perfect and also has disadvantages. To tell the truth, when I left I was really, really glad to get back to Hawaii. My time in SF was an amazing experience but after a few years the shine had worn off, for me.

BTW, at that time at least, there were plenty of "Mama Cass look-alikes" and their chunky male equivalents to go around although I admit that quite a few people there were young/slender as you point out.

I have the rose colored glasses when it comes to Hawaii. I can't really afford housing there, but wish I could be there IF it was the same as it was way back when. But you know, I have visited and looked around, and I can hardly find my way around some parts of Honolulu any more. I don't think it would really be the same, even though I still don my rose colored glasses and daydream about going back sometimes.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:11 AM   #5
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I lived in SF and Berkeley for 6 years from the mid 1960's through early 1970's
Were you a hippie? Flower child?

I lived in Berkeley from 80 - 84. I could still see a lot of hippies hanging around at the time. It was a bit of culture shock but I blended in well.

I visit SF once in a while with DW although I live about an hour away. Somehow, DW relatives think my house is right next to SF and expect her to be their personal tour guide. She must have been to GG bridge about 30 times. That makes me think that it may a be a part time job/income opportunity when we RE. It can keep us healthier, walking up and down the SF hills, chasing down trollies, ....
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Old 09-03-2014, 12:27 PM   #6
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I would be rail thin if I lived in SF, too. After my mortgage payment, I wouldn't have anything left over to eat with. Ha, I noticed by your comments you were walking 6-8 miles daily out there. That must mean the past surgery was a complete success. Congratulations!


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Old 09-03-2014, 12:43 PM   #7
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I would be rail thin if I lived in SF, too. After my mortgage payment, I wouldn't have anything left over to eat with. Ha, I noticed by your comments you were walking 6-8 miles daily out there. That must mean the past surgery was a complete success. Congratulations!


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Thanks for that comment. I am about equal with before this whole hip thing began 6 years ago. If I am very active (like San Francisco hills) then sit down for a cup of coffee, my hip will be a bit stiff as I try to get going again. My son was often at work, and granddaughter in school, so I walked a lot with my DIL. Like all young urbanites she tears along, and I noticed the long hills (like south on Noe toward 24th) challenged my breathing more than my hip. I hope my wind will come back over time.

And no way could I live there either. Buying would deplete my capital, or rent would use up most of my income. Don't know if this is true, but son told me he read that 7% of SF households have net worth => $30,000,000. Pretty snazzy NW.

Here in Seattle I have to look for hills to walk, not down there!

Ha
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:19 PM   #8
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Here in Seattle I have to look for hills to walk, not down there!

Ha
I can think of a few nearby mountains if the hills in Seattle aren't high enough....
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:46 AM   #9
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It is good to hear you enjoyed your trip and your words of wisdom for us Bay Area locals.

If it were not for the housing prices I would never consider moving, but prices are crazy. As this article states:

"Essentially, you could buy a home in the San Diego and a home in the Great Lakes area and still have money left over if you forgo buying in the Bay Area."

Bay Area Home Buyers Need Four Times Income Of Some Other U.S. Residents To Afford Average Home « CBS San Francisco
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Old 09-04-2014, 11:58 AM   #10
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And no way could I live there either. Buying would deplete my capital, or rent would use up most of my income. Don't know if this is true, but son told me he read that 7% of SF households have net worth => $30,000,000. Pretty snazzy NW.
Wealth-X puts out a report of the 'Ultra High Net Worth' (net worth of at least $30M) and it's broken down by countries around the world. In their 2013 report New York is the top US city with ~8K individuals, San Francisco is 3rd with ~5K.
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:07 PM   #11
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It is good to hear you enjoyed your trip and your words of wisdom for us Bay Area locals.

If it were not for the housing prices I would never consider moving, but prices are crazy. As this article states:
You are certainly right. I wonder though if a couple who get along well might not successfully squeeze into a much smaller condo and forgo a car and be able to stay. (I am talking about San Francisco.) When you can comfortably walk around outside all year long, you need much less indoor space. Though that gale force wind that blows down Market and some other crosstown streets in the afternoon is sure something that may not be to every one's taste.

I am getting along fine here is Seattle without a car. My girlfriend has one, but she doesn't have much luck getting me into it other than to attend something she really wants to attend, outside the core. I live in 700 sq ft with no trouble, and formerly my place was rented to couples.

When I left Bay years ago BART was just getting going. BART is outstanding now with all the East Bay locations it serves. With a senior pass, it is cheap. And the Muni and SF bus systems are very good too.

Real estate is definitely out of sight though. The high end here in Seattle is perhaps somewhat less but similar to SF, but the middle and lower ranges are way more expensive in SF.

Ha
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Old 09-04-2014, 12:11 PM   #12
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Wealth-X puts out a report of the 'Ultra High Net Worth' (net worth of at least $30M) and it's broken down by countries around the world. In their 2013 report New York is the top US city with ~8K individuals, San Francisco is 3rd with ~5K.
Thanks. If this is accurate, SF has proportionately more of these HNW individuals than NYC, but fewer by roughly a factor of ten than 7%.

