What Is a Good Salary to Live in The Bay Area?

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most desirable things in the United States. This place is home to a booming economy, great weather, a world-class food scene, and endless opportunities to get active and enjoy nature. But, how much do people earn here to enjoy all its marvels? 

People living in the Bay Area consider an average of $7,810 monthly salary or about $93,720 annually as good. With this amount, you’ll be able to live comfortably in the Bay Area. It will cover your two-bedroom apartment, groceries for the whole month, transportation costs, and utilities.

The San Francisco Bay Area is a popular location for expats worldwide. With long, sunny days and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco offers an attractive quality of life. In addition, the healthcare system is reliable and responsive, and there are many employment opportunities in a broad range of industries. Read this article to learn more about salaries and the cost of living when moving to the Bay Area. 

What is considered a good salary in the Bay Area in 2022?

The Bay Area is bursting with job opportunities, and many people seek employment here. Besides the many job opportunities, residents of San Francisco earn significantly more per hour than they would in other major metropolitan areas because many occupations require advanced degrees or specific skill sets. 

If you are preparing to move into San Francisco, you need to fatten your savings. San Francisco has been the most expensive place in the United States for six consecutive years.

On average, you need an annual income of $93,720 to afford to live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Living comfortably in the Bay Area means having enough to pay for groceries, transportation, and personal leisure, such as going to the movies or pubs. 

Rent for apartments in the Bay Area costs more than in Los Angeles. According to the Apartment List, a one-bedroom apartment costs $2,343 in San Francisco, while a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles costs $1,734.

Rents in San Francisco and Los Angeles rose by 15.6% each over the past year. Apartments in San Francisco that cost $3,000 or more are spacious and have at least 400 square feet. These apartments are big enough to have your separate bedroom, living area, kitchen, and office. 

Example of a good salary in the Bay Area

Moving to the Bay Area, California as a single adult working full-time could be a fulfilling task. You will shoulder costs alone, but you will have plenty of time to explore around.

You can also save up for your car, vacations, and a retirement plan with a good salary. Many Bay Area residents consider having a salary of about $62,000 to be a good start.

According to the Living Wage Calculator, a model designed to help policymakers and analysts, you need about $64,000 salary before taxes or just over $50,000 net to cover the living expenses in the Bay Area. 

If you are wondering what the different costs in the Bay Area are, here are a few examples that a single-working adult will shoulder on an annual basis: 

ItemCost
FoodThe usual budget for food is about $2,000 per household and $800 for a single person, which includes grocery trips to surplus stores, restaurant bills, and food prices at regular diners. 
MedicalAccording to statistics, medical insurance generally adds up to $1,146 annually on average for single employed individuals.
You may need to pay more if you want regular check-ups, hospital visits due to minor illnesses and accidents, and other health supplements.
Moreover, treatment and hospitalization for critical conditions that require visits to the Emergency Room are costly in California. 
TransportationGetting around the Bay Area could cost you up to $5,000 per year. This amount covers regular taxi fares, costs from ride-hailing apps, and public transportation fees.  
HousingRenting a spacious apartment in a safe neighborhood in the Bay Area costs $1,000 to $4,000. Utilities will add another $150 per month.
Buying a house is more expensive and could cost up to a few million dollars. In fact, the median purchasing price is $1,644 million in April 2022. Many residents in the Bay Area are doing well on their own through renting and leasing properties.

Read more on housing and house prices in California

Some of the common jobs with good salaries in the San Francisco Bay Area are:

Job titleAverage salary
Sales Associate$39,868
Administrative Assistant$44,994
Volunteer$33,394
Cashier$29,316
Customer Service Representative$32,760
Consultant$80,931
Account Executive$64,076
Project Manager$102,130
Office Assistant$35,769
Recruiter$61,739
Senior Associate$92,473
Certified Nursing Assistant$32,985
Analyst$71,165
Trainee$48,866
Quality Assurance Analyst$76,596
Source: Zippia.com

Read more about common jobs and salaries in California.

