A Family Of 4 Needs To Make $77,069 A Year To Get By In San Francisco?

According to a new study cited by the San Francisco Chronicle, a family of 4 needs to make $77,069 in order to “get by” in San Francisco.

From SFGate:

A family of four in the Bay Area with two working adults must earn $77,069, equaling an hourly wage of $18.53, just to pay for basic necessities, a study released today calculates. If only one adult works, that figure falls to $53,075, largely because the family doesn’t have to pay for child care, according to the report by the California Budget Project, a liberal Sacramento research group. But that one wage-earner must make $25.52 an hour.

And a single parent with two children needs to take in $65,864 annually, at an hourly wage of $31.67, to cover expenses, the Budget Project figures.

Statewide, the two-working-parent family needs an annual income of $72,343 to cover necessities; the family with one working adult must earn $50,383.

They estimated prices of housing, child care, transportation, food, health care, taxes and miscellaneous, a category that lumps together everything else. They looked at rental costs rather than home ownership and made certain other assumptions that have big effects on living standards.

For example, they included as a necessity individually purchased health insurance, although many families are covered at least partly through work. And, in an effort to figure what it takes to support a family without public assistance, they didn’t consider the help many families get from government benefits such as housing and child health care subsidies.

According to those assumptions, the biggest expense was rent, estimated at an average of $1,312 for a family of four in the Bay Area, higher than the statewide estimate of $1,160. Child care was the second biggest outlay at about $1,216, followed by taxes and health coverage.

It sounds like more of a “worst case scenario” than “everyone with 2 kids absolutely needs this much money,” but even so it’s interesting. We suppose the title of this post could also be, “San Francisco Laughs At Your Measly $77k.”

Hey Bay Area readers, do these estimates sound correct to you?

A Bay Area couple with two kids can’t make it on $50,000 a year [SF Gate]


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    It costs 20,000 a year to cover the expenses of being employed?

  2. PinkBox says:

    Well, you are talking about San Francisco. Go to Los Angeles and it gets worse.

  3. djhopscotch says:

    Plenty of people in the bay area “get by” making less than that. Far less than that. So if you make 60k you are default homeless?

  4. fejjnagaf says:

    Bear in mind that salaries in the SF area are higher than in some other areas.
    And that SF has become a rich area.
    It’s sort of like giving a salary requirement for living in manhattan in that it is more expensive than surrounding areas….
    Renting or owning in San Fran is super expensive. A few miles outside of san fran is far cheaper.

  5. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Well, extra car, extra subway pass (costs $76/month in NYC), one more person’s worth of dry cleaning, cost of takeout because the parents can’t cook, babysitter, extra gas for the extra car, etc. etc. etc.

    I’d say that goes to over $20k. I’m surprised that it’s so little. Because someone who works as a professional probably spends like $80/month on dry cleaning alone, and then factor in the cost of a second car, more clothes (work clothes are expensive!), hiring a babysitter at $10/hour+cost of whatever food they eat, etc etc it adds up.

  6. rhombopteryx says:

    Sounds right on, except for the variable of rent. If you love the tenderloin, rent can still be less. (and your prescription drug prices are a bit lower too, due to excess local supply.)
    On the other hand, SF Gate needs to put down the pipe – “individually purchased health insurance” IS a necessity, because, contrary to their assertion that “many families are covered at least partly through work”, the SF reality is that MANY/MOST lower/middle-paying jobs don’t have much/anything in the way of employee coverage, much less dependant coverage.

  7. thaddius says:

    I guess I am the only one so far that thinks these numbers are too low? My GF and I (no kids) just finished looking for apartments in SF and we are spending nearly double on what they think is ‘average for a family of four’. I guess were some places that four people can live for about $1300 but I think that is WAY long gone. We looked and looked in all price ranges close to ours and we were lucky to get what we did considering that others that were submitting applications had yearly incomes that were at time double what we make.

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    Yup. It’s that much. Not including parking tickets (which are well neigh inevitable and SF meter maids* are more carnivorous than a herd of cats grazing a field of catnip – but MUCH less cute).

    BUYING a house when your family under 100K/year? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Ha. Boy, that’s funny.

    That said, the burritos on Mission Street are delicious, and a steal. So the gods give and take away.

    * Yeah, I know. But I hate them THAT much that I’m not using the correct phrase.

