Image of SF vs NYC cost of living

The cost of a 1-bedroom rental is lower in NYC.

Making the big move from one city to another is a difficult decision, with plenty of factors to consider. To help size them up, we present the StreetEasy Cost of Living Calculator. Today, we’re comparing the cost of living in NYC versus San Francisco. From the East Coast to West Coast, we consider housing costs, incomes, transportation, and even bikeability. Let’s take a look!

Median Rent for 1-Bedroom: NYC Is Much Cheaper

The median rent for a 1-bedroom in both San Francisco and New York is higher than Zillow’s nationwide rent index, last recorded at $1,324 per month. But while neither city has a particularly affordable median rent, New York’s is lower by far.

Median Sale Price: NYC Homes Are Cheaper, But Smaller

For those looking to buy, New York offers more bang for your buck. According to the 2017 American Housing Survey, the median size of a home in San Fransisco is 1,250 square feet, while the median square footage in New York is 1,150. That makes the median price per square foot in NYC $879, compared to San Francisco’s $1,100.

Cost of Public Transportation: You Save in SF

  • San Francisco: $78 per month
    New York City: $121 per month

In the Bay Area, there are several public transportation options for commuters who live outside the city limits. Similar to the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and CalTrain run to cities outside San Francisco, such as Oakland, Fremont and San Jose. Depending on the distance, monthly passes can cost between $96 and $433 per month. Within the city itself, the SFMTA, known as “Muni,” runs trains, buses, and of course, historic cable cars. According to its website, a monthly pass costs $78, or $94 with access to BART within San Francisco.

In New York, a ride on the subway costs $2.75. Commuters who rely on the subway every day will opt for an unlimited MetroCard, at $121 per month, which nets out to $1,452 annually. Commuters who use the Long Island Rail Road will pay between $140 and $500 every month for an unlimited pass. Commuters who live in the northern suburbs and Connecticut can take MetroNorth, which costs between $60 and $500 for a monthly pass, depending on the line and length of the commute. Eastern New Jersey commuters can take the PATH train for $2.75 a ride. An unlimited monthly SmartLink card, which allows access to the PATH, costs $89.

Average Salary and Income: People Earn More in SF

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for San Franciscans is about $38,000 higher than the median household income in New York City. Payscale, a site that averages salaries for jobs that require bachelor’s degrees in both states, shows a smaller gap. According to the website, the median salary for this employee demographic is $87,096 in SF and $69,418 in NYC.

Average Commute Time: It’s Close

  • San Francisco: 32.8 minutes
    New York City: 37.5 minutes

According to the American Community Survey, in 2017, there was a roughly five-minute difference between the average one-way commute time in San Francisco and New York. However, both cities are well above the national average of 26.1 minutes.

Quality of Life Index: California Clearly Wins

The quality of life index is an average of several different indices, including purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property price-to-income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution and climate. San Francisco currently ranks at number 57 of all cities measured in the world, while New York ranks at number 140.

Bikeability: San Francisco Wins

  • San Francisco: Number 3
  • New York: Number 9

According to Bike Score, which gives a quantitative measure of city’s bikeability based on the number of bike lanes, topography, road connectivity, nearby amenities, and the amount of people who bike to work, San Francisco is the third most bikeable city in the U.S. Even with all those hills! SF was beat out only by Minneapolis and Portland, OR. New York came in at number 9, just ahead of Chicago. Must be all those potholes.

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