Salaries in the San Francisco tech industry

The overview of wages in the Bay Area is slightly off because of the outrageous tech salaries. According to Bungalow.com, around 20.5% of all jobs in San Francisco are in the tech industry. The average salary of the engineer in the area is $163,297 in 2022.

Where Search Engineering Manager, Machine Learning Manager, and Data Infrastructure Manager are the top earners.

When adding tech jobs to other sectors, the average salary across all industries in the Bay Area is over $100,000 as of 2019. Yet, many workers don’t even make it to 50k per year. This is something you need to keep in mind. The cost of living remains high for everyone, while salaries range dramatically.

After-tax income in California

Tax rates in California depend on your annual salary, and if you are planning to move into the Bay Area, you need to track your taxes. For example, a minimum wage worker earning $15 an hour, adding up to $31,200 a year, would pay more than 3% taxes based on the annual income. 

California income tax rates are as follows: 

Tax rateTaxable income bracket
1%$0 to $9,325
2%$9,326 to $22,107
4%$22,108 to $34,892
6%$34,893 to $48,435
8%$48,436 to $61,214
9.30%$61,215 to $312,686
10.30%$312,687 to $375,221
11.30%$375,222 to $625,369
12.30%$625,370 or more
Source: Nerdwallet.com

Aside from your state income tax, California has other itemized deductions such as federal tax, mortgage, medical and dental expenses, and alimony.

These taxes usually amount to 15% of your monthly salary but can go higher once your salary increases. Skipping on your taxes is a federal crime, so keep track of it and remember to pay your taxes in California. 

Typical salaries in the Bay Area

Not sure about the salary you would get if you worked and lived in the Bay Area? Are you worried that it will not be enough? Many residents of the Bay Area express satisfaction over their wages in the city. 

Whether you are working in construction, production, IT, or service industries, your wage would help you shoulder living costs in the city.

Aside from many job opportunities available, the minimum wage rate in the Bay Area has seen a constant annual increase. From 2020, the minimum wage rate was $13 and increased to $14 per hour.

By 2022, the minimum wage rate was increased again to $15 per hour. An increase in the minimum wage rate is among the priorities of state policymakers to help its residents cope with rising expenses. 

Even if you are earning higher than the minimum wage rate, you can get a salary increase by performing well at your job or if you have tons of experience to offer in a company. Many jobs in the Bay Area provide annual salaries that help you live comfortably in the city and rubrics to get you promoted. 

The average salary of each person working a single full-time job is about $73,000 before taxes, which gives you more capacity to shoulder the expenses and other costs of living in the city. You can easily get by if you are working a decent job paying $20 or more per hour. 

Netting a job that pays $65,000 or more is a good start if you plan to move into the Bay Area. Take the time to settle in and adjust to your new job and life in the city. You can always ask for a raise after some time, or you could transfer to a job in the city that pays more.

If you think that your track record will not allow you to switch jobs easily, you can try working multiple jobs that fit your schedule until you get paid typical salaries in the city. 

It will be a different ball game if you plan to get rich, go into expensive gourmet restaurants, drive luxury cars, and live in a thousand-square feet mansion. You have to make about a quarter-million dollars a month to be considered rich and have a lavish lifestyle.

There are many ways to achieve this; you can work multiple jobs or start a business and grow it in a few weeks. Of course, you could also have a vast inheritance and invest it in different instruments.

But if you aren’t from a wealthy family, you should be constantly on the lookout for high-paying jobs and perform consistently to get decent salary increases. 

Average salary in the Bay Area in 2022

Bay Area is home to many tech companies and famous production houses in the entertainment industry, so the common salary ranges are $75,000 to $120,000. Also, according to Payscale, the average salary in the Bay Area is $104,000 per year.

The average was generated mostly from the wages of people in the tech industry working as developers and software engineers. These industries are also the highest-paid and in demand in the Bay Area. 

College graduates in business, IT, and entertainment earn as much as $75,000 annually. So if you have a college degree, you can use it to your advantage when finding jobs in the Bay Area.