  9. sncreducer says:


    Except that the study found that cost in all the major categories except transportation were higher in the Bay Area than anywhere else in the state, including the LA area. They may talk about the salaries being high, but that’s not anything that touches me and and the people that I know. $77,000 is a pipe dream to us.

  10. Landru says:

    Oakland here, across the bay from San Francisco. I’ll tell you the $77,000 doesn’t include buying a home. And four people on that amount means really being frugal. Fuel for home heating, gasoline and housing (both buying and renting) are all really high and the “higher” salaries don’t really make up for it.

    However, we don’t really have a winter. Rainy for a few weeks, yes, but it almost never hits freezing. And I hear Los Angeles is cheaper, but I’m not sure; but I know that gasoline is way higher here.

  11. qitaana says:

    Albany here, which is the first town north of Berkeley. 2 of us exist on one grad student stipend plus some occasional income for the other… around $30 – $32k total, I’d guess. Rent is about 1/2 of our monthly budget. Things are tight, but it can be done. I get health insurance from school, we have to pay for his. The only way we’re able to survive is we’re in subsidized, university owned housing which includes all utilities, internet, and cable tv in the rent.

  12. jaredgood1 says:

    I guess I must just have a very low opinion of what “getting by” is. I’ve always thought of “getting by” as “I can afford my rent, food and maybe I can get a new pair of shoes if I only eat noodles and tuna for a month”. Insurance (health and otherwise) has always seemed more of a luxury than a necessity to me. Granted, I’m single, young and healthy, so what do I know…

  13. zaky says:

    I paid 1550 for a prime location, Dolores Park 1-br apartment in San Fran. Food was also very affordable. I live in NY now and pay 2750 for an alcove studio in a nice building. SF is dirt cheap—I don’t know why people think it’s crazy expensive. NY is repulsively pricey.

  14. nweaver says:

    San Francisco proper is frighteningly expensive.

    The $1300/month assumption for rent is reasonable if a little high (if you are poor, you can probably do cheaper).

    The big bogosity is the $1200/month for child care assumption.

    And that is also for “Modest Middle Class” lifestyle, not minimum.

    Kids are also a huge cost.

  15. Sinflux says:

    I make $20/hr and can barely afford myself.

  16. mikala says:

    Let’s see, the husband and I pull in about $110k between the two of us. Do I feel rich? Um, no. We purchased a condo about 30 miles north of SF in Marin County a couple of years ago (fixed rate thank heaven!). Some would say that means we’re rich but it doesn’t usually feel like it. I have health care coverage through my job, he does not. We have no children. I fear the day I have to start paying for childcare. In the big picture we are wealthy beyond our wildest dreams. We have our health, a warm home, a loving family, and can go out to eat and take vacations now and again. Most of the world sees our life as The American Dream. So I guess I do feel rich after all.

  17. JKinNYC says:

    @B: Daycare, Hombre.

  18. etinterrapax says:

    I’m actually shocked it’s that little. If we had another kid, we’d need that much to get by here, and I know SF is more expensive.

  19. rodeobob says:

    @jaredgood1: Insurance is hardly a luxury, especially when it comes to health care. Yes, if you’re young and healthy, you probably don’t need it… right up until you do.

    I offer my own experiences with dental care. Didn’t have insurance, didn’t think I needed it, right up until part of one tooth broke off. I managed to get some of the work covered, but all told the root canal, oral surgery & crown set me back over $1,500.

    If I had insurance at the time and leading up to the event in question:
    a.) I would gotten regular check-ups fro a $20 insurance co-pay, versus the $150 list-cost with a $300 deposit per visit.
    b.) the total cost to me would have been around $1,200 less.

    Insurance is a funny thing: when you don’t need it, it’s a waste. When you do need it, it’s a huge bargain. When you factor in preventative care (dental cleanings) and special needs (young children get sick more than adults, and often require perscriptions) the difference is huge.

    I know the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’, but do some research for yourself: look at how much a doctor’s visit or a dental cleaning will cost you without insurance (assuming you can even get seen!) versus with insurance.

    I’m using health insurance here, because many states require that drivers have car insurance, and similarly many mortgage companies require both mortage insurance and home insurance.

  20. gorckat says:

    @jaredgood1: I agree- “getting by” doesn’t include luxuries (Blockbuster, Papa John’s and a new toy every stroll through Target) in my mind.

