carpeimperium

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

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I'm heading to Stanford this fall, and I'm addicted to coffeeshops. Specifically, I'm addicted to grungy, late-night, full of couches, casual low-key coffeeshops full of local art on the walls, occasional local bands (ideally) young people, students, hippies, gutterpunks, pagans, and the like. Think: Zotz (until it closed) in New Orleans, College Perk in College Park MD, Sacred Grounds (a few years ago) in San Pedro, CA, etc. etc. etc.

Someone please tell me I can find such a place in the Bay Area. I'm willing to roam to S.F., I really am.

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Has anyone been to visit Stanford? I think it's my top choice from program fit and location... but I am not so sure about location, since I've never been there. They haven't accepted me, but I like to daydream...

How far is Stanford from downtown San Francisco? My significant other wants to live in San Francisco next year, in the city. Is it practical to live in San Fran while attending Stanford, or better to live near Stanford while visiting San Fran often? How far does the BART extend? Is it necessary to own a car in this area of California?

How much does it cost to live in downtown San Fran vs near Stanford? What's Palo Alto like?

Any input anyone has would be much appreciated!!

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Stanford is about an hour from downtown SF. Depending on how often you have classes/seminars etc, you *could* live in the city and commute to Palo Alto, but it really wouldn't be convienent (times and traffic would be one thing, and if you forgot a book at the library, you wouldn't want to go back for it). I'd do it the other way round. I don't think BART stops in Palo Alto, but there is Caltrain. You definitely want a car. The traffic down Camino Real can be digusting at commute times, but you can't get to anywhere exciting without one. Palo Alto itself is a bit of an odd mix--there are some really nice homes in the hills, but then some of the main areas of the town are rather ghettoish. Some cute restaurants though.

Good luck and be sure to let us know when you hear!

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well it depends on the stipend. depending on your field, you could get over 30k.

living in SF would not be convenient, but it is close enough that you could drive there for dinner or a night out and certainly go hang out every weekend if you wanted to. downtown SF is just under an hours drive away... 40 minutes or less without bad traffic. If all you are after is "big city" than SF is all you got, but Palo Alto and San Jose are great, too. Santa Cruz is an hours drive away. SF might be the most expensive place in America to live, the south bay is only a bit better.

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I hear Barefoot Coffee Roasters in Santa Clara is pretty good but I haven't been there myself. It seems to fit the bill for low couches and an artsy atmosphere that you may crave.

But if you're looking for simply excellent coffee, go to Cafe Bello in San Francisco. It's in the Glen Park district, right off the 280 and while it may lack ambiance, the espresso based drinks are excellent, probably the best in the area.

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Hi everyone, I'm considering heading to Stanford in the fall, and I'm thinking about places to live. Specifically, I'm interested in towns near Palo Alto where the rents might be a little lower or I might be able to find a group housing situation. I'd like to keep it to $700 a month, if possible. Ideally not a gated community atmosphere, but rather a laid-back town with coffeeshops and some life to it. It doesn't have to be posh. I won't have a car, but I'm a pretty dedicated bike-commuter where I live now and I'm willing to bike up to about 10-15 miles each way (15 is pushing it) to campus. Where should I look for housing? Redwood City? San Mateo?

Also, if it comes to it, how is the on-campus grad housing? I was at Stanford briefly a few weeks ago, but didn't check it out.

Thanks! (& if anyone needs, I'll swap SF info for Washington DC tips.)

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I ended up wait listed for Stanford, but they mentioned that the grad student stipend was 19.5k for 9 months for my program and 3k or something for summers. That seems pretty dirt poor for this area to me. (A totally different story at other schools) Does anyone have any experience in grad student housing at Stanford?

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I currently live in San Jose and commute to Stanford for work. I wouldn't recommend it! On really, really bad days, leaving at 8am, it'll take me 1.5 hours to get there, and maybe 50 minutes at best on good days... that's not even during peak traffic either (~7-8am, ~4-6pm). Some of my coworkers take the train and light rail in, since we get free passes as employees (not sure if Stanford students get it too?), but def. time consuming either way.

As for living in San Francisco and commuting, like one of the other posters said, it'd be at least an hour by car. One of my previous coworkers didn't have a car when he first started his job and literally spent 2 hours each way on public transit (train, bus, etc.) and then biking himself.

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I ended up wait listed for Stanford, but they mentioned that the grad student stipend was 19.5k for 9 months for my program and 3k or something for summers. That seems pretty dirt poor for this area to me. (A totally different story at other schools) Does anyone have any experience in grad student housing at Stanford?

