StreetEasy’s Cost of Living Calculator compared housing costs, incomes, transportation costs and even bike-ability in New York City and San Francisco to determine which of these two cities are more affordable. Here are StreetEasy’s findings:

Median Rent for One Bedroom Apartment

San Francisco – $3,767/month

New York City – $2,495

Both cities have higher median rents than Zillow’s national rent index. When last recorded the nation’s median rent was $1,324/month.

Median Home Sale Price

San Francisco – $1,374,800

New York City – $999,000

Not only is the median home sale price less in NYC, there is more bang for the buck. According to the 2017 American Housing Survey, a median sized home in San Francisco 1,250 sq.’ while the median sized home in NYC is 1,150 sq.’. This translates into median sq.’ in San Francisco being $1,100 and median sq.’ in NYC being $879.

Cost of Public Transportation

San Francisco – $78/month

New York City – $121/month

In NYC, subway rides cost $2.75. Daily riders opt for the unlimited MetroCard that costs $121/month. Commuters using the Long Island Rail Road pay between $140-$500/month depending upon the length of the ride for an unlimited pass. Commuters in the northern suburbs of NYC and Connecticut use MetroNorth for $60-$500/month depending upon commute length. Commuters in Eastern NJ take PATH for $2.75/ride or use an unlimited monthly SmartLink Card for $89/month.

San Francisco commuters use Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and CalTrain to come and go to cities outside of the City (Oakland, Fremont, San Jose) with monthly passes that run between $96-$433/month depending upon the distance of the commute. Within San Francisco, commuters use the MUNI that operates busses, trains and cable cars. MUNI passes run $78/month or $94/month coupled with access to BART within San Francisco.

Average Commute Time

San Francisco – 32.8 minutes

New York City – 37.5 minutes

Source for commute times in both cities – American Community Survey in 2017

The national average for commute times is 26.1 minutes

Average Salary and Income

San Francisco – $96,265

New York City – $$57,782

Source for salaries/income in both cities – US Census Bureau 

San Francisco – $87,096

New York City – $69,418

Source for salaries in both cities – Payscale, a site that averages salaries for jobs requiring BA degrees in both states

Quality of Life Index

San Francisco – 175.47

New York City – 141.19

San Francisco currently ranks 57 of all cities in the world in terms of quality of life.

New York City currently ranks 140 of all cities in the world in terms of quality of life.

Quality of life, according to StreetEasy, is based upon purchasing power, safety, health care, cost of living, property-to-income ratio, traffic commute time, pollution and climate.


San Francisco – #3 in US behind Minneapolis and Portland

New York City – #9 in US just ahead of Chicago

Source for bike-ability rankings – BikeScore

Bike-ability, according to BikeScore, is based upon the number of bike lanes on roadways, topography, road connectivity, nearby amenities and the amount of people who bike.

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