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Living Cheap in San Francisco

Living Cheap in San Francisco

Considering San Francisco is one of the best places to start a new career, it is no surprise that so many people are relocating here. Even if you are not a college grad, there are an abundance of fantastic companies to work for. Plus, since it is a hot tourist destination, bartenders, servers, hotel workers, and other jobs in hospitality are plentiful. When you add in the fact that this city has a thriving singles scene, plus countless attractions, activities, and parks for families, it is the perfect place to grow roots for nearly anyone.

You may assume that you need to have a lot of money saved up or a good job secured before you move here, but this really is not true. Plenty of people move here, find a roommate, and work random jobs until they land their dream job and get their own place. Try sending your resume to temp agencies like Career Alliance, Manpower, Kimco Specialized Staffing, and Olsten to get a running start on finding a job. Sounds like New York City, right? Well, not quite. Although the city is listed as one of the most expensive places to live, you can survive quite comfortably on a surprisingly small budget.

Get a Roommate

You can find a room for rent pretty much everywhere you look. This is the easiest way to move into the city. You will have a place to live and a physical address to put on your resume. Plus, your rent will be cheap. This will give you time to get a job and decide exactly where you want to live without rushing into anything. If you make some friends, you may want to share a place with several people. You might even find some cool people that need one more roommate. Other options for finding roommates include and


When you are ready to get moving, either alone or with a roommate, there are a few things to consider. First, the closer you are to the downtown area, the more expensive housing is. On the other hand, if you move within walking or cycling distance of your job, this will save you money in gas, parking, and other car-related fees or public transportation costs. You also want to consider the crime rate of the area. A killer deal on an apartment is not really a deal after all if your safety is at risk.

If you are keeping your car and do not mind commuting you can find much cheaper housing at the outskirts of the city. Marin County is ideal. It is north of the city with easy access to the Golden Gate Bridge and Richmond Bridge. There are also some safe but affordable neighborhoods in Oakland, Richmond, San Lorenzo, and Hayward.

San Francisco on the cheap

Getting Around

One of the best parts of living in San Francisco is that you don’t necessarily need a car because there’s plenty of public transportation. Potrero, Fillmore, and Haight are great neighborhoods with easy access to public transportation. If you have to commute to work, and you don’t live near public transportation, get in a carpool. There are countless parking lots where you can “park and ride.” This will save you a ton of gas money and wear-and-tear on your vehicle. If you live in the city, you can walk or cycle nearly everywhere. With plenty of gorgeous weather and large sidewalks, this is a very walkable city. MUNI is the city bus system most used in the downtown area while BART is predominantly used in the Bay Area. Get yourself a  monthly pass, so you do not have to pay every time you get on when moving here.

Shop Smart

Buying groceries at the expensive little local store by your apartment downtown will break the bank very quickly. Go to the farmers market whenever possible. The food is fresher, less expensive, and you get to support local farmers. It may be a little out of your way, but well worth it when you can stock your fridge on a budget. The last thing you want to do is eat out every day.

Happy Hour

The city comes to life during happy hour. Nearly every great bar runs fantastic specials on drinks and food. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to mingle and meet some locals.

Free Stuff

Do not assume that you will be stuck at home all the time because you do not have money to go out. This city is bursting with stuff to do for free. There are several museums that are always free and others that offer free days every month. You will also find a tremendous number of free concerts and festivals to enjoy. Of course, you can always hit one of the beaches for fun in the sun, or lace up your running shoes and hit the trails at one of the many parks in the area.


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Unpakt Team