Author Topic: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)  (Read 3390 times)

spider

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Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« on: March 22, 2015, 08:29:32 PM »
This is an issue that has been bothering me since reading 'The True Cost of Commuting'. I'm in my late twenties and work in San Francisco as a software engineer, commuting from a lower HCOL area.

My rent is low for the area ($850/mo including utilities), transit is affordable ($150/mo) and I like and trust my roommates. However, the commute is a stressful 10+ hour-per-week drag:  I ride my bike from home (15+ minutes) and take public transit the rest of the way to work (50+ minutes). I've had a 3 hour commute before due to transit delays.

I could move into San Francisco and ride my bike to work (20 - 40 minutes). Based on Craigslist, I'd be looking at $1100 - $1900 all inclusive for rent, utilities and transit versus the current ~$1000. Competition for rooms is fierce and moving is always a risk.

I'm a bit leery about spending more to save time right now. I'm doing well, but it remains to be seen whether age and skill depreciation or a tech crash wipes out my career first. Consequently, I'm trying to save as much as I can as quickly as I can (hovering around 80% savings rate right now, last year averaged around 72%, net worth is around 10x annual expenses).

Should I move into San Francisco?
How much should I be willing to pay?
How far should I be willing to commute?

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 08:31:44 PM »
I think your commute sounds not too bad, as far as long distance commutes go; You aren't driving, and then paying for gas and parking.  I think I'd stay put where you are for now, and keep saving all that extra $$$, because the commute isn't really costing you much more than time right now.

SF'd

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2015, 09:23:40 PM »
I live in the city and love it, but I barely have any whiskers and it sounds like you're pretty mustaschian. You'll probably see some additional cost creep moving into the city beyond just rent - groceries, restaurants, entertainment, etc are all likely to be more expensive, so factor some cost inflation into your analysis as well. If you do decide to make the move, make sure you research what your commute would be from your desired place in the city. Since you're planning to ride your bike to/from work, consider the elevation along the way. Some of the hills will leave you needing a shower by the time you get to the office (but hey, better exercise!). So you know, buses are really slow during rush hours, so if that's your backup you probably won't save a ton of time versus your current commute (mine is 30-50 minutes on an express bus from the Marina to/from FiDi) unless you go in early (before 7) and leave late (after 6). Good luck!



mxt0133

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 09:48:17 PM »
I say do it.  Look for rents that are below market or people that are looking for roommates in a rent controlled apartment, they cannot legally charge more than the portion of space you are using.  So if the place is a two bedroom with a rent of 2k and you split the space evenly then they cannot charge you more than 1k.  Ask friends and co-workers that you are looking to move, search craigslist daily.  It might take a while but you will find something that is below market to make it worth your while.  Saving 10 hours a week will be worth it, use that time to learn new skills, attend meet-ups, or get a side gig.  Your FIRE date will be cut down significantly.  Avoid lifestyle creep and enjoy all the free things to do in the city.

Because of your savings rate I wouldn't be in a rush to move if your costs will go up significantly, the only reason I say to move is you won't get your youth back and I think the city has so much to offer.  If it brings down your savings rate by 3-5% then I say it's worth it if it significantly improves your quality of life, which I think it will.  You are in a great spot so either way you'll be retired in 4-5 years regardless if your expenses don't increase significantly.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2015, 09:55:14 PM by mxt0133 »

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2015, 10:19:48 AM »
You can find a room for $1000, coworker just did a couple months ago.  I'm starting to apartment hunt as well and are seeing them at that price range.  Just depends on the neighborhood.  You're not going to be in pac heights or russian hill, but you don't have to go all the way out to the outer sunset to see those prices.

I'd say do it, I know how tiring it gets taking bart every day with a bicycle.  Like someone said, other costs can be higher, like groceries and going out.  It just takes more work to find the affordable alternatives, but it can be done.

livetogive

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 10:33:02 AM »
I live in SF and commute by bike.  Feel free to PM me about it if you'd like or ask here.  My commute now is only 20 min.  The biggest question is whether you'll keep your car.  That can either save you tons or be an additional cost/burden.

Overall I really like living in the city.  I can bike to farmers markets to get cheap produce, bike to various groceries to get cheap food and my expenses for the entire weekend were $35 for a dinner with the wife one night and another night of ice cream.  There's a lot of free stuff to do (beaches, hiking, etc) so we normally just do that. 

SF Semi-Mustache

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 10:42:27 AM »
You could also take a middle ground approach and move to Oakland.  Perhaps more like a 25-minute commute, while keeping the current low expenses.  Perhaps a bit higher rent, but a bit lower on transit.  I live in and love SF, but I have rent that's three years behind the market.  Also, don't live up a big hill if you want to bike commute.  I bike downhill, but still take the bus the last mile up the hill (~700 ft).

spider

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Re: Keeping long commute or moving closer (San Francisco, CA)
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2015, 12:32:50 AM »
Thanks all, it sounds like living San Francisco comes highly recommended! If I go through with this, I'd be ditching my car.

I took a test ride on Market during the AM rush hour from Civic Center BART to work near Union Square and felt pretty safe. It looks like anywhere north of Market and east of Stanyan would make for a reasonable commute. $1000 - $1200 excluding utilities would make for a reasonable price.

TurboLT, in your experience:
 * how is riding at night during the winter?
 * any places in the city that should be avoided on bike? (Intersections? Tenderloin?)
 * do you stick to major arteries or side streets?

BIKE ON BART TIP:
Don't take your bike on BART if you can avoid it. I got tired of carrying my bike on BART during rush hour and splurged on a BikeLink card. Using a locker at the BART station deducts $0.03 - $0.05 per hour from the card ($6 - $10 per month, given 20x 10 hour days of commuting). I think its been a pretty good value.