If you’re moving from Chicago to San Francisco, there’s a few key things that you need to consider. The differences in climate and lifestyle make it a great move for many people, but not for everyone. 

This guide will help you plan your move to ensure you don’t make some of the common mistakes, saving you time, money, and energy.

Moving Process From Chicago To San Francisco

Here are some things to consider while planning your moving process from Chicago to San Francisco.

How Far is San Francisco, CA From Chicago, IL?

The distance from San Francisco to Chicago is approximately 2,127 miles or 3,423 km. If you drive non-stop, then it will take you approximately 3 hours and 41 minutes to get there. But realistically, that’s about a 5-day drive for most people. If you fly, the flight time will take around 3 hours, 41 minutes. 

What is the Average Cost to Move From Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA?

The average cost of moving from Chicago to San Francisco is $4,500, but it can be even more. The cost of moving depends on many factors, including the distance you are moving and the size of your home. 

san francisco bridge

If you’re hiring a moving company or hiring a freight company, all of these costs will be included in your quote. If you’re moving large items like furniture or appliances, they may also require special handling fees.

The best way to find out is to get quotes from several movers and compare them. You can do this by visiting the websites of several companies that offer affordable moves in your area. Ideally, you should look for companies that offer flat-rate pricing, but that might not be an option because this is a long-distance move.

Either way, you must find a moving company with lots of positive reviews from previous customers.

Is Moving From Chicago, IL to San Francisco, CA a Smart Idea?

Moving from Chicago to San Francisco is a smart idea if you are looking for a place to live that has good weather and lots of opportunities for outdoor activities. 

Over the past decade, San Francisco has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. and the world. The city’s growing tech industry has attracted thousands of new residents from around the country and the world. Here are just some of the reasons why moving from Chicago to San Francisco could be a good idea for you.


Although it depends on what you like, the weather is generally better in San Francisco than in Chicago. San Francisco has more sunshine and is warmer than Chicago, which is known for its windy weather and cold winters. The weather in these cities is so different because of their vastly different locations.

The climate in the two cities is quite different. The average temperature in San Francisco is between 45°F and 72°F over the course of the year, while Chicago’s average temperature is between 22°F and 83°F.

san francisco beach

Compared to other California cities, San Francisco is cooler. Due to its location on the tip of a peninsula bordered by extremely cold waters, San Francisco does not experience as hot and dry summers as other parts of California do. 

The contrast between California’s Central Valley’s intense heat and the chilly ocean current is advantageous for San Francisco as well. As a result, the hot air inland rises, drawing in a fairly constant onshore flow of chilly air. This also results in the famous fog in San Francisco.

Nature Scene

If you are a nature lover, you will love the city of San Francisco for its picturesque views. The city has many green spaces for people to enjoy, such as Golden Gate Park and Mission Dolores Park.

san francisco nature

In Chicago, people don’t have much space with as many trees or plants. But in San Francisco, it seems like nature has taken over the city. If you want to hike with the redwood trees, you can visit Marin County, Oakland, and Berkeley nearby. You can also go to Napa Valley and Sonoma, which are less than an hour away from the city.

Public Transportation 

In San Francisco, parking and traffic can be a nightmare. Due to this, the majority of locals don’t even own cars. Thankfully, public transit is a great choice for everyday commutes. Residents rely on the city’s public transportation to and from work or across town.

As you ride up the hills in a cable car, you can take in the beautiful vistas of San Francisco. The city’s favored public transportation system, MUNI, is another option that will transport you wherever in the city. You can also take the Caltrain or the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which connects San Francisco to San Jose and Oakland.


If you’re moving from Chicago to San Francisco, it’s pretty easy to get around. You don’t really need a car to survive in San Francisco. The city is small enough that most people get around on foot or by public transportation.

san francisco public transit

Driving is not required as much as it used to be in most of San Francisco’s neighborhoods. If you do own a car, parking can be tricky at times. San Francisco’s one-way streets, steep hills, inconsistent traffic laws, and severe traffic enforcement make driving challenging.


While Chicago has a long history of being a culinary hotspot, San Francisco also has a vibrant food scene. In fact, San Francisco is always at the top of any foodie’s travel wish list. Local dives and five-star restaurants are available, as well as everything in between. 

Compared to Chicago’s deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef, San Francisco is famous for dim sum in Chinatown, sourdough bread bowls, and Dungeness crab at Fisherman’s Wharf.


When it comes to live music venues and nightlife, Chicago offers more choices. In contrast to Chicago, where there are places like Smart Bar, Beauty Bar, and Le Nocturne, San Francisco has few places to go out at night. Temple San Francisco, Monarch, and Audio Nightclub are some of the city’s well-known nightclubs.

