Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

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Anonymous User
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Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:59 am

My wife and I are considering moving to SF for her job. My firm has a SF office so that should be fine. But I understand the significant increase in cost of living.

Is it practical to think we would be able to afford a 4BR home in a good school district with a reasonable commute for under $1 million? How about under $750,000? We currently own such a house in a less expensive city -- we paid under $500K for it. I know this is not possible in the Bay Area, but what do people in SF do with families?

dabigchina
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby dabigchina » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:34 am

Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I are considering moving to SF for her job. My firm has a SF office so that should be fine. But I understand the significant increase in cost of living.

Is it practical to think we would be able to afford a 4BR home in a good school district with a reasonable commute for under $1 million? How about under $750,000? We currently own such a house in a less expensive city -- we paid under $500K for it. I know this is not possible in the Bay Area, but what do people in SF do with families?

That's going to be pretty hard. A 4BR for 750 might be possible (but i doubt it) but the commute is going to be 50min-1hr+ each way.

I would just give up on public schools inside the city. The school system uses a weird lottery system. You don't just get to choose where you send your kids to school based on where you live. The better schools are heavily oversubscribed, as you would expect. I've heard schools in Marin are better, but you are looking at a long commute and high property prices at that point.

Fremont is another option. They have great schools and it's about 50min away on Bart. However, you need to be careful about where in Fremont you buy. To my knowledge the good schools are clustered around the Irvington district and those houses are going to run you in the 1M+ territory.

I wouldn't look in the peninsula. I doubt you could get a 4BR for under 1M there. You might in Daly City but I'm not sure of the quality of their schools.

TL:DR no, you cant.

Has your wife already taken the job? Is she going to make enough extra money to make the additional cost of living worth it? When people are thinking about moving to the Bay Area I always advise them to look very very closely at just how much extra money they are going to be making. Sure, an extra 10 or 20k looks great on paper, but that could get swallowed up by housing costs very easily.

Edit: I'm assuming you mean San Francisco proper and not the South Bay. The calculus changes slightly if you are looking in the South Bay.

merde_happens
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby merde_happens » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:47 am

Are you going to be working in SF proper or somewhere in Silicon Valley? Either way - a 4 BR house under $1m in a good school district with a reasonable commute is frankly not going to happen. (A reasonable commute to FiDi doesn't really happen regardless of where you live if you're outside of SF, and even within SF in some neighborhoods, but I digress.)

If you're working in SF proper then you could consider Berkeley. I'm not as familiar with the East Bay as with the South Bay but home prices seem a bit less expensive there and I think the public schools are good. Assuming it's similar to the college town I went to undergrad in, you'll just want to be wary of buying in the student-heavy areas.

If you're considering the South Bay/Peninsula then you could look at San Mateo, Redwood City, Mountain View, or Sunnyvale (the commute from Sunnyvale to SF is a hike though). Again, you almost definitely will not find a 4 BR under $1m in any of those cities, but you can probably find a decent 3 BR (especially if you're willing to look at condos/townhomes).

I'd beware living in Fremont if you work in SF. That commute is a nightmare by car and BART is awful. Especially if you're working in big law, I can't imagine a worse way to have to spend upwards of 2 hours of your day. I would not necessarily say the same for Caltrain though - it's a bit more comfortable and fairly reliable. It's easy to work on if you have a wifi hotspot. If you can live close to a stop it might be a good trade-off for living further away. If you can work from home a lot too then it could make a longer commute more palatable.

What do people with families do? Rent, buy smaller homes, have fewer or no kids, live far away, move to Austin/Seattle/Portland, or IPO.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:08 am

Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I are considering moving to SF for her job. My firm has a SF office so that should be fine. But I understand the significant increase in cost of living.

Is it practical to think we would be able to afford a 4BR home in a good school district with a reasonable commute for under $1 million? How about under $750,000? We currently own such a house in a less expensive city -- we paid under $500K for it. I know this is not possible in the Bay Area, but what do people in SF do with families?


