Where is the best place to move? How expensive could cost every month of living on average?
Rent: I live on Nob Hill in SF. I pay $1950 for a big, nice one bedroom with a little office and a small private yard. (100sq feet.) When I signed the lease I was making good money so it didn't seem expensive. Since then I've decided to focus on my start-up full time, so now it does seem slightly pricey. (I only pay 50% though -- I'm coupled.) I've lived in New York and Seattle, and SF is nowhere near as expensive as New York and nowhere near as affordable as Seattle (in terms of renting, not buying).
Beyond rent, things are very affordable.
Transportation: cheap, cars are optional (I don't need one; I hate mechanics and oil changes and parking...). I get my groceries delivered and use ZipCar when I have to drive. This is a huge savings and a good reason to live in the heart of the city. Instead of a gym, I just walk up the hill everyday.
Healthcare: I'm on Cobra right now, but will qualify for SF City HealthCare for free soon, as I'll be making little money. This is a big reason to live in SF and not the peninsula. http://www.healthysanfrancisco.org
Entertainment: The most expensive thing I do is eat out with friends semi-regularly. However, I've found that for geeks, there are a ton of meet ups and other social events that are 100% free -- and they're usually the best way to have fun.
Other threads are noting the cost of rent in SF, but for me, the city health care coverage and not needing a car (or insurance, or gas, or parking) more than makes up for it.
For transport, I buy the unlimited Metro card, which means I pay $90 a month and can then travel as much as I want on both the subway and the bus. I think that is a reasonably good deal - $3 a day for unlimited travel anywhere in the city.
Whoa really? With SF I have generally paid more for food, more for public transit (BART doesn't have an unlimited option plus MUNI and BART are two seperate entities while the MTA is one), and about the same in rent.
Granted, I live(d) in Brooklyn so the rent is definitely more affordable than Manhattan but the accessibility of public transit makes it far easier to live on the outskirts than my experience so far in SF.
Though a studio, it was still a decent size and I was right up the road from a grocery store, used public transportation/bike and feel that besides rent, it wasn't too pricey.
I had moved from Austin, TX and when I added everything up (accommodations, car-related expenses, etc), SF was only a little more expensive.
But I could trade it for a couch and a subway pass in a city with good subways and international impact. (SF, NYC, CHI, BOS ;)
I guess that the database is the same (ie CraigsList)...
We were renting a 1400sq ft 3 bedroom house in Emeryville for $1750/mo a couple years back, and a 700sq ft 1 bedroom apartment in South Berkeley for $750/mo before that. An 1800 sq ft house in Oakland rents for about $2200.
There's a lot of students in Berkeley, so it's also easier to find rooms/sublets than in SF, possibly. As far as public transit goes, it's a bit more painful than SF, but not too bad. My morning commute from Oakland to work in SOMA takes about 30 minutes - 10 minute walk, 15 minutes (2 stops) on BART, another 5 minute walk. No stress, no driving, no tolls, no parking fees ($3 dollars one way, versus $5 bridge toll, $20 for a day's parking downtown, and a couple bucks in gas you'd spend driving).
http://housingmaps.com/ (craigslist frontend) can give you a good idea about the price ranges around different locations in the Bay Area.
Utilities are about the same everywhere you live. Public transportation is a bit spendier than every other city I've lived in (Caltrain and BART costs). Unsure about the Bus, it's probably comparable.
Sales Tax is ridiculously higher here than anywhere I've been. If you live in the city and eat out, expect an addition 3-4% health tax charged at most restaurants.
Parking sucks in the city. Street cleaning tickets of $53 to $103 dollars are VERY common. Expect to bankroll a ton of parking meters whether you live downtown or not or pay a lot in parking garages if you plan on using your car to get around the city.
Entertainment costs are also higher than most other places I've lived. A standard movie ticket here is like $11 or so up to $17 with IMAX per ticket per showing. That should give you a rough idea of cost.
Groceries and Household Shopping. I've compared cost of stuff like shampoo and what not to cost I use to pay outside of California and noticed that for the same size bottle or smaller, I am paying possible a couple dollars more even from the same store. So cost of goods is slightly more expensive here base on a few comparisons I've done.
That should give you a ROUGH estimate on how much things cost around here and what it would be like.
If you're renting, Silicon Valley is actually comparable to the rest of the USA. When I lived in Atlanta, I paid around $500 for rent, but I had to drive a lot further to access public transportation.
Silicon Valley is actually comparable to the rest of the USA
Except anywhere in Palo Alto, and Atherton. The PA are is ridiculously expensive atm, because there are so many startups here again (both office space and living space).
PA is very nice but it is definitely an area where funded startups are over-paying for office space and accommodation. You can save a lot of money by going a bit south or north.
Which is why those suburbs - MV, Burlingame, San Mateo, etc. have seen a spike in prices as well. Last time I looked for office space SOMA was less expensive than almost anywhere on the peninsula.
For 1 bedder I pay $1.5K per month at Central Park Whisman (A Promethus Complex) in MV. Downtown MV off Castro 1 bedders at another Promethus complex rents start at $1.7K. Avalon Community in MV is also around $1.5K but not recommended - too close to Caltrain. I learnt the hard way lol
When I was looking for an apartment to live in I came across plenty of run down joints in bad streets around the $1.1K so it's possible but not recommended.
Finally, MV is great for the tech culture, food and location! :-)
I think the problem is that different people have very different definitions of "decent". I'm paying just over $1400/month now for what I consider a very nice apartment. If you don't mind living with working-class immigrants, there're lots of places that start at around $900/month for a 1BR or $600/month with a roommate along Easy St, Walker Dr, or California St.