However, work experience is the most preferred credential of many employers in the city. Even if you have a college degree but lack work experience and knowledge in specialized areas of expertise, you will not have the edge over other job seekers. 

Most managers and supervisors in the Bay Area have a six-digit income after acquiring many years of experience. If you have about five years of work experience in your career track, you could be qualified for a lead role and earn up to $100,000. 

According to Zillow, a real estate listing website, men’s salaries are higher than women’s. On average, women earn $60,500, while men earn $75,000 annually. The gender pay gap is a big issue in the state of California. 

Also, the California Budget & Policy Center reported that the Bay Area has the third biggest gender income gap in the state. Counties like Napa, Santa Clara, and Calaveras County have women earning lower than men.

In these counties, for each woman who earns $1, a man makes $1.5 or more. Most of the CEOs of big tech companies and international companies in the Bay Area are male.

Female executives are rare, and only 26.8% of tech workers are women, even though the tech sector constitutes more than a fifth of total employment in the Bay Area.

Highest paying jobs in the Bay Area

Here are the highest paying jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • Psychiatrists – annual average salary of $360,500
  • Family Physicians – annual average salary of $275,200 
  • Chief Executives – annual average salary of $258,000
  • Airline Pilots – annual average salary of $243,000
  • Natural Sciences Researchers – annual average salary of $216,000
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers – annual average salary of $211,400
  • Architectural Managers – annual average salary of $206,000
  • Court Judges – annual average salary of $200,000
  • Lawyers – annual average salary of $191,000
  • Computer Hardware Engineers – annual average salary of $185,200 

Is earning a salary of $200,000 considered successful in the Bay Area?

If you are a single adult with no children, earning $200,000 a month or even a year could already be considered successful in the Bay Area. Most residents in the Bay Area are getting by with a $75,000 yearly salary, but a $200,000 salary would bring more financial options and a better lifestyle.

Aside from being able to afford bigger apartments, you would be considered part of the country’s top-earning households. 

Here are some things you can afford by having a $200,000 monthly or yearly salary: 

  • Regular cars such as sedans or SUVs. If you want luxury cars, you can afford to buy them even after only months of saving up. 
  • Rent payment for a large apartment in a good location or multiple apartments you could use for business or leisure purposes. 
  • Start your own startup business. Most startups get six-digit capital from investors, but you can use your own money and hedge it to increase the growth of your startup.

What salary do you need to live in the Bay Area?

Even though the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States, many statistics show that you do not have to earn six digits a month to afford it.

The average annual salary you need is $93,720 ($7,810 per month gross). This wage gives you $70,948 ($5,912 per month) in take-home income, which would be sufficient for rent, food, leisure, transportation, and savings. 

The recommended budget for a single person living in San Francisco is $5,837 per month. A family of four will need $8,227.

Rent

Apartments with 300 square feet of space are available starting from $2,000. The average rent in the area is around $3,700, which is more than double the national average.

You could allow up to $3,000 to pay for rent, utility bills, and home renovation costs. With that budget, you can opt for a one-bedroom apartment in a good location or a two-bedroom flat in an okay area.

Food

The standard cost of groceries in the Bay Area is $4,000 per year for a single person. This comes to about $333 per month. You will need to calculate an additional $300 – $400 for eating out.

This amount could go lower if you shop in dollar stores or get surplus deals. But if you want to go out to restaurants and eat at diners frequently, allotting about $800 per month would be a good amount to start.

Leisure

We all hear the saying, “We do not work for the bills,” and we need some time for our hobbies and passions. Your budget plan should include spending for leisure. If you plan to live in the Bay Area, you would need about $1,000 – this includes going to the movies, spending on vacation, or hanging out in pubs.

Transportation

Even though most public transportation fees are cheap, if you compute it on an annual basis, it would add up to $2,000. If you are the type who does not like waking up early to catch the train or the bus, then you would need to allot for taxi fares. So a reasonable amount for transportation would be $2,000-$2,5000.

For car owners, an annual budget of at least $3,000 is required, where between $1,341 and $1,588 goes to the car insurance, and the rest can be spent on parking and fuel.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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