As an incredibly charming, cosmopolitan, and vibrant city, San Francisco is an awesome place to live. So, if you’ve been offered a job here, you’re probably really excited. However, before you sign on the dotted line, you need to do your research to make sure that the offer you received is one that will allow you to live comfortably.

houses on a hill in San Francisco

The main drawback of moving to SF is that it is an incredibly expensive city. In fact, it’s actually the most expensive city in the United States, which is why you need to know vital information beforehand. For instance, the average salary in San Francisco and what the cost of living is.

Without this information, you could end up accepting a job that doesn’t pay enough, and your situation will end up being far more difficult than necessary.


How much is the average salary in San Francisco?

According to PayScale, the average salary in San Francisco is $87,076. Keep in mind that this figure is an average of all salaries across every industry and takes into account every job, regardless of the qualifications required. In other words, it’s possible to find a job that pays a higher salary, just as there are certainly jobs out there that will have you taking home a lower paycheck. Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities. While the average salary in San Francisco is higher than most other American cities including New York, Chicago, and Boston, there is a good reason for it. It’s because the cost of living in San Francisco is 69% higher than the United States average.

One thing San Francisco is known for is its booming tech industry. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the average salary in San Francisco for tech workers is the highest in the country at $142,000 per year, according to Hired.

Glassdoor reveals that an industrial engineer in San Francisco will make $82,818 per year, which is 23% above the national average. A marketing manager will make an average of $103,565 per year and a software engineer can make $126,069 per year. These paychecks are 28% and 22% above the national average, respectively.

So, yes, these salaries are higher than the national average, but clearly not high enough to cover the far higher cost of living.


How much do you need to earn to live comfortably in San Francisco?

Life in San Francisco is far from cheap, which is why you need to come prepared. It’s very easy to make a mistake and end up with a job that doesn’t pay enough for you to live a decent life in this great city.

Now, depending on your work experience and qualifications, you might not get the best job right off the bat. However, you do need to find a job that will allow you to at least cover your living expenses without you having to live on bread and water for half the month just so you can cover your rent.

GoBankingRates conducts a study every year to determine how much money people need to live comfortably in 50 major U.S. cities. They base their conclusions on the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, which says that 50% of your salary should go to necessities, 30% should represent disposable income, and 20% should go towards savings.

Therefore, the study found that to live comfortably in San Francisco, you need a salary of $123,268. Compare that to New York, where the same study found that you need $99,667, and Washington, D.C. where you’ll need $90,811.

If we ignore the savings and disposable income, you need to earn $61,634 in San Francisco just to cover your basic necessities like shelter, food, utilities, and transportation.

Keep in mind that this is a net figure, i.e. the amount of cash you need in hand. To take home the very basic minimum of $61,634, you’d actually need a pre-tax salary of around $88,000 per year. To earn the $123,268 the study found you’d need to live comfortably, you’d need to be earning over $175,000 per year.

Considering that the average rent in San Francisco is $3,300 per month, which means you’d be paying almost $40,000 a year just in rent. Furthermore, it’s a highly competitive market, and it can be difficult to find a decent apartment that’s relatively close to your place of employment.

a spacious Blueground studio in San Francisco

If you’re having trouble finding a place to live, one option is Blueground. They offer beautiful apartments in some of the best locations in San Francisco, and they’re all furnished, fully equipped, and serviced, which will definitely make your move much easier.

In other words, if you have a job offer, it must be for at least $88,000, and that’s only if you plan on living on the bare necessities.


What if you really want to move to San Francisco?

If the offer you’ve received is lower than the average salary in San Francisco for the same position with comparable qualifications, then you need to negotiate or look elsewhere. However, if the offer is on par with the average and still isn’t enough for you to live comfortably, then you have a few options.

The first is to reconsider your move to San Francisco. Check out some of the other major cities in the United States because you might find a better offer, especially in a place where the cost of living is much lower.

If you’re really set on moving to San Francisco, then you might consider doing some freelance work on the side to increase your income. The latter will require you to work more, but it is a viable option until you are able to get a better paying job.

Regardless of your decision, just remember to arm yourself with data before you accept a job offer. Use Glassdoor or similar sites to discover the average salary in San Francisco for the particular position you’re applying for, and make sure to use a paycheck calculator to work out how much you’ll actually be taking home. This way, you’ll be able to avoid nasty surprises later on down the line.

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