Living in the Bay Area, CA

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Baron58, Sep 4, 2006.

  1. Baron58 macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2004
    I've always kind of wanted to live in the SF Bay area. Thing is, I have no first-hand knowledge of it - never been there in person. My big fear is moving to an new area is picking the wrong place to live. I always have this feeling that I'd get a place to live, then after being there a short while I'd kick myself and say "I was stupid - I should have gotten a place *there* instead".

    I've been looking for a job for about a year now. Let's say, hypothetically, that a particular job allowed me to specify one of three areas to live, and one of those was in the Bay Area.... then what? I know it's very expensive - but obviously the people who live there (and live reasonably well) manage it. Is there anyone here who has made that move? I don't want to do it if it means scraping along at what would be the 'Frisco poverty line, since the hypothetical job's likely salary would put me comfortably off in an east-cost city. No info on whether there would be a salary difference based on location or not.

    If you don't want to post in the thread, just bump it and send me a private message.

  2. TheMonarch macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2005
    Bay Area
    To say the bay area is expensive is an understatement.

    Where do you currently live?
  3. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool

    san francisco/ bay area is a great place to live. I lived there for 6 years and I would love to go back. If you can afford it, go.

    also san francisco has the best food in california by far.
    and lots of cute asian girls. :)
  4. bearbo macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    umm... what do you do for living now?
    i lived in bay area for 6 yrs (and SF is quite different from some other part of bay area, including east bay and south bay is what bay area about)

    i dont know where you live now, but in bay area the apartment rent is between 1300 ~ 2000 depend on where you live, and how big you want it (or in term of house, prepare for around 700,000 for a decent one)
    food isn't much more, gas is a bit more than most part of the country...

    but again, whether you'll barely scrape by or not, all depend on what you do, and how do you define scrape by...
  5. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Not entirely sure what you're looking for, but I moved out here for grad school six years ago. I'm not making a whole lot of money...enough to live on, but that's about it. I'm fine with that for now, as I'm training for my future.

    The Bay Area is a big place, so unless you knew where the job would be, it's tough to recommend places to live. For instance, if the job is in San Jose, you don't want to live in Marin. Probably not in San Francisco either...people do it, but it's an hour commute each way with no traffic...and a lot more during rush hour.

    I wasn't a huge fan of the Bay Area when I first moved out here...if you're not from a big city, it seems like a lot of people (I grew up in and went to college in medium-sized cities). I miss the changing seasons. But there are certain aspects of the area I've grown to love...the opportunities for outdoor activities are virtually unparalleled. The food (variety and quality) is amazing. The mix of ethnicities and cultures is fascinating.

    If you can provide more details on your situation, we might be able to give you more specific advice.
  6. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    SF is just as expensive as any other major metropolitan area, id say even a bit cheaper than some. for the same rents as NYC and Boston you get larger places, with cheaper and more available parking. you really want to see an expensive city, try london.

    im moving there in the spring/summer after spending this year honing my portfolio. the areas i like are the Marina, North Beach and Hayes valley. of course, so does everyone else :)
  7. Baron58 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2004
    OK, a few clarifications....

    I don't want to say to much about the job. I'm in IT management. I love big cities, but it depends on the city. I've lived in Atlanta, now live near Philadelphia. Loved ATL, hate PHL. For income comparison, assume I've lived in those areas on $80k-ish. I've done an hour-plus commute for 5 years, and would really like something better. Assume a work location in the Bay kind of in the Stanford U. area.

    It's really a pipe dream right now, but if it comes to it, I'm trying to figure out whether it would be a good move or bad move to make. I mean, how does any young professional have a decently hip life there - do they all make $300k/year??? I'm sure there's a reasonable solution, somehow.
  8. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    $80K would be enough to live on if it was just you have a family? Is an apartment okay, or do you need a house? Buying or renting?