My sister lived in Stanford on less than this. She had a 1 bedroom furnished apartment and it cost her $1050/month. She lived right near campus and mostly used her bike to get around though she did have a car for big grocery trips and that sort of thing. So I'd say that $22.5K/year is definitely liveable. I think my sister spent right around $15-16K/year on living, including her housing, while she was out there. Also, she lived in the grad housing apartments her first year and they weren't really that bad from what I remember when I visited her. No idea about their cost though.

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Your sister spent only 4k a year besides housing? I think food alone will be approaching 4k... (at $10/day, that's $3,650 leaving next to nothing for miscellaneous expenses)

It might've been a bit more but she definitely spent less than $10/day on food. I've never spent that much on food in my life. If you eat on $10/day as a grad student, you're living beyond your means, I think. I typically spend about $25/week on groceries and maybe an additional $10 eating out. That averages to $5/day for food...

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I don't know about that. I live on the other side of the bay from Stanford and I spend about $300 a month on groceries and eating out maybe once a week. I think I eat quite well, but I'm certainly not a glutton. You can easily spend $10 a day on food with say, a couple cups of home-brewed coffee in the morning, a homemade sandwich and soup for lunch ($2-$3 right there) and even if you were just stir-frying a batch of vegetables and tofu and noodles for dinner, that's easily $4 of materials there. More if you eat meat. Not to mention the cooking oils, spices, etc. that are part of your monthly grocery store purchases. I also tend to snack a lot throughout the day -- never buying candy bars or chips in convenience stores, mind you, always stuff from home like a couple pieces of pita with hummus or brownies made from $2 Pillsbury mix. And I like juice with my meals and a mug of tea in the evenings. Does this diet really seem that extravagant?

Based on my experience, I'd say a *reasonable* stipend that still allows you plenty of wiggle room for a few modest niceties, medical and other emergencies is $1500/month. Again though, I'm in the East Bay. I don't really know how the rental market compares to Stanford but I'm estimating anywhere from $600 shared housing to $1000 studio. Groceries and whatnot should be comparable, I'd think.

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As an undergrad forced on a board plan, I easily eat over $20/day. I can't imagine that grad students are expected to eat at less than $10/day. I remember being at Stanford 4 summers ago and the lunches were pretty expensive on campus. A burrito or burger alone would go for $6, so I would guess it's up to $7 today. So basically grad students can't afford to eat at the cafeterias?!

I plan on eating out for most of my meals. I'm not a fan of cooking and sandwiches, while cheap and convenient, get old fast. I think quasi-fast food (eg, Chipotle or Baja Fresh) would go for $6-7/meal.

For COL purposes, I'm in SoCal (ie, about the same level as San Fran Bay Area).

BTW, to the poster above who mentioned $22.5/year for a stipend, that sounds fairly low for the area today. I think that was a standard stipend a few years ago.

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As an undergrad forced on a board plan, I easily eat over $20/day. I can't imagine that grad students are expected to eat at less than $10/day. I remember being at Stanford 4 summers ago and the lunches were pretty expensive on campus. A burrito or burger alone would go for $6, so I would guess it's up to $7 today. So basically grad students can't afford to eat at the cafeterias?!

I plan on eating out for most of my meals. I'm not a fan of cooking and sandwiches, while cheap and convenient, get old fast. I think quasi-fast food (eg, Chipotle or Baja Fresh) would go for $6-7/meal.

For COL purposes, I'm in SoCal (ie, about the same level as San Fran Bay Area).

BTW, to the poster above who mentioned $22.5/year for a stipend, that sounds fairly low for the area today. I think that was a standard stipend a few years ago.

I think any grad student who tries to eat out for every meal is living beyond his or her means.

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I think any grad student who cooks every meal has too much time on his or her hands.

I guess it all depends on how you cook. I really like rice and beans, which is fast and doesn't require effort. Also, I think every grad student should own a slow cooker. 20 min in the morning (in my case, while watching the news and/or eating breakfast) and dinner is ready when you get home. It's amazing. Don't knock it until you try it. Personally, I eat out usually once a week and that's with people from my dept to be social. Otherwise, I bring a lunch from home and cook dinner (or, when crunched for time eat a Lean Cuisine/Smart Ones frozen meal or can of soup with bread).

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The Bay Area has a fair amount of good food for cheap. As an undergrad I lived on burritos. (Not Chipotle but the countless taquerias that dot the area.) There are expensive burritos, to be sure, but those aren't the good ones. You want the ones that are $3 - 4. Tacos for $2. And don't discount Vietnamese sandwiches--anywhere from $2.50 - $4. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

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I think any grad student who cooks every meal has too much time on his or her hands.

