Are you thinking of moving to the Golden City? Over 880,000 people call San Francisco home. It’s known for the Golden Gate Bridge, the beautiful coastline, the innovation and job opportunities of Silicon Valley, cable cars, cuisine and much more.
If you’re moving to San Francisco, you need more than the highlight reel. You need to know what to expect from day-to-day San Francisco living. To understand why so many people — especially young professionals — love living in California, you’ll need to learn what to expect from your first year living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about how to move to the Bay Area after college by reading our guide.
What Makes California Such an Attractive Place to Live?
People from all over the world flock to California for a variety of reasons. Three of the biggest pulls include the transportation system, the diversity, the ocean and the lifestyle.
Unlike if you live in Los Angeles, you may not need a car while living in San Francisco. Muni operates the local public transportation system in San Francisco, complete with trains, buses, cable cars and the F-line heritage streetcar. While most of the routes travel above ground, some metro trains travel below the city. The maps are easy to navigate, and each ride will only cost you a few dollars.
If you’re looking for a more expedited ride, you can use one of the several ride-share apps available in the city. They’ll pick you up and take you anywhere you need to go for an affordable price. Since there are so many services driving around the city at any given time, you’ll never have a problem calling one.
San Francisco has long been an extremely diverse city. According to the 2018 census, about 47% of the population identifies as white in San Francisco. Meanwhile, over 34% of the population identifies as Asian, and about 15% identifies as Hispanic or Latino. Additionally, women account for about 49% of the population, and almost 35% of total residents come from a different country.
3. The Ocean
San Francisco’s coast and ocean are beautiful. The city juts out into the ocean, offering beaches and waterfront access on three sides.
With mild weather year-round, the beaches do not get overcrowded. Bay Area residents can walk down to the sandy shores of China Beach and Crissy Field to get away from the dense, busy atmosphere of the city’s center. San Francisco is a blend of urban convenience and natural beauty.
4. The Healthy Lifestyle
The Bay Area’s culture is one of its main draws. Whether you’re looking to launch the next big startup or live for your time outside of work, San Francisco and the surrounding areas cater to a wide variety of lifestyles.
Expect to encounter a love for healthy living — yoga, organic food, veganism, vegetarianism, gluten-free options, bicycling and walking are all common. Who wouldn’t want to get outside with the beauty of Muir Woods so close to the city? Beyond healthy eating and exercise, the city is a hot spot for cultural activities, live music, good food and even better wine.
Is it hard to move to the Bay Area in California as a young professional? Not at all. The lifestyle younger crowds prefer makes it easier to settle in. Plus, you will find plenty of like-minded people. The median age in San Francisco is 38.8 years, so you’re sure to find people around the same age as you.
Why Young Professionals Love San Francisco
In recent years, more and more young professionals have made the move to San Francisco. So, what’s causing this mass migration? Here’s what to know about the environment when moving to San Francisco.
1. Job Opportunities
Understanding the job market is one of the most important things to understand before moving to San Francisco. The San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley are practically synonymous. And when you think of Silicon Valley, you think of jobs and amazing job perks. The unemployment rate in San Francisco is 2.7% — a considerably lower number than the national average, which is 3.6%.
As you might expect, technology jobs account for a large chunk of employment in the area. Jobs in the computer and mathematical industries account for 8.4 percent of total employment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Other high-paying jobs are in the health care — nurse anesthetists, physicians and dentists — financial and marketing sectors.
Silicon Valley has a reputation for a different kind of work culture, often associated with the “work hard, play hard” mentality. When you work in the Bay Area, especially if you join the technology industry, you can likely expect long hours but some great job perks:
- Offices can have game rooms, onsite healthcare and beer in the break room.
- Many employees have benefits like unlimited vacation days and remote flexibility.
Naturally, these perks make the jobs attractive, and you will likely find yourself working with highly motivated and smart team members.
Living in California, particularly in the Bay Area, offers the opportunity for high-paying jobs, even at the entry level. Many young professionals are excited about the possibility of making six figures at their first job out of college.
2. The Culture
What is it like to live in the Bay Area? The experience is what you make of it, but you can trust that you’ll never be bored.
The Bay Area is home to plenty of destinations that attract tourists, such as:
- Golden Gate Bridge and Park
- Fisherman’s Wharf
One of the lessons you learn after moving to San Fran? Tourist destinations are a lot of fun. Residents and visitors alike love visiting the city’s cultural attractions. Fisherman’s Wharf offers informative guided tours, and it also has restaurants and shops that can easily fill a weekend of leisure.
San Francisco is also full of places to experience art. Explore the countless pieces of art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or experience a more historic take at the Palace of Fine Arts. You can also catch live music at the SFJazz Center or a movie at the opulent Castro Theatre.