In Chicago, you may catch musicians playing every night at a variety of places. The city is the cradle of fascinating musical genres, including contemporary gospel and Chicago-style blues. 

Although San Francisco’s music scene is not as extensive, it still keeps the city vibrant and enjoyable. The Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, and The Chapel are popular music venues in San Francisco.

Things To Do

San Francisco is a city with a lot to do. The city is home to numerous museums and galleries, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. There are also plenty of great parks and hiking trails, as well as some great places to eat and drink.

alcatraz island

If you want to truly get away from it all, there are plenty of places in San Francisco where you can go hiking or camping. Like Chicago, San Francisco also has great historical sites and museums. 

The Golden Gate Bridge is the most well-known site, but people also love seeing the Legion of Honor, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the modest but interesting Cable Car Museum.


San Francisco is located along the San Andreas Fault, which runs along the western edge of southern California. The fault causes earthquakes every few years, most of which are small and harmless.

san francisco city life

While San Francisco experienced a fortunate 67 years of peace and calm between 1911 and 1979, there were six notable earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or above. The San Andreas fault earthquake in 1989, which had a 7.1 magnitude and left 63 people dead, was the worst to ever strike the area.

If you’re moving to the San Francisco area, you need to insure your home against earthquakes and be prepared in the event of an emergency.

What’s the Cost of Living in San Francisco, CA vs Chicago, IL?

According to NerdWallet, the cost of living in San Francisco is 131% higher than in Chicago. San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the US, and its cost of living is around 100% higher than the rest of the country. Based on the data from Numbeo, San Francisco is the fourth-most expensive place to live in the US, after Santa Barbara, New York City, and Honolulu. 

san francisco homes

San Francisco is also the most expensive city to buy a home. This is due to the city’s limited supply. Unlike other major cities, San Francisco is on a small peninsula, preventing it from becoming a sprawl similar to LA. The city also runs along the San Andreas fault, which prevents it from building tall apartment buildings like Manhattan.

According to the US Census Bureau, San Francisco’s median salary is $119,136. However, to comfortably live in a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, you should aim to earn $93,720 a year and stick to the 30% rule, which states that you should only spend 30% of your monthly income on rent. 

What’s It Like Working in San Francisco?

San Francisco is a great place for those looking for work. The city has a lot of jobs and opportunities across various industries, making it a great place to live. In fact, San Francisco employers typically pay around 18% more than Chicago employers.

San Francisco is an iconic city that has become a major hub for technology companies, startups, and high-tech industries. In San Francisco, compared to Chicago, tech professionals—including hourly tech support staff, coders, and innovators—get more opportunities and earn better incomes.

What Are the Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco?

Despite the high cost, San Francisco’s many neighborhoods are a fascinating aspect of living here. If you have children, you might want to move to a neighborhood that caters to families, such as Cole Valley or Noe Valley. If you want to be near the water, you might enjoy the Marina District and the Pacific Heights.

san francisco neighbourhoods

No matter where you choose to reside, exploring each area will offer you a variety of activities and experiences. Here are a few of San Francisco’s best neighborhoods: 

Cole Valley 

Just south of the Haight is a little neighborhood called Cole Valley with a small-town atmosphere. Victorian homes, neighborhood stores, pubs, and restaurants are all prominent. Unknown to many city tourists, this close-knit family neighborhood is close to Golden Gate Park and offers a variety of other attractions as well.

Noe Valley

Despite being in the middle of San Francisco, Noe Valley has a small-town vibe, making it a sought-after and expensive area. It has an intimate feel due to the surrounding hills, as the name would imply. The abundance of Victorians and modest houses in Noe Valley adds to its appeal. 

Marina District

The Marina District in San Francisco is a lovely bayside neighborhood. You can access the Golden Gate Bridge, Crissy Field, and the Palace of Fine Arts from this location, among other well-known sights. Additionally, it has a wonderful selection of restaurants and stores.

Pacific Heights

San Francisco’s Pacific Heights is an incredibly lovely and traditional neighborhood. Its historical and vibrant Victorian houses reflect the city you see in films. It’s a fun area to shop in as well, with both locally owned stores and high-end brands.

Final Thoughts

Moving from Chicago to San Francisco is a good idea for people who love the city and can afford it. Both Chicago and San Francisco are wonderful cities, and both will likely provide you with a great path forward for your career.

Ultimately, it depends on what kind of person you are and what kind of lifestyle you’re looking for. 


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