Try 1.5m/2m +

lapolicia
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby lapolicia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:10 am

Albany and El Cerrito are your best bet. Great schools and a reasonable commute. You can pretty easily find a 3 bedroom for around 1 million there...not sure about a 4 bedroom though. If you look very hard you might find a 4 bedroom for a bit over 1 million in Walnut Creek and Lafayette too, but this will take more searching.
Last edited by lapolicia on Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

dabigchina
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby dabigchina » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:11 am

That's funny you prefer Caltrain to Bart. Bart does suck, but at least it comes fairly frequently. Barting to Fremont from the City takes around 45-50 mins IIRC. Also, the Caltrain station is fairly far away from FiDi, so that adds substantially to your door to door commute time if you live in the South Bay. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Personally, I think you are overselling Berkeley's School District. They only have 1 Highschool and I've heard some not great things about it.

I wouldn't live in Sunnyvale if you want good schools. The reason Sunnyvale is cheap is because it doesn't have good schools.

ETA: a 3BR townhome is prob not going to happen for 1M in Mountain View. I'm not as familiar with Redwood City but I kind of doubt it would be much cheaper.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:44 am

Just talked to a recruiter last night about RE in SF for a family. She said about 1.5 for a 3 BR. I wouldn't buy something there now. As rates continue to rise, I think there will be 2 effects: 1) those with ARMs will begin to default and 2) people won't be able to pay mortgages when the rates are higher. I think this will affect prices. That said, this won't affect cash buyers, of which there are many in SF and the Valley.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:49 am

:lol: Short answer, you don't live in SF with family unless you bought when boomers were our age.

East Bay can be hit or miss. Parts of it are still run down but apparently Oakland has been gentrifying so you might think about living there. The schools are going to suck though. North Berkeley is nice and where a lot of Berkeley professors live - but houses are over one million now. The commute will probably be 45 minutes to an hour one way.

South Bay is more affordable than SF, and by that, I mean you can probably get a 4 bedroom house in an okay school district (not fantastic) for $1.2 million. The commute would probably be an hour or more one way in traffic.

If you want a good school district, look at Palo Alto - but houses there are $3 million+.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:Just talked to a recruiter last night about RE in SF for a family. She said about 1.5 for a 3 BR. I wouldn't buy something there now. As rates continue to rise, I think there will be 2 effects: 1) those with ARMs will begin to default and 2) people won't be able to pay mortgages when the rates are higher. I think this will affect prices. That said, this won't affect cash buyers, of which there are many in SF and the Valley.


The only people who own houses in SF/Bay are boomers like my parents who bought 40 years ago (and therefore don't have mortgages since they paid practically nothing for a house) and all-cash Chinese buyers. Nobody else can afford to buy in the Bay unless you're buying a shit shack in Oakland.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby SFSpartan » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:13 am

You really can't get a 4 BR for under $1M in SF or on the Peninsula unless you are in a shithole town/neighborhood, like the Shipyard, or EPA (and even then, that's pushing it). Daly City and South City are about as close as you are going to get, and the schools there are complete shit.

Burlingame, San Mateo, FC, and Redwood Shores schools are good, but it's easily $2M for a 4BR in those towns.

If you're working in SV, Fremont and Campbell are probably your best bet. Housing is relatively cheap there (though I can't speak to the quality of schools). Commute is easily an hour though, as you have to cross a bridge. If you're in the City, the same analysis applies to parts of Berkeley, Piedmont, and probably Pittsburg (to the extent you want to take BART).

lapolicia
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby lapolicia » Tue Feb 14, 2017 2:19 am

SFSpartan wrote:You really can't get a 4 BR for under $1M in SF or on the Peninsula unless you are in a shithole town/neighborhood, like the Shipyard, or EPA (and even then, that's pushing it). Daly City and South City are about as close as you are going to get, and the schools there are complete shit.

Burlingame, San Mateo, FC, and Redwood Shores schools are good, but it's easily $2M for a 4BR in those towns.

If you're working in SV, Fremont and Campbell are probably your best bet. Housing is relatively cheap there (though I can't speak to the quality of schools). Commute is easily an hour though, as you have to cross a bridge. If you're in the City, the same analysis applies to parts of Berkeley, Piedmont, and probably Pittsburg (to the extent you want to take BART).


