If you are reading this headline and feel yourself identified with it, congratulations! It means you are now a new member of this community of Jóvenes con Futuro, and you won’t be alone in this new adventure.
Maybe this is your first time coming to San Francisco, maybe not, but here are some basic and useful things you should be advised on before getting to the city.
- The cost of life
You may have heard this a thousand times, but you don’t really get to know how expensive San Francisco is until you live there.
Don’t get shocked when you see food prices in supermarkets, or when you are looking for a room to rent in the city. San Francisco is the most expensive city for renters with a median price for a one-bedroom unit $3,452 per month as of August 2015. This is higher than any other major city in the U.S., even higher than Manhattan or Los Angeles.
Rental prices are increasing and are going to be worse. Be advised.
- Renting a place to live can drive you nuts
Renting a place to live in San Francisco can be a nightmare. There are certain requirements you might need to fulfill when it comes to renting an apartment. For example, you may need to have credit history. This means that the landlord will want to know how solvent you are to pay the rent every month. If you can’t show any credit score, showing a job offer may be valid. Landlords just want to be sure they are going to get paid.
Besides that, renting a place to live in San Francisco will probably drive you nuts. It’s hard, expensive and there’s a lot of competition.
In relation to rental prices within the city, here’s a map showing different areas and their median prices for a single bedroom rent. Data from August this year clearly shows how prices vary according to the area: whereas neighborhoods closer to the ocean are some of the cheapest options -and the foggiest as well-, areas marked in dark red account for the highest prices. Russian Hill, Financial District, Mission, Pacific Heights or SOMA are definitely the most expensive places to live.
- Learn the different districts in San Francisco
Like any other city around the world, San Francisco has better and worse areas to live in. Either if you are looking for a room or are just taking a walk, learn the “good” and “bad” parts of the city.
Try to avoid certain neighborhoods like the Tenderloin, which is located in the heart of San Francisco but it’s also the area with the highest crime rate in the city. Rent isn’t cheap either. Some parts of SOMA may be dangerous as well.
For more details about crime rate in the city by areas and more specific information, you can visit City Crime Maps.
San Francisco is a big city, but it’s well connected. There are three main public transportation systems: MUNI (metro and bus within the city), BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), and Caltrain (Commuter rail between San Francisco and the rest of the Silicon Valley).
MUNI offers monthly passes for $70 dollars and single tickets for $2.25. For real-time train schedules, you can download Routesy for iPhone to check Muni and Bart times. For Android, you can check Quicky Transit. For desktop, visit NextMuni.
To check Caltrain times, the app for iPhone is CaltrainMe.
Plus, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is considered as the second busiest airport in California after Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). If it’s your first time travelling to SFO and you don’t know how to get to the city, here are some ideas:
- BART. It takes approximately 25 minutes to get to downtown San Francisco and the price is $8.65 for one way. Surely this is the cheapest option.
- Supershuttle. Supershuttle is a private company that offers rides to and from airports by sharing a van with other travelers. Regular price is $17 per person plus tips but if it’s your first time in the city, booking this door-to-door service might be the best option.
- Other options include taxi ($42.85 – $62.85) and other transportation network companies such as Lyft or Uber. Prices varies depending on the destination.
- Flight connections are terrible
There aren’t direct flights from any city in Spain to San Francisco (yet) and that makes you lose an entire day –if it’s not even more- when you are travelling either from Spain or from San Francisco.
Flights aren’t cheap either, especially in high seasons like summer.
You can find flights for as cheap as 600 euros 2-way to/from Spain during low season -approximately February, March and April. During summer, flight tickets are way more expensive.
The best connections to fly from Europe to San Francisco in my opinion are London, Amsterdam, Zurich, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Oslo, and Stockholm because they are direct flights from Europe. If you don’t mind paying a bit more for your flight, I strongly recommend you to book all the connections with the same contract and to fly directly from Europe to San Francisco instead of laying over in any other city of the United States. Passport controls at the border may take hours and no one wants to miss any domestic flight if you are laying over at any other U.S. city.
You’ll realize that all airlines offer cheaper flights when you book a 2-way ticket instead of just 1-way, so take that in mind when you’re planning your trip.
This is the first part of a series of blog posts dedicated to new Jóvenes coming to San Francisco that may be very helpful, so STAY TUNED ;)!