San Francisco used to be known as a hotbed for hippies and beat poets. While some San Franciscans may still put flowers in their hair, they are likely doing so on their way to a job in the tech industry. Today, San Francisco is the tech capital of the world, topping the CBRE Group’s Tech-Thirty office markets list for the fourth year in a row. And there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. In 2015, the city’s high-tech job base grew at a rate of 43 percent over the past two years.
The tech boom in San Francisco means there are jobs available for the best and brightest in the industry, but it also means it’s going to cost you to live there. The cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6 percent higher than the U.S. average.
That number is high, yes, but the city also offers some of the best tech jobs in the industry. And with the best jobs come some of the top salaries. We’ll take a look at how far a tech salary can take you in the city, but first, let’s look at the city itself.
Overview of San Francisco
According to the United States Census Bureau, the estimated population of San Francisco as of July 2015 was 864,816. San Francisco is the second-most densely populated area after New York city, among cities with population greater than 200,000.
As of the 2010 census, 48.1 percent of the population in San Francisco is white. Asians are the next largest group, coming in at 33.3 percent. Only 37.7 percent of the city’s residents were born in California.
A study by PolicyLink and PERE (the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at the University of Southern California) recently found that the population of San Francisco will likely get less diverse, while the rest of the country will see increased diversity. A non-hispanic white majority is projected for San Francisco County by 2040, rising from 42 percent in 2013 to 52 percent in 2040.
San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of college graduates making up its population, just behind Seattle. More than 44 percent of adults in the city have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The PolicyLink/PERE study projects that by 2020, 43 percent of jobs in California will require an associate degree or above.
According to Suburban Stats, the median age in San Francisco is 38. And the average household size in the 2010 census was 2.26, with 64.2 percent of those houses occupied by renters.
San Francisco is full of history. In the North Beach neighborhood sits City Lights Booksellers, the famous stop for beat poets owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The neighborhood is also home to Caffe Trieste, where Francis Ford Coppola wrote The Godfather. Coppola is also a resident of the neighborhood and owns the local Cafe Zoetrope.
The Fillmore District boasts nightclubs that claim Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington among its former headliners.
The famous Mission District boasts Mexican influences, from storytelling murals to taquerias on most blocks in the neighborhood, and The Castro is the heart of San Francisco’s — and possibly the country’s — gay culture.
There are endless things to do and see in San Francisco, but the most iconic image in the city is the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a suspension bridge that spans the Golden Gate strait, a channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The famous color, called International Orange, was originally used as a sealant for the bridge.
Cost of Living in San Francisco
Everyone knows San Francisco is a great place to live, which is one of the reasons the cost of living is so high. As we mentioned, the cost of living in San Francisco is 62.6 percent higher than the national average. Let’s take a look at how those costs break down.
The National Association of Realtors shows that existing home sales prices have increased almost 36 percent in only two years, from $543,780 in 2012 to $737,600 in 2014. That’s the second-highest average sales price in the country, after nearby San Jose.
Renters don’t have it any easier: San Francisco rental rates are the highest in the nation. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the city is $4,650. According to that PolicyLink/PERE study, half of renters in the San Francisco Bay Area spend over 30 percent of their income on housing. (The Bay Area includes nine counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma.)
Most San Franciscans don’t own cars. In fact, people in the Bay Area are among the least dependent on cars. That’s because gas is expensive, parking downtown is impossible, and public transportation is reliable, available, and fairly economical.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway, better known as Muni, is the public transit system for San Francisco. It includes buses, trolley buses, and light rails, plus three cable car lines and two heritage streetcar lines. A monthly pass for an adult is $73.00, while a pass that includes the BART within the city is $91.00. There are also youth and low income prices, and children 4 and under ride for free.
San Francisco is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, and that kind of quality doesn’t come cheap. But according to Numbeo, even a meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant will run you $75.00.
Eating at home helps to save some money, but not as much as in other cities. The average price of a pound of rice in San Francisco is $2.11, 50 percent higher than the average national price of $1.50. A dozen eggs costs San Franciscans an average of $4.02, 70 percent more than the average national price. The overall cost of food in the city is 23 percent higher than the national average.
Tech Jobs in San Francisco
The average market salary for employees in San Francisco is $159,000 per year, ranging from $97,100 to $228,000. Average market salary includes a $122,000 base salary, $24,200 annual bonus, $15,900 signing bonus and $42,400 in annual equity. Paysa has calculated this data from 460,920 profiles.
Let’s break that down for some of the most in-demand jobs in the area.
The average market salary for a software engineer is $158,000 per year, ranging from $102,000 to $219,000. Average market salary includes a $115,000 base salary, $20,900 annual bonus, $17,100 signing bonus and $50,100 in annual equity. This data is calculated from 40,188 profiles.
From recent job postings, we know that 56 percent of software engineers in the city need to know Java, and 64 percent need to have a bachelor’s degree.
The average market salary for a research scientist in San Francisco is $163,000 a year, ranging from $107,000 to $225,000. Average market salary includes $123,000 base salary, $23,000 annual bonus, $18,400 signing bonus and $43,100 in annual equity. Salary data is based on 952 profiles.
49 percent of research scientists in San Francisco need to know Matlab, and 73 percent need to have a bachelor’s degree.
The average market salary for a project manager in the city is $133,000 per year, ranging from $99,500 to $168,000. Average market salary includes $105,000 base salary, $20,900 annual bonus, $15,300 signing bonus, and $32,000 in annual equity. Salaries are calculated from 8,106 profiles.
Recent job postings tell us that 51 percent of project managers need to have a bachelor’s degree.
Salaries for Popular Tech Companies in San Francisco
The average market salary for Cisco Systems employees in San Francisco is $191,000 per year, ranging from $142,000 to $244,000. This includes a $132,000 base salary, $24,200 annual bonus, $15,800 signing bonus, and $26,900 annual equity. 32 percent of Cisco employees need to know cloud computing and 52 percent need to have a bachelor’s degree. This data is calculated from 10,621 profiles.
The average market salary for Google employees in San Francisco is $256,000 a year, ranging from $192,000 to $324,000. Average market salary includes $131,000 base salary, $27,200 annual bonus, $27,200 signing bonus, and $70,700 annual equity. 44 percent of applicants need to know Java, and 64 percent need to have a bachelor’s degree. This data is based on 9,431 profiles.
The average market salary for Apple employees in San Francisco is $237,000 per year, ranging from $188,000 to $287,000. Average market salary includes $147,000 base salary, $24,000 annual bonus, $31,100 signing bonus, and $34,400 in annual equity. From recent job postings, we know that 21 percent of applicants need to know Python and 58 percent need to have a bachelor’s degree. Salaries are calculated from 6,773 profiles.
How Far Will Your Tech Salary Go in San Francisco?
As of 2015, the estimated cost of annual necessities for a single person living in San Francisco was $43,581. For a family of four, that jumps to about $91,785 a year. That doesn’t include savings or discretionary spending.
As you can see from the data we’ve compiled above, tech salaries can more than cover those annual necessities, because the top tech companies in San Francisco pay a premium for the most in-demand jobs. If you’re looking to make the move to The Golden City, it definitely pays to work in the tech sector.
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