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San Francisco, California BAH Rates, Education, Cost of Living

Discover San Francisco BAH Rates, Housing, Education, & Cost-of-Living

Find housing, employment, cost-of-living, and BAH rates for San Francisco, CA. Listed below are BAH Rates, college and universities, cost-of-living information, school resources for children of military families, and things to see and do in the San Francisco area.

Some of the military installations that are near San Francisco include:

San Francisco, CA BAH Rates

E1 $4,236 $3,177
E2 $4,236 $3,177
E3 $4,236 $3,177
E4 $4,236 $3,177
E5 $4,449 $3,729
E6 $4,911 $4,041
E7 $4,944 $4,242
E8 $4,980 $4,545
E9 $5,259 $4,680
W1 $4,932 $4,170
W2 $4,962 $4,542
W3 $5,007 $4,698
W4 $5,358 $4,917
W5 $5,778 $4,950
O1e $4,947 $4,446
O2e $4,995 $4,650
O3e $5,418 $4,905
O1 $4,512 $4,017
O2 $4,908 $4,380
O3 $5,004 $4,743
O4 $5,934 $4,938
O5 $6,606 $4,956
O6 $6,663 $4,998
O7 $6,723 $5,073


San Francisco Colleges & Universities

The San Francisco area is home to several colleges and universities, some of which are the top in the nation. This is a partial list.

California offers a College Fee Waiver for Veteran Depends benefit program that waives tuition and fees for public colleges and universities throughout the state. Discover more information about the multiple plans offered under this program.

To find more schools in the San Francisco area, use the free CollegeRecon School Finder tool.

Using your GI Bill

Anyone considering using the Post 9/11 GI Bill in San Francisco, you should know the following:

  • You may be eligible for Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) if you are a full-time student.
  • MHA is comparable to the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents.
  • MHA is calculated based on the zip code of where you physically attend most of your classes.
  • Those attending only online classes receive a set MHA of approximately $1,054 (in 2023)
  • Up to $1,000 is available each year for books and supplies.
  • The Post 9/11 GI Bill can be transferred to a spouse or dependents but you must still be on active duty to transfer.
  • The Yellow Ribbon Program offers financial support in specific situations where the GI Bill does not fully cover the cost of tuition at participating colleges

Cost of Living in San Francisco

San Francisco is an iconic city on the Northern California coast known for its vibrant culture and beautiful scenery. The city is among the most expensive in the nation with a cost of living score of 245.5 percent, according to BestPlaces.

The cost of housing is considerably higher than the state and national average coming in at 504.4 percent. The cost of housing, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, and taxes are 145.5 percent higher than the national average and 63.8 percent higher than the state average.


  • Overall – 245.5
  • Housing – 504.4
  • Groceries – 116.6
  • Transportation – 158.2
  • Utilities – 97.5

Other categories to consider

  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Taxes

San Francisco Housing

San Francisco is known for its unique neighborhoods that are filled with their own distinct culture, and is a desirable place to live on California’s coast. According to RentCafe, the average rent in San Francisco is $3,287 and the average apartment size is 739 sq. ft.

While the high cost of living in San Francisco is no secret, it is still possible to find reasonable rent prices for the area in the following neighborhoods:

  • Nob Hill – median rent price $2,423
  • South of Market (SoMa) –  median rent price $2,611
  • Civic Center – median rent price $2,542
  • Lower Pacific Heights – median rent price $2,600
  • Visitacion Valley – average rent price $2,278

Other desirable neighborhoods in San Francisco include The Castro, Presidio Heights, Hayes Valley, Haight Ashbury, Glen Park, and Inner Sunset.

According to realtor.com, the average sale price of a home as of March 2024 is approximately $1.4 million, and San Francisco is currently a seller’s market, meaning that more people are looking to buy homes than currently available on the market.

To learn more about VA Loan Program benefits, you can get a free eligibility assessment from our VA loan partner.

Primary Education 

Access to primary education is an important consideration for parents with school age children. There are currently no DoDEA schools in the San Francisco area, however there are many top primary schools in the area.

According to Greatschools.org, the top primary schools in San Francisco include:

  • Alamo Elementary School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Lau (Gordon J.) Elementary School
  • Lawton Alternative Elementary School
  • Ortega (Jose) Elementary School

Employment Opportunities in San Francisco

San Francisco is largely known for holding an important place in the development of technology and emerging markets. Because of this, there are ample employment opportunities in many sectors across the Bay Area.

Some of the top industries according to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce include:

  • IT and Software
  • Social and Digital Media
  • Life Science and Biotech
  • Environmental and Cleantech
  • International Business

The largest employers in the San Francisco area include SalesForce Inc., Wells Fargo, Sutter Health, Cisco Systems, Apple, and Pacific Gas & Electric.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in San Francisco as of March 2024 is 4.2 percent.

Things to Do in San Francisco

From breathtaking views of famous vistas, getting in touch with the city’s rich history, and exploring iconic neighborhoods, San Francisco is a lively city that has something to offer everyone.

Some top things to do in San Francisco include:

  • Spending a few hours crossing the legendary Golden Gate Bridge by foot or by bike, while stopping to see the sweeping views of the city. Those who do not want to cross the bridge can snap photos of the landmark from the Golden Gate Overlook Battery East Vista, or Pacific Overlook.
  • Getting a unique perspective of the city by taking a cable car through San Francisco’s dramatic hills. Cable cars have been used in San Francisco since the late 19th century and are now both a national landmark and a fun way to get around.
  • Spending a day at the criminally notorious Alcatraz Island to visit the famed penitentiary that operated from the 1930s to the 1960s. You can see how America’s most notorious criminals, including Al Capone lived during their tenure.
  • Have a day of family fun at the Fisherman’s Wharf, which is home to a waterfront marketplace and PIER 39, that has rides, arcade games, and even a place to see the famous California sea lions. PIER 39 is also close to other attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum, and many great restaurants.
  • Visit Golden Gate Park to have a picnic with friends or family or to simply take in the scenery. The park also contains landmarks such as the Conservatory of Flowers and the California Academy of Sciences.

About the author

Sarah Tucci

Sarah is a Philadelphia-based writer. She comes to CollegeRecon with an interdisciplinary background in international relations and cultural heritage with an interest in understanding the intersection of armed conflict and cultural heritage, particularly in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. When not writing for CollegeRecon, Sarah enjoys traveling, watching documentaries, and hanging out with her beloved Pitbull, Brutus.