Cost of Living

When were we deciding between Austin vs. San Francisco, cost of living was a huge factor. If you’re currently living in San Francisco and considering a move to Austin, this page is going to be a lot better news than if you’re currently living in Austin and considering a move to San Francisco.

Austin Cost of Living vs. San Francisco Cost of Living

To make the comparison, we used the Cost of Living Comparison tool from There they start by comparing two cities based on cost of food, housing, utilities, transportation, health and other miscellaneous expenses. Then, you can drill down into over 100 other categories if you’d like. Here, we’ll just focus on the cost of living numbers.

Austin vs San Francisco Cost of Living Chart

Using 100 as the U.S. average, ranked Austin and San Francisco on 7 classifications of expenses. Overall, Austin was just a few points above the US average cost of living at 106 points and San Francisco was much higher than the US average at 206 points.

Austin is 48% less expensive than San Francisco.

The biggest difference is housing, which is 67% less expensive in Austin than it is in San Francisco.

Cost of Living Austin San Francisco United States
Overall 106 206 100
Grocery 91 120 100
Health 96 113 100
Housing 121 369 100
Utilities 89 93 100
Transportation 91 114 100
Miscellaneous 111 131 100

Our Cost of Living Perspective

Moving from the San Francisco area to Austin, we noticed a huge difference in our cost of living almost immediately. Some of the groceries we usually buy were $1-$3 cheaper per item in some cases. Our car tags went from $450/year to $50/year. Gas started out at about a 75 cent difference. Now since gas has sky rocketed, we’re only about 25 cents different in Austin compared to San Francisco.

What’s Less Expensive in San Francisco?

Surprisingly, there are a few things that are less expensive in San Francisco. Manicures and pedicures are much less expensive in San Francisco than they are in Austin. Haircuts are pretty similar in price. (The upper end Austin salons are charging $60-$80 for a hair cut.) Restaurants are also pretty similar in price as well.