Why I Live In San Francisco, A City Where I’ll Never Be Able to Afford A Home
I choose to live in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the United States and a place where I doubt that I will ever be able to afford to purchase my own home. I am likely doomed to be a renter forever if I choose to continue to live here. And although I believe that there are a lot of great reasons to own your home instead of renting it, I will probably always continue to live here even if it means that I have to rent. And even if it means that I will pay more in rent in five years than most of my out-of-state friends will pay for their entire mortgages on their homes.
San Francisco Real Estate is a funny thing. Last year, I watched from the sidelines as a young married couple that I know began to look for their first home to buy here. They waited until their thirties to get married which allowed them to establish their separate careers and start saving enough money to actually own a home in this expensive city. They started looking in the price range of about a half a million dollars. One of the places that they found in this price range was a wacky one bedroom which required them (and anyone else visiting) to walk through the bedroom to get to the kitchen. That wasn’t the wacky part. The wacky part was that their bathroom – in this home that they could have owned – was outside of the rest of the house and across a hallway. No, they didn’t buy the place. Yes, the place sold for almost half a million dollars.
I also watched a rental situation here recently when a friend moved from the East Coast and stayed with me while looking for a place to rent. She submitted application after application for a shared roommate situation but the highly competitive nature of renting an apartment here made it so that two months went by of daily looking for an apartment and getting nowhere. Eventually she sucked it up and moved into a studio by herself. She, too, has to go to a bathroom down the hall but hers is shared with the rest of her floor. Her kitchen doesn’t include a stove. Her sink is inside of her clothes closet. She pays $1000 per month in rent. And when I saw it, I really did think it was cuter and roomier than a lot of the places I’ve seen here.
And yet, this is where I choose to live. I snagged a great apartment with big rooms and bay windows and tons of light and even a dishwasher which isn’t too common here. I also pay a small fortune to live here. Let’s just say that I pay more in rent each year than I have ever paid for a new car. I pay more in rent each year than my mother paid to purchase her first home when she was my age. And although there are some great first-time home buyer’s programs here, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to move out of the world of renting and into the world of owning a home in San Francisco. But I choose to live here.
This choice might make sense if I was doing work in the city that came with a comparable difference in income than what I would earn elsewhere. Many of the people that I know who live here are making significantly more at their jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area than they would earn at the same job if they were working in Texas or North Carolina. The minimum wage is higher and even waitresses earn at least that before tips. The cost of living here naturally comes with a corresponding rise in income for most jobs. However, I work as a freelance employee from the comfort of my own home so I could theoretically earn just as much money from Podunk, Middle America as I could from San Francisco and the amount of money that I could sock away into my savings account would be significantly greater.
So why do I choose to make my life in this city? There are many very specific reasons. They include:
• I love it here. I absolutely love everything about living in this city and I’ve never felt anything like that in any other place that I have ever been. You would pay more to live with the person that you love wouldn’t you? That’s how I feel about San Francisco.
• Oddly, I earn more money here than anywhere else I’ve lived. I do the same work from my computer but the fact that I feel so vibrant and creative and alive in this city makes me more productive. I may spend more on rent but I also earn more.
• I believe that my quality of life here is better than it would be anywhere else even though I don’t have as much money in my savings account. I could move to Podunk and pay very little for my life but I wouldn’t have the same access to creative people, amazing performance art, unique galleries and the rest of the fascinating life that I have here.
• Everyone else here is in the same boat. I often say that one of the things I love most about this city is the fact that everyone who is here really and truly wants to be here. There are very few people who just ended up here and who gripe about the problems of the place. It’s not easy to live somewhere that costs so much and so the people who do it are people who truly love this place. That makes for a city where people are happy and that is a place that I want to live!
So yes, there are many reasons why I choose to live in San Francisco despite the exorbitant cost of living here. But ultimately what it boils down to is that I think that the life here is worth what it costs. So you can go ahead and own your home outright in Podunk and I’m glad that works for you but I’m willing to foot the bill for a life in a city where I’ll never really be able to afford the real estate because I think that the city itself matters more than the home that I live in.
- HubMob on Real Estate
This article is part of a HubMob Series all about real estate. Follow this link to see all of the other great articles in the series!
- Curbed SF : The San Francisco Neighborhoods and Real Estate Blog
Curbed SF : The San Francisco Neighborhoods and Real Estate Blog
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Luba's SF Real Estate Blog - The Friendliest Blog about SF Real Estate and SF Living - written by a Local San Francisco Realtor
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