If you’re already living in San Francisco, it will come as no surprise that the City by the Bay takes the top spot for cost of living—edging out even New York City. That’s according to a new interactive tool from Apartment List, which shows that housing in New York is 210% more expensive than the national average. It’s slightly higher than San Francisco at 20%, but San Francisco takes the top spot for overall cost of living because of higher prices across the five remaining components. Apartment List’s new report and interactive tool examines cost-of-living differences in cities across the U.S., breaking down housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and a miscellaneous catch-all goods and services category. While I wouldn’t hang my hat on its complete accuracy, it sure does come in handy for an overview of whether it’s worth moving to a new location for the variety of reasons. For a local picture, I compared San Francisco to Reno, Nevada, where your monthly outlay of cash is likely to be much closer to the national average.
San Francisco vs Reno Cost-of-Living Comparison
- The overall cost of living in San Francisco is 83% higher than the national average. This ranks first most expensive among the 100 large cities included in the report.
- Across the county, housing is by far the most impactful expense when it comes to overall cost of living. In San Francisco, housing costs are 208% higher than the national average whereas Reno came in just 4% above the national average.
- As for the other cost of living components: groceries in San Francisco are 32% more expensive vs Reno’s 6% over, transportation costs in SF are 32% more expensive vs Reno’s 13% more, health care is 27% more expensive vs Reno coming in 4% below the national average, and utilities are 29% more expensive in San Francisco vs Reno’s 11% below.
Housing may be the biggest factor in determining affordability, but it’s not the only one. Generally, housing and non-housing costs have a positive correlation. In other words, cities with a high cost of living also tend to have high costs for other goods and services.
The Bottom Line
Moving, especially to a new city, is a major life decision and housing costs are only one piece of that puzzle, albeit probably the biggest piece. But it’s nice to have a way to calculate overall expenses, especially if you’re negotiating for a salary in a new city (or, say, with your spouse who may not be so keen to move). This interactive tool, while unlikely to be perfect, does offer useful information in an easy-to-digest manner. Still, perspective is everything, so if you’re in need of an experienced real estate agent to bounce your next real estate move off of, look no further! If you’re relocating to the Bay Area or Reno-Tahoe, you know where to find me!