Coffee heat rising

California Dreamin’

LOL! Check out the comments, below, especially from Deflating Dreams. 😀 English-major math strikes again! Gotta race to meetings just now, but will be back with an update.

Could I afford to live in San Francisco? Offhand, you’d think the answer would be no way, eh?


M’hijito is angling to get himself into a master’s program that would train him to be a physician’s assistant. Pay for such work is passing decent…good enough to get him back to San Francisco, where he craves to live. If he takes off for the Bay Area again, there won’t be so much reason for me to hang around this big old expensive house in a city not likely to shake off its economic depression any time in the near future.

Yeah, I know: California’s economy is in bad trouble, too. But Arizona’s nasty little secret is that we’re even worse off than California, second only to Michigan in unemployment. and thanks to the demagogues in the legislature, we’ve shot ourselves in the economic foot with SB 1070. That actually isn’t the half of it, to tell the truth. Arizona, I’m afraid, is about worn out as a place to live, certainly for anyone who aspires to the middle class.

I’d be sorry to leave the choir…but frankly, San Francisco has plenty of high Episcopal churches; surely one of them has a decent choir. And I really would regret leaving my best friends behind. But still, it’s something to think about. Blood being thicker than water, after all.

Let’s suppose I could sell my house and clear two hundred grand on it. Remains to be seen: prices are below pre-bubble prices here, but it’s a nice house in the quietest part of the neighborhood, and just this minute no obviously run-down houses directly abut it.

And let’s suppose M’hijito and I can unload the downtown house with a loss of no more than $52,000. I dispose of all but the most basic of my possessions, so it takes about $3,000 to move me up to the City. I’m left with net cash and retirement savings of $653,810. Not counting the remaining $10,000 of RASL supposedly coming my way, or the $14,000 emergency fund in the bank.

A 4 percent annual drawdown from this nest egg would come to $41,153; 5 percent would yield $47,690. My financial advisor says I have more than enough to last the rest of my life, even at a 6 percent drawdown, though that’s something I view with skepticism. So let’s work with 4 percent and 5 percent; add $15,000 of Social Security to those and you get a gross income ranging from $56,153 to $62,690. Subtract 23 percent for taxes, and you get a net of $42,237 to $48,270.

That just might provide enough to pay rent and buy food. Let’s check it out…

For the 4 percent drawdown, I posit a rent of $2,000 a month, which would get me into a studio or maybe a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco proper. If we subtract that rent from net monthly income and then deduct the expenses I can’t get out of—Medicare Part D, Medigap, and long-term care insurance—and then we subtract the estimated costs of utilities, does enough remain to live on?

That’s fifty bucks more than than I allow myself now!

Realistically, one isn’t likely to find a good apartment in San Francisco for much less than $2,500. That would require a larger drawdown from savings. At 5 percent with a $2,500 rent payment:

Think of that! I could probably do it. The place where I want to live includes basic cable service, so I might be able to engineer the DSL and phone through that. And given that most months I don’t spend $800, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that there’s enough play to cover unexpected expenses.

And that’s without any side income: no teaching gigs, no freelance assignments, no blog income.

It will take M’hijito two or three years to pick up the undergraduate requirements for a science degree and then get through the master’s. By then I will have established myself as the master of online courses at Paradise Valley Community College. If they’ll let me keep on teaching online no matter where I live, just that little bit of extra change would keep me quite comfortable in San Francisco.

And I know exactly where I want to live: in a historic national park. Yes. The San Francisco Presidio, an old military base, has been converted into a sprawling residential area, run by the National Parks Service. I would kill to live at the Presidio! O… M… G… I’ve loved that place since I was 12 years old!

The section called the Quarry has single-story two-bedroom apartments, wheelchair-accessible, for $2,425. The interiors are a bit on the military side, but with some adept decorating you could make it pleasant enough.

On Ruckman Avenue, you can rent in one of these places, with hardwood floors, remodeled kitchen, enclosed sunporches or verandas… A one-bedroom is $1,795, but the site says the apartments have basements, which presumably would give you room for office space or storage.

To die for. The Sanches neighborhood has two-bedroom apartments for $2,350. They look like regular old apartment buildings. But the price is right, and so is the size.

I dunno. I’d probably sacrifice size for charm, given a choice. The area where I’d really like to live is Baker Beach: $1,795 for a two-bedroom; and even a three-bedroom for $2,100. It’s directly across the street from the ocean, and the interiors are much nicer than any of the other affordable places. Unfortunately, they won’t let me keep Cassie in that part of the park, so that’s out.

Interestingly, you can get an employee’s discount if you work for any of the businesses on the grounds. So presumably once you got there, you could get in line to be considered for any openings that you could weasel your way into, thereby cutting the rent nicely.

In theory, if you lived in San Francisco you could probably dispense with the car. But I think out in the Presidio, you probably would need one. The Dog Chariot is a little big to maneuver in the City…but one could replace it with a Smart Car. The price is about what I’d get for my aging Sienna.


Get that degree, son, while I still have enough life in me to enjoy San Francisco!