  21. UpsetPanda says:

    Isn’t the poverty line like a family that only has one television now?

  22. JiminyChristmas says:

    @mikala: Some good friends of mine found themselves in straits very similar to yours. They are a childless professional couple, a lawyer and a tenured university professor. They lived in San Francisco proper for a couple of years and found it outlandishly expensive. They bailed for Alameda, which was better but found that they could still never afford to buy a home there.

    Ultimately, they gave up on CA altogether and moved to Anchorage, AK; where they are able to afford a nice townhouse and stock a chest freezer with Kenai River salmon they caught themselves. Sounds nice.

  23. burbed says:

    This is definitely a problem in my book.

    San Francisco is still too DAMN AFFORDABLE.

    When will we become a world class city like London, Moscow, and Manhattan (not the other 4 boroughs)?

    The suburbs of San Francisco have done their part to be relatively unaffordable. Look at Mountain View!


    $600k, 842 sqft, a few walls missing. See? Mountain View is doing it’s part. You won’t find unaffordability like this in the suburbs of New York or Chicago or Washington DC.

    Come on San Francisco – let’s raise the bar. Let’s all do our part to make it even more exclusive and more expensive.

    After all – more expensive = more desirable = more special. And who doesn’t want to live in a place that’s special?

  24. burbed says:

    >>@zaky: “SF is dirt cheap—I don’t know why people think it’s crazy expensive. NY is repulsively pricey.”

    There’s one difference though: NY is NY. San Francisco is not.

    Last time I checked, folks living in SF weren’t competing for housing with people like a crown prince of Saudi Arabia, etc etc etc. Nor is SF nearly as interesting as NY.

  25. jaredgood1 says:

    @rodeobob: Oh, I totally understand where you are coming from. However, if a person can afford non-job supplied insurance (as the article states), I don’t think that they are just “getting by” (especially if it’s a family of four).

  26. JiminyChristmas says:

    @CoffeeCup: One can easily find a serviceable 27″ TV at a thrift store for $50 or less. Hell, cruise the Craigslist or FreeCycle postings and you would be doing someone a favor by picking one up for free.

    So, what’s your point?

  27. skrom says:

    I bet these “poor” people could get by much better if they sold their Escalades and drove 1991 Cavaliers, and got rid of cable TV, broadband internet, and cooked their own meals instead of going to Ruth Criss every night. I only make $42,000 a year and get by just fine. Move out of the city about 30 miles and itll be MUCh cheaper. Also, dont have kids you cant afford and you wont have to both work and pay for daycare

  28. AndyDuncan says:

    I’m thinking that Baja is looking better all the time.

  29. @JiminyChristmas: Took us all of 18 months to bail on DC Metro for Peoria, where our mortgage payment on a house with a big yard is about 1/4 of what our rent on an apartment was. Every lawyer in town cuts out at 5 p.m. on Friday to go to their kids’ T-ball games. And “Your Honor, I have to go to my daughter’s dance recital that day” is a totally legitimate reason for a court conflict.

    (On the downside, student loans don’t know they’re supposed to adjust for cost-of-living changes in salary. :P)

  30. joeschmo says:

    I find it hard to believe as a SF resident, that one could find a one bedroom apartment for under $1600, never mind enough space for a family of four. A typical 2 bedroom goes for around $2000-$2400, and 3 bedroom would be at least $3000.

  31. viviennet says:

    @zaky: That must have been a few years ago.

    I just moved to SF and getting a one bedroom apartment in anywhere near a desirable district will set me back AT LEAST $2000 a month. More inexpensive (read: not so safe) areas will cost around $1500 a month.

    SF IS kind of expensive, and bear in mind I’ve lived in Hong Kong and London for a considerable amount of time.

    I completely believe that a family of four needs $77’000 to get by, and that’s with quite a few sacrifices.

  32. guevera says:

    @coffecup: the poverty line as of a couple of years ago was 21,600+change for family of four. It’s based on multiple of price of month’s worth of food at ghetto grocery store. NO relation to real world of 2007. I would be hard up to make it in SF on 77k a year w/out kids.

