Have you been bit by the moving bug lately? Have you been dreaming of the shores of California as the place you’d like to call your new home? There are plenty of big cities and small towns to choose from in the third-largest state by land area in the country. No matter what your type of living preference is, you’ll be sure to find an option in California.

If you’re a big city person, then San Francisco may interest you. With nearly 875,000 residents (1), San Francisco is the fourth largest city in California behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, and it’s even the 17th largest city in the entire U.S. (2). As of 2022, the Golden Gate City has enjoyed a 9.76% population increase since the 2010 Census, which means it’s a rapidly growing city. So, there are plenty of housing opportunities available, including rent-to-own options.

San Francisco’s Housing Market

If you’re itching to move to the Bay Area, you should know before making the jump that it’s one of the most expensive places to live in the United States; it’s on par with living in New York City and, occasionally, it can be even more expensive than that.

As of April 2022, the average monthly cost for rent ranges from $2,081 per month (1) to $3,593 per month (3) while the average home price ranges from just under $1.12 million (1) to just under $1.15 million (3). Though Redfin claims the median price homes sell for in San Francisco is a little higher than that at $1.49 million (4).

Homes are only staying on the market for an average of 17 days before going under contract as of April 2022 compared to the 44 days the average listing was on the market in 2021. Due to the current insane housing market in the U.S., homes are selling between 11% to 25% over list price in San Francisco. In fact, the prices of homes there are up by 10.4% compared to 2021 at this time. (4)

Take a moment to observe the sticker shock of the monthly rent prices, the average home prices, and the crazy housing market, but do note there’s good news on the other side.

There are plenty of housing options for everyone in San Francisco from single-family homes, townhomes, condos, rent-to-own options, co-ops, etc. In fact, there are nearly 400,000 total housing units in San Francisco. While 66% of these properties were purchased with a mortgage, only 37.6% of the occupied units have the owners living in them (1). The rest of the occupied units (62.4%) have renters living in them.

To get super specific, there are currently between 368 to 416 rent-to-own options within the San Francisco city limits as of April 2022 (5, 6). Monthly payment prices on these rent-to-own options vary greatly.

For example, you can find prices as low as $1,423 per month for a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 854-sq. ft. condo in the La Playa neighborhood or you can find prices as high as $6,669 per month for a 3-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1,325-sq. ft. single-family home in the Revere neighborhood. There are also listings that go for thousands of dollars more than that as well, though they do have more square footage.

While you’ll always tend to pay more per month in a rent-to-own agreement over a traditional rental agreement, the high cost of monthly rent-to-own payments for these types of small dwellings can be fully attributed to the current housing market in San Francisco.

Popular San Francisco Neighborhoods

San Francisco is considered to be a giant melting pot of diverse culture, rich history, a thriving job market, hipster vibes and Bohemian art.  The Golden Gate City is also known as a major technology hub and a financial industry hotspot.

With all these different aspects of the city, it’s therefore split into roughly 36 neighborhoods (there’s some debate about the exact amount, depending on who you talk to). Each one has its own, unique characteristics, too. Some of the most popular areas of the city include:

  • Pacific Heights: This neighborhood is one of the more upscale and luxurious areas and its home prices reflect that as the average home price is $1.625 million (7). With this neighborhood though, you can walk nearly anywhere you want to go from trendy cafes and busy restaurants to hilltop parks.
  • Nob Hill: This neighborhood is an “old money” area of San Francisco where owners, presidents and/or other higher-ranking officials of the railroads lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The houses in that area are considered to be mansions, and in some cases, the properties are historical.  
  • Outer Sunset: This neighborhood is a coastal area where you can find all types of housing and participate in all sorts of outdoor activities. At Ocean Beach, you can surf in the water or walk and bike along the beach.
  • The Mission District: This neighborhood proudly displays its Latino heritage and boasts some of the best, authentic, homestyle Mexican restaurants in the San Francisco area. It also showcases a very hipster vibe and is home to some of the liveliest nightclubs in the city.
  • South of Market (SoMa): This area can be considered one of the “newer” neighborhoods in the city. It’s home to newer buildings and even giant warehouses that have been turned into various types of venues. There are plenty of high-end restaurants in this neighborhood along with various museums. To top it all off, the San Francisco Giants play in this neighborhood at Oracle Park. (8)

