How to save money (and still enjoy your life) in the Bay Area

When lawyer Kate Dowing announced that she would move out of Silicon Valley due to the exorbitant housing prices, the story went viral. It emphasized what many Bay Area residents know all too well: If you come to this affluent area for other reasons than working for a major tech company, life will be very expensive. Here are some ideas to make it work nevertheless.

published on the expat blog Life in the Bay, September 2016 >>

1. Go green

The Bay Area is more car-focused than European cities, but if you get a bike and use public transport you can get by without a car. Free shuttles connect the suburban areas and you can transport your bike on public transport (Bart, Caltrain) for free.

2. Look east

If you do buy a car however, dealers and repair workshops are cheaper in the East Bay. As are dentists, housing, etc. Driving off-hours, and avoiding the more congested streets can save you a lot of time. As well as getting a Fastrak toll tag for your car, if you are crossing the bridges regularly.

3. Rent smart

Generally the East and South Bay are more affordable than San Francisco. Look for housing offers on craigslist and supost (a Stanford buy/sell list). If you qualify, you can also apply for affordable housing at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, but you have to be lucky to win the lottery; there are hundreds of applications for each room. However, the application process is simple and free – so why not try?




4. Buy local

Get fruit and vegetables at your local Farmers’ Market, take turns with friends.

5. Buy and sell second-hand

There is a huge market for used goods in the Bay Area! Look at yard sales and online forums (craigslist and supost) for furniture and household accessories. Stanford University has its own permanent yard sale where you can get everything from furniture to computer parts. and are great neighborhood resources for free or gently used items at low prices. Many offices also have “for sale” mailing lists, which are especially trustworthy since the sellers and buyers are colleagues. You can get outdoor gear at considerably reduced prices at SaC and REI’s monthly garage sales (returned gear, members only).

more on the Life in the Bay blog >>