How to Move to San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most difficult cities to move to. It’s expensive, very competitive, and full of micro-climates and micro-cultures. That is to say, not only is it tough to find a place to live in SF, it’s tough to figure out if that place is even right for you.

However, living in San Francisco is awesome and well worth the effort. There are a ton of reasons why to move to San Francisco, not the least of which is its natural beauty and wonderful selection of just about anything you could want.

Fortunately, if you know how to move to San Francisco, you greatly increase you chances of succeeding. Here are our top 9 tips for how to move to San Francisco:


1. Have a Plan for Work – If you have a job lined up already, great. If not, have a tangible plan for how to find work. The job market in SF is highly competitive, because a lot of people want to live there. Read about how to move without a job for ideas.

2. Save Up – Whether you have a job or not, SF is expensive. Having some savings on hand will help you get through the rough patches as you get settled. Try saving up at least half a year before moving.

3. Know the Neighborhoods – There are many diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. The Mission is fun for young people and families who don’t mind a bit of grunge; the Hills (Russian, Nob, Portrero) are known for their beauty and wealth; North Beach is a bit touristy but has great food, parks and bars; SoMA is the up-and-coming warehouse district, with acclaimed spots near the ballpark; the Castro is known for its LGBT community and its gorgeous homes; the Haights are a bit hippy but generally quiet and nice; Hayes Valley runs up on the slums of downtown, but it’s also one of the nicest areas in SF; the Marina is known for its views of the Golden Gate Bridge and its puerile party atmosphere; the Financial District (FiDi) is the downtown proper (not really a great place to live, per se, but many things to do); the Tenderloin is by far the slummiest part of the city; Chinatown is part of FiDi and is obnoxiously busy all the time; and Richmond and the Sunsets are SF’s suburbs, closer to the ocean and far separated from the city despite being only a few miles away.

4. Live Near Public Transit – San Francisco is known for its great public transit options. BART and Caltrain pass through the city and are great ways to get to cities around the bay (many people use them to get to work). MUNI is SF’s bus system, but it operates as a subway downtown. It’s much faster as a subway, fyi.

5. Understand Rent Control – SF has some of the friendliest laws in the US for renters. If you’re renting, know them, and use them to your advantage.

6. Sell Your Stuff – Space is at a premium in SF. Even if you make good money, you will probably end up in a spot with little room compared to a suburban home. Plan accordingly.

7. Get a Roommate – Roommates are the best way to cut down on SF’s astronomical rents. Find a good roomy through a friend or coworker, or put out a detailed ad on Craigslist. You might be able to find someone who’s in the same position as you, and you can apartment hunt together.

8. Know Earthquake Safety – SF is overdue for a big earthquake. Understand basic earthquake safety.

9. Consider the Surrounding Bay – SF is the most expensive city in the nation to live in. The rest of the Bay Area is expensive, too, but it’s cheaper than SF, and it has plenty of good to offer. Oakland is an up-and-coming city for cool, arts and food, and it’s only a 12-minute BART ride from SF; Berkeley and Palo Alto are pretty college towns; San Mateo is essentially a wealthy suburb of SF; San Jose is the big city to the south, home of Silicon Valley; and Marin County is filled with small hippy towns and pristine nature great for hiking and biking.


Learn more about moving to San Francisco, or, if you feel like you’re ready, talk with some San Francisco movers.

About Devie Lin

Read blogs written by Devie Lin and find information related to moving & relocation on the Moving Blog by Moving Guru.
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