Anyone who lives in the Bay Area knows it's not cheap. Rents in San Francisco are notoriously high and rising, trickling out to affect housing costs around the region. Then there are the great restaurants that must be tried, the health care necessities that must be paid, child care, transportation -- and that all adds up. But just how much does it really cost for families to live in various parts of the Bay Area?
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit nonpartisan think tank in Washington, DC, has put together a budget calculator to help estimate the income families need to live modestly, but comfortably, in various places. The calculator consists of seven individual components: rent, food, child care, transportation, health care, other items of necessity and taxes. EPI explains the methodology behind each measure. For example, housing data is based on HUD's fair market rent (FMR) determination, which is in turn based on five-year American Communities Survey data. The FMR is at the 40th percentile of rent cost, meaning that 40 percent of apartments are rented for less and 60 percent for more.
"EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security," the budget calculator website says. "In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by."
In the Bay Area, there's been a lot of discussion about how feasible it is for families to afford this region.
According to the calculator, it costs $84,133 for a family of four to live in San Francisco comfortably. The numbers are similar, but slightly lower, for San Jose-Sunnyvale at $79,261 and the Oakland-Fremont area at $75,064. The main difference comes from the cost of monthly rent, although there are slight differences in health and child-care costs as well. In San Francisco, about 62 percent of the population rents.