Ha
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Old 09-04-2014, 01:06 PM   #13
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You are certainly right. I wonder though if a couple who get along well might not successfully squeeze into a much smaller condo and forgo a car and be able to stay. (I am talking about San Francisco.) When you can comfortably walk around outside all year long, you need much less indoor space. Though that gale force wind that blows down Market and some other crosstown streets in the afternoon is sure something that may not be to every one's taste.

I am getting along fine here is Seattle without a car. My girlfriend has one, but she doesn't have much luck getting me into it other than to attend something she really wants to attend, outside the core. I live in 700 sq ft with no trouble, and formerly my place was rented to couples.

When I left Bay years ago BART was just getting going. BART is outstanding now with all the East Bay locations it serves. With a senior pass, it is cheap. And the Muni and SF bus systems are very good too.

Real estate is definitely out of sight though. The high end here in Seattle is perhaps somewhat less but similar to SF, but the middle and lower ranges are way more expensive in SF.

Ha
All good points and ones we have considered. We can afford to stay in our house as we bought it years ago. So it is not so much a matter of affordability but opportunity cost of capital, like the alternative option mentioned in the article. We might just stay in our house until we know the kids are launched and won't boomerang and then move to a condo like you described. We actually want to move to a condo and not have to do so much maintenance work but for now we still need might need the space.

But maybe San Diego or Orange county would be better for retirement for less housing cost? Many posters here seem very happy in Southern Cal and the beaches and winters are warmer.
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Old 09-04-2014, 02:27 PM   #14
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All good points and ones we have considered. We can afford to stay in our house as we bought it years ago. So it is not so much a matter of affordability but opportunity cost of capital, like the alternative option mentioned in the article. We might just stay in our house until we know the kids are launched and won't boomerang and then move to a condo like you described. We actually want to move to a condo and not have to do so much maintenance work but for now we still need might need the space.

But maybe San Diego or Orange county would be better for retirement for less housing cost? Many posters here seem very happy in Southern Cal and the beaches and winters are warmer.
I am not up on Prop 13, but it seems like a big advantage. If you your home and neighborhood are suitable, you could always rent a room when the kids are gone.

Re: Orange County, I always liked Huntington Beach but I have zero current knowledge.
High class surf though.

Remember that it costs at least 10% to sell, there may be tax, and there will certainly be a lot of expense associated with selling, buying and setting up another place, and moving.

You have occasionally referred to a presumed real estate bubble in SF. IMO, high prices and even rapid gains may not necessarily make a bubble. Just from a casual walk around survey, it looks to me that rents are proportional to selling prices, until you get into very high end places and these always sell for more than the imputed rent would be. Still, this could not be called data, just some eyeballing on a sunny day. It could be that there is greater safety and stability in well chosen Bay Area real estate than in any paper investments one might make today.

Anyway, a lot to consider. This morning I talked to a guy in Trader Joe who recently moved up here from Culver City. He wanted something he could afford, in a West Coast City with reasonably good public trans. He was tired of getting into his car whenever he needed or wanted to go anywhere. He was afraid of Oakland, and couldn't afford SF, so here he is.

Ha
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Old 09-04-2014, 03:12 PM   #15
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I was just reading in Wired the other day that commercial vacancy rates in the SF Bay area are under 5% (it was an article moaning about how some of the high tech start ups can't afford to be in the area now). It seems to me that having a commercial property in the area would be the way to go... seems almost like a guaranteed money maker.

What that means for us... I don't know. Maybe there is a REIT that specializes in that kind of thing and that area ?
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Old 09-04-2014, 05:54 PM   #16
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San Francisco has managed to get local housing into a 'lifeboats on the libertarian Titanic' situation. (Lifeboats for half the population, seats sold to the highest bidder, yadda yadda yadda...)

Alas, they are trying to fix it with a Rube Goldberg arrangement of regulations, fees, and transfer rules, rather than doing much to improve the number of available housing units. There are lots of new units in the very long pipeline, at various stages of planning, review, hold for hearings, revision, updated mandates, litigation, bankruptcy, forced sale, replanning, review, etc. Less are being completed each year than are needed for the growing regional population, by about half.

Want to build something?
San Francisco Planning Department : New Building Construction/Demolition €“ Residential
That neighborhood notification line is where the fun starts. Neighbors and neighborhood groups are alerted by the Planning Department. At least one group will request a Discretionary Review. Hilarity ensues. Anything older than 50 years on your property? Welcome to the Historic Preservation Commission! Figure on 2-3 years to get a demolition permit for an existing abandoned structure.

Add additional layers if what you are building is more than a single family home. Affordable housing reserves. Shadow analysis and mitigation. Got retail on the ground floor? It gets hairy really fast.

How San Francisco creates its own housing crisis - SFGate
The Cost to Build and Buy Housing in San Francisco | SPUR
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Old 09-04-2014, 08:48 PM   #17
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The last time I was in SF, was about 30 years ago. Even then, housing was far beyond my pocketbook, and amazing. Even inTurlock, where I had some business, I was appalled at the prices.

About not being able to go back... In the 1960's we rented this home on Martha's Vineyard (Vineyard Haven)... the rental price was $90/ month.
The 1720 House - Home

Today... same house. Check out the weekly rent for July and August... \

$8400.00 per week...

... but that includes breakfast.
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Old 09-09-2014, 03:01 PM   #18
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What is truly amazing to me is that SF, while expensive no doubt, looks cheap compared to NYC.
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