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Old 04-30-2013, 11:42 PM
 
19 posts, read 80,341 times
Reputation: 13

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Hi, my name is Justin. I live in the Los Angeles area (right between Burbank and Glendale) and I'm considering moving to the Bay Area.

I'm interested to know from people who've experienced both cities if the increased average wages in San Francisco and the rest of the bay area compensate for the increased cost of living up there. I've done research and although different places say different things I've used math to aggregate some statistics.

It appears that San Francisco is about 27% more costly to live than Los Angeles. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics the median hourly wage in San Francisco is approximately 34% higher than in Los Angeles. This data would make it seem like a paycheck would stretch further in San Francisco, right? I'd like to hear people's opinions on whether this data sounds accurate or not.

This is about San Jose. My data shows that San Jose is about 13% more expensive to live than Los Angeles. BLS says the wages are 42% higher. A paycheck would seemingly go very far there.

I used Bestplaces.com, www.city-data.com, Mortgage Rates Credit Cards Refinance Home CD Rates by Bankrate.com, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate these statistics using excel.

Thanks in advance
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:24 AM
 
Location: East Bay, CA
4,871 posts, read 6,261,513 times
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Depends a lot on:

1.where you actually live
2.what your spending habits are

If you live in a desirable neighborhood in SF, you probably will end up netting less than most parts of LA- rents are WAYYY higher. If you have roommates and are somewhat frugal, you might be able to pocket more overall, but just looking at this metric, we can't tell you much
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Old 05-01-2013, 01:19 AM
 
2,622 posts, read 4,794,742 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hgfed27 View Post
It appears that San Francisco is about 27% more costly to live than Los Angeles. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics the median hourly wage in San Francisco is approximately 34% higher than in Los Angeles. This data would make it seem like a paycheck would stretch further in San Francisco, right? I'd like to hear people's opinions on whether this data sounds accurate or not.
These statistics are meaningless. It depends on your individual field. If you are a top programmer or biotech scientist,you will be one of the high wage earners of the Bay area. If you are an entertainment executive LA is the place. If you get the same job in both places,LA is less ridiculously expensive.

Last edited by capoeira; 05-01-2013 at 01:27 AM..
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:08 AM
 
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 11,427,596 times
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Depends on the job you get.

From my experience, jobs in LA pay quite a bit less than the same job would pay in SF, but rents in LA are still pretty high and don't really match up to the low wages, especially considering that you pretty much have to maintain a car to live in LA. Rents have gone up so much in SF though that it doesn't really matter anymore, wages are totally out of line with rents there too now, unless you're some lucky golden boy techie. Screw that. But you could live in Oakland pretty comfortably on SF wages and probably do better than in LA, if you don't have a car anyway.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:45 AM
 
1,865 posts, read 2,662,714 times
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I agree with Mayorhaggar. (For all my 2 cents is worth. ) What is your job/career? What will your income be? Are you going to spend, spend, spend or live a frugal lifestyle -- or something in between? How old are you -- how is your retirement account (you don't want to spend all your money living in The Bay Area).

I lived in The Bay Area for 4 years. It was such a GREAT place to live. If I had enough money now, I'd move there. [San Francisco and Boston are my two most favorite cities in The US.] But I won't sacrifice my monthly savings to live there now.
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Old 05-01-2013, 08:50 AM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
12,457 posts, read 14,944,658 times
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I have lived in both places (in Southern California, I lived in La Crescenta, Pasadena and South Pasadena, which are close to Burbank and Glendale).

In LA, the cost of living (particularly housing) is generally less than in the Bay Area, and you have a better selection.
If you work in entertainment, LA is your place. LA is much more spread out. Of course, there are very expensive neighborhoods in LA (Malibu, La Canada, San Marino, Calabasas, Bel Air, etc).

In the Bay Area, I have found housing and restaurant costs to be higher than in LA. If you work in technology, the Bay Area is your place. There is less of a selection of rentals and real estate for purchase in the Bay Area. Rentals and properties for sale move very fast here.

I work in technology, so my salary compensates for the higher cost of living here in the Bay Area.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:55 AM
 
159 posts, read 554,025 times
Reputation: 175
Depends on your field. Tech, then yes. Basically no for everything else in my experience. Not sure why you'd want to move up here anyways. I found that the supposed "advantages" of the Bay Area over LA that were given to me by people that use "hella" in their regular vernacular were a bit overblown or just plain false. Better traffic, friendlier people, less a-hole rich people, etc don't really apply imo.
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Old 05-01-2013, 10:14 AM
 
Location: The Outer Limits
286 posts, read 497,728 times
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I also agree with MayorH - I'm an L.A. native (from Pasadena) living up here in the SF Bay Area, and I've researched moving back down to the LA area, but the wages vs cost of living are holding down in LA are holding me back.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles
460 posts, read 832,888 times
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Have you looked at the ACCRA cost of living index data?

From Q3 2011, this chart below shows that the COL composite for SF and San Mateo counties is 161.3 while in LA County it is 131.1. On average then, the 34% higher median wage in SF compensates for higher cost of living.
http://www.cdrpc.org/2011Q3-COLI.pdf

You will unlikely be compensated properly by living in the Marina versus living in a more modest neighborhood such as Excelsior. You will have to evaluate areas more granularly than by zip code. Previous posters mentioned lifestyle and spending habits- you will have to be very careful about budgeting in SF. Attainng certain income levels is even more important in SF compared to LA.

We can analyze average cost of living versus average wages all day long. In the end, it is about your reality.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:13 AM
 
19 posts, read 80,341 times
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Okay, just to let you guys know, I'm an optician and I make $46,000 a year. AngusHsu, I believe the bankrate cost of living site that I used for part of my data uses ACCRA's cost of living data. I just want people's thoughts or educated guesses on whether finances will be a little tighter or a little looser in the Bay Area when it comes to salary vs cost of living.
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