NYC to SF - Tips on Making the Move

San Francisco

San Francisco is seemingly all the rage these days! From a burgeoning tech industry closeby in Silicon Valley, centuries of fascinating history, or a powerhouse NBA team revolutionizing basketball, everyone has their own unique reasons for being drawn to the city. Oz Moving wanted to hear from former New Yorkers who have actually taken the plunge into the Bay Area, and see what they have learned from their time in SF. We hope these tips help make the transition from NYC to SF easier and less surprising.

What is SF known for?  

San Francisco is well-known for its picturesque Golden Gate bridge, and city streets lined with cable cars and pastel townhomes (Think Full House or That’s So Raven!) But, the city is not just a pretty backdrop for TV sitcoms, SF is actually a really lively and diverse city. Aside from the iconic Ashbury street, SF is also made up of other vibrant neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Japantown and the Mission District. (Don’t forget to try some crab at the wharf or grab a famous burrito in the Mission District!)

Compared to other cities on the West Coast like Los Angeles, San Francisco is far more dense and compact. Though the population of LA is more than four times greater, LA tends to have a more suburban and spread-out feel. San Francisco, on the other hand, is one of the most densely populated cities in America, which can appeal to those hailing from the bustling areas of NYC (like Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens!). 


“Though smaller, San Francisco contains all of the world-class amenities that one might find in New York.” says Robin Lee Allan, a former New Yorker who moved to San Francisco in January 2016.  “The general standard of living is slightly higher.” Allan adds, later noting the city’s excellent cuisine (Zagat rates San Francisco higher than NYC on food). Northern California is bustling with hospitality industries and farming, which can explain the city has plenty of wonderful restaurants, microbreweries and vineyards.

As a global city, SF makes the grade as well. Movers to SF “can find just as much culture and diversity here as they could in NY,” according to former NYC resident Shani Gillum, now residing in San Fran. Though the city’s population is changing, its diaspora of Asian-Americans is among the largest in the United States, with over 270,000 census respondents at last count self-describing as Asian. SF has always been a city where many languages are spoken, and many distinct cultures coexist together; those who appreciate that aspect of NYC will enjoy what they can find of it in the Bay.

Downtown San Francisco



“I wish I had had done more research on the housing situation in San Francisco, and I’d probably tell someone if they are planning to make the move to not expect it to be any cheaper here.” Gillum added to us on rents. She’s completely right; those seeking solace from high rents in NYC ought look elsewhere than San Francisco. Apartment List’s August 2018 data shows rents in SF are actually higher on average than those in NYC by 15-20%. Rents have steadily increased over the past few months and years steadily in SF, unlike NYC, so that trend is unlikely to change. Make sure your bank account is well prepared for the rental rates before you make the move to SF!

Moreover, real estate prices in SF have practically doubled in the past decade. According to Zillow, the current median cost of a home in SF hovers around 1.3 million and that doesn’t mean you will be getting a mansion for that price, either. Many residents in SF complain about the incredibly high cost of living, which is around 80% higher than the rest of the country. The estimated cost of living for a single person is around $5,000 a month (including housing). A family of 4 can expect to pay around $11,000 per month.


We’ve got good news -- New Yorkers who move to SF don’t have to give up delicious bagels! There are many wonderful places to find a bagel in San Francisco.

Patrons of NYC’s legendary delis have often opined that the quality of NYC bagels is due to the high quality of NYC tap water. But as Allan notes, “The quality of San Francisco water is on par with that of New York City.” While that’s a plus to any New Yorker looking to make the move to San Francisco, it should help dispel the myth that NYC’s water makes its bagels higher quality. 


NYC gets a reputation of being uptight; the stereotypical has the famous refrain of “I’m walking here!” ready to prove the hostility latent on the New York city streets during even the most amicable days. That isn’t the case in San Fran, where the population typically has a reputation of being much friendlier. But that leisurely attitude comes at a cost. “Very few things in California happen in what New Yorkers would call a timely fashion. Much patience will be required to adjust to the slower pace of life.” Allan says. Though the city has changed, it’s no wonder that SF was once the cultural center of the hippie movement!


The Bay Area has become synonymous with tech and it’s no secret why. The Bay Area is home to headquarters of companies like Google, Tesla, Apple and Facebook, and has created an encouraging atmosphere for tech-minded people. These industries offer high-paying jobs to young professionals, which explains the growth of the city (and prices) in recent years. 

Neighborhoods like SoMa (South of Market Street) for instance have been labeled as bustling hubs for tech start-ups, offering young entrepreneurs who work there a fun nightlife, cool dining scene and plenty of art museums. The neighborhood is also home to the SF Giants Baseball stadium, which is a huge point of SF pride. 

Moving to San Francisco from New York City? Get a free moving quote now!


  • Learn About Our Community Involvement

    See how we are helping to make our community a better place

    Read About Our Involvement
  • Let's Get Moving

    This moving checklist allows you to get organized and customize plans that best suit your needs

    View Our Checklist