Fremont has very good schools, Campbell's are decent but not fantastic.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 11:05 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Just talked to a recruiter last night about RE in SF for a family. She said about 1.5 for a 3 BR. I wouldn't buy something there now. As rates continue to rise, I think there will be 2 effects: 1) those with ARMs will begin to default and 2) people won't be able to pay mortgages when the rates are higher. I think this will affect prices. That said, this won't affect cash buyers, of which there are many in SF and the Valley.


The only people who own houses in SF/Bay are boomers like my parents who bought 40 years ago (and therefore don't have mortgages since they paid practically nothing for a house) and all-cash Chinese buyers. Nobody else can afford to buy in the Bay unless you're buying a shit shack in Oakland.

Right.

Numerous associates at my V10 (i.e., market paying) firm bought houses in the Bay Area (SF and the peninsula). One person that went in-house also bought a condo. So it's possible. Most of the folks I knew were married and both spouses had a high-paying job (lawyer and/or doctor).

In terms of the cash-buyers, I was talking more about the tech money. As long as that keeps flowing, it is going to be difficult for families supported by the income of a single biglaw attorney to buy in the Bay Area. This is especially true since lenders/lending programs are tightening. E.g., I think it is harder to find the 10% down loan programs that were available not too long ago.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

favabeansoup
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby favabeansoup » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:02 pm

Don't have any experience with SF real estate so disclaimer.

I do remember reading a story a year or two ago about how couples looking to buy would, quite literally, hang out in a coffee shop refreshing Zillow et al for any reasonable home in their price range. If one came up, you had to sprint to the home and make a quick offer. Otherwise it was common for all cash buyers to swoop in or people making offers well well over asking before the day was done so you'd be left with nothing.

People who actually live in the area can comment on how hyperbolic that was.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:19 pm

I used to commute from Walnut Creek (while not working in law) to SF near city hall . Commute took about an hour. Walnut Creek has a BART station, which is nice. It's getting more expensive, but it does have decent public schools.

patentlitigatrix
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby patentlitigatrix » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:04 pm

Why do you need a four bedroom??

(I used to live in SF with my family.)

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rpupkin
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby rpupkin » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:16 pm

If you do move to SF, I suggest renting for at least several months before buying. Unless you live here, it's hard to appreciate all the variables (commute, neighborhoods, schools) that will impact your day to day life. If you rent, you can spend awhile getting a sense for what you really want. Also, in the current market, it's generally cheaper to rent than own in the Bay Area. It's not like you'll hurt yourself financially by renting for a period of time.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 15, 2017 7:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Just talked to a recruiter last night about RE in SF for a family. She said about 1.5 for a 3 BR. I wouldn't buy something there now. As rates continue to rise, I think there will be 2 effects: 1) those with ARMs will begin to default and 2) people won't be able to pay mortgages when the rates are higher. I think this will affect prices. That said, this won't affect cash buyers, of which there are many in SF and the Valley.


The only people who own houses in SF/Bay are boomers like my parents who bought 40 years ago (and therefore don't have mortgages since they paid practically nothing for a house) and all-cash Chinese buyers. Nobody else can afford to buy in the Bay unless you're buying a shit shack in Oakland.


+1.

Born, raised, and now work in the city. You need about 1.2+ at least to get anything here in a good neighborhood =/

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:00 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Just talked to a recruiter last night about RE in SF for a family. She said about 1.5 for a 3 BR. I wouldn't buy something there now. As rates continue to rise, I think there will be 2 effects: 1) those with ARMs will begin to default and 2) people won't be able to pay mortgages when the rates are higher. I think this will affect prices. That said, this won't affect cash buyers, of which there are many in SF and the Valley.


The only people who own houses in SF/Bay are boomers like my parents who bought 40 years ago (and therefore don't have mortgages since they paid practically nothing for a house) and all-cash Chinese buyers. Nobody else can afford to buy in the Bay unless you're buying a shit shack in Oakland.


