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Limitless San Francisco is more than a lifestyle blog--it's a love letter to The City.

How to Afford Living in SF

How to Afford Living in SF

Bernal Love

Living in The City is expensive--we all know that. Each year, each month, the cost of living in The City gets higher and higher. People get evicted from their long-time homes, working people can't afford homes, and landlords show no mercy. But, living in SF is still realistic, if you can manage to not blow your entire paycheck on Seamless and rent. I've rounded up 10 ways to afford living here. Believe me, it's worth it! #thestruggleisreal

1. Live with roommates

Average rent for a 1 bedroom : $3,200

Average room for rent : $1,200-$1,600

2. Pack your lunch--every day

Every damn day!

FiDi lunch : $11/day x 5 days = $55/week = $2750/year! Can't you think of something better to spend nearly $3K on??

Packed lunch : leftovers, sandwich, soup, salad, granola bar, whatever you've got hanging around. Seriously, sometimes I eat the strangest combos, but even if it's not that amazing I know I saved some money which I can then spend on a really special restaurant experience, yummy groceries at BiRite or La Beau, or buying something I really want.

Little House

3. Plan on buying alcohol at a grocery store, even a fancy one

The liquor store by my house marks even the shittiest bottle of wine up between 2x and 3x what you'd pay in the grocery store. And, unless you have a coupon code, alcohol delivery can be a bad habit that adds up fast!

If you're meeting friends out, and are too old to slam shots at home before you leave, be sure to bring cash. If you plan on having two drinks and only bring $30, you'll resist the temptation to drink more. You also won't have to worry about forgetting to close your tab and having to go back the next day.

Bonus : less chance of a raging hangover!

4. Avoid FOMO--it's okay to stay in sometimes

Movie at The Metreon : $19.59 (one adult IMax ticket)

Movie OnDemand : $5.99

Netflix membership : $7.99/month

San Francisco housing woes

5. Check to see if there's a local, free rec center before joining a swanky gym. Or take a hike up a hill!

Chinese Rec : Free

Equinox : $180/month

6. Regularly reevaluate your closet. Do you wear everything on the reg? For special occasion/seasonal items, do you still like them? If not, sell or donate!

Online : Poshmark, Ebay, Twice, ThredUp

In Person : Take a visit to the Haight and check out thrift and second hand stores. If your items are genuine vintage, pop into Held Over or Decades of Fashion. If not, Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange and Wasteland buy gently used clothing and accessories. Keep in mind, the clothes should be in really good condition, clean, and without any holes, stains, missing buttons or broken zippers. Also, be prepared to be offered much less than you spent, but anything is better than nothing! They buy for the upcoming season, so don't drag over winter coats in spring. They also look for name brand or designer pieces, and pay a premium for them! 

Goodwill : If you can't sell it, donate it! If you're already in the Haight and have some pieces that were passed over, drop them off at Goodwill on your way home. 

7. Take public transit--or walk! You'll see much more on foot than from the back seat of an Uber with your head buried in your phone.

Bus/Muni : $2.50 a ride

BART to the Mission from Downtown : $1.75

LyftLine : $5 for one person within the Downtown core

Yellow victorian with yellow flowers

8. Free is Best #noShame

Go to the park--Dolores or Washington Square are both great for day drinking in the sun.

Take advantage of free days at the museums! 

Take a walk!

9. Hustle

Most people who've been here for a while have a side hustle, and basically can never move because of rent control. Figure out how they do it, and emulate it. If you can move into a rent controlled unit, and not get ripped off by the master tenant--don't leave. Is a disagreement about garbage or cleaning the bathroom worth giving up your cheap(ish) rent? Probably not. Put a dollar amount on it, and then ask yourself if you'd rather move. This works for most things here. 

Ex. Is this $30 surge priced Uber worth it? It is if you want to get home that bad.

Ex. Is $15 too much for a coffee? Sometimes!

Ex. Is paying 3x as much as I'm paying now worth it to live roommate free? Not today, sadly.

10. Know that you're not alone

In San Francisco everything costs more. People in the Bay Area can make as much as 60% more than the national average, but that doesn't mean everyone is flush with cash. As you make more money you might feel like you should be more financially secure, or shouldn't have to blow 50% of your pay on rent. But, what we tend to forget is that everyone is in the same boat. Sure, there are some people who's startup just paid out big, and there are execs making $250K/year, but most people struggle to live here. We struggle because, in the moment, there's no where better. Eventually, your life may evolve and The City might not be the best fit, but for now, if you're here, and you're struggling just remember you're not alone.

Russian Hill wanderings
24th Street : Mission District

24th Street : Mission District

Outfit Crisis : Bucket Bags for Every Budget

Outfit Crisis : Bucket Bags for Every Budget