    That’s barely comfortable here in Sacto — It manages to be a)more than the median family income but b)barely enough to buy the median priced home. Time for a revolution of the proletariat against the exploitive capitalist oligarchy. Or at least the developers, Realtors, and their lackies in the government…

  33. kimmie says:

    It’s the housing costs that kill ya. I moved here making $60k and that felt pretty tight for one person.

  34. CoolTri says:

    I’m in the SF area with a house hold of 5, One working (me) and making just over 40k a year and it is really tough to get buy. I often describe my situation as working poor. its Just enough to pay bills, sometimes its not enough. This allow zero fun time because i can’t afford it. if i could make 50,383 like this news piece says i would be well off and maybe enjoying life again.

  35. Trai_Dep says:

    Oh, and yes, SF is expensive. But worth every damn penny. :)

  36. kcrusher says:

    I wouldn’t say this is out of line at all. Someone making 77k/yr is going to take home about $2250k every 2 weeks, assuming their employer covers insurance, which they almost never do. Typical employee cost for health insurance for their family is $100-$200 per pay period (assuming 24 pay periods per year), that’s $2400-$4800/yr. And you MUST have health insurance – a friends daughter just had an appendectomy and she didn’t have insurance. The bill – $80K.

    $1300 for a 2bdrm in SF is on the low end.

    So let’s look at the numbers:

    – $1300 rent
    – $300 insurance (split the difference)
    – $150 utilities (average per/mo over the course of the year. assuming they have no internet/cable)
    – $150 transportation (to/from work, etc – and assuming they don’t own a car)
    – $200 misc expenses (clothes, incidentals, etc)
    – $500 food (this is way low-ball, like they’re buying in bulk)
    = $2600

    Now let’s get into childcare. $900/mo per child is about the lowest decent care price I can find, so that’s $1800/mo for childcare. That, plus the above $2600 equals $4400/mo – that leaves $200 for wiggle room. Not a whole lot. They’ll ‘get by’, but there’s nothing in here for anything but the bare essentials – no car, no internet/cable, minimal food/clothing (they’re shopping at goodwill for sure) and not much left over for any kind of savings. That insurance plan is probably going to have a deductible of at least $250, as well as co-pays and percentages, so they’ll still be hoping no one gets sick…

  37. UpsetPanda says:

    I don’t know how scientific City-Data.com is…I would imagine that if it was accurate, the $77k wouldn’t be far fetched, especially if the median income for a family is $57,496.

  38. luxurypunk says:

    BF and I make nearly 100K jointly, live in a 2 BR apt in a so-so hood, and still find it difficult to find much fun money. Kcrusher – where in the heck did you find a 2 BR in SF for $1300?! Impossible.

  39. Maulleigh says:

    My family lives in SF but I had to move to Sacramento (two-hour drive east) cuz it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOO much cheaper. Unbelievable what I got for $650 a month rent. Car port. POOL. Huge one bedroom. But, it’s Sacramento.

    I think it’s really easy to be poor in New York. Food is relatively cheap and you don’t need a car. Subway costs the same whether you’re coming from Jamaica or Upper East Side.

  40. MrFreshy says:

    My wife and I live in the Washington DC ‘burbs, and we make around $80,000 / yr.

    We have 2 cars, we own a townhome, and we have a 16 month old son.

    We have cable (basic non-digital), and broadband, but not much else that would be “luxurious”.

    I wish we only had 1 car, but hers will be paid off in February.

    When I was growing up, people didnt make $80,000, and if they did, they were “rich”. We make that much, and can barely barely afford to live.

    We do not eat out, I cook our meals, I drive a company car, etc.

    One bad thing happens, and we are screwed!

    Gotta get away from this area!

    Maybe we should move to SF…

  41. Charmander says:


    Jaredgood, once you have kids, I think health insurance stops being a luxury, and becomes a necessity.

    I think you’d have to be very frugal for a family of 4 to live on $77K in San Francisco.

  42. shfd739 says:

    I just dont see how people live in places like SF or NYC. My wife and I are both paramedics and live on the Gulf Coast. We make about 80k a year and feel pretty loaded.

    Rent on a 1500sf 3bed 2bath house is only 800 a month and everything else is pretty cheap. Heck only about 1/3 of our income is needed for bills.I couldnt get by in a big city on pur pay.