It's cheap because we're house sitting for her for a year while she's away, so not sustainable, but a great find for us coming in from overseas without a stick of furniture to our names.
Food is not bad at all, esp if you stay away from frozen/processed foods and cook yourself. If you eat out, there's a couple cheap places on Castro that are about $8-15. However, that adds up quickly.
I've gotten by without a car, but it's a pain. What you save in money, you lose in time, so I just end up not going anywhere. When the caltrain is running, it's not too bad for getting up and down the peninsula, and having a bike helps.
Roommates can make it cheaper, ya, but it's not that cheap.
My recommendation for eating cheaply is to make sure to have good collection of spices. It costs a lot upfront (~$40-60) but it will allow you to subsist on really cheap food without going crazy. Living off rice and beans is a lot more fun and tasty when you can make masala rice.
Salad greens are super easy, climate is good for it most of the year.
Also, there is Ditmars Gourmet Meats and Wurst-Haus around the corner and up San Antonio. While prices on their other items can be high, their sausages are cheap, made in house, and excellent.
Gas is $3.15/gal right now.
Food is ranges from 0%-15% more than the midwest (our comparison point). Shopping at local markets and farmers markets for produce will save you quite a bit.
Other chain stores and casual restaurants seem to cost slightly more than we were used to paying.
Any service that requires direct labor (gardening, cleaning etc) is going to be significantly more expensive than other metros, because the base cost of living is so much higher.
Where in the Midwest did you use for this comparison? As far as I can tell from visiting, most grocery items cost my parents (near Chicago) 50-150% more than I pay for them (in Michigan).
Silicon Valley is essentially suburb. You can pay as much as you want on the high end... on the low end, a room in a house or shared appartment in the "poor" parts of Santa Clara or Sunnyvale might be $650/month.
the upside, here, is that things near the train stops are generally cheaper. I rented a 2bed 1bath apartment right over the Lawrence express way caltrain in santa clara for $1250/month total ($625 per person.)
If you want to live alone, the low end is $800-$1000.
The interesting thing about the valley is that I don't know of any neighbourhoods south of east palo alto and north of San Jose that I'd feel uncomfortable walking around in at night. And most of San Jose is pretty okay, too, so don't be afraid of the low end.
Food? in the grocery store, as far as I can tell, it costs about the same as anywhere. If you go out to eat, well, fast food is about as cheap as it is elsewhere. If you want to eat at local non-chains, you are looking at $8-$15 per meal, which is a bit more, I think, than most places.
If I were moving here for the social scene, personally, I'd get a cheap shared room close to the hacker dojo in mountain view.
Like: Name, age, nationality, startup name, coding language, smoke? pets? girl/boyfriend?.
Same for people looking to share their officespace
If you can't pull a good response from twitter I'm not sure a dedicated site has any chance.
My guide would be: if you work in the City, anywhere between SF and San Carlos is a good bet. You can avoid the morning commute by taking BART.
If you work on the Peninsula, there's Caltrain for getting around. And you can take BART as far as Millbrae. Some companies (notably Genentech) have shuttles that take people from the big transit stations to work, but YMMV.
Beware "The Oracle Mile". It's 1 mile North and South of Ralston Ave. on US-101. It is a parking lot every weekday between 8am and 9:30am. Evening commute also. I know some people have different experiences, but that's been what I run into most often.
Generally, in the Bay Area (at least West Bay), either get to work before 8 or after 10. Otherwise you'll be spending a lot of time with all your other happy morning commuters. :P
Places to live? If you can take the rent, the Peninsula is nice. Half Moon Bay is on the coast and works well if your work is close to the 92 freeway.
I wasn't a fan of living in Pacifica, but some people are. Not much to do there as it's mainly a commuter town.
Just my 2c.
About how expensive are groceries? Most of the posts here only really mention rent, which isn't enough to fully describe cost of living.
I just moved out here in August, from Boston. We left behind a decent house in a nice suburb with good schools, for which we paid a little under $600,000. When I bought that home a few years ago, it seemed incredibly expensive. Out here, a comparable property in the heart of Silicon Valley will run you at least $1 million, if not $1.3.
I visited Mountain View yesterday, and it was one of the most depressing places I have ever seen. It's the suburbs, but as expensive as a big city.
Diverse list of excellent restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, etc.)
No heavy traffic
Low crime rate
Lots of startups especially on Castro st.
Warmer by a few degrees than SF
Sunday Farmers Market
Yeah, it's depressing.
Silicon Valley reflects on Silicon Valley in many ways...
If you are going to work at Mountain View/Palo Alto area, I highly recommend to live in Sunnyvale, because the rent isn't as expensive and it's not too far (5-15min drive on 101).
The only time I would need to move from there would be, maybe to attend to a meetup, meeting, etc.
The question would be.
How do I move from side to side. Public transportation? Is it safe to walk at night (Past 10/11/12pm).
I take Caltrain ($6 each way) to the city but you can't stay too late. The last train from SF leaves at around midnight. It would suck if you miss it because a taxi would probably cost you $100.
There is an excellent coworking space in Mt View - Hacker Dojo which is $100 a month. I used to live in SF but I prefer being in Mt View since it's cheaper and for me, safer. Also, you don't have to deal with parking.
Not having a car might be a pain though. Get a bike at least.
By the way, hit me up (danny -at- launchset.com). My cofounder and I are in Buenos Aires for the next 3 weeks.
Transit doesn't have to be too bad. There is a train to Palo Alto and San Francisco and decent bus service. You can also rent a car from Enterprise for about $20 a day if you need to go somewhere away from transit.
FYI, a pint in The City (SF itself) can range you from $2.50 to $6 depending on place and time.