How expensive is San Francisco really?

How expensive is San Francisco really?They say that San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the US. There are however discrepancies among online sources:

I found fewer disagreements when it comes to Munich: most sites set the cost of living index around 174.

The cost of living index (Wikipedia) is:

a theoretical price index that measures relative cost of living over time or regions

In the Worldwide Cost of Living 2013 report made by The Economist: Tokyo, Sydney, Oslo, Zurich, Paris and Caracas lead the ranking of the most expensive cities in the world. San Francisco is not within them.

If you then run a search on the most expensive cities to live in the US, you find that five are in California (and of course one of them is San Francisco). According to Council for Community and Economic Research:

the overall cost of living in a community is a function of the community’s population, population density, income, growth rate, utility rates, efficiency of the government sector, and region of location.

Even if all the above is true (= San Francisco has a higher cost of living index than Munich) why do I keep finding articles and online comparisons that differ? For example: the average price of a haircut in San Francisco is $16.79 ($14.13 in San Jose) BUT $25 in Germany!

Expatisan claims that San Francisco is 27% more expensive than Munich. I’ve read an article on the Atlantic Cities newspaper about what they call “the San Francisco Exodus”. Apparently locals, expats and even companies are moving out of the city due to the high rents.

…so how expensive is San Francisco really?

I tend to be skeptical about stereotypes. Three years ago they told us that the rents in Munich city center were impossible to pay… but we looked anyway and ended up finding a great apartment in the heart of the city within our budget. I’m not saying it was easy. It took us two months, over 50 site visits and many many hours of frustration but in the end we succeeded. As the great American success writer Napoleon Hill once said:

Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success

A couple of years later I am in a similar situation but this time in San Francisco. So let’s see what the apartment hunting has in store for me.

Have you recently moved to the Us from Europe? What do you think? How expensive is San Francisco really?


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