  43. Mark 2000 says:

    I’m looking for a 2 bedroom place now and in the past few months rent in even gang and crime areas (hayes valley, lower haight, mission) has climbed to 2100-2500 a month and that’s the lowest end. There’s nothing reasonable in this town. Most of gentrified Brooklyn is cheaper.

  44. MrSmokesTooMuch says:

    The article is pretty accurate. I support a family of 4 on $52k and we just squeeze by. Having bought a home in Berkeley 10 years ago is the only way it’s been possible. We decided it was more cost effective (and better for the kids) for my wife to stay home and care for the kids, cook meals, etc (a much harder job than the one I commute to the City everyday for, I might add). The biggest killer is the monthly health insurance payment of $1100. True, I could move somewhere less expensive but I’d make significently less and have to forgo time with family and friends. Not worth it in my mind.

  45. spryte says:

    As another SF resident, let me add my “WTF?!” to the idea of a family of four renting a place for $1300. Yeah effing right. I’m paying $1025 for a studio on the edge of the Tenderloin (one of the slummiest parts of the city). When I was looking for apartments, the majority of studios were between $900 and $1100. My friend is looking to move here and needs a one-bedroom because he works from home, and even out in the sticks of the Sunset and Excelsior, those are at least $1300.

    By the way, Mark 2000 – you think Hayes Valley is a “gang and crime area”? Umm…been there lately? Gangs of frou-frou boutique owners, maybe… :P

  46. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    You need 6 figures to get by if in coastal California if you have kids. Period. End of story. And you need to NET 6 figures.

  47. rose0red says:

    I’ve lived in the East Bay (Concord), and we had to go north to Solano County (rural area east of Napa, between SF and Sacramento on the 80) in order to buy a house. We had to get out of Concord because there was no rent control and rents were going up each year. We searched high and low, because we really wanted to live closer to the Bay, but it was impossible, renting or buying. These numbers sound really low to me. The only way I can see anybody getting by on &77K/year in SF without government assistance would be by living in some very scary neighborhoods. And even then, I would imagine you’d need WIC or foodstamps or something.

  48. zolielo says:

    Berkeley for me, a 4 bed with 3 bath at 1800 sq and 4300 sq; a bit under Summit Res. No kids, two income young couple, more or less… 74k and the living is not bad but not as good as many might think.

    With so much money in the area from various tech it is hard to keep up with the Jones. And I can see if one had a kid, not that I would have one as I am a kid at heart myself, the Jones would be a nightly topic at the dinner table.

    Every now and then I think of how it would be to live in a lower cost part of CA. With my line of work I imagine I could transfer… But not sure if I would want to, for as I said live here is not bad…

  49. Shred says:

    No friggen way! It would cost more than $77,000 a year to raise a family in SF. I live in a small two bedroom apartment in San Francisco in a crappy part of town and pay $1750. And it’s considered a deal!

    Plus, you’d have to send your kids to our terrible public schools (which I’ve worked in). Plus, do you intend to clothe yourself and your children? Eat anything other than Ramen and McDonald’s? No, no, no way.

    And, yes, the salaries can be higher in SF than other places. However, you need to have a Master’s degree or some other specialized training in order to be making $20 an hour. $10 an hour is common for most service industry jobs.

  50. zolielo says:

    ^ typo life

    P.S. Not out of my income but out of my expenditures:

    40.15% housing
    01.60% parking
    05.38% net/phone
    02.32% utilities
    09.61% auto
    01.20% clothes
    12.98% food

    With the rest charity, stuff, entertainment, etc.

  51. Shred says:

    This hypothetical family of four would have to be living in an SRO (i.e. a hotel room in a building that’s one step above a homeless shelter).

  52. Boberto says:

    Oye. 4 Kids, Wife (doesn’t work) on $55k/year in Western New York. Have health, dental etc. for all. Own a nice 3 Bedroom home in Suburbs. Three cars. We have all that we need, not all that we want. Great job that I love.

    Had lived in SF/Bay area 5 years ago and could not imagine having any of this if I had stayed making over twice as much.

    I love the Bay Area, but it seems a much better place to visit than to live. I honestly don’t know how people do it out there.

  53. Woofer00 says:

    And yet somehow GOP is trying to argue that child health care costs shouldn’t take into account the high costs in urban life. hmm…

  54. majortom1981 says:

    That seems kinda low. Unless house prices are lower there. Here on long Island for something small I would still pay $1400 a month for a mortgage for something small. Thats not including the taxes and insurance.

