San Francisco One of the Most Affordable U.S. Cities for Families. No, really!

Forbes magazine recently came out with a list of America's Best and Worst Cities for Families. The publication looked at the 40 most populated metropolitan areas according to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and then used the Economic Policy Institute's Basic Family Budget Calculator to determine what families of varying sizes would spend on "essentials": Housing, child care, food and taxes. "Luxuries" were not factored into the budget. What constitutes a luxury? Eating out. Saving money.

New York, which routinely tops lists of expensive cities, was deemed the "least affordable" -- 93 percent of a family's annual pay is immediately sucked up by living expenses. But -- surprise! -- Bay Area locales like San Jose, and yes, San Francisco, were deemed some of the most affordable. Here in San Fran, a relatively svelte 68 percent of a family's income is tied up in living expenses; if the city has its way you can soon spend the remaining 32 percent on municipal fees.

Why did cities like San Jose and San Francisco, which are popularly thought of as being pricey, wind up on the lower end of Forbes' survey? Because even though these areas boast expensive cost-of-living price tags, many families make more. San Jose requires $54, 685 a year for a family to get by, according to the magazine (San Francisco's at $60,826). But a lot of San Jose dwellers are lucky enough to be high-paid tech industry employees who net around $100k -- which, as the Forbes article reminds us, "offers an ample margin for summer vacations and videogames." Same goes here.

Yes, when you net $100k paycheck, upscale neighborhoods suddenly become "affordable." Economics -- sometimes it works in your favor! Oh, you don't have a fancy Web 2.0 job? Well, coupon-clipping and never eating out makes your life affordable, too. You know what goes great with a can of sardines? A copy of Forbes magazine. (It's full of fiber.)
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