We recently moved back here from the Pacific Northwest, and I'm thinking we are way out of our leagues here. As far as I can tell, for a family to live in an area that is relatively safe, has schools that are even just middle of the road, and isn't two hours' drive from the city, you need to be able to pay at least $450K and maybe more than that for a home. How much do you need to make to do that, and what kind of jobs pay that much? My husband makes about $80K (bonus included), and it feels like we are never going to make it here.
How do you survive (and even thrive) in the SF Bay Area?
It's pretty expensive here. Often kind of crazily so. Especially when it comes to real estate. Personally, I would recommend starting by renting so that you can get a feel for what things are like before you get tied down. (the whole Bay Area is a huge place, and you'll want to explore a bit to figure out where fits (also to look at the commute options to wherever work is).
Thanks. We are renting, and probably will be as long as we live here. We actually lived here before -- me for 20 years and my DH for 10, but most of it was pre-kids and we always stayed in small places in "bad" neighborhoods (north Oakland, the Mission in SF, San Leandro/Oakland border, Richmond, etc.) to pay less rent.
Well, my family of three survives (even sometimes thrives!) here in Albany on less than $30,000/year. We rent ($1300/month for a two bedroom), my daughter goes to a great public school, takes martial arts classes ($70/month), we rent a plot at a community garden ($50/year and a great source of extra organic vegetables), have phone and internet ($60/month), pay about $30/month to PG&E, and try to purchase foods wisely. We have one car which we drive very rarely, preferring to take the bus (adult monthly pass: $80). We don't have cable, and don't eat out often. It's always a bit tight, but we're doing fine. Our town is quiet, safe, child-friendly, culturally diverse, and a BART ride away from the city. There are places to make it work :)
In much of this area, you don't plan to buy unless you make 6 figures. Even renting in some areas is ridiculous. Part of the recommendations you might get would be dependent on where your DH works. For instance, mine works in SF right now, and can get there by BART, so we could theoretically live anywhere along the BART corridor. But his previous job was nowhere near BART, so the corridor did us no good, and being near the freeway was a better choice.
But I'll tell you right now that if it's public schools you're looking for, you don't want to even look at Oakland.
We aren't planning on any schools anytime soon, as my ds is unschooled and my dd doesn't seem to be needing school right now either. I understand about not being able to buy unless you have a six figure income.
Wow, living in Albany on $30K how in the world do you do that? I am not a super frugal person, so I don't think I could keep my food budget that low. How did you find an apartment in Albany for $1300 per month? We are paying more than that in our Richmond megaplex!
I think long-term I will have to find a way to get paid work and fit it in with homescooling and mothering, although I'm not sure how that's done either (there are plenty of moms who do in the groups I've encountered down here, unlike in the Seattle suburbs).
Don't really have anything to add on the expense of living in the bay area - I admit, it's tough. I just wanted to commiserate on trying to find (and find the time to do!) paid work with a toddler and a homeschooler. I've been working at home for years as an editor, but when my last child was born I coincidentally lost my big client. Now that she is two, I recently agreed to take on a project and WOW. With an active toddler, a homeschooled teen and a spouse who works crazy long hours ... I have found eking out any time to work to be almost impossible. I think as the little one gets bigger and can be more self-directed, it might get easier. If you get any tips from moms who make it work, please pass them along!
Also wanted to say -- it appears from your signature that your little girl is just four days younger than mine. I live across the bridge in San Rafael. Welcome to the neighborhood. :)
When we first moved to the bay area we were making exactly 80K, and no joke, we had to be more frugal on 80K then we had been on 40K in Tucson. It is hard. It made me sick. So we moved to Hayward. It gets a bad rap out here for having high crime and bad schools, but for a family like ours that does not plan on using public schools it is a good deal. We bought a tiny house on a bit of land in the hills for 250k. The best thing about living out here is that there are other down-to-earth families hiding in the woodwork.
Honestly I would never want to live in this area without making at least 100k a year, it is just so damn expensive. We now make over 100K/year, but I still shop at thrift stores and stick to a strict budget to make things work, and we don't even save for retirement yet.
We have decided to "let go" of home ownership.
The downside is that we aren't financially able to renovate the rentals we live in ( like earthquake)
And we constantly wish life was cheaper around here.
Then, add in the constant concern of break-ins ( no matter where you live in the bay) and crappy public schools ( I will homeschool, don't really like my other options), oil refineries, and we really don't know what is so fantastic about this area, that makes price of living so extreme. That being said, that view of the bay everyday is pretty incredible. The weather is fantastic. Lots of options for organic food, and alternative lifestyles. Great access to lots of gems in California such as wine country, Marin headlands, & Sf obviously. The first year we lived here was so awful.
We moved from Portland, where we made less, but had so much more fun " out of the house".
Things are getting easier as we have become more accustomed to what our new life is.
We try to do fun things for free, or spend money on fun trips around the bay. We will never be a family that can join clubs and send kiddos to day camp, much less private school, and we are making peace with that.
Best of luck to you.