NYC Vs. San Francisco: Which One is Better in 2023?

NYC vs San Francisco

It’s the age-old debate: New York City vs. San Francisco. Which is the better city? There are passionate proponents for both sides, and it’s hard to find a clear winner. New York City has its bustling energy and iconic skyline, while San Francisco boasts stunning views and a laid-back vibe. Both cities have their pros and cons, but in the end, it comes down to personal preference. 

New York City is your place if you’re looking for non-stop action and excitement. The city that never sleeps has something for everyone, from world-class museums to endless shopping opportunities. There’s always something going on in NYC, and you’ll never find yourself bored. However, the fast pace of life can be overwhelming, and the cost of living is high. 

San Francisco is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a slower pace and stunning natural beauty. The hilly streets and picturesque views are unlike anything else in the world. Plus, SF is home to some of the best food in the country. 

So which would you be better suited for? Let’s take a look at several factors. 

Cost of Living

New York is the most expensive city to live in, averaging $3,284 for one person, including $2,063 for rent and utilities, $653 for food, and $364 for transportation. Rent takes a sizeable chunk out of the monthly salary of $6,309, and rental prices are exorbitant in NYC! 

San Francisco is ranked 4th out of 2202 cities in the US, with an average cost of $3,281 with rent and $1,002 without. The average rent of $2,288 for rent and utilities are even greater than that of NYC. However, the average monthly salary after tax is significantly higher at $7,760.

Both NYC and San Francisco are ranked among the top 0.1% of the most expensive cities globally, right up there with Boston, London, San Jose, and Hong Kong.


Like any city, housing is one of the major contributing factors to your monthly expenditures. 

In New York, the rental for a 1-bedroom apartment downtown with an area of 430 sq feet would cost $2,579, while a budget 1-bedroom apartment of the same size would cost $1,747. For those interested in buying, an apartment in the city center would be $15,545 per 10 sq feet, while a house in the suburbs would cost $8,306 for the same area, all at a mortgage rate of 3.51% over a term of 20 years.  

In contrast, in San Francisco, the rental for a 1-bedroom apartment downtown with an area of 430 sq ft would cost $2,474, while a budget 1-bedroom apartment of the same size would cost $2,062. Sales are at $14,009 per 10 sq feet for apartments downtown, while houses in the suburbs are going at $10,399 at a 3.45% interest rate over 20 years. 

Both cities are relatively similar in the cost of housing and mortgage interest rates. 


New York is the most populated city in the US, with 8.4M people; in stark contrast, San Francisco barely makes a million at 882K


In New York, there are 52-107 sunny days in a year, depending on the exact location. New York and most of the East Coast are famed for beautiful fall days with perfect temperatures but chilling, cold winters. 

In San Francisco, there are around 160 sunny days. Still, while they technically have more sunny days in San Francisco, it is typically overcast because of the proximity to the ocean, and heavy fog rolls in often.

Both cities are ideal during summer when temperatures range between 70 and 80F. 

The temperatures in New York vary greatly depending on the season, from slightly below freezing in the winter to about 80F in the summer.

The temperature fluctuation in San Francisco is a little more stable, from about 50F in the winter to 70F in the summer.

Public Transportation

Of course, private hire cars like Lyft and Uber offer many public transportation choices when it comes to jumping in a car and catching a ride. Private car prices differ very little between both cities. 

The average monthly cost of public transportation in New York is $131, while San Francisco’s is $87.20. 

Taxis and private hire cars cost about $20 every 5 miles. That’s a pretty penny! 

Job Market

Americans move to New York in droves with high hopes for career growth and the opportunities a massive city can offer. The financial and publishing capital of the US, New York City, is home to local and international businesses across a wide range of industries. 

With an overall score of 6.1/10, the annual salary in New York is $66,983, significantly higher than the national average, which is $53,490. However, it is also important to note that the unemployment rate in 2020 was 10.3%. 

With an overall score of 7.1/10, San Francisco is considered to have a healthier job market. With numerous work opportunities and an unemployment rate of slightly over 8%, job opportunities in San Francisco require more skills and specialized education. Still, the average salary is way higher than the nationwide at $75,890. 


New York has a crime index of 19 (100 is the safest), with the majority of the crimes being property-related. 

San Francisco has a higher crime rate, also with the majority having something to do with property. With a crime index of 4, it is only safer than 4% of the other cities in the US.

Culinary Scene

New York is a melting pot of cultures. Because of the many racial groups, the influence is seen especially in the culinary scene. There are modern Asian restaurants among which Vietnamese and Korean cuisines are popular. It wouldn’t be amiss to see a Vietnamese restaurant known for serving craft beers alongside a Korean restaurant famous for its minimalist décor and family-style dishes. 

The large population of New York makes any meal a potential gastronomic feast. You’ll find anything you want under the sun here, whether you like food trucks, classy Michelin-starred restaurants, or good ol’ fashioned diners. 

San Francisco is a haven for foodies, known for its fresh produce and bountiful seafood. A large Asian population and award-winning European chefs greatly influence their diverse food offerings. 


New York City is the artistic and cultural capital of the United States. Boasting 1,300 museums and art galleries, NYC is the first state to provide continuous financial support for the arts. 

It has around 200 theaters internationally known for its Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. NYC is also home to many television and movie productions such as:

  • Blue Bloods (TV Series)
  • Law and Order (TV Series)
  • Sex and the City (HBO Series)
  • Do the Right Thing (Movie)
  • Saturday Night Fever (Movie)
  • West Side Story (Movie)

There are dozens of centers for performing arts throughout the Big Apple and New York State. During the summer, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center features the Philadelphia Orchestra and the NYC Ballet.

New York City is also called the center of fashion, with a garment district where the fashion industry flourishes. It is the city with the most fashion designers and retailers. It plays home to around 900 companies, 75 trade shows, and thousands of showrooms with headquarters in this city.   

In addition, San Francisco has long been established as a cultural center. Since 1880, they have been home to the Metropolitan Opera, one of the most famous opera houses. 

San Francisco residents claim that their city is a haven for artists. This can especially be seen in the innovative architecture and sculptures scattered throughout the city. 


The majority of the residents in New York, which comprises 55.8% of the population, are Caucasian, with most of them living in the northeast part of the city. 

The second largest group would be Hispanic, which reside mainly in the south and make up around 19% of the population, and Asians, which number around 14%. 

This city has a diversity score of 67 out of 100, clearly more diverse than many other US cities. 

Just like in New York, San Francisco’s majority consists of Caucasians, making up 42.2% of the city’s population. Hispanics make up about 23%, and Asians a whopping 34%. 

San Francisco has one of the highest diversity scores, which is 98 out of 100. 

Final Thoughts 

New York City and San Francisco are remarkably similar when it comes to the cost of living, rental prices, and other broad factors. However, the residents of both cities, I’m sure, would beg to differ! 

There’s no denying that New York City and San Francisco are two of the most popular cities in the United States. They’re home to world-famous landmarks, dynamic food scenes, and vibrant cultural life. 

New York City has a more diverse population and is home to more people from all over the world. It’s also more crowded and fast-paced, which can be good and bad depending on your preferences. On the other hand, San Francisco is known for its hills and its picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Area. 

Ultimately, it depends on what you’re looking for. New York City is probably your best bet if you want a bustling, vibrant metropolis with endless things to do. But if you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe with beautiful scenery, then San Francisco might be more your style.

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