What’s It Like Living Off $50K In San Francisco?

San Francisco is considered the most expensive city in America with a median home price of $1.6 million. As a result, some people simply can't afford to live in SF with property prices like that. Rental prices have come down, but still not enough for some to call the city home. For example, let's take a look at what it's like living off $50K in San Francisco.

How do people afford to buy property in San Francisco

Living Off $50K In San Francisco

If you're only making $50,000 a year in San Francisco, you’ll probably live like a college student again. That is, you'll have to share a studio with a roommate, eat fast food, and attend as many free social events as possible. If you're in your 20s, that's probably manageable and not a deal breaker on your lifestyle.

But if you're in your 30s, 40s and/or have a child to raise, SF city living is not going to be a comfortable or healthy lifestyle. Childcare alone at a good quality San Francisco preschool can easily cost $2,000 a month. I'd recommend focusing on the suburbs instead.

However, if you're young and single, making $50K and living in San Francisco can be a thrill. What's great about SF is that there really are a lot of free events and places to attend. Check out SF Fun Cheap online to start. Most museums have free hours once or twice a month. In addition, there are also a lot of meetups that are sponsored by startups that just got huge funding.

Get Savvy To Live In San Francisco On A Low Salary

If you are savvy, you can make $50K work in San Francisco. But, housing cost will be your biggest issue. If you can move to the western side of SF (Outer Sunset or Richmond), housing costs are about 40% – 60% cheaper than downtown or the north side.

In fact, I strongly believe the largest housing price appreciation upside is in the west side of San Francisco where there is a high density of single family homes. Areas with panoramic ocean views like Golden Gate Heights are particularly promising.

With a $50,000 a year salary, you must live like a pauper because it’s important to also save for retirement.

Check out this post I wrote about living off $40,000 in Manhattan, which is about 30% more expensive than SF for some ideas. $40K then is about $55K today.

Living off a modest income of $40,000 in San Francisco

The key is to continue living like a student for as long as possible. Make as much money as possible and then move out of San Francisco. It's become too crowded and too expensive to live a reasonably comfortable life on a low salary.

Further Reading

Here are some additional articles related to San Francisco that I've written.

Sam, Financial Samurai