Well now, some people do this out of sheer necessity. When I was a kid and my dad was in grad school, my mom (who worked full-time) cooked all our meals and took us out to eat about once a month. But honestly, there are hundreds of at-home dining options that don't take much time to prepare and WILL save you money. I just cooked a bowl of ramen with an egg and vegetables and chunks of beef brisket from a leftover meal. Total time from turning on the stove to sitting down in front of my computer here and eating? 15 minutes. And while I may not have "cooked" that Trader Joe's spinach pie myself, that minute of taking the box out of the fridge, peeling back the cover, and popping it into the preheated oven means my dinner cost just $4, instead of $12 at the Greek restaurant on the other side of campus.

I've lived in cities where it was economically feasible to eat out for every single meal. The point is, that's the kind of lifestyle you would have to sacrifice if you're expecting to live in this area on a grad student budget. Grad student budget doesn't mean you NEVER eat out. Yes, there are times when you're just TOO TIRED to cook, or you want to be social and eat out with friends. In order to afford those opportunities, I have to prepare the majority of my meals at home. Learning to prepare healthy, yummy home meals is a practical skill. It's recommended that you look into it.

For frame of reference, I got a total of $25.5K in stipend money from my school last year (academic + summer term) and ended up saving 5K of it, which is my buffer in case I don't get more than the $20K I'm guaranteed each year. You don't need mad amounts of money to live here, but if you want to make it within a certain budget, there are some lifestyle changes that you have to get used to.

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My husband and I live comfortably (not luxury) on the fellowship he gets from the school in Stanford.

I enjoy cooking and we eat out once a week (for sushi).

:arrow: The important thing is that you should find grocery stores to get things with a reasonable price, asian ones in particular There are many around the area such as in Sunnyvale/Cupertino/San jose. Those area are not far from Stanford.

I used to stay in London as a grad student which the living expense there is also very high but still manageable because I can shop for food with reasonable price easily (the china town market there is not far from the university I attended).

While living two years in Chicago, the grocery budget each time was higher and the quality of food is not that good. When we moved to Stanford, we spend around $50 per week for 2 persons on every meal. Menu usually are Rice/veggie/Baked fish or fried meat. Also I agree with rising_star that slower cooker is great. :)

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Once you are a few years into your PhD program and not doing regular coursework anymore, living in San Francisco (particularly in the mission or nearby) is easy for Stanford students, especially if you have a car. It is about an hour to drive, less during off peak times, as long as you can jump on the freeway easily. I know many people who have done this. Palo Alto is abominable but if you can put up with it for a few years then you can move to an amazing city.

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Does anyone know anything about San Francisco State?

I went to san francisco about 8 years ago, and so remember almost nothing about except it was july and cold and i loved that... The only thing i know about san francisco state in particular is what i know from research on 60s campus movements and that students bombed/set on fire parts of the school... yeah.

I'm just curious where it is/what kind of neighborhood, cheap/expensive area to live, easy to get with mass transit... i'm from nyc, so i'd rather walk or take a bus/train, and don't have a driver's license. I would be there for an MA in history if i ended up going, so without any funding and preferably would like to live off what i can make working. I'm trying to limit debt as much as possible.

After some politician talked about it on the news, I tried eating on the food stamp allowance of $3 a meal and i did it for over a month, so i can definitely eat/live on a budget. I do need access to good bagels and cream cheese, though.

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San Francisco State is located in south SF, which is basically a more suburbanized, more affordable area of San Francisco, yet it still retains the same characteristic SF feel and is definitely a pretty safe neighborhood. SFSU has a Muni light rail station I believe, which should easily transfer to BART or Caltrain, and those will get you to the South Bay or East Bay with ease. SF's Muni bus system is also well designed, so I think you're covered in terms of public transportation.

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Once you are a few years into your PhD program and not doing regular coursework anymore, living in San Francisco (particularly in the mission or nearby) is easy for Stanford students, especially if you have a car. It is about an hour to drive, less during off peak times, as long as you can jump on the freeway easily. I know many people who have done this. Palo Alto is abominable but if you can put up with it for a few years then you can move to an amazing city.

I may be in the minority, but I really don't see what's abominable about Palo Alto (unless you mean East Palo Alto, but I'd call that ugly at worst, not abominable). As a Stanford student there's really no need to leave Palo Alto unless you either can't afford the rent or you are bored out of your mind of suburbia. And the latter doesn't really make sense to me because as a grad student I'd imagine you'd be too busy to be bored.

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