    The areas right around Stanford are among the priciest, but you could find something in San Jose or San Mateo that would be reasonable (by Bay Area standards). Menlo Park (next to Stanford) isn't too bad, but Palo Alto, Los Gatos and (especially) Atherton are pricey. Stay away from East Palo Alto at all costs.
  9. applemacdude macrumors 68040


    Mar 26, 2001
    Over The Rainbow

    yes. true that
  10. Zwhaler macrumors 604


    Jun 10, 2006
    I live in the east bay, but if you go too far inland it gets too hot.
  11. iMacZealot macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2005
    The Walnut Creek/Lamorinda area is nice, but oh so expensive. My sister moved back here to Denver not just because she didn't have connections for her business but because it just became too expensive.
  12. Xander562 macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2006
    i think i've just made MY decision. :cool:
  13. me_94501 macrumors 65816


    Jan 6, 2003
    Indeed. The Oakland/Alameda/Berkeley area is a great area to live; it's centrally located and the weather is pleasant all year.

    Then again, I'm a wee biased. *points at "Location" to the left* :p
  14. Baron58 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2004
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    If you want a social life... are the different areas kind of 'balkanized', so if you live in one area you're not likely to meet people from other areas, or do people tend to have relationships/friendships with people from across the region? It seems like there'd be so much cross-commuting from one city to the next (San Francisco/Mountain View/Cupertino/San Jose looks on the map like one contiguous urban area) that people really don't care who lives where? I guess I'd have to actually drive around there to get a sense of scale.
  15. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    You're not all that likely to meet people from other areas, as most people tend to stay in their own area. People from Stanford/San Jose/Fremont area generally don't often come up to San Francisco and vice versa. You're more likely to get some cross-pollination between San Francisco and Berkeley. The best place for socializing is San Francisco, but it's a pain to head there from somewhere else for the social scene. Which is why during the dot-com boom there were so many people living in San Francisco but working in San Jose...San Francisco is the social hub if you will, so that's where the young people wanted to live. That has calmed down a bit as the dot-coms chilled and people realized how much a 90-minute commute each way sucks.

    For the best social scenes, I'd say Berkeley and San Francisco are the best. Berkeley's scene is more focused on the college crowd and alternative scene (due to the presence of UC Berkeley), while SF has a wide range is in my opinion best for people in their mid-to-late 20s. San Jose's scene is definitely growing, but isn't nearly to the level of SF. Palo Alto has a small social scene due to the presence of Stanford, but most of the rest of the towns between SF and San Jose are primarily bedroom communities.
  16. true777 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2000
    California, Austria, Arkansas
    If you are by yourself, you can easily live on 80k/yr.

    I have lived in the Bay Area for 10 years now, and love it.
    San Francisco is interesting but also dirty, cold, and foggy.

    The area around Stanford is gorgeous, I have lived there for the last 4 years (after 5 years in SF and 1 in East Bay).

    Palo Alto is gorgeous, Menlo Park is lovely, or try Los Altos.
    If those are too pricey for you, Mountain View is not too bad if you're in IT -- it's 5 minuites from Google headquarters, for example.

    On 80k you can EASILY get by.
    I for myself would not live anywhere else in the world.
    It's the best place to be.
  17. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Having grown up in Santa Cruz, I can tell you that the Bay Area (and there's a whole of of area encompassed in that) is a fantastic place to live. The cultural and social opportunities are amazing. The ocean is close by to regulate the climate (negated roughly proportionatly as you move inland), and so the average daytime highs in the summer and winter are only seperated by about 20 degrees. As noted, the food is first-rate. Wine country is close by in Napa (if you don't mind a little snooty-tooty with your tasting experience). The cost is pretty high anywhere in that area, but the Stanford U area is just about the worst outside of SF proper price-wise.

    That said, I don't go back because of the traffic.
  18. 73CortinaV8 macrumors 6502

    Sep 4, 2006
    Palo Alto, CA
    Try it. Better to regret moving here than regret not moving here. At least you'll know.