+1.

Born, raised, and now work in the city. You need about 1.2+ at least to get anything here in a good neighborhood =/

Sure, maybe even higher. But that doesn't mean it's impossible (i.e., that the only people who are homeowners are people that bought a long time ago or are cash buyers).

Even professionals (likely those with 2 professional incomes) can get in at 1.2. However, for biglaw associates, this is probably not possible straight out of law school. You need a couple of years to save up and it helps if you don't have debt and you have a spouse/SO who is also making a six-figure salary.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby bruinfan10 » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:10 pm

Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I are considering moving to SF for her job. My firm has a SF office so that should be fine. But I understand the significant increase in cost of living.

Is it practical to think we would be able to afford a 4BR home in a good school district with a reasonable commute for under $1 million? How about under $750,000? We currently own such a house in a less expensive city -- we paid under $500K for it. I know this is not possible in the Bay Area, but what do people in SF do with families?

:lol: :lol: :lol:

you poor sweet soul. albany and el cerrito are NOT decent commutes. i could barely stomach that BART ride as a government employee (don't even CONSIDER the Bay Bridge), and with a Biglaw workload? Forget about it. I got the hell out of the Bay even though I was born and raised there and always planned to go back; it's a complete god damn dumpster fire.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:09 pm

bruinfan10 wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:My wife and I are considering moving to SF for her job. My firm has a SF office so that should be fine. But I understand the significant increase in cost of living.

Is it practical to think we would be able to afford a 4BR home in a good school district with a reasonable commute for under $1 million? How about under $750,000? We currently own such a house in a less expensive city -- we paid under $500K for it. I know this is not possible in the Bay Area, but what do people in SF do with families?

:lol: :lol: :lol:

you poor sweet soul. albany and el cerrito are NOT decent commutes.

Eh. If a BL associate in NYC or Chicago wanted to buy a large house in a decent neighborhood, they'd end up with a commute of comparable length.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby FascinatedWanderer » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:43 pm

I'm not sure that's true. Chicago real estate is an order of magnitude cheaper than NYC and SF.

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rpupkin
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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:46 pm

FascinatedWanderer wrote:I'm not sure that's true. Chicago real estate is an order of magnitude cheaper than NYC and SF.

Chicago is not an "order of magnitude" cheaper, but it is much cheaper. The point is that if you have a large family and you want to live in a nice neighborhood with good schools, it's not going to be easy to find something close to work.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:28 pm

rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:I'm not sure that's true. Chicago real estate is an order of magnitude cheaper than NYC and SF.

Chicago is not an "order of magnitude" cheaper, but it is much cheaper. The point is that if you have a large family and you want to live in a nice neighborhood with good schools, it's not going to be easy to find something close to work.

you can get a 4br 3ba for around 600k in Evanston. 40 min commute. You can easily afford a 2500 mortgage on an associate's salary.

https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/E ... ect/13_zm/

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby rpupkin » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:33 pm

dabigchina wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:I'm not sure that's true. Chicago real estate is an order of magnitude cheaper than NYC and SF.

Chicago is not an "order of magnitude" cheaper, but it is much cheaper. The point is that if you have a large family and you want to live in a nice neighborhood with good schools, it's not going to be easy to find something close to work.

you can get a 4br 3ba for around 600k in Evanston. 40 min commute. You can easily afford a 2500 mortgage on an associate's salary.

Exactly.

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Re: Big law associate in SF -- where do you live with family?

Postby dabigchina » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:36 pm

rpupkin wrote:
dabigchina wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
FascinatedWanderer wrote:I'm not sure that's true. Chicago real estate is an order of magnitude cheaper than NYC and SF.

Chicago is not an "order of magnitude" cheaper, but it is much cheaper. The point is that if you have a large family and you want to live in a nice neighborhood with good schools, it's not going to be easy to find something close to work.

you can get a 4br 3ba for around 600k in Evanston. 40 min commute. You can easily afford a 2500 mortgage on an associate's salary.

Exactly.

would rather live in Evanston than El Cerrito, but to each his own I guess.




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