Some of the overall themes that transcend specific areas in San Francisco include that the city is a very walkable place. Of course, it’s not feasibly walkable in the sense of easily going across neighborhoods from one side of the city to the other, but each neighborhood itself is extremely walkable. In fact, Redfin gives San Francisco an 89/100 WalkScore overall; for context, the higher the WalkScore, the easier it is to navigate the city by foot (7).

Redfin also gives San Francisco a 77/100 (excellent) Public TransitScore and a 72/100 (very bikeable) BikeScore (7).

Cost of Living in San Francisco

As mentioned before, San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the country. In fact, the cost of living there is 80% higher than the national average (8). Most necessities in the city cost well above the national average. For example, according to PayScale.com (3):

  • Utilities are 9% higher than the national average.
    • A typical home’s energy bill can cost around $182.90 per month.
  • Groceries are 29% higher than the national average.
    • Bread is typically around $4.28 per loaf.
    • Milk is typically around $2.49 per gallon.
    • A fast-food burger typically costs around $5.45.
    • Bananas typically cost around $4.32 per bunch.
  • Transportation costs tend to be 34% higher than the national average.
    • Gas prices (before the war in Ukraine) were averaging $3.51 per gallon.
  • Healthcare costs tend to be 20% higher than the national average.

Working Wages and the People in San Francisco

Since quite literally everything costs more in San Francisco, it’s estimated a single worker needs to make at least $28 per hour to live just above the poverty threshold (8). As a result, most workers are paid a higher wage. In fact, the average annual household income in San Francisco is just over $112,000 to just over $160,000 (1). On the other hand, 10% of the residents in the city are living in poverty (9).

Because everything is more expensive in the Golden Gate City, having a roommate is not uncommon, even if you do have a job paying you above $28 per hour. In fact, 38% of San Francisco residents live either with their parents or one roommate while over 50% of renters between 23 and 29 years old still live with roommates (10).

The amount of people living with family or roommates may seem staggering, but it should be noted that the average age of San Francisco residents is only 38.2 years old, so the people living in the city are still young (1). That being said, the majority of the population is between 25 to 44 years old (11).

Additionally, only 18.74% of households have children while 81.26% of households do not have children (1). In fact, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major city in the U.S., which is also an indicator of the fact it’s a city primarily geared towards young adults (11).

San Francisco Weather

If money isn’t an issue for you and you’re still contemplating moving to San Francisco despite the housing market and the cost of living, you’ll want to know about the weather.

The Golden Gate City doesn’t necessarily see extreme temperature swings during the year. Instead, it features a Mediterranean-esque climate where the winters are mild and wet, and the summers are warm and dry (8). The coldest month tends to be January (46°F overnight on average) and the warmest month tends to be September (71°F on average during the day).

Because of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the temperature can drastically swing during the day. Most residents there will warn newbies to dress in layers so you can be prepared for whatever Mother Nature can throw at you. Additionally, there is a lot of fog in the San Francisco area, which is something new residents will have to get adjusted to if they’re not originally from a location that sees a lot of fog.

Does San Francisco still sound like a place you would like to land even after hearing about the housing market and the cost of living there? Then it’s time to pack up your current residence and look for a single-family home, an apartment or a rent-to-own property in the Golden Gate City!


Additional Resources



(3) Payscale.com

(4) — Redfin

(5) ZeroDown.com

(6) HomeFinder.com

(7) — Redfin City Guide to San Francisco

(8)Moving to San Francisco – ApartmentList.com


(10) — Cost of Living in San Francisco – ApartmentList.com