If you want to get outside the city, head to the northern part of the Bay Area to spend some time in Sonoma County, which is known for its vineyards and wine production. Sonoma County also has its own collection of museums and plenty of open space to stretch your legs. If you feel some nostalgia for your academic years, you can also head to University of California, Berkeley, to stroll the campus.
3. The Food
What you learn when living in San Francisco depends on your job and your lifestyle, but learning the best places to eat is a universal experience. If fast food is on the menu, you’ll quickly fall in love with In-N-Out Burger. The burgers, fries and shakes are simple and always delicious.
Located on the ocean, the Bay Area naturally has a generous supply of fresh seafood. Try Swan Oyster Depot for salty and tasty oysters. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with mission burritos, one of the Bay Area’s most beloved types of Mexican cuisine.
Other Bay Area classics include soup-filled dumplings and It’s It ice cream sandwiches. You can find nearly any kind of cuisine you want in the Bay Area, and you will almost never be disappointed with the Golden City’s take on your favorite dish.
5 Lessons You Learn When You Move to the Bay Area
There are some things you can only learn from experience. Here are five things to know before moving to San Francisco.
1. The Cost of Living Is High
Where to move in California depends on a number of factors, including your preferences and where you find a job. The Bay Area is attractive for both its lifestyle and job opportunities, but young professionals moving to California may be discouraged by the statistics on the cost of living. After all, San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.
What to know before moving to California can fill up a long list, but the cost of living should be at the top. Many people consider an apartment that rents for $2,500 per month affordable. The median cost of rent is $1,700 per month, and a typical mortgage payment can be north of $3,000 a month.
Beyond housing, you will need to think about utilities, transportation and food. A typical professional may need approximately $5,000 to cover expenses each month. Luckily, the median household income in San Francisco is over $96,000. After you’ve lived here for a year, you’ll become accustomed to the cost of living and how to manage your expenses.
How do you move to the Bay Area after college? Have a realistic understanding of the cost of living and create a budget. Savvy Californians know how to find affordable housing, which is one of the highest line items in the budget. Look at places outside of San Francisco, like Cupertino and Palo Alto, for affordable homes that still offer the lifestyle of the Bay Area.
2. The Job Market Is Fierce
Moving to California after college probably means work is a top-of-mind consideration. The serious job competition is at the top of the list of lessons learned when moving to San Francisco. One of the most competitive job markets in the country, San Francisco is full of premium talent, all trying to land jobs at major companies. While it can be tough to get a job, employees can advocate for themselves when they get that dream job offer. In 2019, 76 percent of employees working in San Francisco reported asking for more money.
It’s also important to keep job security in mind. The boom and bust cycle of startups is one of the most important lessons learned from moving to the Bay Area. The area fosters innovations and new companies, but not all of these companies survive. If you are working for a brand new start-up, keep in mind that the funding to keep it going may not always be there.
3. The Weather Can Be a Challenge
What to expect when moving to California depends on where you head in the state. California is huge. Its southern half is largely responsible for the state’s hot and sunny reputation, but as you move further north, the weather tends to be cooler. One of the most important tips for living in California, particularly the Bay Area, is to be prepared for the changing weather. It can go from foggy and chilly to warm and sunny in a single day.
If you live in San Francisco, you will get used to a love-hate relationship with the weather. Sure, you don’t have to wade through mountains of snow in the winter. But don’t expect a string of 80-degree days to accompany you to the beach during the summer.
4. There Is More to Life Than Just the City
San Francisco and the other cities of the Bay Area, like Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and Palo Alto, offer no shortage of activities. One thing to consider when moving to the Bay Area is all the things you can do outside that urban landscape as well. Short trips outside of the city will take you to places like:
- Napa Valley
- Sonoma County
- Point Reyes
- Half Moon Bay
Given the demanding work schedule many Bay Area residents shoulder, it can feel like a breath of fresh air to get outside the city.
5. California Really Is the Best Place to Live
When you move to California, you may feel nervous about finding new friends and navigating a new area, not to mention starting a new job and finding new housing. But you’ll learn how to live comfortably in California very quickly.
The Bay Area’s undeniable beauty, restaurants and culture draw young professionals to the area and keep them there. If you have a tough day at work, take a moment to step outside. Go to a beach. Stop at a museum. Catch some live music. Making your way in the city can be hard, but after a year of living here, it becomes your city. Welcome home.
Find Affordable Bay Area Options From Marcotte Properties
Living in California doesn’t have to be expensive. Your dream of living and working in the Bay Area is attainable when you find the right place Marcotte Properties specializes in affordable apartments and condos ideal for young professionals. Let us help you learn more about the different neighborhoods of San Francisco and the areas surrounding the city.
Relocating to the Bay Area can be a big change when you are fresh out of college, but we are here to help. Request a tour to find the apartment or condo that fits your budget and lifestyle.