    San Francisco Pros and Cons

    -proximity to all sorts of natural wonders - great skiing, backpacking, etc.
    -better public transit than most places in the US (See cons)
    -plenty of good paying high tech jobs around despite the hype. Still kinda hard to find these jobs, but they are here.
    -plenty of affordable housing right in SF if you are willing to have roommates.
    -bike friendly
    -while somewhat bad, traffic here isn't nearly as bad as other medium-big US cities.
    -two world-class universities
    -grocery food far better than other places

    -provincial. Some people here think SF is 'bright lights big city', on par w/ NYC or London. It is not. not even close.
    -So many people here is think they are "artists", despite creating nothing. There is a funny term for this, can't remember it. Anyone? Something-bohemian
    -There is no cultural revolution going on in the Haight anymore. Just tons of shops selling crap, tweaker homeless kids, and rich kids from the burbs pretending to be tweaker homeless kids (yes, some of those dirtbag looking kids get in their SUVs at the end of the day and drive back to the east bay)
    -The public transit system, while better than most places in the US, still sucks in comparison to the fabulous transit systems elsewhere in the world.
    -The yuppies here are 10x as annoying as yuppies anywhere else.
    - s/yuppies/hippies/
    -SUVs with 'save the whales' license plates (I kid you not!)
    -Forget about owning a house.
    -dating scene is brutal if you are a guy, compared to NYC or LA.
    -psychotic homeless guys and aggressive panhandlers.
    -restaurants suck compared to NYC.
  19. patrick0brien macrumors 68040


    Oct 24, 2002
    The West Loop

    Hmm, so much I was thinking has already been said. But I think I could add a bit.

    Some, like mactastic, may recall my moving to San Jose 2.5 years ago. Lucky for me, I had been to the Bay Area quite a few times before so it wasn't a shock to me.

    I'll get the downside out first...
    -Yes, housing is a bear - actually, it completely blows my midwestern mind $1.2m for a 700 square foot house?!?!??!!

    -Folks still prefer to drive rather than walk or take the train. Granted, I was spoiled in Chicago, but the trains aren't a culture here. Ergo, funky traffic and there are some reaaaally bad drivers here (and I've driven in most of these United States). Problem? The different mass-transit systems don't connect well, CalTrain, VTA-Bus, VTA-Light Rail, BART. You pretty much need to drive.

    -If you've been to NYC, Chicago, London, and San Francisco, you can feel the city. It has a life, a pulse. San Jose really doesn't. People are too busy. Result: Only one professional sport team Sharks Hockey. Though SJ is trying with the Grand Prix.

    -There are some overly-smug enviro-bangers, and the hypocrisy that follows. (actaully observed, guy in Prius throwing lit cigarette into dry grass on side of 680). Southpark was RIGHT!

    -Politics. Oy vey. I thought there was polarity eastward! I have found, very few open minds and, therefore, reasoned debates here, it's basically a schoolyard shout-down. Whoever brings more of their friends to the swings wins by volume. My advice: don't engage at all.

    -Political Correctness. Won't go there...

    And now upside...
    -The economy is good - very good, and is expected to outperform the rest of the country (stability, and jobs-wise) for the next decade or so.

    -Microclimates. Don't like the weather? Walk a mile.

    -Parking is cheeeeeeap! (compared to NYC and Chicago) Many places garages are free on the weekends (still haven't come to terms with that.

    -Lots of paintball fields - Whoop! Sorry, that's my thing.

    -Beautiful country.

    -Fruits and veggies are fresh as heck! And the Garlic too (Gilroy is right here)
  20. macartistkel macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2005
    Portland, Oregon
    Well alot of good advice has been given so far (trust me, I am in the same boat and literally waiting patiently this very moment on some final arrangments for a second interview with a company in Portland--keeping EVERYTHING crossed). Anyway, if you are making $80,000 already on the east coast then you will most definitely make more in that area because of the higher cost of living. Depending on your debt to equity ratio, sounds like you will be just fine if you are only supporting yourself!

    Here is something an estimate of how much you will need compared to any city in the US.

    Good luck with whatever happens!! :)

Share This Page