    I make $53k a year and can only afford to live in a 2 bedroom condo here.

    If it really is that cheap to live in san fransisco then I should move to california.

  55. backbroken says:

    “Get by?”…My depression era grandparents think that you do not know what those words mean.

  56. satoru says:

    @backbroken: Haha that is so true! I’m quite sure your grandparents ‘got by’ on a mere $77 :)

  57. Caswell says:


    Simple solution: move. Federal tax dollars shouldn’t fund one’s choice to live in an area with an absurd cost of living.

  58. hexychick says:

    Add 20 grand and thats the correct rate for suburban Northern Virginia. Unless you’re lucky enough to qualify for income restricted housing (no, it’s not section 8 housing) it’s pretty much impossible to do it on less than that. I’m moderately amused that it’s about the same cost on opposite coasts.

  59. @Mark 2000: You can barely find a one-bedroom in gentrified Brooklyn for less than $2k. Rental Prices have sky-rocketed in the last couple years. I found out the hard way when I started looking for a new place a couple months ago.

    I have a lot of good friends in San Francisco and I know $77k is WAY TOO LOW for a family of four. A $1300 2-bedroom is a pipedream and probably not big enough for four people to begin with.

  60. j.b. says:

    We’re in brooklyn, NY. Our rent is 2400 for a big apartment (by NYC standards). We have two kids. One is 15 months, the other is 2 weeks old. My wife is not currently working (layed off suspiciously close to her due date), and is in the process of starting up a home business. Health and dental costs for everyone are covered by my job.

    Until the 2nd child came, our retirement was ‘on-track’, but we stopped everything until my wife is earning income again (though she’s temporarily getting unemployment – net 1600/month). I’m bringing home net 3800/month. I started (slowly) saving for a downpayment two years ago, but we’re nowhere near anything and I’ve paused that too. We’re both 31.

    Child care costs have been extremely fortune for us – we found someone who’s fine with taking $12/hr to (eventually) watch two children. The going rate for one child is $12-15/hr, and two children is $15-20/hr (around $1900/month). Daycare at a place you might consider, at the cheapest, is 1200/month. (There is talk of a Chinatown place for $900 – Mandarin lessons free of charge!) You only get a 10% discount for the 2nd child in most places, so a babysitter’s costs scale up better than daycare. And that’s aside from not having to add at least an hour to your daily commute in kid-prep and transport to daycare facility.

    We live ok, but still paycheck to paycheck and with a certain level of tension. We don’t really have an emergency fund, college savings, or HBO. We don’t go on vacations. We don’t have any cars. We go out to the diner for breakfast once a week, and maybe once a month to a restaurant. We cashed out 8k of pension fund rollover to cover us as a cushion for this time my wife is spending nursing our newborn. It’s not being eaten away quickly, but it will probably be gone in 5 months. Our insurance is ok, but there are still baby costs.

    BTW, our newborn caught a cold. Because of her age, they had to pretend it was meningitis. We spent three days and two nights at NYU Hospital. (she is fine.) Lovely people, great place. Cigna got billed almost 8 grand for that stay. The birth cost 4K (easy, no complications). The prenatal visits and care were around 8K. (Mom had gestational diabetes.)

    A normal pediatric check-up for my older kid cost $150. We were there for 20 minutes. Good doctor, for what it’s worth.

    Rents when we moved in 5 years ago were 1500-1750 for a 2-bedroom. Now, they’re 1900-2400. And our neighborhood is bordered to the north and east by public housing. It’s safe enough, and most of the people are amazing. But there’s definitely some tension floating around as long-time neighborhood renters see their neighbors slowly get squeezed out only to be replaced by ‘rich’ people. Houses in our neighborhood range between 1.4 to 3.1. Co-ops at a slightly-rundown building start around 400K for a 1-bedroom, while a 2-bedroom condo around the corner is 1.1. A new building just went up down the road. It’s 20-something stories, and the cheapest apartment in it is 990K. I don’t even want to know the maintenance fees.

    I appreciate that everyone’s offering examples of what things cost in their area. We really need a database of costs, especially medical ones.

