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Old 12-01-2012, 12:10 PM
9 posts, read 20,500 times
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I'm currently trying to evaluate what city I should live in. I could either choose SF or NYC. I'm already in NYC, but having to move doesn't matter to me.

Sorry, this is going to be long

In terms of money:
Looking at some basic after-tax calculators online I'd end up with $6160/mo in SF, or $7100/mo in NYC. So, my first question: Are rents lower in SF? (I'm paying 2200/mo in NYC for a studio in the area I want to be in) Due to where I'd be working, I'd want to end up within a mile radius of soma. I don't need anything bigger than a (nyc) large studio. Looking online, it seems rents come in ~400/mo lower for the area (1800ish), which brings the numbers closer...6560 in SF vs 7100 in NYC (or, 4360 vs 4900 after rent). Are there other costs I'm missing?

In terms of lifestyle:
I do not want to ever own a car again. My understanding is that SF is doable without a car, but just how much will not having one handicap me? Is there transportation after, say, 1am? I'll walk anything in a mile or so radius of where I am/where I want to be, so as long as there are some fairly concentrated 'happening spots' I'm good.

I really love the crowds in NYC, and the feeling that there's always something happening, no matter what time or day it is. Any day of the week I have a huge number of choices about what to do - go out dancing, see a show, farmers market, art, etc. How does that compare to SF?

I'm in the tech industry, and my understanding is that SF is far above NYC in terms of having tech-related groups / meetups / events. Is that right? I haven't found a ton here in NYC, and the ones I have found are a little on the...newbie side.

I also enjoy outdoorsy-stuff (hiking, photography, etc), but I'm confident that SF is far better for that than NYC.
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:47 PM
Location: A bit further north than before
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Rents will be comparable, SF wins for outdoor activities, but this is very much a roll up the sidewalks at midnight city. NYC's 24/7 energy and crowds are not to be found here.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:09 PM
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I thought that rents were a bit lower in San Francisco, but they're certainly not low.

Many people live voluntarily in San Francisco without a car. Muni lines blanket the city. The system is a mix of subways (not that people call them that), surface light rail lines, streetcars, cable cars, trolley buses, and diesel buses. The service doesn't tend to be fast, but it is frequent. Getting out of the city is more hit or miss, some destinations (e.g Berkeley) are easy to get to, some destinations (e.g. Wine Country) are much tougher. You might want to sign up for a Carsharing service just for the occasional trip that's hard on transit (e.g. a Costco run).

The weather is better here, only a few really hot or really cold days. No snow, one "goes to the snow" in the Sierra mountains.

It's not New York but it's a real city and a great and beautiful place.
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Old 12-01-2012, 03:15 PM
Location: San Francisco, CA
506 posts, read 899,546 times
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Utilities will be lower in SF, too, since you hardly use the heat, and no one even has A/C.

You definitely can live without a car. There are adequate bus lines that run all night, and any neighborhood will have essential services within easy walking distance.

SF also has a huge number of different things to do on any given day, but not so much with the crowds and night life. Certain neighborhoods are a bit more lively at night, but generally things shut down pretty early.

Yes, tech is everywhere here, there are lots of groups and meetups as well as spontaneous conversations happening constantly. It's kinda crazy. Also you will have people regularly feeling you out to see about recruiting you, which is both creepy and kind of flattering.

Indeed, the outdoorsy stuff is much better in SF, and the weather is, too.

I think it's going to come down to how you'd feel without the NY nightlife and pace. Have you visited SF?
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Old 12-01-2012, 04:40 PM
Location: USA
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Rent and the overall cost of living will be slightly lower than NYC.

You don't need a car in SF, especially if you live in SOMA.

SF looks like a big city on the surface, but when you live here, it's very laid back. There is nothing really to do after 2AM. This is a California law though. SF doesn't come anywhere close to NYC in terms of night life. However, SF has many wonderful outdoor attractions available. There are many areas to hike, kayak etc.

The tech scene is the most vibrant in SF, so you won't be disappointed.

If you don't mind a more laid back lifestyle with easy access to outdoor activities, you'll be happy in SF.
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Old 12-01-2012, 05:17 PM
Location: South Korea
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The rental market is still probably cheaper than NYC but it is competitive, you don't have to pay key money like in NYC which I assume probably keeps demand lower in NYC.

For a busy neighborhood fairly close to SOMA I would look at Nob Hill, Polk is pretty bustling at night. SOMA itself is pretty dead, it's mostly dead warehouses with a few apartment buildings scattered around. There are some nightclubs but they are pretty scattered around. There's a lot of new condo buildings in eastern SOMA but they're probably out of your budget, and they're pretty sterile anyway compared to a normal SF neighborhood.

Another good choice would be the Western Mission, basically something near Dolores Park.
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Old 12-01-2012, 06:41 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

For housing my budget maxes out at about 2k/mo for a studio, though I'm really aiming for 1800ish. I'm spending about 2200/mo in NYC for a luxury building, but my income will drop a bit going to SF. I don't think I've ever had a heating bill in NYC, but not needing AC will probably save 100/150 in the summer.

By key money, do you mean security deposit?

I'm guessing 1800 is a reasonable price for a decent studio in the areas(western mission / nob hill / polk) you mentioned?

I visited SF for a few days a week or two ago, and I spent most of the time walking around the city(walked from japantown to fisherman's wharf to the presidio, with a stroll through the marina and chinatown as well) That said, I didn't really know where to go/what to do to see the real city -- I was mostly just wandering. My hotel was in soma, and on the weekend that area is *dead*, during the week it was...tolerable.

I love the nightlife in NYC, but I usually have to work the next day, so I'm not out until 3 or 4 in the morning; I definitely don't need a place where everything is open until the very early morning. I do like to have a wide range of things to do after dark every night of the week, however. I've lived in other cities in NY, and there are certainly cities where my choice of what to do consisted of "what night is it?" (IE: there was only 1 thing for any given night, excepting the weekend)
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Old 12-01-2012, 07:09 PM
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 10,562,109 times
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By key money I mean the unrefundable realtor fees of like $30,000 which I've heard are common when you take an apartment in Manhattan...I dunno how widespread they are though. They definitely don't exist in SF. But for any rental or roommate situation in SF going from about $600 to $2500 will be very competitive because a lot of tech companies have been aggressively hiring young IT workers, so there's a lot of people making 70k to 150k who have moved to SF in the last couple of years, making the market crazy again. For an $1800 studio in a nice neighborhood in SF, expect to be competing against well over 100 people. If you can't find a place in SF then you might have to live in Oakland or Berkeley where the market isn't as competitive.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:59 PM
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Ah, broker's fees. Those are best avoided by going directly to the building (generally only luxury buildings). Typically the fee is around 15% of the yearly rent, sometimes it's as low as 1 month...it doesn't get near 30k, but it is annoying. Most apartments that don't have their own leasing offices have a broker fee attached to them nowadays.

I'm definitely not interested in living outside SF, so if 1800/mo is an unreasonably low number for a studio that meets my requirements (within a mile of decent nightlife, and a mile from soma, not a really bad neighborhood) that pretty much kills it for me. If it's just a bit tough, I'll have a month or two to find a place, which I hope is enough time...
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