  61. Fait Accompli says:

    We moved from Chicago to Alamo, CA (East Bay) in 2004. We were shocked by the cost of living and routinely wonder how people make it. I’m a lawyer and my wife is a doctor, so we’re far from scraping by, but you can’t find a fixer-upper in our town for less than $850,000 (with most houses going for seven figures), and the surrounding areas start at no less than $500,000. Add in the costs of education (six figure student loans) and transportation (Bay Area = a lot of driving), child care (decent starts at $900 but doesn’t go much bove $1,400 per child), Health Care (employment coevered health care is a fanatasy these days and will shortly be a total fiction) and any hope of saving for reitriment, and you’ve burnt through more money than most people will make.

    Not everyone has two professional incomes coming in, so I’m not sure how people are paying for their lives. I realize that there are places to save (i.e., cars, food, furniture, scratch any travel plans), but my guess (based on our consumer culture)is that the item most people are cutting out is retirement savings. As a nation, with California leading the pack, we are heading for a massive crisis when generation X hits retirement age with no retirment savings or benefits. Everyone thinks that the baby-boomers are going to suck up resources, but wait until you have an entire generation of people with nothing in the bank.

    This will not end well.

  62. infinitysnake says:

    @mikala: Same here- SO and I make about the same, in Fremont. Our kids are doubled up in their rooms, and both my cars are secondhand. Most goes into the house payment- and my house is definitely in the “fixer-upper” category, even though it’s currently worth 3/4 of a million. We figure after the ARM slide, we can sell and buy a house on the east coast outright with the equity.

  63. infinitysnake says:

    @Caswell: That’s where the jobs are.

  64. iamme99 says:

    Fascinating stories!

    I’m single and pulling in about 70k in a sales job (should be more but I’m working for a very small tier 3 software company with poor management) and I barely get by. I live in the SF ‘burbs in a small 1 bedroom apartment paying $1250/month rent (hasn’t changed in about 4 years). My car is 6 years old and paid off. Auto & renters insurance is nearly $1000 a year. Utilities are about $150/month (cable, telephone, internet, electric). Health club is $78/month. Food & groceries are about $250/month. Car expenses average $80/month (gas/oil, repairs). I pay off all my credit bills each month, donate a little cash to charity now and then and clothes and stuff to Goodwill at year end. Haven’t taken a vacation in quite a long time. Waste nearly $100/month on lottery tickets (I know, poor math but it’s what many do when you feel desperate and don’t see any easy way out of your situation).

    Overall, I have about 4-5 months expenses saved in cash, no debt and about $75k in a retirement IRA. So I guess I am [relatively] better off than a lot of other people.

    @ FAIT ACCOMPLI – “Everyone thinks that the baby-boomers are going to suck up resources, but wait until you have an entire generation of people with nothing in the bank.”

    Too true. Even more so when/if there aren’t any jobs for retiree’s and their houses are worth 50% less than now. Revolution anyone?

  65. arayba says:

    i think the secret is to get in to the childcare business. $900 dollars per kid min. sounds like you make the big bucks lets be honest. I have grown up in the s.f. bay area and am looking for a job to support myself
    right now. I know i need at least 40K for a single person so how the hell a family is making it on 80K (give or take) I have no clue.

  66. Sian says:

    rent, estimated at an average of $1,312 for a family of four in the Bay Area

    that seems terribly low. 3 bedroom house or apt is going to run about $1800-2100 in any Bay Area neighborhood worth a damn.

  67. mzs says:

    This is spot-on, we moved to IL because we were about to become a four person family and with almost these same earnings numbers. It was going to be incredibly difficult to make ends meet in Sunnyvale.

  68. ppiddyp says:

    I don’t get the impression that the owners or the people working for my childcare center are making much money, and we give them over $1000/mo for one kid. In fact, the best place in town is run by the university, is non-profit, gets most of their workers from the school of education, and they charge $1200/mo. And this is Ann Arbor, not some heinously expensive coastal city.

    In-home daycare (ie, not a big center) is vastly cheaper, but doesn’t have the oversight that the larger places do, often have TVs going all the time, and don’t necessarily have the 1-4 caretaker-to-child ratio that ours does.

    I try to ignore the fact that I *could* be driving around in a new Porsche rather than my 10 year old VW, but whatevs…baby’s probably more fun in the long run and depreciates in value a lot less. Still, makes you consider packing up and moving to France or Canada or somethin’.